•‘She still cooks, washes clothes, cleans the bathroom’
By Job Osazuwa and Odunayo Omokejimi
MADAM Elizabeth Olabisi Adedeji has a word of advice for anyone that wants to live long and enjoy good health. And she’s, without a doubt, eminently qualified to give such counsel. The Lagos-based businesswoman recently turned 100.
“When you speak the truth always and are contented with what you have, you will have good health. For good health brings long life,” she avers.
Madam Adedeji spoke recently at a landmark church service marking her centenary birthday. Mama, as she is called, was at the event with her children, family members and friends who came to celebrate with her. It was indeed, her day of glory.
As part of her many blessings, Mama is happy that she has been submissive to God who, she claims, has abundantly blessed her.
She believes that an opportunity to celebrate a centenary was an eloquent testimony that the God she knows and loves has been gracious to her, by not just keeping her up till 100, but by giving her good health and making her able to still do many things that many septuagenarians cannot do.
“I thank God for making me to reach this age. I am totally submissive to Him. As long as you are alive, do not lie. Your yes should be yes. When l was young, I always said the truth even up till this date.”
She believes that part of the secret of her vivaciousness lies in knowing and living by the truth. And to many who are as covetous as the frog, she drops this telling line: “If God gives you money, help those who do not have.” She insisted that covetousness and greed are the factors responsible for many atrocities being perpetrated by Nigerians and other people around the world nowadays. A successful businesswoman, Mama is unhappy that life in those days of yore was far better than what it is today, regretting that trust and security had long taken the back seat.
Now look at another aspect of Mama’s long list of blessings: Although she never attended any formal school, she is literate. She can read and write in English language. And she does all that effortlessly even at 100.
Daily Sun gathered that as a clear sign that Madam Adedeji is indeed blessed with good health, she still does most of her house chores: she cooks, washes clothes and cleans the bathroom. Even the hairdo she wore at the event was personally plaited by her unassisted. Those who spoke about her said she was such a generous, great grandmother, who believed that God distributes wealth to individuals in order for them to bless others.
However, life has not been all rosy for Madam Adedeji. She had, at some point, had her own bitter share of life. For instance, she lost four of her six children.
But rather than being reduced to vegetable, Mama is as still as fit as a fiddle. Yet she lives in Nigeria where the life expectancy has plummeted to 45 years.
At the moment, she is still full of life and displays reasonable level of energy and agility. She is both friendly and jovial at all times.
As early as 10 am, guests had begun trooping into the African Church Arch Cathedral Bethel on Broad Street, Lagos Island, venue of the church service. They came to be part of the activities lined up for Mama’s celebration tagged “Centenary Celebration of God’s Grace.”
Mama’s relatives and friends, who were gorgeously dressed, stormed the church to honour a woman who has lived a life of humility to God and service to humanity. Apart from her two surviving children, many of the guests testified how her uncommon virtues and gesture had affected them positively in many ways.
Few minutes before 10 am, the celebrant was brought to the church by her children in a black SUV. She wore a simple, light-yellow lace, a dark-yellow headgear and a pair of slippers to perfectly blend her colours. Those who knew her confirmed that she never jokes with her neatness and good dress sense.
As soon as she stepped out of the SUV, she kick-started the event on a dramatic note, appreciating and praying for some of the guests. This went on almost unending. It took the intervention of her relatives who kept motioning to her to go into the church before she could do so. Before then, each time she was cautioned by any of her children, her countenance suddenly changed.
Even while she was seated in the auditorium, she excitedly threw jabs at everybody. She was extremely elated at the opportunity of celebrating her 100th birthday. And seeing a large number of people who turned out to rejoice with her made her happy and fulfilled. For throughout the service, she could not conceal her ecstasy as she kept moving from pew to pew, wanting to thank everyone individually.
However, it was the homilist who arrested her attention. And she had her gaze fixed at the preacher and provost of the church, Venerable Adebayo Ologun and kept nodding intermittently. At some point, she demanded a pen and paper to jot down the preacher’s highpoints. Then, it became manifest that she is an ardent lover of Christ when the speaker began extolling her humility and closeness to God as well as her participation in church activities, even at her old age.
When it was time for the Holy Communion, the centenarian trudged out majestically to the altar unaided to participate in the spiritual exercise. Anytime anyone tried assisting her while walking or doing any other thing, she almost flared up and rejected such offers, leaving the congregation erupting in spontaneously laughter.
When the centenarian observed that the programme was inching to a close, she motioned to the provost that she needed to sing in honour of God for keeping her going at 100, and he obliged her. She then sang a Yoruba song, with every member of the congregation clapping, dancing and singing along.
In his speech, Venerable Ologun intoned: “Mama is an aged woman, so we go to her place to give her Holy Communion. Someday, she promised that if she clocked 100 she would come to church for the celebration, and that is why she is in church today.
“I am new here, but the few months that I have been in the church, I know Mama to be a lover of Christ; she is a devoted Christian. She is concerned with the things of Christ and loves preaching the gospel. Mama is heaven conscious anytime.”
He admonished those who wanted to live a healthy life to have the fear of God and do things according to His doctrines.
Getting Mama to settle down for an interview was not such an easy task. Each time the reporters made an attempt to get her to talk, she became restless. She kept exchanging pleasantries with almost everybody that came near her. When she eventually got ready for the encounter, she queried why the reporters wanted her to respond in English Language. “Why can’t you speak Yoruba? Okay, no problem,” she said, smiling. She later spent a few minutes with the reporters before dashing off again to greet yet another relative.
One of Mama’s children, Prof Oluwole Adedeji, told Daily Sun that Madam Adedeji was an uncommon mother to all her children and others who crossed her path. He described his mum as a very hardworking woman who detested laziness.
“God has blessed her and she is everything every human being in the world prays for. She has children, houses and other property, and we can sincerely say God we thank you. She is still full of strength and able to communicate and walk without anybody helping her.
“The secret is the grace of God and prayers. She is a woman that is always praying and she has this spirit of contentment.
“She doesn’t only wash her clothes, she cooks food for her grandchildren who are living with her. She washes the toilet and the bathroom; sweeps all the rooms and cleans the house. Before everyone wakes in the morning, she is already up and when asked why she does that, she says that is what keeps her strong,” he said.
Mama’s other child, a retired Commissioner of Police, Oladejo Oyelowo, reiterated that his mum’s number one rule in life was for one to be contented with whatever one has.
“When there is too much love and money, we might not enjoy good health. Because of money, people will not eat the right food at the right time, some will not take a holiday.
“Mama started having problems when her first child died in 1995. Her husband had died about three decades ago.
“She always tells me stories about the Nigeria of those days and today. Till now, she reads the Bible as well as newspapers without her pair of glasses. She can still recognise people and her speeches are coordinated.
“Her mother died at the age of 97. Some of her age mates like Mrs. HID Awolowo and others are all dead. She is perhaps the oldest customer of her bank,” Oyelowo revealed.