By Sufuyan Ojeifo
ON December 16, 2017, there was a rare convergence on No. 4, Clerks’ Quarters Road, Ijebu Quarter in Owo, Ondo State, the “Diasporic” family home of the late Pa Isa Ojeifo, whose genealogy is traced to Ujagbe in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, but whose father, Pa Isu Ojeifo, due to the exigency of migration as a direct corollary of a bitter and failed chieftaincy tussle to assume the throne of his late father, Okoror Ojeifo of Ujagbe, had to settle in Ewu in Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State, where the family now has an aboriginal family home.
The convergence was for the purpose of celebrating the life and times of the matriarch of the family, Madam Aishat Rachel Isa Ojeifo, a princess of the royal family of Agbede, a near pristine, religiously liberal and contiguous town to Ewu, who turned 85 in sound mind and good health. The union was rare because that was the first time the matriarch would be celebrated in that grandiose fashion at her behest. From far and near, her children, grand children, great grand children, brothers, sisters, nephews, friends and well wishers came to celebrate the famous “mama oni moimoi” (transliterated-the mother or woman who sells “moimoi”) who traversed the nooks and crannies of the ancient town of Owo to ply her trade.
From the sale of “moimoi” (a popular Nigerian food made from beans), she was economically empowered and was able to play a supportive role to her husband in ministering to the needs of the family. Even though she was educationally deficient, having not been opportune to be within the four walls of a classroom in any school due to the loss of her father when she was only three years old, as a mother, she was enamored with the power and allure of numeracy and literacy and would stop at nothing to ensure that her children all went to school.
After making her financial contributions to her husband’s (our father) effort towards payments of our school fees, she would still go the extra mile to make available foodstuffs and condiments that we would take to school. Such was her passion and commitment to our pursuit of knowledge. If we had difficulty convincing our father to part with more money for certain assignments in school, she would rein in with her motherly intercession. Whereas, her husband, our father, the grammarian, passed on a little over twenty-five years ago, the Almighty God has kept her for us in sound health.
When, late October, this year, she requested that we should celebrate her 85th birthday, we did not consider the vagaries of the economic condition in the country. We considered it as a perfect opportunity to appreciate a woman of courage, discipline and faith in God. We did not consider Ujagbe, Ewu or Agbede for the celebration, but rather, we decided to do it in situ, where she lives in Owo, to evoke the symbolism of honour, which the ancient town of Owo, as a land of honour, depicts. To have her honoured in Owo where a vast majority of her children were born and bred is indeed a thing of honour and joy.
The get-together on Saturday (December 16) witnessed a praise and prayer session in the morning organised by her local church, Gospel Faith Mission, Alaafia Assembly, followed by afternoon/evening session of wining and dining including cutting of the birthday cake and dancing. One of the highpoints of the occasion was the speech delivered by the chair of the occasion, my friend and brother, former member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon, the son of Igodomigodo, whose short and sharp speech, replete with jaw-breaking dictions, appealed to the sensibilities of the youths at the event who, apparently, have been following his effusive bombastic exploits on television, the social media and other news outlets. They roared in applause of his rendition, particularly when he rounded off by inviting guests to “settle down and satiate their culinary appetites.”
It was a momentous occasion on which so many people identified with our family. The Yoruba have a saying, which goes thus: “Human beings are better than clothes; they are the clothes of honour with which we cover ourselves.” It is therefore against the backdrop of and in the context of this time-tested axiom that I appreciate, on behalf of the entire Ojeifo family, the presence and/or support of friends and brothers on and for the occasion.
A woman of faith, who is man-caring and God-loving, mama insisted that well-wishers must be in church with her on Sunday to thank God for the journey so far. She testified to the goodness of God and committed herself with a token of love to the completion of the building of her local church. As I capture the successful occasion, I take this liberty to thank God for the life and times of a mother who had passed through thick and thin and yet unwavering in her determination to finish well and strong. Mama “oni moimoi”, my dear mother, you will end your race here triumphantly. This is my tribute to your doggedness in the face of troubles that you have been through. Amonghon ooimen! (Congratulations, my mother!)
Mr. Ojeifo, Editor-in-Chief of The Congresswatch magazine, sent this piece via [email protected] .