WRITTEN BY BARR. BASIL IGWIKE
Lolo Elizabeth Omaraeze Nneze Igwike was born in 1932 to the family of Chief Onyebule Uruogo and Lolo Mary Ohuche Onyebule of Ishiama Village,
Nkerehi in Orumba South Local Government. Nneze was the only surviving daughter and second child in the family of four children.
Little Nneze was very beautiful at birth and this caught the attention and admiration of Chief Igwike Okoronkwo who quickly approached mama’s parents and requested for traditional marriage engagement between his son, the little Chief Nze Agodi Igwike and newly born Nneze, both of whom would grow up to become husband and wife. Igwike Okoronkwo performed this traditional betroth by putting a silver coin in the clay bowl that was used to feed mama’s water. Nneze and her husband grew up together, thinking they were brother and sister but at the age of twelve, they were formerly married, though they did not start producing children until in their early twenties.
The marriage is blessed with eight children- four males and four females and eight step children - four males and female girls. As the first wife in a polygamous family, mama had the utmost responsibility in organizing and ensuring that the family grew as one united and indivisible family.
During the war, mama fed every child in the family that came around and others from outside of the family. Throughout her life, mama was so kind that she would prefer not to eat but feed others, even strangers. She was the best friend of the poor and downtrodden in the town. Mama, together with her mother, raised twelve orphans and poor children in Nkerehi town and beyond.
Even though she joined Christianity in her middle age, mama was a devoted lover of God. She was baptized in the Catholic faith and received the Holy Communion in the Catholic faith but when her husband joined Anglican Communion, mama joined him and both of them wedded in the church in 2008. Mama was very active at Saint Paul’s Anglican Church, Nkerehi. Mama, because of her age, could not attend services frequently. Thus, she converted her bedroom into a place for worshipping God. Mama was a Co-adjunct of the honor bestowed on her husband as Ezi Nna of the Church.
Late Lolo Elizabeth Omaraeze Nneze Igwike Served the Nkerehi community to the best of her ability. She was a member of several social groups and participated actively in the social services of Umuokpu Nkerehi, an organization that dispensed justice in every dispute brought to them. Mama instilled into her children the spirit of assisting everybody, even in the state of want. She and her husband reminded their first son, Nze Dr. Richard Igwike, the Dean College of Business, Dillard University New Orleans, USA to show his people the way to enter United States. This instruction the Prof. carried out and the result is manifest visible today in our dear Nkerehi community.
Mama joined her ancestors on September 16, 2017 at ripe age of 85 even thought she was never bedridden. Till her death, her memory and mental alertness were equal to that of a brilliant child.
Mama, we must surely miss your kind advice and guidance, your caring, compassion, kind heartedness, and good old stories you always told us. Mama, you are not dead, but transited to glory as we have no doubt that you are in heaven. We love you but God loves you most.
We are consoled in the wordings and quote from the Middle East that says "when you were born, you cried and the world laughed; you lived your life so well that now you are dead, you laughed and the world cries". Again, in the words of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross "watching a painful death of a hero like you reminds us of a falling star from million lights in a sky that flares up for a brief moment, only to disappear into the endless night forever” Nne Oma, Anyanwu Ututu, we bid you farewell and promise to continue to keep your legacy till we meet again to part no more.
Mama is survived by her husband, seven children, six step children, many grandchildren, great grandchildren and co-wife.