The families of late Paul Igamue Ebuetse, of Okpekpe, Etsako East LGA in Edo State, have announced the passing on to glory of their dear wife, mother, grand-mother, great grand-mother, sister, aunt, and mother-in-law, Mrs. Elizabeth Uchego Ebuetse, (Nee-Magbo).
She gave up the spirit at the age of 86. According to the burial programme announced by the family, the journey to her final resting place will begin August 18, 2022 with the body leaving the morgue in Ekpoma to her home in Okpekpe, for the final interment on August 19, 2022.
Before her death, Elizabeth Ebuetse was the last of the matriarchs or the older brigades of the Ebuetse dynasty of Okpekpe clan.
She was born on April 6, 1936 in Eke, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. The first child amongst four siblings which comprised herself, Josephine, Theresa and Ifeanyi of the Magbo dynasty. At a very early age, they lost their parents and became orphans.
As fate would have it, one of the relatives of her parents’ who was living in Kaduna, which at that time was the administrative headquarters of the then northern Nigeria came and took little Elizabeth to Kaduna State.
There in Kaduna, she started her primary and standard education. She later enlisted in the school of nursing, where she graduated from in flying colours. Much later, it was in Kaduna State she met her husband and they fell in love and got married.
During her nursing career, Mrs. Elizabeth worked in Tudun Wada General Hospital Zaria; General Hospital Minna, Niger State, in Maiduguri and Bama, Borno State.
In her days due to shortages of doctors, she stood in consulting and prescribing drugs for patients. Her training by foreign medical experts, no doubt, impacted on her and she stood out amongst her peers.
Reminiscing her times, Matron Elizabeth said that life was quite good in the north until the Nigeria civil war broke out in 1967, saying that the war led to the reckless killings of highly placed politicians and military men.
During the upheaval, the military administration of the then Eastern Region, headed by the late Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, had declared the Eastern part of Nigeria, the Federal Republic of Biafra and this led to the mass exodus of the Igbo from the north to their ancestral land.
The effect of the crisis in the entire country occasioned by the civil war was a huge in terms of loss of lives, livelihood and properties. There was series of high profile killings within the political and military circles on both sides of the divide, which claimed even the life of the military Head of State, General Aguyi Ironsi. Afterwards, young Colonel Yakubu Gowon was made the military Head of State to avoid a leadership vacuum.
For Elizabeth, the Nigeria civil war was not an interesting experience as they had to leave the northern region where they had initially settled into after marriage. Because of the uncertainty of the fate of non-indigenes in the north, her husband was afraid that she could be killed and they decided to move South, of which Elizabeth had always thanked God for the wisdom that informed her husband’s decision.
As they migrated down South, they settled in Auchi, the headquarter of the present day Etsako West LGA of Edo State, and promptly, started work in General Hospital, Auchi.
The civil war, by her view, was very long, spanning 1967-1970, saying that her survival was through the grace of God.
Sadly, in 1972, her husband took ill and passed on, leaving her shattered and devastated with the care of their seven children. The emotional pains, loneliness and stark reality of new responsibility hit her hard because the demised husband had been the rallying point of all the Ebuetses and extended family members.
All the seven children were young, with the first under 15 years at that time. An immediate concern of the Ebuetse family was the fear that she hailed from the Eastern region, there was this fear from relatives that she might escape with us.
More so, she was beautiful, intelligent and young which accentuated the fear that she might likely follow another man. Following tradition, it was resolved that she married a close relation in the family and the responsibility was hoisted on late Michael Imachede, with whom she later had two daughters.
Matron Elizabeth passed her midwifery training in Benin City with flying colours and later worked as professional nurse in several hospitals in Edo State. She thereafter had a robust working career in General Hospital Auchi, General Hospital, Agenebode, and later in life, pioneered the opening of the massive clinic of the then Teachers’ Training College, Auchi in the 80’s.
She rose to the highest position of her career as a Chief Matron before she retired. On retirement she opened a small pharmacy in Auchi before a former Minister for Health late Dr. Christopher Okojie prevailed on her to join and oversee his privately-owned Midwifery School and Hospital, with an orphanage home, Zuma Memorial Hospital, Irrua.
She combined the work of chief matron of the hospital, teaching in the midwifery school and being administrator in charge of the orphanage, where many orphans experienced motherhood through her devotion and care, ensuring they grew well and went to school.
Mrs. Elizabeth Ebuetse, bore her inner suffering and pains with stoic equanimity with a signature infectious smile. The smile was her badge of honour as a fulfilled mother even when she barely had enough for herself due to the numerous challenges that confronted her.
In the latter part of life, she was on wheelchair for close to 20 years, suffering from arthritis and asthmatic condition. Through personal care-giving and the grace of God, she lived long enough to witness the growth of her children and their families.
Notwithstanding the daunting challenges of life that she faced daily, she exuded hope, candour, smiles and remained a great personality with impeccable grace until her death.
Matron Elizabeth, as she was fondly called, was a woman of faith who relied so much on God. A prayerful woman and devoted Catholic till her last breath! She was an exemplary mother and true heroine of her time who triumphed victoriously through patience and perseverance. She is truly missed by family and friends who encountered her on this side of eternity.