Her birthday is already three days behind but still worth putting in perspective. Her late husband was the comrade’s comrade. That was Chris Abashi, one of the earliest presidents of the National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) in the early 1980s. He was an ideologically and politically high minded activist, with great admiration for Lenin all round. And even when he ended up the Chairman of Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of Nasarawa State years later, he still carried with him the Leninist imaginary, albeit in its diluted forms. He did wonder aloud many times how hopeless the system in place had become. Being a lawyer helped him a lot because he relied on it in many circumstances to blunt the mindlessness of the system.
Then death struck, along with the rupture that comes along with such tragedies. The first casualty is usually the family. No matter the determined intervention of activists to lend a helping hand, there is always one heart rendering story or another. For example, such stories have been heard in the case of the family of Chima Ubani who suffered similar fate. The list will be a long one. It is not the case that those who should help fail to do so. It is that once the bread winner in the speculative capitalist set up in places such as Nigeria, nothing else works.
It is the filling of that gap that the subject of this report emerges a beacon in virtue, tenacity and commitment. In the past two decades since the husband departed, she has stood on her stem. It makes sense to say that most others in her shoes would have given in to structural violence. She rejected openings that would not have been opportunism on her part in that circumstance, thereby sustaining the determination not to depart from the narrow and difficult path of self respect and dignity. Not everyone in her shoes can do that, particularly at certain points such as when the family house was razed down by fire.
The past few years have been one of success stories of her determined response to the challenges she confronted. All the daughters of Comrade Chris and Cecilia Abashi are graduates in top rate professions such as Engineering, Medicine or something in that club. And they didn’t have to bribe anyone to get admission. God must have seen that they needed help and He gave them brain to fight out the score that no one could block their admission. Not only are they all graduates, almost all are in beautiful marriages. Again, in a highly disorganized semi-industrial society as is Nigeria, getting and staying married is important.
Cecelia Abashi has thus been a good example of what wives of fallen comrades go through and how they survive. There are a good number of them. From Maiduguri about two years ago came the story of the marriage of a son of the late Jubril Bala Mohammed. Not only did he acquire a degree in spite of everything, he is an officer in the Nigerian armed forces, involving a muscular service of fatherland. His father must be so happy in his grave because he was the patriot’s patriot while alive. The credit in the ‘boy’s progress cannot but be a major contribution of the mother upon whom the burden of child rearing fell since Bala’s demise.
Similarly, Mrs Abashi has crowned her effort with making an artist of the male among the children who has since graduated in Fine Arts. If the ‘boy’ continues along his current pace, the world would hear his name in artistic creativity. The father would be shocked because he had given up hope that the educational system could produce anything beyond the pedestrian. As Chairman of a local government council, he was in a position to know. In fact, there was a story he was used to telling of a particular encounter after which he would shake his head in disbelief that Nigeria could have gone down that far. What has happened is neither a disconfirmation nor corroboration of his fear but the exception in every rule. Who knows, the power of Mrs Abashi’s good cheer or good mindedness might have rubbed on her son.
It is possible her soul of personality is why the mother of four is becoming younger by the day and blooming too. It must help to have accumulated no toxic baggage of evil thoughts and practices and thus be able to sleep at the drop of a pin at a time many have sold their souls to destructive attitudes and practices in the name of smartness. And cannot age as gracefully as Mrs Abashi!
Although this is a bit belated, it is still happy birthday to Mademoiselle, the Amazon of Akwanga!