By Uche Enem
The children of Late Martin & Catherine Chiegboka on 3rd January, 2019, celebrated their dead and great parents in a mass witnessed by many priests, friends and well wishers at Obu Martin Obiefuna Chiegboka's Compound.
The event which started with a Holy Mass was fun filled as the children celebrated 17 years memorial of their dad who died on April 6, 2002 and 11 years of their mum who died October 20, 2008. Using the words of Shakespeare, 'who steals my purse steals trash but he that filches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed', Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Umezinwa, buttressed the importance of good name reputation on earth. The homilist charged Christians to live a positive and worthy life before dying and departing from earth.
After the mass, Rev. Fr. Christian Amogu led in the prayers over the grave site of Late Martin, Late Catherine and Augustine Chiegboka
Dance, refreshment and exchange of pleasantries were what lightened the event after the mass.
Late Mr. Martin Obiefuna Chiegboka was the 8th child and the 6th son, of Chiegboka Obiefuna; and Nwamgbafor Chiegboka. He was born about the year 1908 to the great family of Chiegboka (Ikeotuonye). Martin was popularly called and known as “Actually”
Though Martin was born at a time when Western Education was a taboo, he managed to acquire a little of Western Education and saw to the educational development in the family, a fact that saw Chiegboka family as the family with the greatest number of graduates in the 1995 publication of Isuofia Students Union. Martin received the sacrament of Baptism, Eucharist and Matrimony in the Catholic Church.
At Onitsha, Martin established a soap business, a business which flourished till a major set back associated with loosing his shed. Martin reorganized his business and went into supply of palm oil to a soap manufacturing company. He later joined Chief T.O. Chiegboka in bakery material business until 1961.
He continued with this business till the accidental death of his first son, later Mr. Augustine Chiegboka popularly called “Beko”. The death of Augustine in 1984 threw Mr. Martin off completely and sent him into premature retirement. But by this time he had set up his son Leonard to continue from where he stopped. He was to set up an Electrical business and later General Merchandise from where he became the family bread winner till date. He was very humorous, kind, loving generous, and very open handed. He believed in justice. He believed that quitters never win and winners never quit. He pursued everything he believed in a logical conclusion. His rib cracking jokes will be missed by many.
It is to the credit of Pa Martin Chiegboka that he was the first person in Isuofia to wall his compound with block cement. He served Isuofia People's Union especially at Onitsha Branch as Father Founder, Treasurer and Patron. His Onitsha residence was used for long by the branch Union as place of meeting till the recent permanent site. He took ill and was sent to Nigerian Health Specialist Hospital Onitsha on 23rd March and died quietly from his sleep at about 930p.m on 6th April, 2002.
Late Mrs Catherine Mgboli-Ogwaku Chiegboka, was born in 1920, into the humble and esteemed family of the late Chief & Mrs Ezenwajiobi Ogwaku of Umuezeonalanya in Okpo Village, Ekwulobia, Aguata L.G.A. Anambra State.Mama-o got married to her darling husband, the late Martin Obiefuna Chiegboka, Actually, Ochu Okuko Onweghi, in 1942 and God blessed their marriage with ten children. Okwesi was a beloved wife and a loving mother to all her children and neighbours. She never discriminated against other children who came around the family. She was selfless. When it was the vogue, Okwesi gave her best in assisting some men in preparing their new/young wives in the art of family challenges and domestic lives.
She assisted her husband in his business. During the Nigeria Civil War, while her husband concentrated in farming and the produce, she travelled far and wide to various hinterland markets to buy and sell until after the war. She later started her own trade as a yam dealer and she was a member of the Onitsha Seed-Yams Dealer's Association; the business she continued until she retired.
Mama's faith in God was unshakable. She was a devout Christian and a strong believer in the Bible and the tenets of the Catholic Church. Until her last day, she never stopped saying the Rosary which was always in her hands. Her intentions and zeal pleased God to call one of her sons to the Altar as a Priest. Her contributions to the Churches cannot be forgotten. Mama-o was a member of Catholic Women's Organization (CWO), Queen of All Hearts and member of other Societies within the church both home and abroad. She was one of the leaders of the C.W.O at the Sacred Heart Parish, Odoakpu, Onitsha and St Patrick's Catholic Church, Isuofia. As a result of her contributions, she was conferred with many awards and honours and became the Patroness of many religious organization.
She was conferred the Patroness of C.W.O. Igbo-ukwu Deanery, while St. Martin's Hill Top Catholic Church, Abagana, conferred on her NNE DI EBUBE, among numerous others.
She was an outstanding socialite and philanthropist with good friends and maintained and valued relationships both within and outside her community.
Despite her busy family life, Mama-o found some time to socialize. She belonged to some social organizations that principally assisted the less privileged in the society.
She was a social organizer and a community leader. Okwesili, Agbala Umunwanyi (Okwesi), were among the so many names givien to her, in the cause of her numerious activities. She was the Nne Egwu of the then famous Odejim-jim Dance Group Onitsha. Member and one of the leaders (Chairpersons) of the town's Women Wing of the IPU Federated. Nne Egwu of the Sacred Heart Parish, Zone 5, Odoakpu, Onitsha. Member of the Uche Chukwu Mee of Ezioka Village, Isuofia, for her exemplary roles, the title Nne bu-Udo was conferred on her. Her leadership roles and control of the women both at the Church and community levels are on record.
Home for all:
Nnebudo and her husband made it a duty to provide free accommodation and hospitality for any visitor to their home in Onitsha. We come home to feed and stay at her home during breaks from schools and holidays with several other school children. Her husband's house at 30 Modebe Avenue, Odoakpu, became the hall and centre of most of the activities for and hosted both the Men and Women wings of Isuofia Peoples Union Federated, Onitsha Branch for very many years until they built the new hall. The family house also played host to St. Patrick's Choir Isuofia whenever they visited Onitsha for Choir competitions before the creation of Awka Diocese. We took such gestures for granted at the time until much later in our lives as the society unfolded. At the time when people gave and list what they had done or sacrificed to other people or families and expected royalty/return, she gives without counting costs. Mama-o strived to gave and offer her children and other families the best she and her late husband could afford.
The Sunset of Nne anyi Okwesi:
After the death of her husband, over the last six years, she had lived peacefully and quietly in her home with occasional bouts of malaria and arthritis. She suffered her infirmity with unparallel courage, faith and hope. She placed her faith in God Almighty who saw her through these periods. She did not make her children to suffer and never liked nor wanted to be a burden to anyone. Her words always were “God Dey” and “Oge Nke Chineke ka mma”. She was visited by many Priests and Religious who counselled and prayed for her. On most of the occasions, the various groups and family relations and friends who visited her attested to the fact that she remained solid and very cheerful.