The great writer, Chinua Achebe said that when one looked at the king’s mouth, he would think the king had never sucked his mother’s breast.
Therefore, looking at the life of Momohjimoh Adeiza , the Kogi State chapter Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the one in the saddle of the branch of the Federal Radio Corporation (Prime FM), Lokoja as General Manager and one who still carries more prospects in his hands, one may not be wrong to say that his essence rimes in a way with the admiration of the proverbial king that Achebe talked about in Things Fall Apart.
Did Adeiza of zests suck his mother’s breast? Yes. Like the king in the book, he did not only do but did with gusto . He did bite his mother’s milk- filled nipple which he held between his nimble teeth that the breast even bled sometimes. And each time he did, the mother would wince, her gentle slap of love would warn Adeiza against another innocent mistake.
Sadly, the son had lost that mother, Marietu Eneizuo Adeiza , whose breast was and still the sweetest to him. Mama Marietu died a couple of months ago at an advanced age of 85. She was survived by children and now lives in her sparkling sands of time.
Recently, the NUJ Chairman went nostalgic about the lives and times of his mother’s reminiscence. The nostalgia of her is a web that swells with many of Adeiza’s early but very important times past. The web also carries his father’s role in moulding his son for the challenges of life. People who saw Mama Marietu enjoy a little of her labour did not know that the departed queen also sucked her mother’s breast.
My mother and Infant mortality
My mother died on the 15th of October,2019. It is sad that my mother died at that time, especially when we thought we were grown enough to begin to take care of her as a way of saying “Thank you mother for your love, care and sacrifices that you poured on us without reservations.” My mother was a very faithful and resilient woman. Very faithful to our father, Pa Adeiza. When I was growing up, my mother thought me the meaning of discipline without mentioning its name. With her, the child will see discipline, feel it and live it in action . My mother was a great disciplinarian. I will come back to it.
Infant mortality was the most marital challenge that mother faced as my father’s wife.
Today we are three surviving sons out of eleven children of my mother. According to her, six of my siblings had died before me. She gave birth to Asipita my immediate younger brother.
My mother gave birth to other children. Her respite was cut short with the deaths of the two. Rufai is my mother’s last child. Three of us, Rufai, Asipita and I are the only surviving children. Her many ordeals notwithstanding, my mother was always thanking the Almighty God for what He has done for her.
The breast milk dryness challenge
She had breast problem that people told her was a spiritual attack from the evil ones of the society. My mother believed her sympathiser with clear reasons. She told me the name of the child that followed me was Jaguda. Jaguda, she said had survived the breast feeding period. When I was born, he had grown up enough to carry me.
“But like my other children before him ,he fell suddenly sick and before healing could come, he died,” she sorrowed.
One of her children, in her words:
”Would have survived the dryness of my breast if my husband and your father was able to convince a female relation of his to breast feed my child when mine had dried. We were delivered of our babies almost at the same time. While my breast liquid was miraculously drying up, her own was bursting open with milk. Your father was literally on his knees begging the woman to help us with her milk, but she refused, saying her husband would not allow such practice. What your father asked for was not out of place; it was the only option in such a rare situation, and the child died ” she grieved.
Migration to Ondo State
As their trials continued unabated, father and mother took a crucial decision to migrate to Ondo State. This was in the early sixties. The place was Iyere in Owo. My father would continue his farming and my mother, her trading and assistance to father on the farm. In fact, it was in Iyere that I was born.
In Iyere, the ailment of Jaguda, my brother returned. My mother returned to hospital in Okene. She was there trying not to let go on the child, she was in the hospital for months. I was told my brother’s illness was so serious that my mother could not attend to me. It was not her fault.
Upon birth, I was not immediately given a name. The name I got was a result of an incident that happened. As I said, my mother’s attention was only on Jaguda. She was just battling to save her child. It was at a later time in the evening that one girl was said to have reminded her that she had not remembered to breast fed me.
They saw that I was still breathing. My mother took me, breast fed me and said resignedly :Amevazio, meaning what can one do, who can resist the ways of life, who really can fight his fate .? The Amevazio became my first name. I was told it was much later that my father gave me an Islamic name(Arabic)
A disciplinarian mother
Despite the challenges she had to face, my mother didn’t pamper us. She made sure she instilled discipline in us. She was a great disciplinarian. If not for her insistence, I would not have gone to school. She said since she couldn’t go to school , her children must have western education. She was a no non sense woman. My father was the exact opposite of my mother when it came to inculcating discipline in their children .
Unlike my mother, my father felt that sending me to school was giving me trouble. He wanted me to be with him in order to give me protection. He would ask me,” What on earth would you eat or need that he would not be able to provide for me. For him, sending me to school was taking the fish out of the water. When a man’s children are dying as it happened to my father, his lion-heartedness will desert him; death will soften him and he will be extremely tolerant of the few children that God had shielded from the eagle eyed death.
