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EULOGY

DANCE STEPS OF THE MOTHER WHO LOVED HER GOD

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.

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Sports News

Body Building Club Wants Members To Represent Rivers

A body building club, COJENT GYM in Port Harcourt Township says they want to partner with the Rivers State Sports Council so that its members would have the opportunity to represent the state in competitions.

Head of the GYM, Mr. Alex Egbe told our correspondent that the club had 25 active members that could be engaged meaningfully in sports, and as personal body guards during occasions.

Egbe hinted that the skillful and able-bodied men trained daily as weight lifters and disclosed that their members who participated in body building competition during National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) event in Plateau State won in various categories. He declared that by their affiliation with the sports council, they would further exhibit their skills and make the state proud during competions.

The club boss called on youths to engage in sports as a source of employment, noting that “Sports is a veritable source of income.”

Egbe also noted that their members could assist during weddings, burials and other ceremonies.

Some of the active members of the 25 years old gym include Victor Ernest, Lucky Egberime, Kenneth Kanu, Timi Sese and Victor Iyalla among others.

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Sports News

Hoodlums Burglarize Sports Council

Two suspected hoodlums are now telling the police how they broke and entered offices of the Rivers State Sports Council last Tuesday night.

The suspects, names withheld, aged 16 and 18 were caught after they buggled the office of some management staff of the council among others.

Our correspondent gathered that the miscreants gained entrance to the offices with a master key and ransacked the drawers.

According to an eye witness, they had already succeeded in their operation as they gathered monies, jewelries and other valuables at a particular area and were still carrying on their nefarious activities in other offices before luck ran out of them.

It was learnt that one of the council drivers heard strange sound in the office and raised alarm which attracted some athletes residing in the council and the public to make move to apprehend them.

The eye-witness further said it was a mild drama as the suspects tried to escape through the ceiling but luck ran out on them as they were apprehended and handed over to the law enforcement agents.

Confirming the incident, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Council, Chief Christopher Chioma said the suspects are with the police while investigation is on-going.

Chief Chioma added that victims of the robbery are counting their losses as money, jewelries and other valuables were reportedly missing.

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Story Line

What A Child Sees Sitting…(8)

They say it is Ngozi, Mary’s friend that taught her the business of “sleeping around” to collect people’s money. I don’t know the kind of job that thing is, but the way people’s nose use to squeeze when they are saying it, it is like it is a bad thing. And since Pastor even says that people who do it will burn forever, it must be badder than bad.

I want Mary to stop the thing she is doing, just like I sometimes want mama not to be giving all our money and food to Pastor so that we can eat better food and wear better clothes, but…what can I do? Who will hear me? Everybody is always busy doing what they think big people must do every time, even though to me, sometimes, it is something that a goat or sheep will do—animals that don’t have sense.

So…my elder sister’s friend is a lele, and as like everything around my life that is always confusing my head, I don’t know what to do about it.

It is Aisha that taught me this word for the “girl and girl” pastor is always talking about—lele.

Pastor says lele people will go to hell, but I don’t want them to go to hell.

If Ngozi teaches Mary how to lele, just like they say she taught her how to sleep around for money, she will become a lele too, and that means she will go to hell. And, because two of us are sleeping on the same bed, she can try to lele me if the thing sweets her and it is night; I will not be able to slap her to leave me alone, and then I will have to go to hell too.

But I want to ask Pastor why he thinks the leles have to be killed on earth and burned in hell.

 I want to ask him why he thinks people like mama must come for prayers and not people like papa.

I want to ask him why he never came one day to tell papa to stop making blood come out from mama.

 I want to ask him if he had ever asked mama about Mary and me and how we were coping with having little money and still bringing things every week to come and take prayers.

I want to tell Pastor that if it was only his wife remaining in the world, mama would have died because we are not rich people that can give her something after helping mama to the hospital.

I want to tell Pastor that it is Aisha’s father—one of the people he always says are not like us in the church and so are not good—that saved mama’s life when his wife closed the door at my face, my face that was showing tiredness from running all the way to get help.

