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Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Story Ogah Ene

Deceived and dumped, this Supermom decided to fight on – for her daughters.

In the early 1970s, a beautiful female child was born in Mada Eggon, a scenic hilly town in Nigeria’s north – central state of Nasarawa. The child’s father, Aliu Bawa, named her Ene, which means “mother’s love.” She is the first of eight children. While growing up, she attended CMS Primary School, Mada.

Ene lost her father while she was still in primary school. Her mother had to struggle alone to raise her eight children, but it was very challenging. While growing up, Ene’s dream was to attend a tertiary institution and be certified. So, after completing her secondary education, she proceeded to the National Teachers’ Training College, Otukpo, in Benue State. Unfortunately, she dropped out of school when her mother couldn’t afford the fees anymore.

After she returned home, her mother sent her to Lagos to stay with her aunt. After settling down in her new home, she started looking for a teaching job. Although she didn’t have a Grade II Teachers’ Certificate, she was looking for a school that would accept her O’ level certificate. Sadly, all her applications were rejected.

Ene’s aunt was a civil servant and a very industrious woman. On the side, she sold pap, bean cake (also known as akara), moi moi, and other edible items. When Ene couldn’t get a job, she had to assist her aunt in running her petty business. She however planned to save up some money and return to school.

Life in Lagos was going well until a young man met her guardian to request her hand in marriage. Mr. Dabiri was a well-spoken and handsome man. He promised to offer her heaven on earth. Ene’s aunt was swayed by his sweet-coated tongue and, without carrying out a thorough investigation, consented to the relationship.

But while savoring her suitor’s promises, Ene had a hunch that it wouldn’t turn out well. She expressed her fears to her aunt, but the woman convinced her that Dabiri was a good man. At that point, Ene had no one else to talk to. Her mother was far away in Kaduna, and she had no access to a telephone. So, she accepted Dabiri’s proposal to please her aunt.

Normally, after accepting a marriage proposal, the next step is to meet with the bride’s parents to discuss the dowry requirements. But in this case, Dabiri was able to convince Ene’s aunt to let her go with him. He promised to perform the  marriage rites after some time. Her aunt accepted, and that was how Ene followed a total stranger to his place of abode.

“Since I was born, I have never met a person as deceitful as Dabiri. The man lied about everything. He didn’t even have a home in the proper sense. He was living in an uncompleted building without doors and windows. Old wooden planks were placed across the window frames, and a torn wrapper was used as a curtain.

In a corner of the room, I saw two small pots, three plastic plates, and two spoons. The worst of it all was the torn old cartons that littered the floor. Do you know what he was doing with them? Well, he was sleeping on them. Yes! Dabiri couldn’t afford a mat, and I was shocked when I saw all that.

While lying down on those cartons, I couldn’t sleep that first night. I was just reflecting on my life. Is this the haven he said he had? Why did my aunt make me accept this? There was no way I could return to my guardian’s house, and I didn’t have transport fare to return to my village. Moreover, I came to Lagos to make money, and I was yet to achieve that goal. After contemplating the pros and cons, I decided to stay with him. 

The next day, I discovered that Dabiri didn’t have a stable job. He would go out every morning to look for jobs at construction sites, where he worked as an unskilled labourer. We were managing the little wages he received daily, but if he didn’t get a job, then we would starve. “

Although Dabiri was financially poor, his lips were rich with sweet words. He told her that he loved her so dearly and that soon, she would swim in wealth. After living with him for some time, Ene fell in love and was willing to sail through thin and thick with him. To support the family, she got a teaching job at a small school in their vicinity. A few months later, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and named her Ann.

“The first time I saw my daughter, my heart was filled with so much joy. She was so fair, and I was even wondering if I was really her mom. During the pregnancy, I didn’t eat nutritious food because I couldn’t afford it, but my baby was born healthy and strong. Her arrival reassured my faith in God. I believed that because He gave me such an angel despite my poverty and living in an unfinished house, He could also transform our rags into robes. “

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God answered Ene’s prayers indeed. A few months after the birth of her daughter, Dabiri got a permanent job with a good salary. So, they were able to rent a befitting house and buy a car. Life became sweet and everything was going on fine. At a point, she got pregnant again, and while they were expecting the baby, she told Dabiri to legalize their relationship. After pleading repeatedly, he agreed to visit her family to perform the necessary marital rites.

“One day, as we were preparing to go to the market to purchase the items on the marriage list, Dabiri’s brother called him on the phone. I didn’t understand the discussion they had, but at the end of the call, he told me to suspend the market plans. We had earlier agreed that I would travel with him to his village to see his family. I was shocked when he said I wouldn’t go with him any longer. When I asked for his reasons, he said that his brother suggested that we postpone the marriage plans to December of that same year. Well, I accepted. “

Ene gave birth to her second child in 2003. After the child was born, Dabiri travelled to his village, and when he returned, he told her that his siblings were saying negative things about her. She was surprised to hear that because she had not met any of them before.

“What shocked me the most was when I heard that his elder sister said that I was a witch. She warned him that I would ruin his life if he married me. Really? Why would anyone lay such an accusation on someone they barely knew? He said that they got the information from his cousin, who had once visited us. 

