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Late Madam Bessie Okezie

(Tribute) Da-Bessie, our own Mother Theresa, is gone.

Late Madam Bessie Okezie
Late Madam Bessie Okezie
(A Tribute to the mother of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu)
By Godwin Adindu

On Friday, January 29, 2016, at the serene and sleepy community of Umuobiakwa in Obingwa Local Council of Abia State, dust will go to dust and sand to sand. The boast of life and all that it gives will lead but to the grave.
Having breathed last on Sunday, November 29, at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, Madam Bessie Okezie, mother of the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, will be laid to rest. A fruitful 87 years of life of service to humanity would come to a glorious end. But, unlike the simplicity of her birth and the simplicity of her life, her last day on earth would resound as a carnival. The peaceful community of Umuobiakwa will witness a great disruption, not of an earthquake or physical destruction, not of pandemonium and noise but of pomp and ceremony – the happy celebration of a life well spent!
Indeed, the form and shape of Da-Bessie’s funeral will stand as a vindication for a life made sublime by compassion and care for others and a life of indelible footprints, not on the sands of time, but in the hearts of men. For Da-Betsy’s journey, unlike the Shakespeare’s tale told by an idiot, was a rich tale of meaning and significance. A meaning she lived out with her career as a nurse and midwife, a career that became her personality and a personality that became her life – a life that found expression in constant care and compassion for humanity.

From the lowly trough of life, the journey began at mid-day on May 27, 1928 when she was born into the family of Mr. Mrs Nwagwu Anaba of Umuafor Village in Obingwa LGA of Abia State. Her father died in 1944 when she was 16 and her mother took the decision to send her to school which she started at the age of 17.
She obtained her primary education from Adventist Primary School Aba and later attended School of Nursing, Adventist Hospital Ile Ife and graduated in 1959. In 1975, she went back to further her education at the School of Midwifery, Methodist hospital, Amachara Umuahia.
Mrs. Ikpeazu got married to late Mr. Ishmael Uleanya Ikpeazu of Umuobiakwa Village, also in Obingwa, in December, 1961 and this union was blessed with three children; Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu ( Governor of Abia State), Mrs. Ocheze Edith Ugboaja(A US-based Nurse) and Barrister Iheanyichukwu Ugonna Ikpeazu.
As a Nurse, Mrs. Ikpeazu worked at Ahoada County Hospital, Ahoada Rivers State, Okpuala Ngwa General Hospital and Nigerian Christian Hospital, Onitcha Ngwa in Aba where she served as the matron until she retired in 1994. During this period, she also served as the Nursing Supervisor for the Motherless Babies Home, Adventist Hospital, Aba
Mrs. Bessie Ikpeazu as an entrepreneur was the owner and CEO of Ulari Maternity Home/Clinic Umuobiakwa, a clinic where she saved many lives for no charge and delivered thousands of babies for little or no charge. She was a kind, loving, honest and God fearing woman who loved her God and her fellow humans and lived peacefully with everyone. With her compassionate heart, she touched many lives both within the family, the church, work place and in the community. Through her generosity many orphans, widows, widowers and less privileged children found a home in her home. These many acts of kindness gave her the name “Nne Oha” as her love for people had no boundaries. She was a prayer warrior, a Deaconess of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and also served as the Women’s Ministry leader for her local church for many years.

In Umuobiakwa Village, she was a model wife and a role model to other women in the village. She formed the “We We” meeting for Umuobiakwa women which serves a melting pot and an avenue for social acclimatization for many women married into the village.

Her hobbies in her younger years included knitting, sewing and farming. During her middle age and later years, she dedicated her life to the service of God, prayer ministry and humanitarian work. When her health started failing about 21 years ago and the doctors told her that she was not going to live much longer, she gave away most her possessions to the poor, with the explanation that her children may not remember to give things to this group of people when she was no more. One can say that at this time she began to prepare her life for the journey for eternal life just as Jesus demanded from the rich young ruler.

Mama Bessie taught, not only her children but everybody who came in contact with her, the value of hard work, honesty, dedication and perseverance . She was indeed the proverbial virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.

Today, it has been a season of mourning. If to live is to be known, Mama Bessie lived life to its fullest. If to die is to be forgotten, Mama truly will never die, for she shall forever live in the hearts of the many people she touched with her compassionate hand. We shall remember Da-Bessie for her devotion to her calling and her defence for truth and the public interest. We will remember her for many things, and significantly as a mother who stood out as a giant amongst women, not just because of the amazing capacity of her heart but more importantly for being a role model and trail-blazer in the pursuit of educational excellence. We shall for ever celebrate the mother Theresa of our time, a woman who was an epitome of honour, integrity, and selfless service to mankind; a woman who created her own ceiling and set many records; a friend who showed the way for others to follow and a woman whose entire life was a total commitment to God and mankind.
Why do we call her the Mother Theresa of our time? We do so because Da-Bessie personally decided to serve out her career as a missionary nurse and a missionary care giver. She found in her career a veritable platform to share love and care for the disconsolate humanity.
As we mourn today, we raise our voice in unison to re-echo the immortal question: death, where is thy sting? How many scores of years and centuries shall pass before we conquer death and resolve the mystery of the great finality? Da-Bessie fought to live; her family wanted her to live. But, life and death are given unto man. The curtain is drawn and the poor player has strutted and fretted her hours upon the stage. Mama has crossed the twin bridge between the material and the transcendental. On this bridge is an ever busy traffic: some are coming in by birth; some are taking exit by death. Thus, is life and death part of the natural continuum. We all shall die. So let it be that Da-Bessie is gone!
Goodnight, Da-Bessie. Take heart, mu Governor.

Godwin Adindu is the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia State Governor.

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