By Paul Okene
To live in the hearts of men, is to live eternally, yet there must come a point in time, that all who are alive today will, if only if ,we live the life that touched lives.

Late Chief(Mrs.) Mary Agbonifo

Given the above context, I grew up knowing my mother as a strong, proud, beautiful, elegant, industrious, hardworking and a consistently optimistic woman, the backbone of our family. Unlike most women who are deliberate, self-effacing, and withdrawn, mum was spontaneous. Her effervescence of spirit was bewitchingly infections.

An unconscious feminist who refused to be dependent on any one, from the beginning mum trained me in exactly the same fashion. She trained me to be independent in all ways. As a child, I could not remember any moment my mum did not go out to work. From my early days, my mum taught me a lot about hard work, perseverance; her style was remarkably different, unmodified and refreshing.  She was direct, precise, demanding. Mum was extremely protective of her family. She complemented her husband and this helped her public image. My mum was the best wife any man could pray for and she was fun to be with.

I guess I must have subconsciously searched for a woman like my mum for a wife and must have taken her teaching to heart with my marriage to a very conscious feminist, family protector and I often marveled at the remarkable similarities between my mum and my wife.

The life of my mum, Business woman, Administrator, Community leader has taught us a few lessons. Perhaps the first lesson taught by the life of my great mum is that one should struggle to attain the best in whatever calling one has chosen. Chief Mrs. Mary Agbonifo started her business from the scratch and refused to be out of the race, she rose up, marched, jumped, leaped and moved on. She refused to recognise the limitation of her background. Her style of living which demanded tremendous courage, determined effort, persistence and commitment should recommend itself to us all seeking to live a life of excellence. The message of the life of Chief Mrs. Marry Agbonifo is that we should not quit the battle ground.

Another lesson that the life of my mum teaches is that if one is persistent and consistently focused on the pursuit of excellence and service, one will continue to be remembered even long after the person
has departed from the world. She will be remembered as one of the pioneers in the frozen fish business in the Old Bendel State.

A further lesson that the life of my mum teaches is that, it is not where one is born that matters, but the place to which one aspires to reach in life. Thus although my mum was brought up with virtually
nothing as a young lady, she chose to chart a course for herself, which involved learning, working extra hard to achieve excellence in her chosen calling in business.

My mum’s knowledge and respect for our tradition and culture was imperative.  She was proud of her tradition, the language, dress and values. She was a Roman Catholic to the core and never missed all
activities of the Church.

It has been one uneventful year now since this great woman of our time left us on the 26th of July 2013, the encomiums that greeted her glorious exit and the celebration witnessed in her death particularly
the presence of people from all walks of life, were resounding testimony of this great Urhobo woman. To say we miss Sisi is an understatement, Sisi served God and humanity to the fullest. Her legacy will continuously live on. We take solace in the fact that she lived a fulfilled life worthy of emulation. May God continue to grant her gentle soul eternal repose.

Paul Okene