Nigeria: Iloka Matriarch, 'Silver Nwanyi' Goes Home

14 February 2020
opinion

Some people are born with greatness, while some through a dint of hard work, doggedness, resilience, focus and consistency become not only great and successful, but also make a mark in their existence on earth through human capital development, mentoring, humanitarian service to mankind with total devotion to God Almighty.

The Ilokas celebrated the 50th marriage anniversary of Sir Cajetan Iloka and Lady Anastasia Iloka with pomp in December 2018, which had family, friends and relations around the world in attendance. Little did they know that death will come calling for their matriach shortly. That was the story of Late Mrs. Anastasia Uzoamaka Iloka (AKA Silver Nwanyi) who died on December 10, 2019.

She was born in 1952 into the family of late Chief Cajetan and late Mrs. Josephine Nwankwo of Obotu village in Ezira town in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State. Lady Iloka was the oldest of the six siblings of her parents. She completed her primary education at St. Mary's Catholic School, Ezira and proceeded to Abbot Girls Secondary School, Ihiala for her secondary education. She was in class four when the Biafra Civil War broke out in July 1967, and all schools in the Biafra affected areas were closed.

On June 16, 1968, she wedded the love of her life, Sir Cajetan Emegwa Iloka (Agu Ji Ugo I of Ezira). This marriage was blessed with six children (Chinedu, Ijeoma, Nkechi, Ngozi, Ifeanyi, and Ugochi) and 19 grand children. Immediately after the civil war in January of 1970, Lady Iloka resumed and completed her secondary education at Basden Memorial Secondary School, Isulo. She took and passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and passed the entrance examination to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

As a result, she was admitted into the Faculty of Business Administration to study Estate Management and later graduated from the University of Nigeria in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSc) in Estate Management. She became a fellow, Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers.

After her graduation from the university, Lady Iloka worked with the Nigerian Railway Corporation in Ebute Metta Lagos for over nine years and rose to the rank of a Principal Land Officer before resigning her appointment and venturing into business.

As a business woman, she was importing motor spare parts and vehicle batteries and eventually entered into partnership with a South Korean and registered a company named EMENSUR CHEMICAL INDUSTRY to produce nylon shopping bags and other related products which were marketed in Lagos.

Lady Iloka was a devout Catholic and a Fourth-Degree member of Ladies of St. Mulumba (LSM) since October 1992 and worshipped as a parishioner at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Kirikiri, Lagos. She has served in many capacities at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, including President, Catholic Women Organization (CWO), Patroness of CWO, President, Christ the King Society, member, Sacred Heart of Jesus Immaculate Heart of Mary; member Associate Missionary of St. Paul; and member, Friends of St. Patrick's. Lady Iloka was also active at her home parish, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Ezira where she participated and vigorously championed the course of CWO charity activities.

She also supported many widows, orphans, the less privileged and empowered many women in different skills and trades both in Ezira parish and Lagos parish.

In a signed statement, her husband, Sir Cajetan Iloka, a retired Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the death of his wife has left him in jeopardy since she left without saying a word of love and comfort as she used to do because they just celebrated their golden jubilee with all their children and grand children in December 2019.

"You were a kind and loving partner to me, I was the only son of my parents in a very large iloka family when I married you, you made me two in one because you became my wife and brother. You combined your secondary and university education with giving birth to most of our children and you came out very successful.

"God blessed our marriage with six children and 19 grand children. 'Silver Nwanyi' my dear wife, you were a good mother to our children and to everyone who came your way. You worked hard in God's vineyard in the Catholic church as CWO president for many years and you assisted other widows with finance to start small businesses and you helped the poor and the needy.

"You never quarrelled with anyone and you treated everyone as your own. Your death left me dumbfounded and confused. I am stranded, lonely and depressed and I am still expecting your return to our house.

"My love I say goodbye to you, I love you but God loves you more. He has called you back to be with Him. rest in peace in the bosom of the lord my love 'Silver Nwanyi'."

Also in a tribute, her first son, Mr. Chinedu Iloka stated that her timely words of encouragement and reassurance added unquantifiable value to his life in uncountable ways, describing her as a true epitome of motherliness.

On his part, another son, Mr. Ifeanyi Iloka, who is based in the UK, also said her demise has left a vacuum in his heart. He said to the world she might be any one person, but to him, she means his world.

"Who could dispute that you were a virtuous wife and mother? Who does not know of your famed patience and enduring spirit? I still remember how you stood for my siblings and I to make sure we became successful in life. You brought us up to be God fearing and never ceased to show us love, amazing strength, positivity and selflessness. O death where is thy sting! I can't believe it is all over.

"You left without a sign. Who will I call my sweet mummy. I have cried out my eyes to see if my tears can bring you back to us, but to no avail.

Mummy, I will forever cherish the memories of your last visit to us and the quality time we got to spend with you, advice and kind words you told myself and your grand children.

"I am comforted that you are now resting with the lord. With sorrow in my heart, but gratitude to God for a life well spent I say 'jee nke oma nne m oma! You will forever be missed."

The burial comes up on February 14, 2020 at Ezira Town in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State. She is survived by her husband, six children (Chinedu, Ijeoma, Nkechi, Ngozi, Ifeanyi and Ugochi), two brothers, Professor Dr. Emma Nwankwo and Ikechukwu Nwankwo and sisters, Patricia Okoroafor, Veronica Okaro and Ngozi Okoli.

Also left to mourn her are her sons in-law, Simon Nwachukwu and Ejimofor Eke, her daughters in-law, Ifeoma Iloka and Chinwe Iloka, and her 19 grand children.

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