These days in her Chicago apartment that she shares with her young son, Emeka, Pamela Mojekwu stares through the windows, watching the early morning sunrise streak into her living room, reminding her of another gracious day to be thankful and hopeful. Her heart has deep scars of tragedies, her face lights up from the beams of the sunrise, with a promise of better days ahead. In her 59th year, she’s still running against the winds of life, living, but in control of her speed in this race.
“I have learnt to get to my treasured destiny at my own time. You can’t hurry sunrise anymore: not with what life privileged me these years.”
“Jebose, when life deals you lemon, you learn fast how to make lemonade. Life certainly dealt me with tragic circumstances within the past decade and these situations taught me how to make the lemonades of life: Life is bittersweet”.
Mojekwu was Nigeria’s first celebrated aerobics and fitness expert. In the eighties, she was famous with her weekly fitness columns in Nigeria’s Vanguard Newspaper, her television appearances on Lagos Television and subsequently, Morning Ride, NTA, Lagos.
She also dashingly encouraged a new generation of Nigerians then struggling with obesity to define their values, be proud of their weight, called an obese nation to action for better living through intense daily exercises. She brutalized our bodies and empowered us as she tortured us, affectionately. Mojekwu was everywhere with a new brand: Miss Keep Fit.
She was in all major networks every Saturday morning, motivating the nation with information on wellness, weight loss and fitness.
While she woke our nation to fitness exercises, she was also silently facing her own internal family health challenges: she hid these from her clients and the nation with infectious bright smiles that spread over her face every Saturday morning.
Her only child then, Tina, was very sick. Every day was great expectation with regards to Tina’s health issues: “Tina was sick. I took her to Eko Hospital. The hospital diagnosed her illness as “sicklier foot” disease. I didn’t understand what that meant: she was losing weight all the time from this strange illness. We continued with the recommended treatment for my only child and daughter then. The more we treated her, the worse her condition grew.”
During a chanced visit to Eko Hotels, she picked a magazine from the lobby and began to read as she waited for her host. Inside the magazine, she read about a Dr. Smith of Children’s Hospital in Chicago discussing about Vascular Necrosis. The symptoms he shared in the magazine were consistent with Tina’s. Mojekwu decided that evening to seek the doctor in Chicago. Few weeks later, they arrived at the children’s hospital and her daughter was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia.
Mojekwu would abandon life to begin care management for her daughter. No mother would watch her daughter go through the rigors of sickle cell treatment and pain without a heart ache. Tina was regularly in the hospital. Her sickle cell disease was progressive and fast, weakening her immune system. Pamela described one of those scary moments watching her daughter in pains.
“America’s health system doesn’t lie to you. The doctors were blunt. They told me that her sickle cell was in advanced stages and she may not live. But she lived until that accident in 2009.”
Tina battled sickle cell disease throughout her life: most of her adult years were spent inside the emergency room of the hospital. Pamela lived these years with her in the hospital. During one of their visits to the ER, Tina went into coma and was placed on life support at the ICU. Doctors encouraged Pamela to go home and decide switching off the life support the next day. Tina miraculously woke up from her coma at midnight, cried for her mother!
The uncertainties of life began to pepper her five years ago when she lost her husband, Tina’s father, to cancer disease. Two years after losing her husband, on a humid July Sunday, Pamela and Tina honoured an invitation from her cousin to visit. She had worked all day; end of her shift, she went home and picked Tina to rendezvous with her family. After the visit, Pam and Tina began a journey back to their home. It was the last time mother and child would ride together. Something happened and she swerved her car into a ditch and crashed. It was fatal. Her only daughter who beat death few months earlier would not survive the wreck. She died on impact, at the scene of the accident. Pamela sustained serious brain injuries and collapsed lung.
“Jebose, I didn’t know to this day how the accident happened. I woke up in a hospital only to be told that the passenger with me in the vehicle died at the scene of the accident. That passenger was my only daughter. Christine was dead! Because of the severity of my injuries: collapsed lungs, broken ribs and brain injuries, I was placed in medically induced coma. I would see her in my coma stage. She was right there with me. She took me to the scene of the accident to see the wrecked car. She stayed with me until her funeral: she then appeared again and said to me: “Mom, your road will be long and hard but you will make it.”
