By Josephine Agbonkhese
Respite came the way of about 4,000 widows in Ode-Omu area of Osun State and environs three days into the new year as renowned clergyman, Rev.Matthew Abiodun Ashimolowo and wife, Pastor Yemisi, treated them to a colourful New Year celebration in Osun State.
The yearly event saw the widows each return home with six yards of beautiful African prints (ankara), monetary gifts and food items.
This year’s ceremony, according to Ashimolowo who is Senior Pastor, Kingsway International Christian Centre, KICC, and who was particularly excited throughout the day, marked the ninth year of the Annual Widows Party which took roots from a family reunion conceived ten years ago.
“I’m here in Ode-Omu which is my father’s hometown. I wasn’t born here though but in Zaria. The inspiration for this came 10 years ago when I began bringing together all the children and great-grandchildren of my grandfather- almost 400 of them, for a get-together. About the second year, I felt a burden to bless the widows in this city with my resources when I remembered how I was denied a Buba and Sokoto I desired by an Uncle I once lived with.
“In the first year, we had 308 widows, 850 in the second year, and 1000 in the third. That was how it kept climbing every year. About three years ago, a neighbouring town called Modakeke showed up with over 640 widows and has since then increasingly been part of the event. We had 1,703 widows from that town this year while some also came from a church in Osogbo. In all, we had a total of about 4,000 widows,” Ashimolowo said while fielding questions from journalists at the event.
The event also witnessed the presentation of scholarships to 12 university students of Ode-Omu descent. The preference for university students, according to Ashimolowo, was to encourage more youths from the locality to be science-oriented as opposed to the status quo.
“Three years ago, we paid for the university fees of 25 students. Last year, we paid for 20.
Provision for widows
This year, the cost of catering for the massive number of widows made us cut down the scholarship to 12 beneficiaries only. The vision I have personally is to give out 50 scholarships every year,” he buttressed, expressing gratitude to God over being able to provide for the students and widows without seeking help from any individual or group.
The ceremony had a multitude of famous anointed men of God in attendance, as well as delegates from the Osun State government and high-profile traditional rulers both from Osun and Ekiti states, who took turns to hand over the items to the widows.