Philomena Opha Darah (nee AYI) was born on February 22, 1963. She was the 4th child of her parents- Pa Ankrah erotere Ayi from Oviri- Olomu and Matilda Okitikpi from Erho, Abrakaall of Delta State. The father was a soldier who fought in Burma in the 2nd world war (1939- 1945). At the time of her birth, the parents lived in Ondo Town, then in the Western Region of Nigeria. My mother was the first girl child after three males; that is why the parents proudly named her Opha, the Urhobo word of Beauty Queen or Bride. She lived for 56 years, yet her elegance and glmour never faded. The eight (8) children of the parents are: Oghenovo (m), Okiemute (m), Onoriode (m), OPha (f) , Oni(f), Ogbodu (f), Oghenerukevwe (m), and Ovuede(m),. Philomena was the English name she chose later. The names mean “friend’, lover, purpose, strength”. True to character, mummy showed all these divine blessings in her life.
She attended Ekiugbo primary school, Ughelli, and Anglican Girls’ Grammer school (AGGS), Ozoro where she graduated in 1982. Always glamorous and athletic in physical appearance, Opha was a delicate dancer with the voice of a nightingale. She was baptised and confirmed in the Anglican Church. As a teenager in Ughelli, she also lived with the family of Canon Oghenekaro, the legend of the Anglican Communion. As first daughter (Omote Okpako), Opha was groomed in Urhobo traditional protocols of culture: high moral standards, hard work, self –reliance , honesty, trust, respect, good home management. She was an expert and consultant on Urhobo delicious dishes of ukodo, amiedi, esha and oghwo-evwri. At Ekiugbo she helped the mother to buy and sell fruits and foodstuff. During vacation in Warri she and the mother handled distribution of frozen fish and foodstuff. Her love life with my Dad started in my grandmother’s shop at Okere- Warri market in the 1980s.
In April 1983, Opha married then Dr. Godini Gabriel Darah, a lecturer at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife.