At 45, Mrs. Rhoda Amenawou Alobo strongly craves the love and affection of her mother. She last saw the woman, whom she referred to as Hajiya Halima, when she was 10 years old. Despite losing touch with her for 35 years, she daily lives with an insatiable hunger and void that only a mother’s love and care could fill.
And now, unable to hold back any longer, Rhoda has embarked on a remarkable journey to find her biological mother. She also seeks to reunite with her only brother, Yisa, whom she had never met as her mother was pregnant with him when she left.
Rhoda, who hails from Ozalla in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, said she holds no grudges against Hajiya Halima for leaving her with the huge responsibility of fending for her siblings, Temi and Lucy, aged 9 and 5, then.
The memories she has of the years after her mother left are of suffering, years spent entirely in Ozalla struggling to make ends meet to cater for her siblings. She noted that, with time,
she realised her mother took the best decision to leave at the time.
Still clinging to the memories of her days in the village, Rhoda said, despite what she went through, especially on days she had to go hungry so that her siblings could eat, her outlook on life and about her mother never changed.
According to her, “my mother was just a real soft-hearted person. She struggled back then to give us the best. The much I remember about her was that she never gave up easily and she toiled to ensure we never missed my father’s absence. But it was really tough for her, especially as a widow.”
Recalling how her mother took a walk that has since shaped their lives, Rhoda said it all started after they relocated from one of the northern states with their father to their home town in Ozalla. Immediately after they settled down, her father died mysteriously, leaving her mother, who was heavily pregnant, to fend for three children.
Rhoda noted that, shortly after her father’s burial, his family members became very hostile to her mother and abused her emotionally and psychologically.
“As at that time, I did not know what the problem was but I noticed my uncles were not nice to my mother. She was not getting any form of support from them and she was always crying,” she said.
She further recalled that, at a point, when the maltreatment became unbearable for her mother, she left the village one day out of frustration for an unknown destination.
“For years, I struggled to take care of my younger ones. It was quite tough but God saw us through. After a while, we all found our way to Lagos, got married and had children. But our greatest pain is not having her around us. There were days we cried, knowing she was somewhere within this country but we could not reach her. I missed her mostly in those days when I was still giving birth because of the special roles she would have played,” she said.
The mother of four said she was elated when, out of the blue, on May 3, 1994, she received a letter from her mother, adding that she felt it was a step towards reuniting with her.
But sadly, no other letter came; it turned out to be a one-off incidence.
According to Rhoda, “in the letter, she told me she lives at 218/B, Yola Road, Bama, Borno State. She also wrote that she had a baby boy after she left us in Owan.”
Rhoda said, at a point, when she became so bothered by the sudden silence, she made plans to travel to Borno State in search of her, but was advised against making the trip because of the insecurity occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
“A church member that I contacted in Maiduguri warned me against travelling to look for her. But he really helped by putting up information about her and how we could be contacted on several radio stations. But since he made the announcements, nothing has happened. I don’t want to believe anything has happened to her because of the crises down there but my prayer is to set eyes on my mother and have her wrap her arms around me. I also want to see my brother and see what he really looks like. If she is still alive, we, her children, need her. We miss her motherly care and would also want her to meet her grandchildren. ”
Despite what appears as daunting hurdles, as she really has no lead that could help track Hajiya Halima; this distraught woman holds out hope that, one day, she will reunite with the woman she still calls mother.
She is appealing to anyone that knows or has seen Hajiya Halima to kindly contact her and her siblings through the mobile numbers 08026936911 and 07042297187.
“My siblings and I have for years missed the care and affection of a mother and would give anything to see her again. We want to care for her now that she is old and might be ailing,” she said.