BY SHADE THOMAS-FAHM
She passed away in the early hours of March 27th, 2013, in San Francisco, USA, at the age of 83. That drew a curtain on our over sixty-year-old friendship! Christy Stallings (nee Tugele) was from Warri but was born in Kaduna.
Young and bubbling with hopes and aspirations, we met in London for the first time through a mutual friend, Doris Press Prichard, now of blessed memory. Both of them were already at school in London before I went there too to study. Doris Prichard’s parents had given me her address so I could contact her on my arrival in London. I did, and through her, I met Christy. We were about four friends at that time, but I was quite close to Doris and Christy. We had fun, and that dampened the loneliness of being in a strange country with strange people.
Doris had been in England for about three years and already had her own flat, so, we congregated there at weekends, to chat, have a nice time together, and from there go to the movies. We had this habit while out, of commenting on the beautiful cars on the road. “That’s a Chevrolet, that’s a Pontier, that’s a Jaguar…”, we would say. And of course, the longest one was what Christy always wanted, and she would say, “That’s my car! That’s what I want!”
During the day, we worked in factories. I remember she introduced me to the blouse factory where she had a contract job. We would produce at least twelve blouses on a daily basis on commission. At the end of the day, we would collect whatever we’ve earned, and save it towards trips to the cinema at weekends. We were too young for the theatres at that time, but once in a while, we would go to a Matinee.
When Nigeria Airways was established, Christy was one of the first hostesses to be recruited and trained. She made a most beautiful airways hostess, and she would always bring us news and food from home. So, we would always spend our weekends at her place whenever she flew back to England. She had been married to Chief Rewane and they had two sons before she even went to England. Those sons are now big men of timber and calibre in Nigeria!
Christy and Chief Rewane parted ways along the line, and later, during one of her trips, she met her Prince Charming, a Mr. Stallings, an American who was shuttling between Lagos and Ghana. They got married and were blessed with children. Sadly, her husband, Mr. Stallings died here in Nigeria, and she moved to go join his people in the U.S., and she began shuttling between America and Nigeria. We spent many happy times together in Los Angeles, sometimes I spent as long as a month in her house. She was really the best hostess ever, as she entertained one lavishly and too
k one sight-seeing.
An amiable lady
We were very close friends, and I can’t remember us ever having a long-drawn out quarrel. Even if we had any misunderstanding, laughter always covered it all! Once we pick up the telephone, the first thing you hear is laughter; laughing over fond memories. Her laughter was really contagious.
Oh, Christy! I’m really happy for her because she got all what she dreamed of having. She was well-known and liked where she lived in the United States, because she was always organising African exhibitions. Most people liked her on sight because of her warmth and friendliness.
Nigerian Television Authority-NTA, boutique
After she left the Nigerian Airways, she joined the NTA where she worked for many years before setting-up a classy boutique at the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos. She had actually studied Mass Production, Garment Making in England.
Contribution to economy
She did a lot of work on African Arts and she really promoted Nigerian arts in her own way! She would take our African arts, clothes, hand-woven adire, Bida beads and Aso-oke to America for exhibitions, and this was a good business venture for her. This was in the seventies.
A home accident was probably what contributed to her passing on, because she had fallen down before falling sick. The last time we spoke was about two weeks before her demise, and we even laughed over the fall. She told me it wasn’t serious. I rang her up while she was in hospital, but according to her daughter, she batted her eye-lids when the phone was put to her ear, but she couldn’t talk. The last time we saw was 18-months ago when she visited Nigeria, and we were inseparable throughout that her visit.
Lessons from Christy’s life
You have to give something back to life. Otherwise, life is worthless. Christy dreamed, followed her dreams and got them all. Her gift was to help people in any way she could and make people feel at ease. This she did at all times. MAY HER NICE SOUL REST IN PEACE. AMEN.