Matilda Ohuabunwa (1928 – 2018)


Matilda Ohuabunwa belongs to the early generation of mothers who sacrificed every comfort for the sake of their children and family. The generation of mothers in reference are now scarce, quite difficult to find in today’s contemporary society. Born in 1928, Matilda had the privilege of elementary education at a time opportunities for girl-child education were either a taboo or restricted. Her parents, therefore, saw tomorrow even at that time. The exposure to elementary education which was also qualitative during that period, no doubt, helped Matilda to define and shape her choices in life.

The same opportunity influenced her environment. Her marriage to a second world war hero – Mazi Sunday Inyama Ohuabunwa in 1942 was a product of both her environment, and exposure to basic education. With this modest family background, Matilda was able to cultivate and nurture a culture of hardwork, discipline, honesty, perseverance, patience, endurance and fear of God early in life. These virtues were at the root of her passion for the survival of her family even in the midst of complex challenges.

For instance, how many women today would stay patiently and wait for a young husband who went to war in foreign land with little or no assurances of safe return? Matilda Ohuabunwa did. Again, when her husband miraculously returned from the second world war in 1947, Matilda was confronted with the tragedy of the loss of her first and only child the following year 1948. The sad development and threw her into another wilderness of endless waiting for a child of her own which she desperately needed to stabilize her marriage. During this waiting period, she was under all kinds of family and societal pressures from far and near. In the midst of the pressures, her husband, (an only son of his own parents) (just back from the war) was also under pressure and in desperate search for a child.

This informed her husband’s decision to get a second wife.  Madam Matilda remained calm, confident and loyal. She did not only endorse her husband’s decision but was very actively involved in the marriage ceremony to get her man a second wife in 1950. It is doubtful if any wife in today’s world would manage her situation better than she did.

Another exceptional character and virtue demonstrated by Matilda was the leadership she provided when both her husband and her mate (the second wife of her husband) had passed on. It’s on record that she alone took the responsibilities of raising the family of ten boys and two girls without discrimination. Today, it is difficult to find among the Ohuabunwas who is from which mum. She worked tirelessly to make ends meet under rain and sun shine. She was a food vendor, caterer, dealer on clothing in all efforts to put food on her children’s table.

For 30 years, Matilda Ohuabunwa relied on hard work, entrepreneurship and God’s grace to manage successfully, the negative impacts, consequences and challenges of widowhood.  Her success story as a wife and mother,  ready and willing to pay any legitimate price to promote, protect and preserve the future of her children, image of her family and legacies of her husband remained outstanding in Arochukwu. The result of her sacrifice is today positively visible.  The impacts are also clear for even the blind to see.

Amaikpe is aware that the Ohuabunwa family stand tops among most successful families in Arochukwu Kingdom.  A family of 11 (10 men and I woman);  all of them, their children and grand children quite successful in their diverse chosen professions. It is only in Ohuabunwa family that you perhaps can find all professions well represented. They are prominent practitioners’ or investors in business, politics, banking, medicine, military, tourism, education, media, public service etc. In the church and community service, they lead, while others follow. Most importantly, the family is very much united with solemn obedience to the leader and another mentor of the family – Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, a former Managing Director of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals and one time Chair, Nigeria Economic Summit Group. Senator Mao Ohuabunwa who represents Abia North in the National Assembly is another prominent son in the family among others.  This strong foundation was largely laid by their mum. We salute Matilda Ohuabunwa for a productive, God fearing life she lived.

In his tribute, her first son, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa remarked: “ We want to thank God, that Mama lived to see all the children marry to beautiful and God fearing spouses from different parts of the country and God has granted her the privilege of seeing her grand and great grand children”.

The curtain has fallen on Matilda Ohuabunwa at a diamond  age of 90. Her casket will be lowered on Friday 6th April 2018 after commendation service at the All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Ugwuavor,  Arochukwu. Amaikpe joins her family,  all Aros  to welcome  relations and in-laws, the  political class, heads of governments, legislators, captains of commerce and industry, religious leaders, the media and civil society expected in Arochukwu  to bid Matilda Ohuabunwa farewell.

We wish you all travelling mercies while praying the Mighty and Almighty to bless her family and grant her soul eternal rest!!.

About author

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, a well-known Nigerian broadcaster, journalist, political economist and development communication specialist sits on the Editorial Board of Aro News, a leading community news channel of the Aros, south east Nigeria. Orji writes its popular column “Amaikpe”.  
He is currently the Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Presidency, Abuja. NEITI is the Nigerian chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international organization with 53 member countries which leads the global campaign for transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources in resource-rich countries around the world. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji was named NEITI's acting Executive Secretary/ceo in 2015, a position he held briefly until 2016.  
Dr. Orji represents NEITI on Nigeria’s National Steering Committee of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and chairs the extractive sector thematic group in the country’s OGP.  
Prior to his current job at NEITI, Dr. Orji was a special adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication on Strategic Development Communication. Between 2004 and 2006, he worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a national consultant on public procurement reforms. At the UNDP, he worked with other development partners such as the World Bank and USAID on institutionalizing public procurement processes in Nigeria, by articulating a bill on public procurement for consideration and passage into law by the National Assembly. Following the passage of the Bill into law and establishment of the Bureau of Public Procurement on the June 4, 2007, Orji headed the media and public affairs department of the Bureau.
He served as Special Adviser to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. During this period, he provided technical support to develop the institutional framework on strategic media/civil society relations and engagements with the country’s legislature emerging from years of military rule.
His career in the media industry began at Radio Nigeria where he was groomed and worked in various capacities, rising through the ranks to the position of Deputy Director at the headquarters. The highest point of his career at Radio Nigeria was his posting to the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power) as the Chief State-House Correspondent, attached to Nigeria’s presidents. Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji served with courage and distinction during five different regimes, part of which were under the military from 1993 to 2000, when Nigeria returned to civil rule. The job at the Presidential villa took Orji on regular entourages of Nigerian Presidents to many countries of the world for the media-coverage of key global events, including several sessions of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji began his early life and education in 1970 at the Presbyterian School, Amanator Isu, Ohaozara in the then Afikpo Division. He attended Ishiagu High School Okigwe for his secondary education from 1975 and obtained his West African School Certificate from the school in 1980. He later proceeded to the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu where he graduated with a certificate in Mass communication in 1987. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Abuja, Nigeria in 1999, a master’s degree in political economy and development studies in 2004 and a PhD in the same discipline and from the same University in 2012.
He attended the Senior Executive Fellows program on public policy and communication at J.F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also an alumnus of Blatvanik School of Government, University of Oxford, England, Thompson Foundation Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff, United Kingdom, the International Law Institute, George Town University Washington DC, the Institute for Public and Private Partnership, Arlington Virginia, the World Bank Institute, the African Development Bank Institute, and the Lagos Business School. Furthermore, he is a recipient of professional fellowships from the US State Department and from the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Esther Ogbonnaya with three children: Nnenna, Orji (Jr), and Chinatu.

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