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Adieu, Mercy Tamunobarabinye Hart




It has been said that a good mind possesses a kingdom. This holds true for the late Mrs. Mercy Tamunobarabinye Hart who passed away in Port Harcourt on December 27, 2015 after a long battle with ill health.

She would mostly be remembered for her singular commitment to the teaching profession as she taught in many primary schools in Bonny Kingdom for more three decades, thereby helping to impart knowledge and discipline to generations of youths in Bonny Kingdom.

Hart was the quintessential teacher who saw the profession as a unique opportunity for building the leaders of tomorrow.  She approached her work with missionary zeal. Having been brought up in the “old” tradition, she used to go to the parents of her pupils either to commend the children or to complain about their conduct and the need for the parents to ensure that the children were serious with their studies.

When she was posted as headmistress to the Community Primary School, Dema-Abbey, a village in Bonny, the school was on the verge of collapse, as most parents had withdrawn their children to other schools or to join them in their vocations at home. She revived the school as she went from house to house to appeal to parents to bring back their children and wards, as the school had entered a new era. She even had to convince the parents to allow her make uniforms for some of the pupils on credit. Some never paid back.

In one of the journeys by engine boat to one of the villages, the boat she was travelling in collided with another, overturning it. Miraculously, she found herself on top of the overturned boat.  It was from there she was rescued. She continued the journey by another boat to her duty post. On another occasion, while travelling to resume work in one of the village schools, she sank almost to her waist in the mud when she had to come down some distance from the shore, as it was ebb tide. Certainly, sitting down does not make footprints on the sands of time.

The late Hart was born in October 1942 at Gogara, a settlement of Banigo Major House to the late Mr. Marcus Banigo and the late Mrs Martha Banigo, who hailed from Umuahia Ibeku, in Abia State. She started her primary school at Banigo Isileogono, and Boyle Memorial Primary School, Bonny, where she read up to Standard Six and got her First School Leaving Certificate in 1956. She was married in 1958 to the late Mr. Maxwell Hart, who was then working at the P & T Engineering Section in Kano. Her husband died during the Nigerian civil war.

It is said that if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade out of it.  To enable her take care of her children, she did a number of trades before joining the teaching profession. In the course of her career as a teacher she obtained higher qualifications including the Grade II Teacher Training Certificate at the Women Teacher Training Centre, Isiokpo, which she attended from 1979 to 1982, and the NCE in 1993 through a sandwich programme of the Ondo State College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti.

Right from childhood, her life had been guided by Bible principles. But the major turning point in her life was when she heard the public Bible lectures of Brother Ebenezer Otomewo, the late President of God’s Kingdom Society when the Feast of Tabernacles was held in Kano in 1963.

She remained active in church and community programmes in Stewart Hart and Hart Major House, including the Hart House Women Association in Grand Bonny, as well as Dema, Samanga, Akiama villages, where her honesty, generosity of spirit, humility, frankness and hospitality, among other virtues, were amply demonstrated.

To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy, we may feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less without that drop. Mercy Tamunobarabinye Hart played her part well. We all should contribute our quota to the betterment of humanity. Those living in riverine areas know that it is when the tide rises that all boats will be lifted. We shall see her again on the day of resurrection by the grace of God.

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