As a child, I hated my mother. I felt she was wicked. My father will console me with promises to beat her one day. They had serious quarrel when my mother beat me again. As soon as I saw my father approach I raised my voice as if my mother had beaten me with hot iron so that he could make good his promise to beat her.”Your children will run away from you,” my father would say.”Wherever they run to, let them just become responsible children,” Mother would counter.
I started school My father eventually agreed with my mother that I should go to school. At Nagazi Eba Roman Catholic Mission School, my father was told there was no vacancy any longer .He took me to another Mission Primary School, Nagazi Uvete, the answer was in the negative.
Suspecting foul play, my father asked, “when will there be space?” “Come next term,” the teacher answered. He saw and understood my father’s sarcastic smile.” Okay, let me test your child’s admission with qualification questions,” he said
“Child, what work does your father do?” “My father is a farmer.” “ Very good . Now tell me, What is yam seedling used for?” “We cook it for eating,” I got it wrong. But before the teacher could say, Sir you can now see that your child has failed the test, my father interjected: Why are you asking him yam seedling when you know he is not a farmer.? He has beaten the teacher to his own game.
“Alright. A very big rat and a small goat, which one is bigger? I told the teacher the answer is a big rat . That was how I missed the opportunity to be admitted as a pupil in Roman Catholic Mission Primary School, Nagazi Uvete in Ogaminana.
Frustrated , my father came back home, briefed my mother. She felt if my father had not grudgingly given his consent that I should go to school in the first place , he would have pressed harder for me to pass the admission test.
She took me to Kindergarten at Roman Catholic Church, Osisi, still in Ogaminana. I was staying with my aunt. Six months later, I suffered from serious measles. Very serious disease then. Dad came home and took me to Ondo again. And within few days, I was well.
But my mother of loving stubbornness would not forget my school at home. Any time she reminded me of my schooling, I would weep profusely, wishing she would just perish the thought.” Marietu , my father will say, will not allow you due to her pressure,” So they returned me to mother’s sister to continue my education. The great woman was instrumental to whatever I have achieved today. I am not sounding immodest, whatever little pendant people think I wear today, colourful enough or not, my parents were the spurs at its centre .
Going to Lagos for greener pasture
Even before I finished secondary school education, I started realising the value of education. In fact I began to hunger for higher education. But my parents were not able to afford the 250 naira I needed to go to School of Basic Studies, ABU. My father reminded me of the trouble himself and my mother went through before I could finish from secondary school. He told me to be wise.
In our time , secondary school education in the judgment of many parents was the highest they were ready to give their children. Secondary school education is called “Twelve books.” After twelve books, you could get job, marry one or two wives and still care for your parents. Such was the good old days.
To satisfy my quest for more knowledge, I travelled to Lagos to search for greener pasture; to get a job, and to save money for further schooling. My mother came to take me home. She left after the mission failed.
Accident for their love of me
After one year, She and my father were coming to Lagos because of me, they had missed me so much, and they met with an accident on the way. My father had serious fracture. Mother sustained injuries on her face. The news got me devastated and thinking. With the speed of light, I ran home to see them.
My mother pleaded with me not to go back to Lagos. “You will go back to school,” she assured me. She gave me four hundred and fifty (450)naira. This was how I was encouraged to get admission to Kwara State College of Education, taught for few years in a secondary school before I went to read Mass Communication at Bayero University, Kano. That initial seed money from my mother was a big encouragement. The woman was a strong pillar on which I could lean at will.Mother is gold
Though, father is the head of the family, it is equally important for him to have an ideal wife to make the home, stabilize it to complement his efforts. My mother is gold to me . she symbolised that ideal wife. She was faithful to my father.
An instance was when every of her children was dying without ceasing. Some people who felt that the family was not treating her well advised that if she divorced my father things could be better for her. But my mother would tell them in a proverb that the urine a person urinated in one spot would foam better the urine he spread on different places of the spot. She always said the pride of any woman is the sanctity of her body.
My father loved his children to a fault. Even when we seriously erred, he would say “I will beat you “But he never did, not even for once. He never raised his hand to beat me. When his trap caught a rodent, especially in my holiday from school, he would smoke it for me. The man was affected by the incessant deaths of his children that he was ready to protect us and envelop us with love.
It is true that we could not do much for them. My father did not live long to enjoy the fruits of his labour. Very sad! From my interaction with my mother, she was appreciative of what God eventually did for her. She said she did not know she would give birth to us given her uneasy beginning. When she saw us, our wives and her grand and great grand children, she would feel happy and fulfilled because she would have good message to deliver to my father and her husband: The three that live out of our eleven children are doing fairly well, keeping the Adeiza flag flying, and with esteem.Share this on WhatsApp