My mother of valour, Monica Dukor (1928-2022)
A vessel unto thy honor, a woman of valour, the wife of the teacher, catechist and interpreter (who was employed as a teacher by the Western Nigerian government in 1944) for the Roman Catholic Missionaries, Monica Dukor had a background in a pre-colonial village setting, in the shadow of a distant past, which gradually and evolutionarily interfaced the half sun of modernization.
She was born to Chief Isaac Ezeobi, the Head of Umuechemonu family in Ihuagiri clan of Osikwu village in 1928, sixteen years after the banner of Christianity was hoisted in Awgbu Community in 1912, by Rev. Fr. Albert Bubendoff.
Mama’s progress in education stopped in 1938 when she was in standard five (5) because of the enormity of family challenges which included her mother’s illness and the burden of the school fees of her immediate senior brother, Christopher. However, her performances in the standard five (5) examinations attracted the attention of the missionaries at the missionary convent and teacher training school at Adazi-Nnukwu who sent a delegation to her father to solicit his permission to train mama in the teacher’s training college. This again could not persuade his father who confessed that her daughter was the breadwinner of the family with regard to domestic and financial responsibilities.
Monica Dukor (nee Ezeobi), wedded in 1950 before settling with their husband, Cyril Dukor, the legendary Teacher and Catholic Missionaries’ interpreter, in the Midwestern region, Nigeria who was employed as a teacher by the western Nigerian Government in 1944. She took her three junior siblings to her matrimonial home at Obiaruku where they were able to start school and ended up as Theodore Ezeobi (SAN), Charles Ezeobi (B.A) and Sister Louisa Ezeobi (Rev.Sr) respectively. Her father, Chief Isaac Ezeobi had to often testify and announce to whoever cared to know that it was Monica that bore all the financial burden of his son, Chief Christopher Ezeobi’s (Mama’s immediate senior brother) education.
The marriage was blessed with children, the first daughter, Ngozi (born and deceased 1953), Francisca, Emmanuel (deceased 2020), Frank, Fidelia (deceased 1968), Donatus, Obiageli, Ifeoma and Nkiru though the first child Ngozi died at a very young age, for reasons quite distant from the unavailability of medicare, at Eku hospital, a European brand which had provided medical succor to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Nwankwor Dukor, including their children’s births. Eku hospital was (is) a few miles away from Obiaruku but bordered southwards by water ridges of the Niger Delta region. Fidelia died during the Nigerian Biafra war. Mama was running helter-skelter along Awka-Onitsha and Ihiala axis searching for a good hospital when Fidelia died on her back along the road.
Mother, the vessel of honour and father, the teacher, the catechist and the interpreter with Irish, British and black Roman Catholic Reverend fathers namely Rev. Fr. Coniham, Rev. Fr. Convey (Britons), Rev. Fr. Carpenter (Irish), Rev. Fr. Erame, Rev. Chukwuma, Rev. Fr. Umuna, Rev. Fr. Nyowheoma and so on served God in spirit, soul and body.
Papa’s engagement with social and political activities in Obiaruku and in the Midwestern region of Nigeria was not a distraction from his service to God but an extension of his duty to humanity. He was an organizer and a unionist. He was the founding secretary of Obigbo quarters while his senior, brother Chief Jerry Dukor was the chairman. He was a Zikist and a leader of the Igbo union from Warri to Agbor. Mama was supportive of these social activities from the feminist vantage. Papa and mama were humanists, yet God-intoxicated. Our father and mother were religious and spiritual. They inherited this from their respective fathers.
Pope John Paul in one of his encyclicals submitted that salvation starts here on earth. Mama and papa evolved in salvation from this earth in the service of God and Humanity. Our mother, served God and humanity in many ways as President, St Jude Society, Obiaruku-Midwest, Nigeria (1956-1960), President- a legion of Mary, Obiaruku, Midwest, Nigeria(1960-1964),
Remained member of both the Legion of Mary and St Jude at St Micheal, Awgbu when we came home during the civil war.
As well as, President, St. John, All Saints Catholic Church, Awgbu and President, Igbo Women Society, Sapele-Obiaruku-Warri (1960-1965).
Yet, the history of Cyril and Monica Dukor in the service to humanity took an epic summersault with the outbreak of the war. Henceforth, things were never the same again. How Papa transported and ferried us, his children and mama, was another epistle of melodrama, rumors of war, losses and loss of dear one. This was about November or thereabout, in 1967, the beginning of the Nigeria civil war. One of our mother’s ugliest experiences was the death of our younger sister, Fidelia, who died on her back at Ihiala, in search of a hospital where she would be treated for either typhoid or malaria.
It was indeed traumatic in the whole family circle when her first son, Emmanuel died in 2020, but with measured caution, it was not mentioned to her hearing, yet she kept musing and missing him. Finally, Mama’s final blow and regret in her life on this earth was the demise of her younger brother, Chief Theodore Ezeobi (SAN). In her last years on this planet she was fond of her late father, Isaac Ezeobi, calling his name intermittently with praises and supplications in lyrical poems and praises often reminiscing how her father (Isaac Ezeobi) would have made sure she (Mama) would never suffer this sickness of hands, legs and the rest of them. As often as she could recollect she would reminisce amidst tears thus;
Ebe ka osi
Nwa Isaac Ezeobi
Nee Ikwum, Nee Akaam
Onolundu, oye ha adumu
Etua Ebeonana, EyamnaAkpokuya
Mama, rest in peace.
Professor Dukor wrote from the Department of Philosophy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University.