By Ingram Osigwe
When you look at Mrs. Marcelina Ekwutosi Omagie alias Nwaezebuona (daughter of a king is a precious jewel), you don’t just see a woman who is one of the few people to have passed through a century. Nope! Her joyful demeanor and lively spirit make her age. On the contrary, what you see is a beautiful soul, a strong and resilient woman who, every day, inspires you to endure and overcome all the trials and tribulations of life.
Yes, Mrs. Omagie is a hundred years old. Few people, especially in this part of the world where the lifespan is short, are blessed with longevity. But she is. Mrs. Omagie will be 100 years old on April 9. God was good to her. She enjoys good health and uninterrupted grace during her 100 years on earth.
As Mom turns 100, her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren will drum to celebrate a woman whose longevity is steeped in quality of life because, according to Martin Luther King Jnr, “the quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
Although Mom has no biological children, she has spent most of her 100 years on earth mentoring young and old and contributing immensely to the goodness of mankind, the growth of Catholic Church and the tranquility of society.
It is therefore not surprising that a plethora of individuals, groups and organizations who have benefited greatly from her fountain of love and who see her as a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a great-great-grandmother celebrate Mrs. Omagie’s birthday. 100th anniversary
One such organization is Stella Maris Catholic Church (Outpost), Onitsha, Anambra State.
Based on excerpts from The turbulent life story of Mrs. Omagie, a time came when she immersed herself in the work and worship of God, then discovered that life and all in it was vanity . So Mom decided to bequeath everything she owned, including the land where Stella Maris Catholic Church now stands, to God and for the good of mankind.
On the day of the church’s dedication, the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Valerian Maduka Okeke, said that although mum had no biological children, all members of the Stella Maris family were her children and the would always celebrate as their matriarch.
This explains the elaborate birthday event the church has planned for her.
Born April 9, 1922, in Onitsha, to the family of His Royal Highness, the late Eze Timothy Williams Obiosa Ibuaka, and the late Catherine Ibuaka, of what is now Delta State, Mama as a child spent much of her time in service of God through membership in various church societies, including the Block Rosary and Mary League.
This was after his baptism at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Onitsha, now the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
Her devotion to the church and to the things of God was to lead her to insist on becoming a nun.
However, her mother thought otherwise and persuaded her to marry. So, on December 26, 1944, Mom sacrificed her desire to become a nun for a married life when she married Solomon Omagie.
The marriage failed to produce children, and following a series of challenges that followed, Mom traveled abroad, where she combined the work of God with furthering her education.
In Rome, for example, Mom served the Pope for many years as a choirboy. She was also active in the choir, where she was known for her outstanding appearance in African clothing.
In the field of education, Mrs. Marcelina Omagie was one of the pioneering Nigerian lecturers at the former University College of Ibadan, now the University of Ibadan. She was employed by the university until 1975 when, as a lecturer, the then Nigerian leader, General Yakubu Gowon, begged her to go to the fledgling university of Maiduguri to help solidify her education.
The elegant and flowery chapters of Mama’s life, especially her contributions to the growth of the Catholic faith in Nigeria, will not be complete without mentioning her role in the formation of the Catholic Women’s Organization (CWO).
She was one of the Catholic women in Nigeria who in 1964 met and gave birth to the CWO.
April 9 is indeed a date to remember as Mama’s birthday will be a celebration of a wholesome life well lived and ever-living in service to God and humanity.
The commercial city of Onitsha will come to life as all roads will lead to Stella Maris Outstation, Onwugbenu Street, GRA, the venue for Mama’s 100th birthday celebration.
According to the organizers of the event, Nneoma Lady Maria Ihionu, Dr Dorathy Ezenwanne and Barr. Lizzy Anyaonu, The Mass to announce the celebration of Mum’s birthday will be celebrated by His Grace, Archbishop Valerian Okeke, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha.
•Chief Osigwe writes from Akokwa, Imo State