She is the strongest, most intelligent, most fearless person I will ever know. A small woman from Calabar who taught me that there is no such word as can’t, realised her dream and ended her days in Scotland. She never backed down from anyone, she never stopped loving her children and those who grew up with me know she was my hero. The only hero I have or ever will have. My mother like all mothers was special but beyond that she was truly unique and achieved things no one else has. I do not know where she derived her strength from but I know I am my mother’s son. All my fire, all my energy comes from her.
I hear so much talk about inequality, so much complaining about discrimination against women, against black people. My mother never allowed anyone to stop her and as bad as some things are today, in her day the obstacles she faced were ten times worse. I never heard her once complain. She never had a hand out in her life. Whenever I felt down I used to remember this. Now she has passed on I know she is still here because she lives on through my brothers and myself. I have cried and I will do more but I doubt anyone else will see it – because when my mother’s parents died she continued and didn’t ever break down in front of me. Where my mother is from there was and still is a lot of suffering and pain that we in the West don’t have the comprehension of – and life continues. I will celebrate my mother’s memory and respect and extend her legacy but doing exactly what she did – working harder than ever. I would say to everyone – please love your loved ones, treat everyone with compassion as much as you can but stay focused on your goals and take no mess. Life does not last forever and it is priceless. Do not ask for equality – take it. My mother didn’t need ask for equality because there is no one her met her who ever equalled her and they all realised that. Sometimes you win in life sometimes you lose – that is life, be strong enough to embrace it and live on through it. If someone tries to obstruct your happiness and progress move them out of the way.
2016 has been a year full of pathos – with so many legends dying – and my mother joins them because she truly was a legend, for reasons I will not go into there but I am not exaggerating by any means. People who do not understand why I am the way I am, who can’t understand why I never put ANYONE above myself – my mother is the reason why, she taught me that and I believe her. I am so, so incredibly proud to be the son of Peggy, the son of Ayira – if you were me you would feel the same. It has been so surreal to see so many greats leave, my mother is at least in great company, trust me they’ve made room for her.
I am British but I am also Nigerian and that’s how I am going to process this, with strength and power, don’t expect to see less of me.
The very last words my mother and I shared were ‘I love you’. That is enough for me.
I love you Mummy.