“The days of our lives are three score years and ten-or even, if by reason of strength four score “-Psalm 90.10.
What further evidence or validation of the Almighty’s mercy and grace upon you do we need other than that today we your children rise to call you blessed at ninety, and to celebrate you, the ultimate wife, the heart of your husband, the late Elder (Justice) E.T Ndoma-Egba, “safely trusted you and lacked no gain, you did him good all his life, not evil and he was known at the gates” Proverbs 31.10-19
You left the safety of your comfort zones, Jamaica, your place of birth, and England, your place of residence, traversing time and cultural zones to take a chance with the love of your life with a life together. You moved back to Nigeria with him after his studies and not only accepted the culture, identity and values of his family but got integrated into them without compromising your personal ethic of hardwork, fidelity, integrity and strong Christian values. Your life has been one of total dedication to husband, family, community, humanity and the Almighty whom you serve with every ounce of your strength and in the choices you make.
You stood by your husband, chose to stay with him during the very trying Nigerian civil war to avail the sick, injured and needy of your training as a nurse inspite of your very young children. After the civil war you stood by your husband when he chose to return home to serve and guide his people as a private legal practitioner, after having lived in then regional capital, Enugu. While your husband served his people as a lawyer, you did as a nurse, both of you agreeing to serve and serve from your hearts, without looking for reward.You raised the Ndoma-Egba brood to a clan. You accepted every child, biological or not, as an individual, as peculiar uniting all in love and discipline. In nearly sixty years Daddy’s home has been your home and his people your people.
You did not have to get physical in disciplining your children whom you knew individually inside out. We feared your tongue more than whatever rod you may have used. We remember your generous dispensation of ‘stupid’ ‘you no get sense’ to an errant child and that immediately brought back the child to his or her senses. We remember dinner time which was a time that brought all of us together in love and sharing. Every child has his or her story of your personal attention and intervention. When you did not dispense ‘stupid’ you laughed, laughter that brought tears to your eyes. Today your children laugh from their hearts and they laugh with tears in their eyes
God abundantly rewarded the choices of service, sacrifice and commitment that you and Daddy made. He rewarded you both with longevity in good health, with contentment, with fulfillment and with children, grandchildren and great grand children who are carrying your torch further. The good name you have established no amount of gold can purchase. Today as we make our families we look for you in our partners.
As you celebrate ninety years we the children can only say:
“Thanks for being wonderful
And for all the wonderful things you do
To make the world a better place
Just by being you”
Like the merchant ships you brought food from afar, you rose while it was yet night and provided food for your household, and a portion for your maid servants, you girded yourself with strength and strengthened your arms, your lamp never went out by night, you stretched out your hand to the distaff and your hand held the spindle, you extend your hand to the poor, you never feared snow for your household, strength and honour are your clothing , you will always rejoice, you open your mouth with wisdom and on your tongue is the law of kindness, you watch the ways of your household, and you do not eat the bread of idleness, you fear the Lord.
Born on 8th.January, 1926 to James and Elvira Wilson in St. Catherines, Jamaica, The West Indies you had your early education in St.Catherines and after college at Lincoln College and on the death of your dear father you left for England to join your brothers Brad and Aston. While in England you trained as a nurse at the Lewisham School of Nursing, affiliated to Guys Hospital, London; University of London’s School of Tropical Diseases and the North Middleesex Hospital. Upon qualifying, you worked at Kings College, London and the Bristol Royal Infirmary.
In the afternoon of 16 July, 1957 you met the then Emmanuel Takon Ndoma -Egba, a law student famously known as E.T. at a mutual friend’s graduation party in London. In your words: “the attraction was mutual and immediate and we soon began talking as if we had known each other for ages”. On your birthday in 1958, E.T. proposed to you. On his birthday, 28th August, 1959 you were both formally engaged and got married on the 16th of December, 1960 and in your words “and so began a fairy tale journey into life with a commitment that only death would do us part.”
That journey brought you to Nigeria in August, 1962. You worked at the General Hospital, Enugu and at the Park Lane Hospital, Enugu as the first theatre nurse. At the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war you were at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Umuahia. After the civil war you were matron at the General Hospital, Ogoja; matron, Catholic Mission Hospital, Monaiya, Ogoja and matron, Holy Family Joint Hospital, Ikom from where you went into quiet retirement in 1985 to serve God fully having become an elder of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria in 1976.
As you turn 90, we your children call you blessed, your works praise you, your worth is above rubies, we celebrate you, we love you and pray that the Almighty you serve gives you many more years in good health and peace. Yours has been a life indeed.
–Ndoma-Egba is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.