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« Atiku Must Stop Dining with Snake Charmers and Pharisees | Main | Otunba Nicholas Tofowomo Interview: On INEC, EVM, Third Term Agenda »

April 15, 2006

A Celebration of Life's Beauties

by Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama (Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria) --- For once, dear readers, I decided to momentarily put behind me the troubles of our world. Actually, we can never forget them – they are always there till we get rid of them or they get rid of us – but there are certain beauties of life which we tend to overlook.

Well, maybe not exactly over overlook; more like understate. An occasional celebration of those who continue to wind the clock of my life is one of them, especially when I remember there are times I feel like completely shutting down the clock.

There is good old Mummy, Josephine Chinyere Onyeama. Back in April Mothers’ Sunday was celebrated in my country, Nigeria. To my shame I never got to travel home or even phone. That would have bathed Mum’s lovely face with smiles. My brother, the smart guy, who lives even further away from home got around to phoning. All the same, Mummy never held it against me. She, more than anyone else, knows and understands the powerful cords that bind our hearts together from one Mothers’ Sunday to another.

‘Mother is Gold’ is as old as Genesis, yet newer than the latest election results from USA in 2008. But for me, what is so special, so unique about this woman who God gave the assignment of nurturing a guy like me – not the easiest job on earth, I assure you – is her warm adjustment to the various facets of motherhood. Many mothers find it hard to accept that yesterday’s toddler is today’s teenager, let alone tomorrow’s adult. I used to be mad at such mums, but as I made my way through this crazy but beautiful world my attitude changed: it is not easy to let go. Especially in a society that is changing so fast, where identities, faiths and philosophies are as unpredictable as hemlines and hairstyles. The dangers are so many and we know mothers never stop worrying. But then everyone has to find his or her own feet, and the strains of love can be occasionally unbearable. Blessed is the mother who understands her role at each phase of the child’s life. At thirty, I know her door is always open but she does not compel me to come calling, even when motherly instincts threaten to get out of hand.

What does it mean to be deprived of a mother? I use the word ‘deprive’ with concern - I am not referring to mothers who shuffle off the mortal coil naturally, though that is painful enough, or get tired of the sweet burden of mothering and throw in the towel. If Chika Unigwe’s ‘The Secret’ is anything to go by, such mothers are rare commodities in Africa. I am referring to conflict-riddled societies, which pluck mothers from their children’s trees. From Darfur, Sudan to Iraq there are generations who have not enjoyed the presence of these earthly angels. Do these men and women (some who, amazingly, are mothers) know what they are doing to the children? The pulsating and universal bond evoked by motherhood brought all attention to a heart-rending standstill in the wake of the London terrorist bombings when a Nigerian mother, Mrs. Marie Fatayi-Williams, sought to know why her son fell to the killers’ bombs. She may never know, but for that brief few minutes in which the world focused on the agony of a mother, all of us (including terrorists, I hope) felt the power of motherhood.

Daddy, the sturdy, gracefully maturing – I refuse to use the word ageing – oak is one hell of a guy. Like most fathers, Martin Onyeama tends to take a backseat. All over the world fathers are less celebrated than mothers. But you will never know what a father means till you wake up one morning and don’t see him. I do not care how old you are; it takes something out of you, no matter how great or lousy your relationship was with the old man. It is even more poignant if, like me, you are a first son in an African setting. For me, the special thing about Daddy is that he gave me the freedom to be what I wanted to be. He rarely belaboured my backside as a child but I always felt more deeply hurt if he knew about my misdeeds.

Our relationship is notches better than that of Cain and Abel but my siblings, Charles, Julie and Amauche, are diamonds on some days and dross on others. At least, when we were much younger. Now the challenges of adulthood have turned us into great friends. Each sibling has a unique spice that flavours our fraternal stew: Charles’ humour and commonsense, Julie’s sharp but kind tongue, and Amauche’s boldness.
Friends are great, and just as there are eggs and eggs, there are friends and friends. Ikenna Odife is right out of the top drawer. We first met in 1998 when I was a third year undergraduate, he a fresh-faced lecturer. Coming from an academic terrain where even part-time lecturers were dreaded oracles you had to appease with sacrifices; Ikenna Odife was a breath of fresh air. Although he has moved up in the world since then he remains the same old guy who can dine with both the Jacobins and the Bourbons without losing his essence. There isn’t enough space to talk about how Odife kept my flags flying at a time I nearly handed in my surrender. What stands out in my mind about this man is that he is a walking poster for tolerance in a fractured society. An ardent adherent of the Grail Message, his doors and heart are open to all shades of men and his quest for the truth, irrespective of source, is unflagging. Non-conformist, but then we need a recipe to satisfactorily cook the soup of group living.

Posted by Administrator at April 15, 2006 09:46 AM


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