NDI nne MaaMaa. Chinenyenwa. Nwa Ezshikealoke Ogoo. These were my usual clarion greetings to Mama that she gladsomely responded lovingly with Chukwu bu ike anyi ooo (God is truly our strength). Even when she slipped into coma, Mama still responded in fine tone Chukwu bu ike anyi, but the ooo was missing and that was when it became obvious to me that the journey was over!
Over the years, as I matured to understand life sequence better with trepidation, I envisaged that through the special privilege from the Almighty God, a moment like this is inevitable when I will be penning my mother’s epitaph.
Mrs. Henrietta Chinenyenwa Amorha, who is being laid to rest today, November 21, 2020, at her residence in Ezelu-Uwani, Obie, Aku, Igbo-Etiti local council of Enugu State, was a phenomenal and courageous woman with great Christian faith. She consistently, profusely expressed love for God and humanity. She had no tolerance for Godless people and greatly detested the riotous, inept and debilitating social trends that have eroded fundamental moral values with her usual expressions in disgust saying, “Chineke kere uwa choo uwa nma, ma na umu nmadu emebichago uwa” (God created the world in beauty but children of men have polluted the world with filth).x
Mama was a skilled homemaker with a large heart to accommodate all. She combined local entrepreneurial trading skills with her role as nwunye onye nkuzi (spouse to her loving husband, the school and church teacher), Elder Anthony Amorha, as they traversed the various duty stations. She was very independent minded and had a philosophy that a woman should make informed effort to also provide for hers and family needs, and should not keep waiting for her husband to be the only one earning income for family sustenance.
I recall bemused that in my younger days, Mama’s venture to practice her versatile trading skills initially created friction between her and Papa when he attempted arbitrary restriction to her scope; for example when she stopped Mama from including tobacco in her wares portfolio. From my later decoding of a key principle of their relationship, I have established that Mama believed her role should not end only as wife, mother and homemaker, rather she must strive through her trading skills for financial independence. This wasn’t initially according to Papa’s model, but he subsequently accepted the new normal after initial protest.
During the Nigerian Civil War, when millions of families were driven by the Nigerian Armed Forces to starve in bushes and refugees’ camps, Mama was up on her sleeves taking daring risks with other gallant women some of who lost their lives in the process. She crisscrossed enemy territories to source for food and other needs of her young nuclear and extended families in the neighbourhood of our hideout.
She was a hard disciplinarian particularly when we got involved in juvenile stunts. She didn’t spare her light cane. For bigger offences, she later recalled the infraction to the attention of Nna Victor (Victor’s daddy), who handled cane application in heavy dose. So, a threat to report us to Nna Victor was a sure strategy to put us in line.
We are still contending with managing the crisis of emotional trauma created for 92-year-old Papa, whose happy companionship has been mired with the sudden departure of his lifelong partner for 64 years.
Mama didn’t have a full formal education to primary level but she was extremely intelligent and rich in cognitive wisdom. She was also a decent and confident woman of style with flare in her enriching typical Igbo woman outfit of Abada/George/Lace with headgear to match, and also decked with the associated jewelry apparel. Occasionally, we used to taunt her in family jokes of going back to complete her primary school so she could read well in English. But she quipped in spirited response, “I won’t tell you what I would have done if I had academic knowledge.”x
Mama suffered grueling personal misfortune and reversal when in 2014 her son-in-law and serving Chief Magistrate, O. J. Nwani, was gruesomely assassinated by unknown persons, creating enduring open wound with traumatic impact of which God’s grace enabled her to pull through eventually.
She was a woman of songs with very inspiring lyrics that ministered new life to the heart and soothing voice that enchanted dying souls to relive. She was also a prayer warrior. She was very active in her Christian activities – Mother’s Guild, charity organisations, etc. – and was inaugurated as Ezinne.
In the last years of her life, the kola she presented to her guests was ‘let me sing for you’; then she went on and on with soulful lyrics that thinned out in her spirit-filled prayer.
When Mama suddenly took ill and was in hospital, she still sang when I arrived the hospital on the third day, just before slipping into coma prior to her passing early on the seventh day.
Notwithstanding basic frailties for which no one is perfect, we thank the Almighty God for her life and times. I believe that in the realities of our circumstances, Mama has lived exceptionally well and fulfilled, for which her passing is more glorious. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7. My prayer to God is for me to be blessed with similar privilege of life and transition. Amen.
Mama, rest in perfect peace in the Lord’s bosom. Amen. We love you Mamaaa, Chinenyenwa!!