Tributes to my grandmother
The people who shaped our destinies are all around us. The simple encouragement, push and tough love that we encountered growing up are big determinants of who we turned out to be. One of such people in my life is my maternal grandmother. Mama as she is popularly known in our circle represents a lot of things to us and is an epitome of long suffering, loyalty, strength, motherhood and enterprising nature.
Mama died yesterday [April 16 2012] at a ripe old age – she must be around 90. What made it more interesting is that it fell on my daughter’s birthday. I was heartbroken the last time I saw mama. I wanted to introduce my daughter to her, get her to meet her great-grand daughter but by the time I saw her- she was too old and the strength was gone. It is all a tell tale sign of the many struggles she had in life.
Mama stayed with us in Ibadan a couple of times for medium to long periods. At a point, she rented a place not too far from our house. She became the biggest seller of everyday items in our neighborhood and was popularly known as mama alate. If you needed anything and couldn’t find it elsewhere, you knew where to go. That was her level of enterprise.
She isn’t one to whine and complain but I know a lot of her struggles. Being married to a very polygamous man almost never helps. She was wife number 3 or 4. The man was a powerful and rich man in my hometown and had a tradition of giving a house to his wives according to seniority. When it came to mama’s turn, she was passed over! That was just one of the many injustices meted to my grandmother and her 2 surviving daughters. The story goes that she had a 3rd child – a boy who died just after birth.
Her sacrificial nature comes to the fore on many occasions. More than once when my parents couldn’t pay my extra-coaching school fees; she came to the rescue by dipping hands into her business funds. Not that she had a lot, mama never lived in abundance but she shared a lot with us. So anything I am today is somehow linked to her giving nature. I respect her so much because she never exhibited any level of disdain for the people that cheated her many times. In actual fact, I used to think her heart is too forgiving. She went to observe the mandatory widowhood rites when the husband who really never took care of her died in 1996.
I am very happy that my mum was able to take care of her in her last years. The fact that she wasn’t abandoned in her frail and sickly last years is a testimony that her children recognized her contributions whilst she was strong. Her life has a big significance for me and my siblings as well as our mum. And that is why I celebrate her today. The world might not have known her and she might have been an obscure woman from Ikire but she is my granny and a good one at that. So when her descendants shine all over the world, she shines!
I celebrate you today Mama and I know the pains are gone for you at least. Sleep well mama, and thanks for helping us all those years. We are proud of you and no other grandmother comes close.