Dame Dorothy Ihedioha: The Eagle Takes A Bow

By Amanze Obi

Anybody who cares to put the Emeka Ihedioha personality into proper perspective may do well to understand his maternal background. He was born of and by the eagle.

His mother, Dame Dorothy Nsonma Ihedioha, was an eagle. As we know too well, the eagle, the bird of prey, is special and remarkable in several ways. It is a symbol of strength and courage. It is visionary and loathes narrow- mindedness. The eagle sees the world as its canvass and never gets weary of daring. Above all, the eagle is fearless and never surrenders to the size of its prey. The personality of Dame Dorothy Nsonma Ihedioha embodies all these and more.

Born a little over 90 years ago, Dame Ihedioha came into the world at a time the womenfolk, especially in what was then tagged the Dark Continent of Africa, were at the lowest rung of the ladder in the chain of beings. The typical woman of her era, especially the rural dwellers, were the dregs of society. Except, perhaps for a few that were born with the silver spoon, the rest accepted as axiomatic the received notion at the time that women were only to be seen and not to be heard. It was only the daring and fearless ones that left their footprints on the sands of time.

Dame Nsonma Ihedioha was one of such women. She was propelled into action by the qualities of the eagle in her. Though born into a relatively known and famous family of the Okerekes in Ngor Okpala, Nsonma was somewhat disadvantaged by a lonely parentage. She was the only child of her mother in a family of seven wives. The situation was one that could easily make someone a lonely sojourner. Rather than be weighed down by this circumstance, Nsonma braved the odds. She stood shoulder high in a number of endeavours.

Then as if to mock nature for not blessing her mother with many children, Nsonma, in marriage, became a symbol of fertility. She was blessed with thirteen children, with eleven surviving to adulthood, an accomplishment that was worthy of celebration in her time.

But if there was anything truly remarkable about Dame Ihedioha, it was her decision to explore far afield in the field of education at a stage in life when many a woman would worry about nothing other than childbearing and child rearing. Rather than enslave herself to this typical way of seeing by the womenfolk, Dame Ihedioha led her life methodically and purposefully. It was astonishing that a woman who had eleven children to nurture could decide to return to school for further studies at the time she did. That was typical of the eagle.

She was driven by vision. She shunned narrow-mindedness, the type that would her impressed it upon her that returning to school at that stage in life was an impossible task. As the symbol of freedom, she, like the eagle, flew into the mortal wings of immortality. Dame Ihedioha may have gone the way of all flesh, but she lives on. The seeds of forbearance, courage and strength that she sowed are there to tell her story. It is in this that her immortality lies.

It is significant that Dame Ihedioha did not go home without leaving a worthy legacy. Since the strong must beget the strong, Dame Ihedioha gave a good account of herself in the strong man called Chukwuemeka Nkemakolam Ihedioha. Like his mother, Emeka, as he is simply called, had a humble beginning. He was not born great. But he has, through dint of hard work, industry and focus, risen to remarkable heights.

Again, like his mother, Emeka is courageous, visionary and fearless. Just as his mother excelled in the various endeavours she engaged in, Emeka has been outstanding in his chosen endeavour. His exploits in politics are there for all to see. Those who know a bit of his politics have no doubt that the best is yet to come. More than any other politician in his home state of Imo, Emeka is easily the most talked about in positive terms. He is engaging and gregarious. His never-say-die disposition is legendary. His huge follower-ship base bears eloquent testimony to this fact.

Dame Ihedioha, in life, felt fulfilled that the seed she planted bore a healthy fruit in Emeka. There is no doubt that she will, in death, rest peacefully, realising as she must, that she left a legacy of hope and regeneration.

In recognition of the exemplary life she lived, Dame Ihedioha was decorated with numerous honours and awards. She was Dame of St. Christopher, member of Anglican EFAC Group, Respected Mother of the Mothers Union, Ada Zion, Mother of Virtue and Jerusalem Pilgrim, among others. She was also decorated with traditional titles such as Lolo Nzeudo 1 and Ezenwanyi Udo 1 of Mbutu.

As Dame Dorothy Nsonma Ihedioha takes a bow after a glorious and fulfilled life, our prayer is that the Lord gives her a prime place in His kingdom.

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