As the saying goes, whoever is survived by a child is bound to be remembered. Dr Seidu Bello, the director of Cleft & Facial Deformity Foundation remembers his mum, Mrs Shifau Abeke Moyosore Atewolara Bello, 40 years after her glorious demise.
Jan 3rd 1980 started like any other day in d sleeping town of Ago Are, oke Ogun Oyo state. The day however ended in a drama albeit with a complete, total and permanent change in d course of the direction of my life. Waking up in d fateful day, little did I realise that a little lad, less than 15 year old pry 6 pupil that was once cared for and cooked for, would soon become d permanent cook for the family.
A day before the specially designed day, our mama travelled to Iseyin, about 60 km away. The mission was a family celebration in her ancestral home. Baba Sanusi Alaka, her father was said to have migrated from iseyin and settled at akewe compound Ago Are where he married an ile Olukuewu born queen, Juwerat Jayeola and gave birth to mama about 90 years ago.
Jan 3rd 1980 was a Thurday. As a pry 6 pupil, we were on first term holiday and was billed to resume on Friday Jan 4th , 1980. As usual during the holidays, we went to the farm to assist our father. On returning around 6.30 in d evening , we met our eldest sister , mrs Rhodiat Balogun at home . She said she was informed that our mummy was sick at iseyin and our elder brother, mr Ismail Adeniyi Bello had gone to check on her.
Thirty minutes later, aunty Hawau, another sister appeared from nowhere and announced the death of mama. Unknown to all of us and absence of telephone, mama died of heart attack since around 9am in the morning. It was a dream in the beginning but 30mins later, the corpse was brought to the family house. The end of an era.
Late mrs Shifau Moyosore Abeke was a trader in mainly agricultural products, a community mobiliser and lover and caretaker of numerous children from extended family members. On her death there were about 13 pupils that were residing in our house, either going to school, learning a trade or simply living.
Mama was a disciplinarian. The fear of mama was the beginning of wisdom. I remember an instance when one of us was late from school. Mama was waiting for us to pound yam for lunch. On arriving from school and discovered that one of us was missing, mama simply kept few slices of yam for d late comer and she said. “Pls keep his yam, a late comer is simply not interested in pounded yam”. My mum prevented me from being a stammerer. I learned stammering from a boy while playing. Like a witch, my mum simply said “I can see you have just picked up a trade of stammering from your friends. Your choice is either to stop or u can’t live in this same house with me.” Stammering stopped instantly because it’s a terrible experience if my mum practiced all ‘igbati’ ati ‘igbarun’ on you.
By and large its sweet memory. The early childhood disciplinary has reshaped my life not knowing she was not going to last long on earth.
Mama today has several descendants that are carrying her genes. We thank God. Forty years after, there are several people to remember her.
Rest in peace, mama.