The sudden demise of a man can place an unprepared burden on his widow to carry on his responsibilities. Most women who have found themselves in this phase of life had to willingly accept the baton passed on to them by their late husbands.
In recent times, the world has witnessed widows run the race of life with their palms greased with the inherited seat their beloved husbands left. These women have gone beyond their motherly duties to actually achieve a life of service that has impacted the society as a whole.
Daily their resilient attitudes toward the mantle bestowed on these women have made them become warlords. Although their sudden official role maybe a bit taxing, this has not deterred them from their parental roles in their children’s lives.
Some women under the widow’s succession have over the years built long and distinguished careers for themselves while others prefer to serve unostentatiously while giving room for others to take the spotlight or just allow the husband’s legacy wither away to a mystery land.
However, there are few women who have epitomized this unique strength of widowhood succession and are still holding on to the baton of the legacy with grace after many years or few months their husbands kissed their early graves.
Senator Helen Esuene is one of the eminent ladies in Akwa Ibom State due to her numerous public offices she has occupied over the years. After the demise of her husband, the former military governor of the old Cross River State, Chief Udoakaha Esuene who died in 1996, the beautiful former First Lady strived to contribute her quota to the society by occupying sensitive positions in government and also being a sole proprietor to businesses.
Mrs Esuene had been a minister of state for health, minister of environment and minister of environment and housing. She eventually went into business, starting human resource management for Mobil Producing and owning Villa Marina Hotel in Eket, among others. She also built an art gallery as a memorial to the over 59 women gunned down by the colonial lords along Consulate Road in Ikot Abasi during the 1929 women protest.
Another distinguished personality is Noble Lady Valerie Ebe, who is the first female deputy governor in Akwa Ibom State. This illustrious lady lost her husband, Obong Maurice Ebe, years ago but she still held on to her virtues of endurance and hard work.
Through her resilient attitude, she has held many social responsibilities which include legal adviser of Voice of Niger Delta Women, founder and international coordinator, Akwa Ibom Women League (AKIWOL), legal adviser for State Executive Committee, People’s Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State, chairman of Women Mobilization Sub- Committee, Yar-Adua/Jonathan and Akpabio/ Ekpotu Campaign Organization, among others. Due to selfless services, she has bagged numerous awards to her honour.
Obonganwan Nne Clement Isong is a widow to a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as the then Cross River State. She has been applauded in her legacy of service to humanity since the demise of her husband in 2000. She has contributed immensely in the education sector where she specializes.
She was a research manager at the UAC of Nigeria, contributing to the development of protein supplement foods for protein-deprived children in Nigeria. She had been a member of the International Women’s Society where she volunteered at the Pacelli School for the Blind; a retired director general who headed the Universal Primary Education Board; started NESON Primary School, as well as secondary school which provide quality education to an impoverished community in Akwa Ibom State.
Due to her industrious spirit, Mrs Isong was elected to serve on the International Governing Council of WAEC. Nne Isong has received the GRESA Certificate of Excellence as a children’s education leader. She was also elected to the International Educators Hall of Fame as the Niger Delta honouree in 2000.
Just as other outstanding widows, this Amazon served as a member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for two terms representing Itu State Constituency, which she served as deputy house leader; chairman, House Committee on Education; deputy chairman and member of various committees of the House. Rt. Hon (Dr.) Ekaette Ebong Okon was a civil servant who later rose to the position of vice principal in public schools and later appointed as the chairman of Akwa Ibom State Secondary Education Board (SSEB). Currently, she is the chairperson, Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum and a Proprietress of Kings and Queens Montessori Nursery/Primary School, Uyo – Akwa Ibom State.
Meet the woman behind the success of Barr. Onofiok Luke, the member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency. The 70-year-old woman, Deaconess Lawrencia Luke, lost her husband 29 years ago but she didn’t give up on her duties as a seasonal teacher and mother. Just in the words of her children, “As a widow, you defied the odds to give us the best of life to invest in us and make us better persons.
“With words and lifestyle, you taught us life lessons – giving without expectation of reward, selfless service, patience with situations and people. Your life has taught us perseverance with dreams, goals, courage and resilience in the face of the most daunting challenges.”
Amb. Unyime-Ivy King is another quintessential lady who lost her husband, Ubong King, in 2020. Despite all odds, she is still carrying on her husband’s legacy with the theme, Thinkation, an inspirational programme that motivates people to be a better version of themselves. She was awarded Eminent Ambassador of Peace with the United Nations under the auspices of the International Association of World Peace Advocates (IAWPA). She is also an ambassador of Nigerian Army School of Public Relations Institute (NASPRI) and was The African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO), Akwa Ibom Chapter brand ambassador for the year 2015. She is a prolific writer who inspires people through her life story and she has also bagged numerous awards for her pragmatic services to humanity.Over the years, these widows have defied the odds and proved to the society that widowhood is not a pity party but a phase of life that gives a woman an opportunity to explore her inner strength and personality. They have set a pathway for other women who are likely to face the same traumatic experience in life. Over time they have proved that with patience, hard work and faith in God, a purposeful-driven life can still be achieved. Indeed, these amazons are likened to a cat with nine lives.