THE PROFILE OF A CONSORT, MOTHER AND LAWLADY AT THE ALTAR OF MERCY: EJEMUDAYARO OTOBRISE CONSIDERED

 

BY

 

PROFESSOR MABEL EVWIERHOMA

DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF ABUJA

ABUJA

 

Introduction

 

To profile individuals, permission is often required or some form of acquiescence, knowledge of the personality, or familiarity of some sorts. The profile cannot be complete without a general particularization of what is to be detailed, framed and showcased or sent across as information and communication. When it concerns a consort however, it becomes clear that the person providing the profile is on either side of the couple- the husband’s or wife’s. However, there are times when it is impossible to be on either side, but to practically align with both spouses. It it is from the latter perspective that I would discuss the celebrant Mercy Otobrise as a wife mother, professional and a worker in the vineyard. The celebrant hails from Urhobo land, from among a people that consists of twenty-two autonomous republics or “Kingdoms” found in Delta State, Nigeria. The Urhobo people speak Urhobo language, with some differences from clan to clan. The ethnic group has leanings towards patriarchy and they are a strongly male-dominated society. This background information is necessary for you to know the origins of the celebrant and how well her habitation is a blessed one, being wife to a gender-sensitive and broad-minded husband. The celebrant’s husband is clearly not enslaved or ensnared by male-centred, patriarchal cultural dictates. I have often found Ejemudayaro in this conducive and cordial atmosphere, captained by her husband-pastor. Her Urhobo appellation means contentment and I ask, does she depict the opposite? Yes, or No? the answer is of course, No.  

 

Consort

A consort is a wife, an ally whose veritable companionship stands the marriage, home and union in good stead. In many societies, married women are still taken as second class citizens, with status far below that of men and remained at home, domesticated and denied access to formal, vocational training and education. This may not be the dominant narrative in Nigeria, but there are societies where many of such women cannot contribute much to development because of this cognitive setback. In Nigeria, education, skills and competence changed this perception gradually until many more women got educated and held their own in society. We see several marital unions that have the female spouse lagging behind without equity and equality or as part of the domestic decision-making machinery. A balanced home underscores the relationship, decisions, events and outcomes that do yield much dividend of development. The Bible showcases such unions, like the ones between Mary and Joseph, Sarah and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac among others. The wife is in a partnership with her husband to advance society. This partnership is evident in the union between the celebrant and her husband. I would not have accepted to speak here today if there was no evidence of mutual respect, love and the desire to outdo one another in marital value-addition and fervent hunger to serve God in the union of the Otobrises. In my close observation of Pastor Mercy Otobrise, I discovered a few things in her as a consort to Pastor Godwin Otobrise. The first is the friendship that they share. Without any doubts, a marital merger devoid of friendship lies on a shaky foundation. Warm affection is the next aspect that I noticed. I wager that people who are very close to the family will not fault my observation in this area. Care for the home is another. I am sure many people who are here today would have the usual housekeeping, home management aspects in mind. Care for the home goes beyond the physical. It is spiritual first, before physical and I admire the balance Mrs Otobrise has been able to achieve in the domestic sphere. Where discipline is concerned, she wields the cane perfectly- God help you if you err on the side of proper conduct with her! Furthermore, she has sisterhood leanings towards her husband and others under her motherly wings. If you did not know them to be ‘tied’ or ‘joined’ in wedlock, you may mistakenly consider them to be siblings.  This does not denude the latent romance evident between them when you look closely. If you ask me for an honest opinion, I do not think the ‘other room’ suffers from cold temperature! They also share jokes. Nevertheless, she is not a loquacious woman. Instead she is taciturn to some extent, a quality that is missing in many employees of the Most High. A garrulous pastor, pastor’s wife, or Church worker needs reticence and discretion at some point in service. Many ministries where these qualities are absent from, or not encouraged to be imbibed in the pastorate and laity often have crises of confidence due to their inability to keep secrets secret. Above all, the celebrant is firm, a characteristic trait in some of the Oyaides that I have met.

