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Oja; My mother in forever embrace: by Edward Onoja

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Oja; My mother in forever embrace…

Remove the sacrifice of a mother from the life of a child and that child comes to naught. When I look back to the toils that came from my mother for her children to be who they are today, I cringe in weakened resolve. In the embrace of the era of the Structural Adjustment Program –SAP when life bite so hard and families could barely feed saw my mother going through all odds to have me registered for the Unity Common Entrance Examination.

My class Teacher in Primary 5 from Akpanya in Igalamela Odolu LGA Mr Isreal Agbenyo was perhaps the unseen catalyst that pushed for my education, he had penned a short note recommending that I be registered for the Unity School Examination as his best student then.Nice as the idea looked, raising money was the big issue- from a lean financial purse to an over-stretched family burden, and such was the reality then. Mothers are usually the last to give up in any situation, Oja as we call our mother must always break the logjam – she has a way of squeezing water out of rock. She did whatever it was and I was registered for the common entrance exams to Nigeria’s Unity School. That’s how I got to attend Federal Government College Kwali and learnt the creed of ‘Though tongue and tribe may differ in Brotherhood we stand.’ Our motto and I believe it’s same for all unity schools till date is “ Pro Unitate Du Nigeria” Latin for “For The Unity of Nigeria 🇳🇬”.

As a child of 8-9 years growing up in Ikeja-Lagos. Whilst in Primary School I had to daily cross the ever-busy Ikeja – Maryland double carriage highway to and from School without any guide. Added to this innocent daring venture was the fact that that period was that scary era of “gbomo gbomo” and “ disappearing manhoods” ritual traces were the order of the day. When I look back at the quantum of risk in doing that and I’m still alive here today. I can only but bow down and worship. Knowing God kept me through it all. There is definitely a divine purpose for such angelic protection. Indeed, with the canopy of God over you, anyone can survive Lagos and we survived it all in the very heart of EKO!

When aggregate of those who survived the toils of Lagos are taken, with pride submission to the mercy of God, yours faithfully, the project of nature is a product of Lagos trained – both in the Spirit, Soul and body. I’m a Lagos boy. I’m neither Mushin nor Ikoyi. I’m just a Lagos boy straight out of the barracks and all the memories that comes with it!

It was always something of pleasure returning daily to Mama’s well prepared not too luxurious but satisfying meals. The meal would be served in Trays- You got to be agile or else hunger will be your second name. Like the truism of old, no meal taste better than a mother’s meal, we looked forward each time to Oja’s relishing meal and life was measured squarely in between want, contentment and love – for a family that endures the pang of yesterday sure relish the bounty of today.

Back in the days whilst you wish to go play football like other kids on School days. You dare not, such are reserved for Saturday’s or Sunday’s after Church when our Parents are either out for Meetings or events or Church activities. We are confined to after school lessons on Weekdays. My Elder Brother Pharmacist Alexander the EbIgO concept founder was the Lesson Proprietor and kids from all over gather to learn myself inclusive. Alex got paid for his services. Alex has been both a Teacher and Preacher from our childhood days.

When I look back at time, and try to take stock of the toils of life, the telepathic memories that comes to mind are the different images of my mother sweeting it out in the baked sun, drenched in the rains and consumed in all weather as she struggled that her children are fed, clothed and educated. She is a reflection of many mothers who sacrificed their young age for the sustenance of their children. How really do I pay back the pains, the tears and sacrifices that came from Oja to be who I am and where I am?

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