At the time of a manâ€™s departure, those who are living can only judge the deceased by his personal worth while he lived. If it is also true that the voice of the people is the voice of God, we can say with certainty that Ezinne (Evang.) Jessy Ogbeyalu Ndukwe has indeed dropped the swords to wear the crown of eternal glory.
Born 85 years ago to the family of late Mazi John Alaezi Okwo and Mary Oyirinta Alaezi (nee Eme) of Ndi Okoronkwo Agbonta, Iketenwe, Okoko Item in present day Bende Local Government, Ezinne Jessy carved a niche for herself early enough in Item Central School, Okoko Item being one of the three girls in a school dominated by 43 males including the late Sir M.I. Okpara. While others may have seen it as a manâ€™s world, Jessy Aba, as she was fondly called by her mates learnt the virtues of perseverance, hard work, diligence, rectitude and independence.
Young and beautiful Jessy, though a victim of the belief system at that time that celebrated the virtues of early marriage ahead higher education, getting married to an enterprising, handsome Mazi Ndukwe Okpo, the owner of JANO GARMENT AND SINGLET FACTORY was worth it given her broad understanding that life is more meaningful when you tie your fate to that of a like mind. Together, Jessy and her husband approached entrepreneurship and marriage with equal strength and vigour. She received her training as a Seamstress at the First Woman London Trained Domestic Science and Sewing Specialist Centre at Howell Cresent in Aba between 1952 and 1953.
What appeared to be a lull in their flourishing life set in when four years after their marriage, they could not bear children. Jessy listened to Germany Kent, who advised her, â€œLet your life reflect the faith you have in God. Fear nothing and pray about everything. Be strong, trust God’s word, and trust the process.â€ While these periods lasted, friends and family testified that Jessy never nagged, kicked or grumbled.
She remained strong, unshaken in her faith in God and applied all principles of perseverance to weather the storm. Her first child Sir Emmaanuel Onuoha Ndukwe Chairman/CEO Chynuel Multi Resources Limited, came in 1956 and was followed in quick succession by six others among whom are Sir Johnson Ndukwe, Chairman/CEO Jons Ndy Communications Limited, Lady Grace Agwu, wife of His Grace Most Rev (Dr) S.I.O. Agwu, the Methodist Archbishop of Portharcourt Diocese and Rt. Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe Ph.D, Commissioner for Trade and Investment, former Chief of Staff to the Governor of Abia State and immediate past Deputy Speaker of 6th Abia House of Assembly among others.
Ezinne Jessy had the onerous task of helping to protect her later fatherâ€™s legacies. Though she did not mind safeguarding properties, her most avowed task was to ensure that her younger brother Onwukwe Alaezi acquired education. Determined Ezinne pulled resources together to send Onwukwe to school at a time it was not very fashionable for male children to go to school. To the glory of God, young Onwukwe remained committed to her sisterâ€™s efforts and rose to become a Distinguished Professor with an academic hat decorated with unprecedented laurels, awards and achievements.
â€œJessy Abaâ€ had her eye on community service. However, she knew that unless Christ takes the driverâ€™s seat, man shall labour in vain. Her interest was not in her position as Vice President, Elugwu Akanu Item Womenâ€™s wing or the trust laden position as Treasurer, Akanu Women Development and Item Women Development for many years; she desired that peace reigned and God healed Item land.
She consistently played major roles in the peace of Akanu and its development. In 1985, she with late Madam Celina Kalu championed the Peace meeting during the crisis involving the late Mazi Oti and the community. Every 25th December while we were busy at home with rice and other ceremonies, Mama will go with her Prayer Partner, one Madam Grace to the Primary school to pray and weep for the peace and unity of Akanu. She was doing this until she lost her Prayer Partner by death and encouraged all her children to continue where she stopped. In December 2012, the children led by Sir Emma Ndukwe, but funded by Dr. Cosmos Ndukwe, organised a crusade titled â€˜Agwoola Akanuâ€™ (Akanu is healed). Many believed that the unprecedented developments that followed after in Item were Godâ€™s answered prayers.
Nneoha, Ezigno Nne, spirited merchant and moral instructor, Mama took a bold step of faith when she was led by his son Emma to Christ in 1977. Ezinne Jessy raised the bar of her faithfulness. Her major â€œcrusade groundâ€ was her Happy Home Domestic Centre at 132 Cameroun Road, Aba, properly equipped by her late husband. Mama made moral instruction the bedrock of her excellent training. Through her benevolence, many young girls from Item and beyond were trained beyond sewing, making of wedding cakes and confectionaries.
It is on record that women proudly wore blouses made by Mama with sense of pride because she provided a hook in the blouse to use in locking the hand of a womanâ€™s bra such that you can never see the inner wears of her customers. There is hardly any Item community or village that did not benefit from the Happy Home Domestic Centre, before her retirement from active service. Mama knew that according to Sherry Anderson â€œVolunteers donâ€™t get paid, not because theyâ€™re worthless, but because theyâ€™re priceless.â€
In the Methodist Church, she was the golden girl where she held the prestigious title of Ezinne, Item Diocese, Diamond Mother Award of Wesley Methodist Cathedral, Aba 2012. She was a member of the Wesley Cathedral Choir for many years and also an active member of Wednesday Prayer Meeting till death. She is also a Jerusalem Pilgrim (JP).
On the 21st of November, 2020, we shall commit to mother earth, a virtuous woman of note, one mother who painstakingly ensured that her children were not ashamed of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, a dedicated private Ombudsman, charity worker of note, prayer warrior and entrepreneur who gave more than she received.
Adieu Ezinne. As you drop the sword to wear the crown, we pray God to grant your beautiful soul eternal rest
Udechukwu, a Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Umuahia. This piece was written prior to the funeral of Ezinne Jessy Ogbeyalu Ndukwe and published a day after, with the funeral pictures.