No matter how pleasant good music is to the ears, it surely must recede to its last stanza but with a resounding ovation from the audience. So has been the life and time of Angela Amaju-Oritse Gbinije whose demise took place on November 8 2017. The family was getting set for her 90th birthday on 27th May 2018 but death cheated in marking an event that would have closed the chapter of a great earthly experience – a life filled with celebrations.
On her 80th birthday, she and the love of her life rolled out the carpet to mark as well the 50th anniversary of their wedding. Warri came to a stop as they rolled out their carpet with visitors coming from various walks of life. Beyond Warri, Chief Gbinije regularly travelled overseas on holidays seeing the other side of Cornwall as medieval literature would put it.
There is no doubt Mrs. Gbinije standing by the side of her late husband described as the quintessential legislator, a member of the Midwest House of Assembly from 1962 to 1964, elected into the House of Representatives during the Second Republic first term from 1979 to 1983 and then from 1983 to 1984 as a member of the House of Representatives and chairman of the House Committee on Mines and Power, she exuded satisfaction of a life well lived.
How did this fairy tale of a life begin? On a warm afternoon in the long distant past, May 27, 1928 to be specific, an interesting event – the Children’s Day – played out in the mind of the chronicler enough to convince him something spectacular was unfolding. A young lady, Mrs. Utsaye Akpokiniovo-Wekpe of Azor Quarters in the famous Kokori town, went into labour and delivered a beautiful princess named Angela Amaju-Oritse, to her lovely husband-Joseph Akpokiniovo-Wekpe of Ogharha Agbarho in the then Mid-West Region.
Well there were no three wise men with rare gifts from the East to pronounce the arrival of a daughter of the most high, yet those who beheld her charm knew she had something special to offer. Expectedly, Angela grew into an adorable, loving, young woman; by the time she clocked six she was already a pupil of the local L.A. Primary School Agbarho, where she had her primary education. Young Angela came out in flying colours so much so the school authority retained her as a pupil-teacher, having exhibited an unusual skill in the art of imparting knowledge so early in the day.
In 1955, she was sent to the nearby Teacher’s Training College, where she excelled and gained a professional certificate as a Grade One Teacher. Her in-depth knowledge of the art drew critical focus to her among her mentors and the school management. Soon the neighbouring schools were inviting her regularly to take on their pupils in those subjects she excelled. She gained the appellation of Mistress derived from Headmistress and was thus addressed by many of her pupils who were far older than she was.
Angela Amajuoritse Akpokiniovo-Wekpe met Chief Patrick Aghoghin Gbinije in 1958. Young Patrick was stunned as she beheld the unusual beauty nature had bestowed on the young lady and with time he saw her unwritten side, the sterling qualities, a character trait any man would love to live with for the rest of his life. It was a case of being hit by the proverbial thunderbolt. He did not hesitate to propose and asked her hand in marriage, after all the obstacles young Angela placed on his way just to test his commitment and professed love for her. She finally gave her yes consent to the great delight of his dear Patrick, who wedded her that same year.
In 2008 they celebrated their fifty years in marriage with their six lovely children and many grand-children adorning the event.
Mrs. Gbinije, an accomplished philanthropist, was mother to many non-biological children she sent to school with her earnings as a headmistress. Pleasant, simple and elegant, she earned the appellation of ‘Oni-emo’ meaning mother of children. An accomplished headmistress of various schools under the old Bendel State Government, Angela Amajuoritse Gbinije finally retired in 1983.
Though her husband Chief Gbinije was a very successful businessman who robustly ministered to the needs of his household, his wife remained unrelenting in complimenting her husband’s care of his family. Mrs. Gbinije was more interested in expressing her God given talent as a multi-talented woman. The entire vicinity where she lived and operated in Warri knew her as a very active business woman with a bias for the cottage industry combining business with her responsibilities as a loving wife taking care of the home front and bringing up responsible children who as adults have risen to the peak of their professional careers.
In 1990 the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom conferred on her the title of Orhorho 1 Domingo Ejiyeren in recognition of her contribution to society. Her husband who died at the age of 94 was the most senior Okakuro of Okpe Kingdom and held the chieftaincy title of Okpagha of the Kingdom. They together carried out the king’s duties assigned to them from the palace. Both couples exhibited uncommon humility and contentment so much so that when the king’s stool was declared vacant and Chief Gbinije was asked to ascend the throne as the regent of Okpe Kingdom, he politely declined and earned critical respect for taking a decision hailed by his people.
Until her demise she was the matriarch of the Gbinije and Akpokiniovo-Wekpe families.
Evergreen shall her memory be.