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Dorothy Ahunna Eziakonwa, One Year After

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EziakonwaBORN in September 1933 in Umuebi, Eastern Nigeria to Chief Jonathan and Mrs. Ojugo Nwagwu, the late Dame Dorothy Ahunna Eziakonwa was the apple of her father’s eye. She remembered her father as warm hearted, supportive, loving and very protective of her. And her mother as graceful and a quiet presence in their home. Dorothy was the first of their five living children.

Unlike many girls born to this era, Dorothy knew her worth from day one, thanks to her father’s tenacity and wisdom. Her father’s boundless love for her was a transforming effect in her times. Sensing that his daughter was extremely bright, Chief Jonathan was determined that she would go to school and he turned away many suitors in the early days. Dorothy was top of her class and the only girl to win a scholarship to college in her class. She thereafter attended Women’s Training College at AbayiUmuocham.

The late Chief Michael Eziakonwa told the story of how he sighted a stunning girl in school assembly line and knew instantly that she was the one. This is a believable story because Dorothy always stood out in the crowd. She was only in her early teens at the time, still in school and not yet ripe for marriage. According to tradition, she was sent to the home of her mother-in-law to be groomed for marriage and motherhood which came a few years later.

The young couple married and soon relocated to Port Harcourt, where young Michael had found employment as a Manager in a Danish shipping company, Elder Dempstar Shipping Lines. They set up a home and Dorothy was to have all but two of her children in Port Harcourt. She had 12 children, and lost four of them as infants. It was in Port Harcourt that her passion and taste for high fashion began to grow. She launched a dress-making business and also took an interest in hairdressing. She was in her time what is described today as a fashionista. At the end of the brutal Biafran war, armed with a strong faith in God, unity of purpose and resilience, the family quickly got on the road to recovery and relocated to Lagos where they spent the rest of their working lives before retiring to the village in the ‘80s.

Dorothy was great company for young and old, men and women. She abhorred injustice and arrogance. She used unconventional and powerful ways to teach her children life lessons. At every opportunity, she influenced her children to help the less privileged. Several of her children have been and continue to be responsible for training children of relatives.

Dorothy will be remembered as an outspoken, independent minded, kind and thoughtful woman. By promoting higher education for her girls, she was a feminist pioneer who made breaking down barriers a family tradition. Close family friend and accomplished British musician, Chichi Nwanokwu had this to say about Dorothy — “I remember her so vividly, most particularly because she was a woman with an immense aura; she had profound presence.”


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