Sadiat Abeke Erogbogbo: The kind teacher, one year after
Nothing prepares you for the loss of your mother. Even though she passed on after 90 years of a life well-lived and fulfilled, on February 1, last year, her death was a heavy blow to us all. We give Allah the glory for her life, a life of impacts, and accomplishments. She was kind, caring and considerate; fondly referred to as ‘Kind Teacher’ because of her maternal, nurturing spirit. She was beautiful inside and out.
A diplomat at heart, she always made efforts to bring peace and calm to her family and friends. She would always be deliberate in keeping in touch with everyone. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends, extended family and friends of the family can all attest to this. She would always call to check up on everyone, no matter where you were in the world.
She was very intentional about having personal relationships and memories with everyone in her life, to find out how they were dong and if she could help in anyway. Up until the very end, she remained the same very kind, generous, loving and adorable woman. I don’t know how she did it, but she never missed anyone’s birthday and trust me, we are a very large family.
She was an incredible hub of history, information and current affairs, always up to date and kept abreast with current happenings. Sometimes, she will be the one to break news or tell me important information first. We used to jokingly refer to her as our very own NTA, Radio Lagos and CNN combined.
She was generous to a fault and she raised all her children with the virtues of contentment, hard work and the fear of God. She placed a high value on the importance of good education, so much so that she was prepared to give all she had to acquire the best education for her children.
Her faith in Almighty Allah was unshakeable and she raised us all with this faith as part of our foundation. She was always quick to bless you with the kind of prayers that give you comfort and confidence that all will be alright. She was very supportive of all her children and her grandchildren and played active roles in all their lives. She never forgot to tell us all her favourite mantras, ‘Remember the child of whom you are’ and ‘In my life, I will not do evil or practice hatred towards anyone’.
She treated all her children uniquely and was always fair with us. Her parenting adjusted to her children’s personalities, that we all felt like we were her favourites. She had a special place in her large heart for each child and she loved with all her heart. She made our home a beautiful, peaceful and warm place; somewhere you would always love to return to no matter what. It was not always about material wealth. There was this air of love and contentment that filled our home, making it welcoming every time. Sometimes, we were there just to eat her food, I’ll admit. Her egusi, ewa riro and obe dindin remain all-time favourites
She was someone you could completely rely on and trust with your life. She was a friend to all, most especially when you needed one. Every time I returned home to see her, I would fondly call her ‘Iyawo Alhaji’ (Alhaji’s Wife) and she will respond by calling me ‘Iyawo Erewa’ (Erewa’s Wife). Her nickname for my husband was ‘Black and Shine’. She had jokes and nicknames for every one of us; children and grandchildren alike.
Without her, there is no us. We are who we are today because of her love, care and sacrifices. She was an inspiring soul and we miss her dearly. She was the best mother we could ask for and she gave us the best upbringing any mother could give her children.
Her eldest grandchild, Olusegun Erogbogbo in this tribute, summarises our precious and treasured Alhaja Sadiat Abeke Erogbogbo this way: “My earliest memory of Alhaja is of her taking great care of us and by us I mean her heritage – her family, her legacy. In short, all of us. I recall a conversation we had recently; where after exchanging our usual humour filled greetings, she proceeded to inquire about my ex-university colleagues from 20 years ago. Back then my school mates and I shared an apartment and Alhaja came there to visit us numerous times. It was simply awesome that she did that for us back then but to recall and remind me of that whilst inquiring about my colleagues is testament of the fact that Alhaja not only loved her own children but indeed all children and with great care and concern. It was at that moment that it occurred to me it was these sort of traits that must have led to her earning the moniker ‘Kind Teacher’. As far as I am concerned Alhaja never stopped being that kind teacher, through her actions, her compassion and her perseverance. She taught us how to love, to be tolerant, to do more – to go an extra mile. Doing a little more than the best was her way.
‘Americana Alhaja’ as I always fondly referred to her. I will miss how she would respond ‘Emi na re o’ with huge smiles and elation. Alhaja, the tears have turned to joy! You paid it forward for a great multitude; we are grateful and lucky to have been part of your journey. “
Born in Kano State on June 7, 1930 to the late Pa Sunmonu Alamutu of Mokola Abeokuta, Ogun State and late Alhaja Hawanatu Aduke Anjorin, Iyalode Adini of Ebute Metta Central Mosque, her father died when she was about one-year old and was raised by her mother.
She attended Mount Carmel School Ebute Metta and later proceeded to Teachers Training College, Lagos. Her teaching career began in 1948 at Public School in Enu-Owa, Lagos and later at Edward Blyden Memorial High School, Lagos and Ansarudeen Oke-Popo, Lagos.
She met her husband Alhaji Ashafa Erogbogbo, her husband of 68years, at an Ansar-ud-Deen funfair. According to him, he couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful Sadiat and a friend had to warn him not fall under a bus staring at a woman.
She was blessed with seven children: Alhaja Kofowora Kassim, Mr. Abayomi Erogbogbo, Mr. Rotimi Alade Erogbogbo, Mrs. Ajoke Gbeleyi, Hon. Abike Dabiri Erewa, Mrs. Moji Williams and Mr. Olusola Erogbogbo. Two step children: Yetunde and Folake Erogbogbo, 21 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
She resigned from active service to become a full-time housewife in 1965 having travelled all around Nigeria with her husband Alhaji Ajibola Ashafa Erogbogbo, teaching in Ansar-ud-Deen Schools in whatever part of the country she found herself. Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Benin and more.
In 1967, she joined her mother in the trading business and dedicated her life to the service of Islam and humanity, positively touching lives of many.
A philanthropist, a detribalized Nigerian and a dedicated, compassionate mother and wife.
“ Alhaja wa Owon. Haja to dara., to lewa.” May Allah (SWT) grant you Aljanah Fridaus.
• Abike Dabiri is Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM)