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He had gone with a cousin to see a friend in one of the neighbouring villages. This friend was learning a trade up North and was full of news about life in Ugwu-Hausa.

It was dusk and they were seating on carved wooden stools in the courtyard, when over the fence three girls walked past. A transistor radio was playing hi-life music, and they were sharing a big bowl of abacha with smoked mangala fish, flies buzzed overhead, drawn by the palmwine they were sharing. All the sounds and smells faded as he half stood, trasfixed by the vision that just passed by. Rarely one to show emotion, he cleared his throat, hacked and spat into the dust and carried on eating. When five minutes later he blurted out “Who was that girl in the middle with the firewood on her head?” His cousin and his friend burst into a round of hearty laughter.

Coming up for breath, the friend said “I was wondering how long before you asked. You should have seen yourself! The way you jumped out of your seat as if it was a cushion of pins, the look on your face as if you had been struck by Amadioha, the lightning god!”

That night when he got home, he told his mother about the girl he had seen. By the end of the Christmas holidays, enquiries had been made about her and the findings from the investigations pleased his mother.

So it came to be that less than a year later, she walked into his family home as his wife.

She quickly put herself to work proving herself both fertile – she bore him daughters and sons, and industrious. He was pleased with her, and his young family.

Then death struck.


Devastated, she did not know what to do with the children, the last of which was just learning to speak and his favourite phrase was “Na me dey marry my mama”, which always made her smile; and she a young wife with no book qualification to pursue a career.

That was thirty years ago. In that time she had rallied and done the best by them, almost single-handedly. She had fought off the wolves; stood toe to toe with adversity and triumphed; she had raised amazing children – her last not only has more than one phrase in his kitty, he has a romance with words spoken and written – and had been blessed with even more, amazing grandchildren. She had kept the pack together; her pride she has kept as one, losing none. This lioness, this beautiful amazon.

It is not for any small reason that I hold her high above everyone else, this ultimate keeper of my heart – she taught me everything I know, and I am eternally grateful.

For all these to come to pass, though, she first had to be born all those years ago today.

So it is with a sense of pride and gratitude and awe – yes, Mama is still the same amazon she was when I was growing up, mellowed with age, but still all there – that I write this to wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

I pray God continues to keep her for me, for us, her children and for her grandchildren.


PS: I gather it was ibetapasmyneibor’s birthday on the 14th of August, I am sorely tempted to type ‘HBD, LLNP & GBY’, but I will just say God bless you and keep you, and may He let his face shine upon you.



"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.


  1. This is so beautifully written.. A mother’s luv tho, dats real unconditional luv. The things most ov our mothers had to go thru for us to b who we re 2day, I’m sure we cn neva repay them. Happy Birthday to ur mum Franque.

  2. Awwwww Franque,happpy birthday to your mother who is a father too”.like a lioness she has kept her pack”..very nice. may God continue to bless and increase you guys for her sake.

  3. Darln brother,with teary eyes I read the ode for mama and memories came rushing and overtook me…we thank God for where we all are today and it can only get better and we, stronger.mama raised Kings, warriors and angels bcos she taught us to be strong, confident and to be compassionate…happy birthday to obi anyin, orisa bi iya o si, iya mi ni wura, iya mi ni ala ba ro mi. Nne amaka, nne bu ugo! We love u mama, our pride and oracle.

  4. Happy birthday to ur mom and may she know many many more years filled with joy and peace!!! I love the way u love ur mom!! My mom is too special to me for words so I know the feeling!!

  5. This true Amazon,a rarest gem,her children’s personal Voltron,words fail me but I’d say Mama,you will most definatley enjoy d fruits of your labour,God no be ojoro God.Happy Birthday CHINEHEM!

  6. Awwww… This is so Beautiful…brought tears to ma eyes!! Happy Birthday to Your Mum, The Lord Bless and keep Her, The Lord make his face to Shine upon Her, As Her Days So Shall Her Strength be In Jesus Name!! A very Big Hug for ur ma!!

  7. Waoh!Your mum must be HAWT!
    Happy Birthday Franques mum. May you live long in good health to see your childrens children.

  8. A hearty happy birthday to my aunty. Very beautifully written coz and she deserves these amazing words from her children and more. By the way, you still dey “marry your mama”?

    I wish her many many more beautiful years to come!

  9. On my Mama’s behalf:
    @ Miss_P, basooh, tee-tee: amen. Thank u very much;
    @ Mateelly n t: abeg o, my intention was not to make y’all cry;
    @ Nengie: thank you very much. Her children n grand children have read it; she has read it;
    @ Kay, Uk n Cychy: thanx;
    @ Big Mama: iSee u my love. Words can’t get too flowery for this mother of ours;
    @ Stranger: but u kno she’s one of the coolest. #ToughActToFollow;
    @ Jigga: where ojoro wan pass nau? iSee u bruv. Deuces;
    @ Shadenoncom n Lorlah: amen o! And thank you;
    @ MaBiJo: u hav no idea!
    @ M.E.: thanx coz. iStill dey marry her o, tho Zite wants to pull an Oedipus plus on me #iNoGoGree;
    @ Nena: Even on his grandma’s bday? #CougarAlert!

  10. Awwwwwww!!! She’s indeed great! She’s my mother too! A mother to all! Very welcoming, funny n friendly. I’ll definitely call her! Love ur mama Frank!

  11. Awwwww, happy birthday Mama Franque! @ibetapassmyneighbour I missed ur birthday as well. Dm ur number to me, I ve to make up for that.

    Lovely writing as always.

  12. HBD Mama, it’s my prayer the good Lord continues to grant u good health n strength to keep protecting ur pack. God bless u today n alwayz

  13. So frm more than juz a biased mind, i take bak “inception” and say … This is your best piece yet. Beautifully written tribute.

  14. Now this was soooo sweet! Happy belated birthday Mummy Franque. I love how your dad didn’t play and how your mum (from previous posts, including this one) has held the family together. Solid as a rock! Hope she had a lovely day, and here is wishing her many many more years! Amen

  15. This is the kinda thing that makes me believe that this world has pretty nyc peepl in it, it makes me feel all mushy inside. I luv ur work!

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