My Mum- Her Mannerisms

Mummy o!

“Go and rub some cream”

I told him in Igbo language, “jee tee ude” while pointing with my left hand towards the direction of his room.

At that moment, I saw her, in my mind’s eye.

She was pointing with her left hand too, dressed in a simple dark green patterned Ankara blouse and wrapper, (iro and buba style) holding the curtain with her right hand and also indicating the direction I should go with her head while looking sternly at a younger me.

Mummy a da achi at all…

My Mum and her mannerisms; she was stern enough to discipline and command respect but soft enough to give me my space to vent when I disagreed with her decisions as a young adult. Though her decisions stood anyway.

I can’t ever remember her calling us names. The most I can remember was she complaining that I was slow while doing house chores (rolls my eyes).

She had her expressions though and we would later turn them to jokes. She would usually ask;

‘a ga akpo gi onye isi di nma ka o onye isi n’adiro nma?

Which meant; based on your actions, would they call you someone who is sane or insane?

And if the person was feeling bold, they would say; someone who is sane, “onye isi di nma” even though you obviously qualify to be called the latter.

She also doesn’t expect you standing around when work is being done especially in the kitchen, she would usually ask;

“i kwu akwu?” Are you standing?

Spoken without looking at you, nooo, she was too busy preparing three different pots of soup; uzo ofe ito but she would say it with enough subtle threat in her voice to make you find something doing or explain why you were idling away at that moment.

I remember her standard instructions while going out, it changed over the years.

While we were much younger she would say:

“Zachakosisia, fichakosisia, kpochakosisia ebe nine”

That’s telling us to clean the entire house and make it tidy.

She said this with her eyes wide open for emphasis, her head turning round and her right hand holding her white hanky; just taken down from the cloth hanger, gesticulating to indicate the entire flat we shared with her then. Four large bedrooms, a huge dining room and a sitting room, let’s not include the corridors that qualify as rooms in modern day Lagos buildings. Thankfully, my Dad’s adjoining flat was cleaned by his umu boyi; the boys learning trade with him.

Later on, when we were much older, it would be her announcement as she locked her room door;

“I am going o!”

Said in English and then she would take measured steps which you could count by the sound of her fancy slippers; carefully selected to match her outfit, as they hit the floor. She would then stop by the room door of whoever was home at that time and ask;

“O nwee ife di mkpa?”

Is there anything needed at home that I should buy or sort out…

Fashion Mazi o!

As I walked away from telling my older son to put some cream on his body this morning, it dawned on me how often these flashbacks have been occurring since she passed on. I’m certain my siblings experience them too.

Memories of her reactions, her mannerisms, her gesticulations, triggered by even the slightest, seemingly unrelated things.

#InEverLovingMemory

#LadyBenedetteLivesOn

The Storytela

My Mum- Her Greetings

Elegant Mama

“Morning, Nne, i tetago?”

“Morning, Nnaa, i tetago?

That’s the way she would respond; the first line for the girls and the second line for the boys, every single time we said “Mummy, good morning”.

She would ask if we had woken up; in her calm undulating voice. And it would come with a smile, even if you had fallen out with her the previous night.

My Mum’s smile, the way her face would light up whenever we walked into her room. It was like switching on a light bulb. She might have been pondering on something moments before any of us walked in but as soon as that person entered, she turned on that smile.

Mmmaaa mu na nwanne m o!”

She would say, calling us her siblings, spreading out her arms and wrapping us in a warm hug. This was usually when we arrived from a journey, be it from school or anywhere.

She would then peer into your face, squinting her eyes as if trying to read behind the facial expressions and I’m certain in our older years, she also examined our facial skin for conformity to her beauty standards.

I remember when I had a serious case of pimples in University, it was my final year and I think I probably reacted to an adulterated Face Wash I bought from the market.

My Mum’s reaction was something else, she would constantly examine my face and worry that the pimples weren’t clearing despite the products she gave me to use. At a point she openly wondered if the ‘pimples were as a result of a spiritual attack to prevent her daughter from getting married’ LOL. Like I’m still laughing, thinking about it at the moment.

Well, I got to Lagos after graduation and my sister, Chika gave me something that helped clear the pimples.

“Oo Ikemsinachi o! Oo nwanne m o! Oo Brother Ikemsinachi o!”

She would chant in a sing-song voice while greeting my first son, Ikem. She would again refer to him as her sibling and also add ‘Brother’ a sign of respect and probably spirituality I think. I never asked her why she called him that, we would just laugh over it.

As part of the Igbo burial rites, a woman’s body was usually taken to her Father’s compound to be shown to her people before it would then arrive her own compound for lying-in-state and burial.

