Nseobong Okon-Ekong was part of a recent solemn rite that marked the passage of Mrs. Elizabeth Chinyere Nwogwugwu, a top retired civil servant
Much of the buzz on that sober evening was for the attentive in the gathering. It was echoed in every passage from the scripture and given further verve in the hymns. The priests minced no words about it: everyone in the assembly still had a chance to mend their ways and perhaps fashion it after the exemplary life of Mrs. Elizabeth Chinyere Nwogwugwu whose passage pooled her children, friends, family and members at the Church of the Resurrection (Anglican Communion), 1004 Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos for the Wake Keep Service last Thursday, the first activity for her obsequies.
Some hymns conveyed images of ‘pleasant courts above’ with happy birds that sing and fly. At other instances, the congregation sang heartily of a time ‘we shall gather at the river…flowing from the Throne of God. Yet another hymn created a yearning for ‘Jerusalem on high…the centre of my bliss’. With such reflections on paradise, no one wore a long face. The first prayer from Psalm 90 which everyone intoned after the priest about the ‘Lord being our home before He created the hills or brought the world into being’ may have instilled the stoic resolve.
The prevailing melancholy was deepened further when Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Editor of THISDAY and daughter of the deceased read from Ecclesiastes the scripture that says ‘everything in this world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for birth and the time for death….’ Her siblings Obi, Ugo and Nnenna took turns, as well to read scriptures that implied that ‘it is a foolish mistake to think that righteous people die and that their death is a terrible evil’. Another one read from 1Thessalonians a scripture that uses sleep as a metaphor for death.
Speaking of her mother, Ijeoma described her as a fiery, passionate, hard working and industrious woman who loved the Lord Jesus. She said she was happy to note that her mother ‘lived to the Biblical 70 years plus four’. Her companion, Mrs. Juliet Okafor said she would remember her for always urging people to give their live to Jesus Christ and being quick to forgive.
To many in the gathering who never knew the deceased, Revd. Silas Okoh recalled her as an active member of the church who used her time to serve God. For her dedication and apparent relationship with God, he concluded that it was not a time for mourning, but an opportunity to rejoice for Nwogwugwu’s worthy legacy which he urged everyone to emulate. But the departed was not the only one who had done a commendable deed, the Vicar of the church, Ven. Ife Okupevi lauded the children of the late Mrs. Nwogwugwu for taking very good care of their mother. Other priests who also officiated at the service were Revds. Iyanulouwa Amoo and Canon Kehinde Olajide.
The Nwogwugwu family were in the company of their friends, colleagues and esteemed guests like the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi and his wife, Margaret; Mr. William Anumudu and his wife, Nkiru; former Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Reuben Abati; Chairman of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (Eko Disco), Mr. Charles Momoh; Publisher of Abuja Enquirer, Mr. Dan Akpovwa and his wife, Doris; Chairman of THISDAY Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi; Deputy Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Kayode Komolafe; Executive Editor, THISDAY Style, Ms. Ruth Osime; Peter Iwegbu; May Mbu; Ziggy Azike; Bode Opeseitan; and several relatives of the deceased who came from far and wide.