I wondered why they didn’t call me a witch during those times we were starving and sleeping on cartons. I was so heartbroken when I found out that Dabiri didn’t defend me while his siblings were tarnishing my image. He even stood in front of me to affirm that I became a witch after he started experiencing financial breakthroughs. “

After that incident, their sweet love story turned sour. The same couple that used to bathe, eat, play, and do everything together became cat and mouse. Dabiri stopped providing for the family and was indifferent about his daughters. He would go out and return late in the night. He also started abusing her physically, and emotionally.

At first I wanted to hide my predicament from my family, but when I couldn’t bear it anymore, I called my brother and told him what was happening. When he heard my story, he was shocked and angry. He called Dabiri, and they had a serious argument.

Although we were still living together, my partner started receiving calls from different women. He stopped answering his calls in my presence and was also treating me unfairly. I sought counsel from my friends, and they told me to pray for him. While I was praying for him to change his bad attitude, he was getting worse by the day. So, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I pleaded with him to tell me what his plans were. Unfortunately, he informed me that he was no longer interested in marrying me because his sister had introduced him to another woman and they had begun dating.

When I heard that, I didn’t know what to do. Meanwhile, I was already pregnant with my third child. I tried to cry, but my tears didn’t flow. When I opened my mouth to express how I was feeling, I discovered that I had lost my voice. My head was filled with random thoughts and I could hear an inner voice telling me to end it all.

Yes! I wanted to commit suicide, but then I asked myself what would happen to my daughters if I died. The answer was clear to me; they would suffer. If Dabiri could starve his children while I’m still alive, I wondered what he would have done in my absence.”

One day, after Ene had gone to her place of work, her partner packed all his luggage and left the house. He abandoned his six-month pregnant “wife” and his two daughters and simply disappeared.

When Dabiri left, Ene was earning 2,500 naira monthly from her teaching job, and that amount was not enough to cater for the household expenses. She couldn’t get any better offer because she had no certificate. So she started looking for menial jobs.

“While I was still pregnant, I started going from house-to-house begging people to give me a job. I found some families that hired me as a part-time cleaner. So after closing from my teaching job, I was literally moving from one house to the next to wash plates, clothes and do other chores. During holidays, I would prepare pap and hawk it on the street. I used to drop my kids at a neighbour’s place, but sometimes I took them along. It was really a shameful sight, but I didn’t mind. My only concern was to get enough money to foot our bills. “


Shortly after Dabiri’s disappearance, Ene gave birth to their third child – a baby girl. Thereafter, Dabiri’s uncle invited her to his place. When she got there, she shocked to see her estranged lover. The objective of the meeting was to reconcile the couple. While they were there, Dabiri’s uncle advised him against abandoning a woman who has three children for him, and he said:

“Aaaahhh…What is the gender of her children? Girls! Girls! Girls! What will I do with them? Please, I cannot continue to waste my time with someone who can’t give me a male child.”

Although Ene was hurt by those words, she didn’t respond to him. Throughout the meeting, Dabiri didn’t even look at the new born baby. He rejected his flesh and blood without a second thought. After the meeting ended in deadlock, Ene took her daughters home, and the struggle for survival continued.

Due to the stress of moving around with her, the new baby fell ill, and Ene couldn’t take her to the hospital because she had no money. She tried her best to treat the child with medications prescribed by the local pharmacist. Unfortunately, the child died when she was just a year and 8 months old.

“If you have ever lost a child, then you’ll understand how I felt when my baby died. I was scared that such an incident might repeat itself. God knew I couldn’t bear losing another child, and that’s why he kept my two daughters alive. My first child is 21 years old and her sister is 19 years old.

My ex felt that we would not survive without him, but he was wrong. By God’s grace, we have never begged for food because I did all kinds of menial jobs. I have sold clothes, shoes, onions, potatoes, groundnuts, and many other items. I just buy and resell to make a little profit.

One day, something very funny happened. My kids and I went to Gbagada, a Lagos suburb, to visit my sibling. While we were returning, we met Dabiri’s brother coincidentally. Fortunately, we were in our best attire, and he was surprised to see us. After we greeted each other, I continued my journey to the house. I didn’t know that he called my ex and told him that he saw us. So, they traced me to my house and came with two policemen to arrest me. When the policeman asked me if I knew them, I denied knowing them.

I called my brother, and we all went to the police station. Dabiri had accused me of kidnapping his daughters, and when the cops asked for my side of the story, I narrated everything from the beginning. When I finished, they were so mad at him and even wanted to put him in jail for falsely accusing an innocent woman. So, after they freed me, I warned Dabiri never to set foot in my house again.”

According to an unknown author, being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress, and twice the tears—but also twice the hugs, twice the love, and twice the pride. So far, Ene has gone through thick and thin to raise her daughters. She is teaching them to be hard-working and independent. Thankfully, God has been helping her.

At the moment, her first daughter is in her final year at a university and, due to the ongoing industrial action, she is working in Ikeja. Her second daughter is also in the university and she helps her mother in her various businesses.

Over the years, Ene has encountered men who offered to take care of her bills in exchange for casual sex, but she rejected the offers. She has decided not to get into another romantic relationship until she’s healed completely from the traumatic experience she had in the past. Right now, her major goal is to earn more money so that they can live a luxurious life. So while she’s hopeful for a brighter future, she has vowed to remain a SUPERMOM to her children.

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