Chants of “Oo nwanne m o! Oo nne o! Oo nwanne m o!” filled the air as the casket bearing my Mum’s body arrived her Father’s compound. It was such an emotional moment as they paid final respects to their sibling and daughter and watching the whole scenario brought back memories.

Memories of a voice we were blessed to have heard and of precious moments that we’re grateful to have experienced.

The Storytela

#LadyBeneLivesOn

#InEverLovingMemory

My Mum… A Biography

THE LIFE & TIMES OF LADY BENEDETTE UGWUNWA EZEANYA (nee ENECHUKWU)

Mum in her CWO attire, holding a trophy
Celebrating the Life of an Amazon

Lady Benedette Ugwunwa Ezeanya was born on the 4th of April, 1959, the third child out of eight children of Late Mr. James Obumneme Enechukwu and Late Mrs. Elizabeth Onyemaenu Enechukwu (nee Okeke), both from Uke, Anambra State.

Lady Benedette as a baby

Her father, a devout Catholic, a business man of integrity and the then Treasurer of St. Dominics Catholic Church, Uke would set the pace for her outstanding commitment to the service of the Lord and her regard for humanity throughout her lifetime.

Young Bene like most children of her age loved to go to school. At the age of 5, she attended St. Michael’s Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha. Her secondary education took place at the Young Women Technical College (YWTC) and Regina Paecis Secondary School, all in Onitsha.

Her dear father, James Enechukwu would pass on when she was about 12 years old, but his legacy lingered as she and her siblings would proudly introduce themselves as James Enechukwu’s children “Nwa James Enechukwu” at any given opportunity.

Mum & some of her siblings at her nephew's ordination
Umu James Enechukwu at his grandson’s Priestly Ordination

Lady Bene’s love for knowledge and for formal education reflected in her lifelong quest for it as she continued schooling; attending the Teachers Training College, Obosi and later on, College of Education, Nsugbe after she got married and had children.

She would later on go back to school to obtain further education at about the period she became a Grandmother, efficiently combining this with taking care of her daughter and first grandchild.

All through her life, she resounded the importance of education to her children, her domestic helps and every young relative or person who came close to her. Several times, she would go out of her way to help them get quality education. Such was her belief in the ability of education to improve someone’s standing in life.

Lady Benedette got married to Chief Sylvester Ifeanyi Ezeanya in 1976, and they had their white wedding in 1978. Together they bore and raised eight children.

Becoming Mrs. Ezeanya
Mum, Dad and their eight kids
Ndi Be Ezeanya

Through her years of child bearing, her tenacious personality and her go-getter qualities would shine through as she kept pursuing her education, maintaining her commitment to the service of the Lord and to her various business interests as well as contributing her quota to helping her husband run his businesses. He would fondly refer to her as his adviser.

On a business trip

Lady Benedette Ezeanya was an entrepreneur and a business woman who worked hard and taught her children the virtues of hard work. Her business interests included high-end clothing fabrics, car paint, automobile refurbishing and accessories. She was a person of integrity, ethical in her business dealings and she earned the respect and trust of many clients and business partners.

A kind hearted woman who was easily moved by the plight of others, Lady Benedette Ezeanya always left people better than she met them. She gave generously and would visit the Motherless Babies Homes to make donations. She was always ready to help her relatives, taking special care of her beloved Mum and her grandparents too. She would always assist the needy, usually going the extra mile to help people solve their problems.

Lady Benedette Ezeanya though a disciplinarian was a peace maker and tried to maintain peace in her home.

She was full of life and she loved to look good. She was one person you could count on to turn up at an event being organized by her family or friends. She was an active participant in every community she lived in at Onitsha and also in her hometown Uke.

A lover of the arts, Lady Benedette Ezeanya was a storyteller, dramatic in her narratives and pulling in her listeners as she painted vivid pictures of different scenarios, punctuating with songs, chants and ululations where relevant.

She loved different genres of Music both local and international and at a point in her life was an active member of the choir.

Lady Benedette loved to dance; she belonged to several dance groups in the Church through her lifetime, participating actively in creating and releasing new dance steps and until her demise was among the leaders of her CWO Band Group.

At a Dance Group Presentation

Most importantly, Lady Benedette Ezeanya was a God fearing woman who took her Christian faith seriously. She believed so much in God and in prayers, and would usually be found in her room with her rosary, uttering prayers to God. She rarely missed the daily early morning Masses and she raised her children to love the Lord and to fear him, ensuring they attended prayers daily in the Block Rosary Crusade. The Lord Almighty showed her mercy and gave her the opportunity to reaffirm the Lordship of Jesus over her life before she took a bow.