 

Mother

The mother is the live-wire of the home. Like the consort, her (re)productive acumen helps to advance the human species wherever she is found. The mothering factor is absent in many homes today. Internal motherhood within the home is expected to be underscored, instead of the ‘outside’ mothering that we see among many women today. Come close and you see the mother-hen in her, clearly displayed in her proclivity for perfection in organizing the children under her sphere of influence, be they biological or not. I once witnessed how she scolded her son, ensuring there was a delay in gratifying his desires. Many mothers would have easily jumped to assent to the demands of such a child, missing the opportunities for the lad to learn a few lessons. There are no ambiguities in her opinion of what motherhood in the traditional African and Christian approaches should be. She is a Proverbs 31 woman, wise in building her home and arraying her family in fine linen. ‘Mummy Mercy’, as some call her is a bowel of mercy. Indeed, her children call her blessed.

 

Law Lady

According to Florence Masajuwa, the concept of the Law Lady is a fact in equity. If there is a Law Lord, then there should be a Law Lady. In Britain, the Law Lord was a highly qualified member of the judiciary, a judge of weight and repute. After several centuries, the first female Law Lord Dame Brenda Hale was appointed in 2003, showing how far female members of the judiciary had travelled to shatter the glass ceiling and be recognized. Lady-like in composure, Ejemudayaro Otobrise is an accomplished Legal Practitioner. Her ability to place the law in context to the ‘unlearned’ is applaudable. I recall her surmise to members of a church here in Abuja on the need to have a Will. Also, with articulate eloquence, brethren were schooled on the necessity for a codicil, how to protect landed property and formalize business registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

She was called to the Nigerian Bar 27 years ago, and 23 years after walking down the aisle, her exploits in the area of family and property law stand her out. This is not known by many because of the trait I mentioned above –discretion and prudence. She is not a noisy woman, does not blow her trumpet in the real sense of the phrase and I suspect it is for this reason that family, the sheep in Deeper Faith Christian Assembly, friends from far and near as well as associates have come to celebrate her today, and make known her accomplishments. 

 

Altar of Mercy

The altar of mercy is a place of propitiation, of plea, adjudication for deliverance, justice and salvation. Everyone who walks with, or works for God as the case may be, has an appointment with the altar of mercy every time an appearance is made before God in prayers, supplication, or thanksgiving. The altar is a place of grace and faith too. Hebrews 9:5 and Ephesians 2:6 provide our recourse to help in times of need. Two out of several incidents in the Bible prove that the altar of God provides life-long imprints for our race as Christians. It is evident that Pastors Godwin and Mercy are worshippers at the altar of mercy. Forget the irony in the use of the term ‘mercy’, the celebrant being Mercy by name. it is because of mercy that they are not consumed.

 

The celebrant is in the process of building a stable ministry with her husband, where parishioners are steeped in faith and an identity that bears the mark of Christ-likeness.

It is not a joke to be fifty, neither is it a right, but God’s privilege. IT IS God’s way of proving His faithfulness. I travelled this road almost two years ago and I can tell you some stories. Fifty is when you see the colour grey not only in the clouds. It reminds you of the Goodness of God as a competent Artist, who knows that life is a kaleidoscope of colours and so the hair is used to teach that lesson. I have deliberately refused to be a constant patron of hair dyes! My dear sister, let the greys grow, it is their right. Even the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka wrote a poem to his ‘first grey hairs’. The bones are no longer as flexible and physical activities may slow down. You shall start to wonder why the publishers of books have decided to reduce the font size of letters. Blame no publisher; your eyes are only declaring the wonders of the alphabets from the other side of the mountain. This is the time to dance more in worship. For many who do not understand, like Michal, Saul’s daughter, at fifty you respect yourself in Church and engage in worship with respect, and not sweat in an undignified manner. It is a time to take stock of relationships, of religious and secular service, engage in the assessment of lessons learnt along the path of growth in the family, workplace and Church. Please value where you are venerated and esteemed as a person of worth, and do not treat anybody with disdain. You have not reached there yet, but soon your dentition will surrender to God and your voice start to shake to His glory. The Golden age as we refer to fifty years is a moment of self affirmation. It is my prayer that fifty years and beyond for you Mercy Otobrise, shall be fruitful years that abound with favour and goodness, mercy and grace for you and your household.

Receive grace for more mileage as you run the faith race.

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