Most women known to be beautiful are hardly humble or caring or kind. Several years ago though, I met one, a very beautiful lady, and who had all three qualities and a brain to crown it all. Her name is Maureen Mgbor-Onwochie. We were classmates first before we became friends. At that time as an undergrad, I was often beset by financial difficulties. But it was Maureen and her friend Ruth (then Ibeneme) who were my Northerly stars. They helped me surmount some of those very basic of problems – Ruth would invite me to have breakfast, lunch and dinner for free in her mother’s bukateria, Kenfloxxy, anytime I wanted, while Maureen would let me have some of her books. Most of my friends who heard me talk about her, and who eventually saw her described her as chromosome, a Sapele term to mean wow, and Caribbean queen. And over the years after we left uni, Maureen was always there, a person of worth, a person of grace and humility and a beauteous persona.
It is often said that a thing or person of beauty is a joy forever. That was one of the reasons I was eager to meet her mum – that is, after I also met her father – then Dr. (now Prof) Mike Mgbor. While it was Maureen’s attractiveness and kindness and care towards others that were the pull for me, it was the Prof’s smile – a certain knowing smile whenever I ran into him on campus. One of those days, as I made my way to the Faculty of Arts for lectures, I ran into him. He said: Have you seen Maureen today? I shook my head. He smiled that smile and walked on. When I eventually say her that day, she wore this blue dress that made her figure captivate you the way the aroma of St. Remy brandy captures you.
Last year 2022, my wish to meet Dr (Mrs) Mgbor began to take shape. She was working on one of her manuscripts, and needed another eye to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. The only problem though was that while she was in Benin City, I was in Abuja. But no bother – I got the manuscript through the internet. At first reading of the manuscript, something of the mene mene tekel upharsin effect took hold, that this was a servant of God that HE wanted to use to send a crucial message to the rest of humanity. As matter of fact, Mrs Mgbor said in her prologue that ‘the Lord God Himself spoke to me clearly on the 28th of July 2021, through my husband, Prof Michael O. Mgbor. I am in awe how God communicated through my husband in that even though he was in a deep state of slumber, I heard words of the Lord from him saying, “write something on the Significance of the Bible…’ That was what she eventually did. Her book, Significance of the Bible to Christians At All Times eventually made it to Amazon.com on November 6 2022. It has eight chapters, (1) The Bible, the most important book on Earth (2) Other names of the Bible (3) What the Bible is (4) Significance of the Bible (5) Valuable Benefits of the Bible (6) Seven Churches of Asia Minor (7) Lesson Derived from the Book, and (8) Prayer Points.
I want to say something about the work involved with the production of her book, and what this tells me about what she likely put in to nurture her children and family. Even though she was nice and friendly in our discussions over the net, she never compromised on the content and message of her book. I saw that in her choice of colours, the font for the writing, and her willingness to accept reviews that aligned with the mandate that God had given her. While interacting with her, it became very easy to identify where my friend Maureen drew her graces, trust and kindness from.
Just last month, Dr (Mrs) Mgbor got in touch again. She had been working on another book with the working title, Only Jesus Can Save: Who Is This Jesus? According her, she would turn 70 this year and wanted to use this book to mark it. Work had already started on the title, and we were waiting for the typist to finish. February 28, I received with shock news of her passing on to be with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.
Dr (Mrs) Mgbor served the Lord at three levels: as a mother, wife, aunt, grandmother. She was a reverend minister at the Church of God Mission in Benin City. She was also an educator and author of note. I am happy that I eventually ‘met’ her, and saw some of the aspects of her life that makes her daughters stand out as embodiments of family, love, compassion and good. Dr (Mrs) Mgbor was an embodiment of womanhood, motherhood, love and compassion. Even as I sit down here reminiscing on the brief time we spent together, I seem to hear her whisper to me: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing’. (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Her loss to us is the gain of Christ. I am happy to have ‘met’ her under the very best of circumstances. I remain confident and assured that she continues to pray for me as she always did, as she rests with the master she loved and served so diligently.