An astute leader; Lady Benedette Ezeanya belonged to, and led several Christian organizations in her communities both in Onitsha and Uke where she had the opportunity to mentor several young women. These include:

  • St. Anne Chigozie Women’s Group, St. Dominic’s Catholic Church Uke (Former President)
  • Catholic Women’s Organisation (C.W.O), Zone 3, Holy Spirit Parish, Onitsha (Former Vice President)
  • Ubulenu Girls Association (Matron)
  • C.W.O St Dominic’s Catholic Church Uke, Onitsha Branch (Assistant ChairLady)
  • C.W.O St. Michael The Archangel Community, Our Lady Queen of All Saints Catholic Church, Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Nkisi (Treasurer)
  • Faith Alive Sisters’ Prayer Group, Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha
  • C.W.O St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Nkisi
  • Daughters of the Holy Spirit, Adoration Ministry, Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Nkisi Chapter
  • Nne Di Uso Women’s Club, Uke

…and several others.

Fondly called “Abe Ndi Uwa” by her grandmother, “Fashion Madam” or “Fashion Mazi o” by friends and family, “Mama Ifeyinwa” or “Lady B” by her husband; Lady Benedette Ezeanya would be fondly remembered for her simplicity, humility, down-to-earth, approachable and friendly personality.

She will be deeply missed by family and friends.

Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling, Only remembered by what we have done.

#LadyBeneLivesOn

#InEverLovingMemory

Stories of My Mother

Mummy

I’ve written quite a few posts on the blog referring to Mum, my ‘about me’ post mentions her storytelling as setting the pace for mine and I also mentioned her here.

Recently, on June 29th, 2019, two days after my 35th birthday, my Mum passed on.

Despite the fact that she was sick for a while, her demise was not at all expected. Funnily, after she had gone and I wasn’t yet informed, I put up a post on my family WhatsApp group that “I’m praying” and “It’s well with Mum“. LOL

It is indeed well with her as she had the opportunity to declare the Lordship of Jesus over her life and affirm her forgiveness of everyone who had offended her before she passed on. Glory! (Romans 10:9-10)

So while we do not mourn like those who do not have hope, yet we mourn… because we indeed lost a dearly beloved Mother and a pillar of support.

Storytelling for me has always been an avenue of heartfelt expression and in times of pressure, a form of relief.

At this time, I’m telling the stories as a form of memorial for my Mum and also as a part of my healing journey or coping with her passing.

I’m grateful to the Holy Spirit for his comfort for my entire family and we know that God has caused all things to work together for our good.

This has been a while coming and I’m glad that finally, I’m able to start.

So today, I launch a new category on The Storytela…

Stories of My Mother –

Lady Benedette Ugwunwa Ezeanya

4th April, 1959 – 29th June, 2019

A Suicide Room For Kings

Right in the 19th century expansive palace of King Toffa, in Porto Novo, Bénin Republic lies a room which nobody enters till date.

The many chambers of the palace

We had just arrived Bénin, our first stop was at Porto Novo, Le Musée du Palais Honmé.

The tour guide was quite detailed and we had an interpreter from GOTA tours who translated into English.

King Toffa who built this palace had about 120 wives and was quite instrumental in allowing the both Christianity and Islam co-exist with the traditional Voudou religion.

The Palace court where important meetings are held

Now, one of the rooms the Tour guide showed us was the ‘dark room’ marked with signs saying ‘do not enter’. We asked why it was called the ‘dark room’ and he told us that Kings would usually go in there to commit suicide. This was quite alarming.

He explained that different poisons and objects for suicide were kept there and a King who probably lost a war and didn’t want to be captured would go in there, drink the poison and then step out of the room and die.

Statue in the courtyard

The King needed to die outside as nobody was permitted to enter that room even if it was to bring out a corpse. Interesting, isn’t it?

The feeling of despair that makes one commit suicide. Choosing to end it all instead of spending one more day in confronting the situation.

Bringing it forward to the 21st Century, one question to ask is, is suicide really worth it?

Considering that there’s a life after this world. Whether we believe in this life or not doesn’t mean we would not experience it because there’s more to a man than the body we see or the mind we think with. There’s a spirit inside the body that would continue to exist in the spirit realm after the body dies.

So if suicide just kills the body, what becomes of the spirit? The real you?

Suicide starts from a thought, that lie that says ‘just escape, end it all and it would be over’.

The truth is ‘would it?’

Don’t wait to die to find out. Get help.

The fact is, no matter how dark or bad things look, they can still change for the better. Keep your hope alive.

And if you don’t know what else to do, close your eyes and say ‘Jesus, help me’. It might sound ridiculous at first but keep saying it and help will come in ways you can’t even imagine.

And like the sign outside the dark room says, do not enter the Suicide room please.

Need help overcoming those suicidal thoughts?

Email us at info@thestorytela.com

Interested in visiting Bénin Republic?

Indicate in the comment section and I’ll link you up with a tour operator.

Warm Thoughts,

The Storytela