Pauline Amaka Nwankwo: Exit Of An Amazon
IN her lifetime, Mrs. Pauline Amaka Nwankwo’s belief was to see God in every human being. To see people beyond their outward appearance and to appreciate and love them as God desired. That was her goal in every encounter, every action and every relationship she had.
Pauline was born on June 29, 1936, to the family of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Anwunah of Umuanaga village, Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. She was the first daughter and third child out of 11 children.
She attended St. Joseph’s Primary School in Ekwulobia where her father was the headmaster. She later trained as a teacher at Lorretta Teachers’ Training College in Adazi, Anambra State, after which she taught in Our Lady of Apostles, Yaba, Lagos and later in St. Mary’s Convent School, Lagos Island.
In 1954, she got married to Mr. Odili Jonathan Nwankwo, who rose to become the Chief Accountant of the Marketing Board of the old Eastern Nigeria. When later he travelled to the United Kingdom for further training, Pauline accompanied her husband and studied fashion design at the Paris Academy of Fashion and Design in London.
As a fashion designer she turned out to be one of the best seamstresses in Port Harcourt on return. There, she made and supplied ‘ready-made’ clothes to the most popular and sought after shops, including Leventis and Kingsway stores. She utilised her skills tremendously in various ways during the civil war, as she sewed and supplied batik uniforms to the Biafra army. She also made handbags and supplied food to the Biafran army.
Being a virtuous and wise woman, she made significant effort to cater for her family during the Nigerian Civil War. During this time, she used her creative skills to produce household essentials including soaps, detergents and body lotion made from raw coconut. She also planted cassava, tomatoes and other vegetables to produce garri to meet other feeding needs in her family.
After the Civil War, a versatile Pauline pushed her skills further and ventured into interior decoration and household supplies. In addition, she opened a bakery, filling homes in Enugu State with delicious ‘home-made’ bread, as well as with fish grown from her fish farm.
There truly was never a dull moment with the highly creative Pauline. She was a woman who teemed with ideas, talent and skills that were needed during her time. And with all this, Pauline did two essential things. Outside of gaining income, she distributed the produce of her labour to those far and near, leaving none around her to be in need. Second, she started to train young women to become entrepreneurs by joining the Voluntary Service Organisation (VSO). To push this aspect further, she also became a member of the Professional Women Association.
In spite of the profound professional work she did, Pauline was not a woman to subordinate her Christian faith for matters of the world. In her lifetime, she stayed diligent to her faith, conducting her duties in a manner aimed at pleasing and honouring God. She was a dedicated member of groups within the church that worked in ways relevant to her calling as God’s child and a woman of faith.
Pauline also contributed immensely to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary group, Mediatrix of All Grace, Catholic Women Organisations both in Nibo, Anambra State and Abakpa, Enugu State. In recognition of these valuable services, she was bestowed with the title of Lady of St. Mulumba, following her husband who was himself, admitted as a member of the Knights of St. Mulumba, Enugu in 1960.
She was the President-General of the CWO, Abakpa, Enugu State. While in the position, she championed the renovation of the parish priests’ house and the building of the Perpetual Adoration Place in the church. She mobilised the group, promoted and contributed tremendously towards the building of the church at Nibo, Anambra State. These and other silent actions that highlighted her dedication towards the church earned her more awards and honours.
In 2000, she was recognised as ‘Nnediorama’ (meaning a mother, good to all’). On two separate occasions at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Abakpa Nike, Enugu State, Pauline was given two different titles in recognition of her contributions towards the building of the church. She was given the title ‘Nneoma’ (Good Mother) in 1995 by Monsignor Enemi and ‘Nnediugwu’ (meaning graceful mother) in 1998 by Monsignor Anthony Okafor.
She was blessed with five children, 20 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
According to her son and family spokesman, Chief Charles Nwankwo, who is the Managing Director of Wellsmart Drilling Nigeria Limited, she would be laid to rest at the Nwankwo compound in Umuanum, Nibo, Akwa South LGA, Anambra State on January 23, 2015.