By Donu Kogbara
VERY few of the people around us have significant impacts on our lives. And I want to pay a heartfelt tribute to my beloved late auntie, Chief Mrs Chinyere Asika, who recently passed away and will be buried today in Onitsha.
She was not only one of the most intellectual and accomplished women of her generation but one of the kindest.
When I separated from my husband, my small son (Oliver), and I were living in an official residence in Abuja that was attached to my father’s job (he was an INEC Commissioner at the time).
Then Daddy died and we had to move out of the house, so the new Commissioner who was replacing him could move in. And I was at rock bottom and my wits end because I couldn’t afford to rent a place of my own.
Furthermore, in addition to being completely broke, I was broken and bereaved to the point of emotional collapse. I’d adored my Darling Daddy and missed him so much that I could barely focus on getting out of bed in the morning.
Recovering and earning a credible income was a distant dream at that juncture.
Mrs Asika gently stepped in at this point and rescued me and Oliver from homelessness, despair, starvation and humiliation. She invited us to stay with her until I stabilised. She put a roof over our heads. She fed us. She gave us dignity. She patiently tolerated my bad habits.
In a nutshell, she became a good friend and amazingly witty and entertaining companion as well as an immensely supportive pillar of strength and wise, no-nonsense advisor.
I owe her my survival and an enormous debt of gratitude.
So many people have so many great things to say about Auntie Chinyere. Here is another glowing tribute from Chief Goddy Emeka Ejiofor, a family friend.
Tribute to a virtuous woman, Dibueze Chinyere Asika(OFR)
Sunday, 3rd of May, 2015 should not rejoice among the days of this year, it was on this day, without drum beat and fun fare that the sun set in the morning with the death of Dibueze Chinyere Asika following in the wake of the star that suddenly turned into an eclipse, a super nova that expired untimely. There was ghoulish and macabre rhythm of sorrow, wailing and gnashing of teeth by family, relations and friends alike.
In Dibueze’s death the trite saying that life is nature’s version of an African masquerade comes alive. Like the masquerade, life wears a mask behind which stands a litany of hidden mysteries.
It was this exasperation about life’s many mysteries that inspired the essayist and philosopher Nathan Leopard to give expression to his anger and disgust about life with a pinch of acidic humour. In his epic book, Life plus 99 years, Leopold wrote ‘’what a rotten writer of detective stories life is.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr betrayed his impression of life thus: “Life seems to me like a Japanese picture which our imagination does not allow to stand in the margin.” To Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian poet and historian: ‘’Life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece, it terminates in death.” And death to Tom Stoppard is: ‘’’The absence of presence, the absence of being, the endless time of never coming back. A gap you can’t see, and when the wind blows through it, it makes no sound”. To me, we are like grasses in the field cut down at the fling of the farmer’s machete.
Dibueze’s life did not end in the margin by our own calculation. At 75 plus, three scores and ten, her death has indeed left a big hole in our hearts.
Dibueze was God-fearing, nice, a nice person before God and man, and I can see the saints standing at the gates of Heaven with open hands telling Dibueze: ‘’Come into thy Fathers kingdom, good and faithful servant, you ran a good race and your reward is eternal bliss”. Dibueze was a gift to this age.
This is why when I think of her cheerful face now resting in the grave unknown to laughter, intellectual discuss and conviviality, I feel pained at her death. But John Donne, the 17th Century English Poet and essayist enjoined us to always scorn death, for death never wins unless the dead lived an unworthy life.
We know Dibueze lived a fulfilled and worthy life. Humility and godliness were mirrored in her. To her, home and heart rated uppermost in the life she fulfilled. She now stands at the threshold of her path for further service to the most high. Dibueze: ‘’remain steadfast, go forth courageously and in peace. You will find the right path that leads to the longed-for heights. Our loving thoughts and fervent prayers accompany you on your path. Your soul will surely awaken to joyful activities on the last day. For you were an immaculate Eagle that flew across our firmament with the plume of peace in your beak, touching and changing lives of many”. David in the Bible instead of weeping and mourning at his son’s death said: ‘’God giveth and God taketh. Who are we to question God’s decision”. We should not worry about death, but rather of being forgotten after death. That to my mind would be the most disgusting epitaph, because in the final analysis, we are not likely to be assessed merely by how long we lived
on earth but more importantly by our contribution to the improvement of human condition.
Dibueze, your life was a candle in the wind, and you touched life in a peculiar and special way that left the sweet taste of love, care and concern to its wake.
And I can vouch Dibueze Chinyere did her fair share of contributions to make this world a better place for our children and generations to come.
Dibueze is not dead!