I want to ask him why the devil he is flogging out of people’s bodies have to be flogged out every week with bags of rice, beans and oil…why doesn’t the devil even die,sef?

Pastor talks like he knows everything, so I want him to answer these things for me so that my head can stop paining me with all the things in them that have question mark.

I am tired of all the kinds of things the big-big people say and do. Plenty of them are stupid, too stupid that I tell Aisha, sometimes, that I want to remain a child with her forever.

Growing…it’s like it changes people too much—it has changed Mary; I don’t see her at home too much again because she is always looking for money so we will go to school; for mama, it has made her very small, too small that all that is in her head is papa and Pastor and the market. I now almost understand why Mary said that she wants to slap mama sometimes so she will have sense, so she can be free and play and laugh and be happy like Aisha and me.

If growing up makes somebody collect food from poor people, and their money too, and keep them under the sun just to come and take flogging, then I want to remain konkolo forever.

I don’t want to be big like papa and be drinking too much of things and be coming back home in the night and be beating somebody because of food and because there is no child that is a boy. If being big means that people have to be killing themselves because somebody is a girl and not a boy, then I don’t want to be stupid like that.

I don’t want to be stupid. I don’t want to have to kill people because of who they are and who the other person is.

 I want to remain small so that I can keep having people like Aisha as my friend, somebody I can think with, laugh with and talk with though we are not “the same” according to the grown people.

So…Ngozi can continue being a lele if that is how she wants to be, but she should not force it on Mary—that one is the stupidity. It is what somebody wants that somebody will take. Nobody should force anybody to be anything because they don’t like what they are.

It is sweeting me to be small—to be able to be far from all these things these big people are doing; to not understand why they are wicked to the other person; why they behave how they like to the other person; and, why they feel better than the other person because that other person is not like them. The way they behave is so sad, so it is good to not see it in the big way they see it. I think that seeing it the way they are seeing it will soon make me too start behaving like it.

I still don’t understand many of the things Pastor says and does, or if being a lele is actually good or bad, or where the blood from mama’s wrapper came from, or why they will sack papa from his job the way they did, or why he will beat mama like that every time, or why Mary is doing something that is making people squeeze their nose when they are saying it, or who owns the babies she said papa killed…I do not know all these things, but I am happy that I don’t have to understand the world the way they understand it, the annoying way they understand it.

I am okay with the small-smallthings that concern Aisha and I. They allow us to be truly happy.

Pastor’s wife has killed Pastor.

Mary says it is because she has finally known what makes women to be sweating and their wrapper to be shifted when they are coming out of her husband’s office.

Pastor’s wife is almost running mad because of the thing Mary says she has known. I don’t know if I will go to hell for it, but I am somehow happy.

Mama has no church to go to again. These days, she is even sick so she usually stays in the house. Mary says her body is breaking down. I don’t understand what it means, but at least there is no vomit to clean in this one.

Mary did not turn into a lele after all; in fact, she and Ngozi are fighting because of one boy like that—another sign of the stupidity I am talking about.

Aisha and I still love each other like sisters, and we always try to be nice to each other even when we quarrel.

These days, I don’t think of papa, but I when I see fire, I believe he is burning in it. Sometimes I see Pastor inside too, and in my mind, they are beating each other there.

Whenever I pass by Pastor’s church, it is very empty, and bushes are growing around. I usually wonder if the errand boy will find a way to share back the rice, beans, money, and whatever else all those poor people had given Pastor to receive flogging. I still wonder about the yellowgirl-boy, and the fat woman and her children. I wonder if they will still be looking for another Pastor to take their things and pray for them now that this one is dead.

I wonder so many things, but I am happy to be small, and like Mary advised me, I am enjoying it while it lasts. When bigness comes, I will have to start bothering about how a boy is different from a girl, and how this person has power over this person, and how girls like Mary have to “sleep around” so we can go to school. I will even have to know what “sleeping around” and all the other big-big grammar that give me headaches mean.

For now, my mind is small, and I am free, and I am happy.

Concluded

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