And brother Mudiaga died!
Thus when Brother called that morning, it was not to make any financial demand as such but to merely inform me that he had been ill and only managed to attend Ophie’s traditional marriage ceremony in the village the week before.
Brother’s real name is Peter Unuajowhofia Mevayero. Along the line, he picked the nickname MUDIAGA (firm standing) with which he branded his trucks as a transporter and which heightened to supplant his other identities.
Brother is well known in Ughelli and adjourning towns but to search for him outside Mudiaga would be like searching for him outside himself and it could end fruitless.
Even family members got sucked in by the bandwagon and home and abroad, Brother became simply known as MUDIAGA until his passing on January 7, 2019 after losing the battle against cancer of the stomach.
The formal records on brother are very scanty. I grew up to know him as the only one in the extended family or within my perimeter as a child who owned something much bigger than a Raleigh White Superb Bicycle.
He had a Bedford truck and that was so much then. He also had a provision store in Ughelli. He remained an illustrious son of the Odje Family of Oghara Agbarha-Otor until death took him away.
Centenarian head of the family, Pa Ogbodo Amos Orovwomoriemu Idibiago said death would have come for him instead of “my son, Unuajowhofia.”
Brother died at the age of 91. But he was still a ‘small boy’; coming after Pa Ogbodo Idibiago and Pa Ejuvwevwo Idibiago in the Odje Family age organogram.
Where he actually towered above his peers was in character manifestation.
Brother had more character than resources. But because the former governed the latter in his approach, it had seemed he had so much.
He never said no to anybody. He denied himself most times to spread happiness to others. The entire humanity was his constituency even as he gave extra attention to the extended Odje Family.
Those ahead of me drank from his fountain of kindness and from which I also drank when I came of age.
I started living with him after secondary school in 1980 and it was from his bases first at Edoge Street Ughelli and later Emosivwe Street Ughelli and finally Akponana Street, Iwhrekpokpor, Ughelli that I pushed against time and space.
Brother was the closest that I had seen to an angel. He was always on guard and I never witnessed his exhibition of open anger any day.
Ever cheerful, he could give everything to make peace. He taught me humility, generosity and the fear of God.
He taught others too but how well his lessons were imbibed by others is what I cannot establish here. He simply lived for others and lived best within the natural and socio-economic circumstances of his own time.
Like many others within his age bracket in Urhobo land, his actual birthday is a mere approximation.
Such births were usually defined by some landmark events or personalities.
Thus an old man called Richard in Urbobo land would have been probably born in or about 1946 when the Richard Constitution operated and when Sir Arthur Richards was the Governor-general of the Nigerian colony.
Just as a Clifford would have been born in or about 1922 when the Clifford’s Constitution was introduced and Sir Hugh Clifford who came after Lord Frederick Lugard was the Governor-general.
Brother was simply Peter and a Peter’s Constitution was not among the cocktail of constitutions that defined political developments in the emerging state of Nigeria. His was taken from the Holy Bible, short and simple! He was Peter, the support rock of the Odje family.
When I asked David, his eldest son, how Brother’s age (91) purported in the various obituary announcements was established, he said “we got it from his driver’s licence.” Actually, Brother’s only classified occupation was driving. He started driving before I was born.
Maybe I am feeling unconvinced because Brother was super active in all ramifications till the very last day.
He had his last child, Yenrovwo in 1996 and until only two years ago when we practically stopped him from farming activities, he was going on Mondays and Tuesdays to his palm plantation to process the palm oil himself.
While visiting the hospital has become a routine across board in modern living, Brother, for all I can remember, only visited the Mariere General Hospital in Ughelli to see others who were sick.
He took ‘roots’ to tackle malaria and at worst, normal analgesic to lessen muscular pains after a hard day’s work.
In fact, the initial big challenge we had when his health started failing was convincing him to seek proper medical opinion outside what he knew.
He insisted that the strange ailment which was causing him sleeplessness and rapid weight loss would also pass by like malaria and typhoid fever.
It took more persuasion and intervention on my part (he loved me specially for not failing any examination in my school days) to transfuse blood into him.
“I have never used another person’s blood since I was born,” he kept telling the doctors at the Central Hospital Warri.
We collectively tried to offer Brother a window of survival but the matter had gone too deep on the wrong side to be straightened.
All the same, we didn’t fail at such; it was just that God insisted on having His way regarding Brother. He lived to answer most of our questions.
He even gave us a Reverend Father; Fr. Ambrose Kevwe Unuajowhofia with whom I have a special bond because he was born on the day I returned from the university on a semester break.
He has told me not to state the full details and so I will only say here that I got back home on that particular semester break on August 10.
We have no regrets about the life that Brother lived. He lived well except that I had personally wished for him to outlive his two elder brothers to also become the Okpako Orhere of Oghara Agbarha-Otor. T
The Bible admonishes us to give thanks to God in all things. And that is exactly what we have done as we roll out today in gold to bid farewell to Brother in his final journey to meet his maker.
Adieu Brother! Continue to sleep well in the bosom of the Lord!
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