I received one of the saddest telephone calls yesterday morning, the 28th of April, 2019, that you passed away. It was difficult to comprehend, my wife could not believe it, we consoled each other that it couldn’t be true and thus searched for information that could debunk the announcement of your death. With hope in our hearts, we called Alhaji Raji your husband. Daddy as he is usually called confirmed it, you passed on at the age of 76. My wife went into shock immediately.
Even though you are no more, I still believe in the word of late professor Ali Mazrui that ‘death is just a change of address’. I strongly believe that this letter gets to you, if not physically but spiritually and this is the only means of communication left for me, as you never gave me the chance as well as countless others to say Goodbye.
Though, I was with you on the 2nd April, 2019, when I was in Nigeria finalizing my trip before traveling back the next day, we had a brief discussion and I also called my wife to speak to you on the phone. I never knew that will be the last time I will see you.
You are known with many names, MUMMY, AMEERA, NURSE and GRANDMA all reminiscent on how you have touched many lives. I called you mummy because you never acted as my mother in law; you always treated me like your own SON.
You are also a Mummy to countless children, your own biological children; Shukurat Sanusi, Jemilat Shabi, Saidat Gbadamosi and Salim Abayomi Raji have to carry the cross of sharing you with countless children. Let me start with the special case of my wife Bilikis Abisola Omotayo-Raji. After courting my wife for five years and knowing you through out that period, I remembered that faithful day, few days to my wedding in 2003, you summoned me to a meeting in which I thought is to put finishing touches to the wedding preparation, but I got it wrong, In the room was a woman I have met few times of being around you, it was just the three of us. You started by going straight and direct. You introduced the woman as Mulikat Raji , a junior sister to your husband and you dropped the bomb, this is the ‘biological mother of your wife’. I was perturbed , don’t know how to respond as I have always known you as her mum, you have always treated her as one of your daughters, there have never been any instance that I would suspect she is not, she is even more loved in the house than your biological children. As I drove home that day, I still struggled with the truth, but came to a conclusion that I will not accept it, because you are my wife’s mum, though you looked after her for 26 years, you started by breastfeeding her with Salim your son , as they are almost the same age. I always see my wife being lucky, being loved by two mothers.
You are also AMEERA, when I met you mummy, you know there were always visitors in the house, it didn’t take me too much time to notice your special people and conflict management skills. You were the President of Al AMEEN ASALATUL GROUP for more than 30 years until you took your last breath, a group of almost 200 female members. Your house was turned into judicial chamber, resolving one issue and the other, your heart was turned into welfares-status, providing for those who do not have. You provided alternative platform for struggling women and widows to be active and happy. You have led these women to countless Islamic events in which their feasibility was hegemonic with their songs and interventions. You have made sad and miserable women from their personal issues to be happy at each of these events. You provided support for those struggling financially, not only that, I have witnessed countless occasions where marital issues involving members of the ASSALATU and their children have to be resolved with your intervention. You have left a big leadership shoe for this group.
Mummy, I must confess that I don’t know how many children you have, I remember when my wife was traveling to join me, I was told there was a wedding ceremony going on in the house for one of your children on that day. I had no clue who this child was, but little did I know that there were many of them, but let me limit myself to those I have met, that your impact in their lives have made them a better person. Of remarkable importance is how you have shaped the lives of people like Yusuf Lawal (US based), Afusa Popoola/Bilikis Popoola (US based, Dr Ayo Solademi ( UK based) and others like Ramota Olaide, Taiba Olaide, Waidi Raji, just to mention a few.
A Nurse, yes mummy, I first met you , never knew you will later become my mother in law, when I was a Special assistant to the Supervisory Councilor for health at Lagos Island Local government in 1999 and you were the head of the Primary health care unit at Amuto in Lagos Island. We came on inspection, despite your challenge, you were articulate and displayed professionalism. I was later informed by the senior civil servant that you are a qualified nurse and pharmacy technician; two skills that are essential for any primary health care. It is actually the community impression about you that gladdened the attention of the supervisor then that he came to the conclusion that you are a staff that we couldn’t afford to lose. You touched so many lives in the community including one of your staff Sikirat Ogabi, you single handedly sponsored her wedding and sponsored another staff Ahmed Tokosi to higher institution. So many families in Lagos Island will find it hard to believe that you are no more.
You are Grandma mummy, My children (Faiza and Jabirah Ameen) had the opportunity to meet you about two to three times during our visits to Nigeria, but I still feel that is not enough , I planned to ensure when they are grown a bit more and can appreciate life better, they have no better school to learn how to become a good mothers in future than on your lap and in your class, I have now lost that opportunity forever as you are no more. But others benefited, such as Ayodeji Sanusi, closer to you than even her mum, Mariam Sanusi, Munirat Sanusi, Abdul Basit Shabi (Canada Based), Khadijat Gbadamosi, Zainab Gbadamosi, Abdul Barry Shabi, Aishat Ayinde, Abdul Bait Shabi, Aishat Raji, Abdul Rasaq Raji, Nobulat Raji, I cannot speak for them on their perception of you, but just capture the way AbdulBasit Shabi put it on his Instagram page:
“She was like a second mum to me; she took care of me the majority of my childhood and put the needs of her grandkids ahead of hers. She was really good at giving advice and very compassionate as a person. She believed in family and didn’t limit her family to people related to her by blood”.
Mummy, you have always demonstrated passion, affection and trust to those around you, you support everyone with what you have, not just money. I remember those days when I went for TV interviews with AIT, I always knew that if no one was watching , mummy would, especially on topics of little relevance to her, International criminal court, but she will watch and listen to demonstrate her support for my work.
Mummy, I may have wronged you, as well as many others around you, we are all really sorry, you have always been who you are, a mother with countless children. On behalf of all your countless children and beneficiaries of all your hard work, I say, rest well and rest in peace. May Allah Grant you Al-Jannah.
Bashir Ayodele Ameen
Your Son- in-Law