The entire Bedia was thrown into mourning upon the announcement of mama Monica Agba’s glorious exit on Friday, February 12,2016 in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
The surviving senior mother of Major Agba’s family answered her Lord’s call at the golden age of 75, after a brief illness.
To the Catholic church Bedia, Obudu, where she served her God diligently, she was simply Mama for all not forgetting her real name as Monica Ungie-Ato Agba (nee Ikwen).
And to her family and friends, she was a sister, a mother and a grandmother. But to the people outside, she was a mother, a mentor, a friend and dependable care giver.
Anam Bebua as she was fondly called was a mother per excellence. A Matriach, who gave birth to seven biological children but nurtured and gave care to several others in the true sense of being a mother.
Permit me to single out one among her seven biological children.
Mentioning him here is not because he is a good writer, a distinguished pubic affairs commentator, an erudite media practitioner or a critic of bad governance whose name is prominent in the civil society family but because since I knew him, several years back in Lagos, he always talks more about his mother than his father who had a successful career in the Nigerian Army.
His upbringing by this lovely mother according to him was to “tell the truth” at all times, to all manners of people irrespective of their background, religion or tribes which he always tells me that has taken him to places of trust and belief within the Nigeria multi-ethnic society.
No wonder Jalingo Begianbekong Agba, a popular name within the Nigeria Media and Civil Society family is an offspring of Mama Monica Ungie-Ato Agba.
That Jalingo and six others plus several ones you brought up are alive in this ephemeral world shows that you did not die mama.
Because your cherished memory will linger on, in the psyche of many people you helped nurture across the length and breadth of Nigeria and beyond.
Mama was very hardworking, selfless and completely detribalized. She was instrumental to progress of many who came across her to shoot their troubles.
To the glory of almighty Allah, most of her children (both biological, extended and fostered) are now professionals in various fields of human endeavors at a time when she is supposed to eat from the fruits of her hardwork, but Allah knows the best.
However Jalingo and others are consoled by some of their mother’s last words of advice.
“It’s unfortunate that those that truly contributed to development of any society are never recognized in their life time until they are gone but my Children, I have paid the supreme price of preaching peace in Bedia community, go in peace all of you and God will always be with you.”
Born to the famous family of Ikwen,Ukalibe of Ukwel-Obudu, Cross River State, Mama Monica Ungie-Ato Agba (nee Ikwen) attended Primary School, Ukwel-Obudu and obtained her Standard Six Certificate.
The beautiful and attractive, young Monica had several suitors who came out to request her hand in marriage, but it was the young soldier from Bedia, late Major S S A Agba Rtd, also in Obudu Local Government that won the delicate heart of the amazon from the Ikwen Ukalibe’s family and was given out in marriage to him at the early age of 15 years.
The marriage was blessed with seven children, four males and three females including Jalingo Agba.
Beautiful mama Agba who was fondly called “Ungie-Ato”, was highly cherished by her soldier husband; she traveled and lived with him in many parts of Nigeria and beyond, that she could speak Hausa, Fulani, and Yoruba fluently.
The Late Ungie-Ato held in high esteem, the values of chastity and strict adherence to virtue of keeping the sanctity and purity of the marriage bed.
She was widely known in the community as a pious, gentle and smiling woman who was stood out as an example of true womanhood
Mama Monica was one mother who did not allow her limited educational background to serve as an impediment to her contribution to the growth of the family and in the training of her children. She got involved in several petty trading which she used to support her husband in the academic training of the children.
Till her last breath, Mama Monica Ungie-Ato remained a committed and a devoted Christian of the Catholic faith. She was a Christian Mother and played undivided role in the physical and spiritual growth of her parish. She belonged to many groups in the church and worked in her last days for the well being of the church.
The philanthropy and liberality of one of the Matriarchs of the Agba’s family, Mama Ungie-Ato reverberated beyond the walls of the immediate and extended family members to the community members, visitors and strangers.
In fact, children within the very large family of late Major Agba were always happy and would always thank their God whenever it was the turn of Mama to cook for the entire family members.
Passionately referred to as, Anam Bebua, which means “the mother of children” in Bette language because of the generous manner in which she ensured each child got well fed.
Mama was highly respected and revered by the children and even the adults. Mama was equally an excellent cook.
Being a committed and devout Christian, Mama did not only live to the fullest, the golden rule of doing to others what you would want them to do unto you, but also accepted with all amount of equanimity when she was being wronged by others and was ever ready to turn the other cheek to be slapped by whoever had already wronged her or her children.
She brought up her children to know that it was better for them to be wronged by others than for them to wrong people (This I believe Jalingo did not adhere to due to his human rights activism).
Passing through the vicissitudes of life, mama enjoyed vibrant and radiant health until a month to her demise, when she was taken to the National Hospital where she eventually died on the 12th February, 2016 and will be buried March 18, 2016.
Adieu, Mama Monica Ungie-Ato Agba, May your gentle soul rest in perfect peace, Insha Allahu, (Ameen).
Rasheed Olanrewaju is a Public Affairs Commentator and AIT Correspondent in Calabar.
Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair +2348033904539
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.