Soon after Tina’s death, the City of Chicago arraigned her at the Cook County Court House and charged her with vehicular homicide: it alleged Pam was responsible for Tina’s death. She was thrown into jail. Life had no meaning to her: she barely remembered anything. She was suicidal. The prison officers placed her in a 23-hour solitary confinement, watching her every hour: “I was locked down for 23 hours every day, the first month. I was only allowed one hour to shower and exercise. Meals would be passed to me through a hole in the middle of my cell door. It was horrible: a mother being jailed for an auto accident that killed her only daughter, sustaining serious brain injuries that affected her memories. I was a volcano, waiting to erupt.”
Pamela Mojekwu mourned her daughter while in jail: the horrible experiences triggered depression.
“Dealing with Tina’s death, initially, was extremely difficult for me. I would stay in my bed for days, covered up, could not eat, and couldn’t bath. The experience is beyond explanation. It’s a sad feeling that words can’t capture with description. It’s a unique moment in our lives and I pray no woman buries her child, especially her sick daughter.”
Her painful ordeals redirected her new life. Through these challenges, she moved her aging mother to a nursing home for assisted living. Her mother had developed Alzheimer’s disease. Last month, one of her younger sisters died. She was buried this week.
Through rehabilitation and treatments, she is slowly recovering from the emotional traumas of her circles of life.
“Jebose, who would go through losing a husband, a daughter in an accident, brain injuries, sending your mother to a nursing home because you could no longer care for her , locked up for the death of your daughter and not be an emotional wreck? I was a disaster that happened.”
Part of life’s redirection is her new found platform for sickle cell advocacy. She has become a passionate psalm for children, especially African children affected by sickle cell. She set up a nonprofit foundation in memory of her late daughter; Christine Sickle Cell Foundation.
“It’s the best way to honor her painful times on earth. I was blessed to have her in my life. My mission now is to travel to Nigeria within the next few months and open an office where this foundation would be able to help our people through information, education and assist in providing a manageable care for those with sickle cell disease. I want to encourage everyone going through any circumstance in life or similar to mine, that it’s not over until God says otherwise. Be strong. I am strongest today, despite the tragedies.”
Source: Sahara Reporters
Criminal minds threatening Army with travel ban: Buratai
Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff has disclosed that he does not mind living in Nigeria for the rest of his life.
Buratai made this statement on Monday in a meeting with Army Commanders in Abuja, where they deliberated on the recent End SARS protest and pockets of violence across the country.
Information Nigeria recalls there have been calls by International bodies calling for a travel ban to be placed on some military officers accused of human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Buratai attacked the international organizations clamoring for a ban on top personnel and soldiers over rights abuses. According to him, his first trip outside Nigeria was when he was 50 and that he doesn’t mind if he has to live in Nigeria for the rest of his life.
“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better. The first time I travelled outside of this country, I was already 50 years and a General, so I don’t mind if I live the rest of my life here” The Cable quoted him as saying
At the meeting, the Army chief said recent events across the country have shown the determination of unscrupulous individuals and groups to cause chaos by all means.
“The events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means,” he said.
These individuals, groups and other undesirable elements have hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. These acts led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.
Despite all these, the army has continued to exercise restraint applied all the principles of internal security operations and fully abided by the internationally recognised rules of engagement as contained in our published standard operating procedures for internal security operations which are derived from the International human rights laws and are in accordance with the international principles guiding the use of force.” he said.
How iron protector prevented my shop from being robbed: Business man
Chima Smart Nwaneri, a businessman who operates in Owerri, Imo state has disclosed how suspected robbers were unable to burgle his office due to an iron protector.
Nwaneri thanked God for wisdom saying they couldn’t access his goods because of the protector on his ceiling.
Chima wrote on his Twitter account;
“So robbers visited my office where i do my business, but I thank God for wisdom, they couldn’t enter because of the protector on the ceiling..
Help me thank God….”
#EndSARS: We are not collection of angels, Nigerian Police says
The Nigerian police have said its officers are not angels, but the force is doing its best to serve Nigerians better.
This was disclosed in a statement posted on Twitter by the force. This comes after several unrest and pockets of violence that greeted the endsSARS protest against police brutality.
The Nigerian police appear to have started an online campaign to redeem their image and rebuild trust with Nigerian citizens, following the nationwide #EndSARS protests and its devastating fallout.
The security agency which admitted that it is not a collection of angels, however told Nigerians that it is doing its best to ensure better services.
The police, Monday night, uploaded a campaign flyer on Twitter, via their official handle @PoliceNG.
“We are not a collection of angels, but we are doing our best to serve you better,” said the flyer which was produced by the police public relations department, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
— Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) October 26, 2020
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