Sweet they say is the demise of the righteous. And happy is he or she who finished the labour of life well. And for those who touched many lives, community, impacted humanity and also committed to their God till the end, their names indeed will remain in the sands of time. All these saying without doubt suit Madam Mary Dickson Bob (nee Adiaha Ekpa) perfectly well. And without doubt she has left an indelible mark that cannot be easily erased in her community, church of God and her family.
Her name cannot be easily forgotten in her community where she lived till she breathed her last at the ripe age of 90 years. It was therefore a celebration of a life well spent for Madam Mary Dickson Bob, mother of the distinguished Senator Effiong Bob and his siblings when they rolled out the drum to celebrate Mama who many described as hardworking, compassionate, kind, loving, upright, caring and above all, a committed and devoted Christian.
For a whole week, the entire Akwa Ibom State and particularly her community, Ikot Ekwere in Nsit Ubuim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State stood still for this virtuous woman. The burial rites began on Sunday November 6, 2016 when different age groups paid condolence visit as the tradition demands. On Friday November 11, 2016, the atmosphere in the entire community was charged as people lined up the street to pay their last respect. It was a serene community but from the look of things, Mama Mary Bob was a beloved who was indeed loved in her lifetime and celebrated even in death.
The sonorous voice of different choristers led by the deceased church, The African Church rented the air that warm evening while the Brass Band also played an important role that reminds all that it was not time to mourn but to celebrate. The service of song held on Friday was led by the deceased son, Senator Effiong Bob. The incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Speaker, Mr. Offiong Luke, former Governor Godswill Akpabio, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, UNILAG Class Law 80-83, former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and other dignitaries too numerous to mention registered their presence to honour this mother of their friend who was one in a million.
In a short sermon titled ‘Seek the Lord’ which was delivered by Ven. Chris Ndom, he enjoined all to examine their relationship with God. According to him, people should not wait till the end to seek God as the right time is now as God is always there to provide for His own. Ven. Ndon extolled the virtue of the late Madam Bob who was totally committed to her God till the end.”
In his short speech, Governor Emmanuel also praised Madam Bob for the humanitarian works she did during her life time which are worthy of emulation.
On Saturday, November 12, dignitaries from all walks of life converged on an open field in her community for the Funeral/Thanksgiving service conducted by the African Church, St. Michael’s Parish Ikot Ekwere in Nsit Ubuim Local Government Area, Uyo Central Diocese. The unprecedented crowd that thronged the venue without doubt had not been witnessed in the entire community in recent time as the beautifully decorated field welcomed who-is-who into the abode. Delivering her speech on behalf of the governor, the First Lady of Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel condoled the entire Bob’s family. According to her, “We share in your pain particularly at this time that her words of wisdom are needed. We congratulate her for seeing her children reaching the pinnacle of their careers.
I believe she is resting in the bosom of the Lord watching her investment of integrity, moral values, uprightness that she had inculcated in her offsprings. Her life is worthy of emulation. She was a kind and loving woman whose life is a testimony of how we should fear God, impact lives and be of good to humanity,” she said. The First Lady implored all to be like Mama as a role model in the community. And generally as people, we should be kind to one another.
Talking glowingly about his mother, Senator Bob on behalf of his siblings extolled the virtue of a mother who made them who they are today. According to him, this was a mother of 13 children who died at the age of 90 years which he said is worthy of celebration. Speaking further, he said “She was a good woman and God blessed her and in turn bless us. She was not educated but exceptionally brilliant and intelligent.
“We called her Ma and she called me De Boy (The Boy). There was something special about that name: De Boy; My special boy, the expected one; the one that must lead the way. It was not just a name but a statement. It was meant to create a supernatural influence on me. The name stuck; because till today, that’s what some of my age mates and seniors call me. She and my father insisted that all of us must go to school which was not common in those days.
“When I graduated as the first lawyer in the rather obscure community where I was born Ma was elated. Still, she kept praying that more of my type would be produced in the community. Today, that dream has come to pass because even before she died in July this year at the ripe age of 90, she has produced four lawyers in the family across four generations, including my son. Add to the engineers (which also include my daughter), and experts in other areas such as nursing, business management and even pastors.
Mama suffered for us as she combined farming with trading. She would cook with firewood for all us three times in a day. She would trek to the market of about seven kilometres and sometimes we would join her. She was also a devoted Christian which she combined with community development. In her old age, she went to adult education, wore uniform so she would be able to read and write and sing in her local dialect. Above all, to be able to record her transaction.
“The one that really shaped us was her strength in character, integrity, honesty and trust in God. There was a time a woman was caught stealing cassava in the farm. Instead of embarrassing the woman, she invited the woman to the house and counsel her not to steal again. She empowered her and till today, the woman and her children have become part of our family. By the time she died, about a 100 people named their children including a male child just to show appreciation for what she was. We the children adore her and we took care and maintained her till the end.”
Rounding off his speech, Senator Bob enjoined people in his community to always trust in the Lord, believe in themselves and above all, to embrace education which is the only liberator from the shackles of poverty. He also seized the opportunity to thank family and friends including the Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. Offiok Luke, Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, the UNILAG Law Class 80-83, University of Benin governing council led by its Vice-chancellor, Prof. Faraday Orumwense, UNILAG Alumni, Akwa Ibom State Chapter. Service over, it was followed with an interment after which invited guests were treated to sumptuous meal. For Madam Mary Dickson Bob, from the testimonies from community leaders, children, without doubt died a satisfied, fulfilled and an accomplished mother.