Testimonies that mama loved her God and lived happily for Him are not mere refrain or courtesy comments for the departed. They are true and her time on earth was well served with the fingers of God clearly in every pie she baked. If her youth was conserved, her last days were not routine.
They were always filled with the brightness royalty could offer a princess. For her, they were days of celebration for a glorious service rendered to the creator, families and communities and for more than 100years in a turbulent world that consumes the noble and the beautiful in their prime.
Always resplendent with a youthful presence of mind, The Mother, as she was fondly called, practically communicated her departure schedule early. She had close-up discussions with her distant children and demanded physical visitations by those close by. They were not the regular calls and gists with close-knit family members but moments of introspection and reflection on personal philosophies and family values.
Against the background of divine manifestation in her great health, longevity and uncommon achievements, every moment was used to express her gratitude to God and his love for her family. Indeed she took time to offer thanksgiving as her voice, hands, legs, waist and every part of her body received strength to sing and dance to her God.
Late Alabota Princess Gladys Odukobara Ebenezer, a double princess married to the famous Chief James Onye Ebenezer of Ogu Town was born 106 years ago. Her mother was Late Madam Rachael Yemiekabo-ofori Deresoma, nee Amamina Oputibeya of the Oputibeya Royal House in Okrika Local Government Area and Gbobbo in Opudere War Canoe House of Ogu; while her father Late Prince Samuel Iruenabere Deresoma was of the Anne family in Bolo Luka Royal Group of Houses of Bolo in Ogu/Bolo Local Govt. Area of Rivers State.
Born at the height of British imperialism and its cultural inhibitions, Mama’s childhood was full of challenges but she developed courage for hardwork and soon became an economic pillar in the family. Her sense of industry was such that she had no attraction for worldly things but rather began to grow in faith and love for God.
Mama was a bridge builder in her various families. She was an embodiment of many values and a rallying point for family members. Love and care were in her nature and for every family member nothing was too much to make them comfortable.
That she loved and cared for her children is better imagined. She monitored them even in old age as she taught them how to love and serve God in totality.
Mama’s noble qualities even as a child were jealously guarded by her mother, Late Madam Rachel Deresoma causing her to reject several suitors who came for marriage. However, when the ebullient suitor from Ogu, Late Chief James Onye Ebenezer JP, decided to ask her hand in marriage, her mother accepted. The marriage was blessed with ten surviving children.
Mama’s noble qualities were quickly spotted in her husband’s house. Although she met the first wife of her husband childless, following the loss of her only daughter at a tender age, both women lived together with all the children as one family.
She was an astute business woman who excelled in whatever business she ventured into from her early age. Being the eldest in the family at the time, she had to fend for her mother and siblings and so devoted her energy to fishing (ongoro) and trading.
Mama’s trading adventure grew stronger even after marriage as she became one of the leading garri sellers and also maintained a supermarket in Ogu. Indeed she was among the first set of garri sellers that took over garri market in Port-Harcourt immediately after the Nigerian Civil War and ‘captured’ some houses. Mama had to abandon the houses to live at Enugu waterfront in Port Harcourt as a result of her husband’s stance about such captured properties.
She graduated from selling garri to selling dry fish until year 2000 when she left the shores of Nigeria to Madrid, Spain where she lived with her fourth daughter for ten years.
A devout Christian of the Anglican Communion, Mama was a member of the Youth Fellowship, the Choir and many church organizations from a very young age. Although she did not have formal education, she was able to read the Okrika dialect fluently through the teachings in the Choir and Sunday school.
Mama was a strong pillar in the Girls Guide, the Women Christian Association and in the Sweeping Groups at St. Peters Church, Port-Harcourt and St. Martins’ Church, Ogu. She painstakingly carried out her group assignments whenever it was their turn to keep the house of God clean, and also took part in the group thanksgivings regularly even in her old age.
Mama was confident that God was with her, and she grew in courage. She took charge of her environment with the leading of the Holy Spirit and would not give room to profane traditions. Her strength was in the efficacy of prayer, as she regularly communed with God through prayer and worship.
Alabota could be regarded as an ‘encyclopedia’ of Teke na Nime na as she does not need to see the Hymn book to sing any song or recite the Psalms.
Few days before her passing, she organized a thanksgiving service that was to be her last. When asked the reason for the thanksgiving, she said it was a pledge she made to God to thank him in such spectacular fashion whenever her prayers were answered.
On the Sunday, 4th October, she went to church pastored by her children to worship and praise God. She danced like David before the Lord, offered her gratitude in cash and returned home satisfied that she had performed her last duty to her God. She was set to go home finally to meet with the Father, and slept an eternal sleep that was actually her glorious departure from the earthly realm to be with the Saints.
Why would a mother that is so blessed not go home happy? Her legacy of very successful children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, siblings and many others who have recorded great personal achievements are testimonies any parent would be proud of. Her life is a testimony of uncommon beauty and grace worthy of celebration.
Rest in peace, The Mother, great daughter of Zion, princess of two royal houses in two kingdoms and matriarch of the Ebenezer family of Ogu Town.
Her Coat Of Many Colours Saved Me
-Alabo Rev. Francis Ebenezer Onye JP
Like Dolly Parton sang in praise of the coat of many colours her mother made for her, my mother’s multi-colour jacket saved me. In 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, I would have been lost completely at Umuahia railway station when I suddenly disappeared with Biafran soldiers but for the coat of many colours she provided for me at that tender age.
With that colourful robe, it was very easy for the Police and soldiers to carry out a search. They eventually found me in the midst of Biafran soldiers. It was this same coat of many colours she gave me that made many of my friends and others to know the strength of her love towards me and all her children. She held God firmly and indeed she was complete in Him.
Thank you so much Mama, for allowing God to use you in planting us in His Vineyard. That is why we are always a wonder to this generation. We love you and will miss you till eternity.Adieu Mama.
The Mother Loved God To A Fault -Hon Gray Tamunoiyala
She is a great woman and we fondly call her The Mother. The Mother is a jovial person. Her anger even to her children is instantaneous – very momentary. Almost immediately after she sparks you, she is offering you food. But the most profound thing about her is that she loved God to a fault.
On the last day, she declared to us in the church to always be thankful and follow diligently the things of God. The thanksgiving on that day was the beginning of a series of thanksgiving she planned. She danced and danced and went back still eulogizing God.
She was always the rallying point for her families whether it is in Bolo, Okrika or Ogu. She always preached peace, unity and respect. Everyone was encouraged to live happily in one house without quarrel. So if you are quarrelling you have to reconcile before she finds out.
The Mother was always a woman at peace with herself. She did not suffer any ailment even at such old age. She simply went to sleep after celebrating God’s goodness and went on to join the saints. She is the epitome of what a mother should be.