By CHRISTY ANYANWU
mike Nwanegbo, a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, who resides in Belgium, is the pastor in-charge of RCCG branches in six European nations, namely, Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus. The cleric, who came with his family to Nigeria to celebrate his mother’s 70 birthday, took a few minutes to share memories of her maternal love and how she suffered to raise them. He recalled that he and his siblings used to go and hawk every morning before getting ready for school. Today, she travels abroad every six months, and is very happy about life. Please read on….
Please tell us about your mother?
My mother, Mrs. Augustina Nnodi Nwanegbo, got married in 1965 to my father, Emmanuel Nwanegbo. She gave birth to eight children. While we settled in Port Harcourt, she refused to be idle. She sought for a teaching job at the primary school owned and operated by the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), where she taught for seven years. Later, she decided to trade in foodstuff and had a high level of patronage which enabled her to assist our father in training all her children through all levels of education. She was supplying snacks to butteries; she started at the University of Port Harcourt. Then, I was in Uniport. When she supplied, she would give me the money for my upkeep on campus. She would cook rice, beans, and yam. She cooked morning and night. She didn’t rest. She was so slim because the suffering was so much for her.
She is 70 today, how do you feel that she’s 70?
Excited. I just want to celebrate her more. We Igbo, when people die you go through a lot of things, but for me it is the other way round. I want to celebrate my mum when she’s alive. So, I’m excited for her. Some of my friends told me to just give her money for her birthday. But if I give her money she’s going to waste it. She will spend it anyhow. But this birthday, she will not forget.
What do you wish her?
Long life. I’m going to celebrate her 80th birthday. My mum struggled so much in life. She suffered so much. When I remember her suffering I just feel like making her sit down, give her money every month to enjoy her life but you see, if she wants to work, well, I will open a shop for her. She told me she’s tired of staying at home; she says she wants a shop. I know that pretty soon God will provide me with money to rent a shop for her.
What do you think about your mother?
She’s a disciplinarian. What I am I could attribute it to her because as a little child, when I was about seven or eight years, I was already selling akamu (pap) on the road. I would carry the akamu on my head. She used to wake me up about 5.am. I would go out to sell akamu and come back before preparing for school. Through this, self-reliance was built into me. I didn’t like it then but that was what built me into what I am today. I have learnt a life of not begging, I have learnt a life of providing. I started providing from a very young age.
What do you think is her wish as she marks her birthday?
A day to her birthday, she told me that if my father had been here today her joy would have been complete. My father was a jolly good fellow; he was an old Biafran soldier. Unfortunately, he’s not here today but I believe he would have been alive today if he hadn’t gone to the village. My father retired and there was no place to go and he really wanted to go to the East and live. I didn’t like it but I had to accept it. I didn’t like it anyway. I built the house; he didn’t live long there before he died. I didn’t feel like building a house for him. As a minister you are led by the Spirit, who would say, ‘Don’t do this, it could be disastrous.’ But my father insisted he wanted to go to the village, he wanted to be meeting his friends and he went there.
Which of your mother’s dishes is your favourite?
Pounded yam, akpu (fufu) and egusi soup. She used to cook a lot of egusi soup for us.
When you were growing up, which of your siblings was her favourite?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t know. I think she might say I was the favourite.
Can you remember the advice she gave you while growing up?
One of the things she taught me is never to go into crime, that crime doesn’t pay. That was what I remembered very much. Secondly, hard work. That I must work very hard. She told me there’s no short cut to success and that nothing goes for nothing, that there’s always a price to pay. Whether it’s for good or evil, there’s always a price to pay. And lastly, never live a reckless life and that is what I have followed. That was why I didn’t have a girlfriend all through.