By Chioma Gabriel:
Much comments had been offered on the Dana Air Crash Tragedy in Nigeria. Yet the misfortunes and shocks are not over to talk about. This post must touch you in order to understand further what some communities, families, friends, peers and colleagues of the victims of the crash are passing through. Apart from the air crash being so traumatizing at the instance of the occurrence, the nightmare is not done with in any measure and sense of the irreparable tragedy. From where would one tell the story, or in deed, end it? Nigerians would not be migrating in high numbers to other countries for the basic necessities of life if things are going well in the country called Nigeria. Would paying compensations to the affected families or so end this type of mishap? Would Nigerians living abroad not be scared the more to venture flying with the funny airlines operating locally across the country? When will Nigerians using the air routes be re-assured that families like this one in this story will be well again? The roads are intolerable, the seas and rivers are non-starters, and the airs are giving more harm than good. By which way shall we go? Guess what, there must be a way to go and that way begins with having leaders who not only feel for the vulnerable Nigerians but are also eager to work tirelessly and selflessly to take action and make things happen for the good of all. The good of all includes safety, security, opportunity, inclusion, and participation by everyone. The good of all also involves a time when politicians need not parade themselves about as money-bags and untouchables, instead of being servant leaders by serving the vulnerable Nigerian community populations first.
Without mincing words, and for me, Patrick Iroegbu, personally, after reading this post in Vanguard Online edition of Saturday, June 9, 2012, I could not resist the mind pounding thoughts of sharing the story of a family that perished in the tragedy. I discern that this story has touched many - at home and in the diaspora, it also highlights the sort of misfortune any Nigerian family can face in a time of poor leadership of the government of the day where the aviation industry and maintenance safety standards are covered up with infectious selfishness and corrosive corruption. In addition, those who died in this tragedy are now not alive to speak up. But can we keep quiet because we are not the very dead today? To speak up for the huge number of the victims is speaking up for ourselves too. Reading this article will touch you and I hope it sends the hard message home about what corruption, negligence and laissez affaire rhetorics of public transportation safety - be it by air, sea, land and undergound can result into and why it is also urgent for people who experience difficulties travelling with public transportation devices should raise alarm when it matters to do so before something bad happens.
In deed, this is the end of the beginning: Onyeka and Maimuna Anyaene: So, so, sad a love story of this family who went abroad to seek for a better life and returning home to end up just like that. "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and loud lamentation; Rachel was weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more." Jeremiah 31:15
Indeed, for a long time to come, the love story of Onyeka and Maimuna Anyaene would be a reference point for all lovebirds. It was a love story that defied ethnicity, religion and all reasonable imaginations such that death could not do them part. Their love story from its beginning to its end was so strong that even the legendary William Shakespeare would have turned in his grave in envy for a real life love story that trascends the story of Romeo and Juliet. Onyeka Anyaene was a decent young man. The last time I saw him was last year when the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal visitedLagosfor a parley with Editors after he was sworn in as Speaker. Onyeka came in his entourage and during our encounter, I realised he was working in the Speaker's Chambers.
But knowing him went beyond Tambuwal's visit toLagos. Onyeka Anyaene was a very close friend of my brother Emeka Obiakor who is also a lawyer. Their friendship was so deep that Onyeka was spending a lot of time in our house then at No 11 Ladipo Street Olodi Apapa in the 1990s. He was always kind and was never given to talking too much even though he could crack jokes out of very serious situations. I spoke with him occasionally after the Tambuwal visit and then this. At Ndiowu in Orumba North LG ofAnambraState, the mood was sombre. The peace loving people of the sprawling town ofNdiowuin Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, unfortunately are the worst hit by the crash of the Dana Flight 992 of Sunday June 3, 2012.
Like other Nigerians ,most members of the community were either relaxing or watching the Eagles football match which was the greatest event of the day when the news of a plane crash filtered into the town. No one took it seriously until Monday June 4, 2012 when the manifest was released indicating the town had lost over six members of its own. People clustered around popular joints like the Ibeagwu, Avenue and Easy Junction, a popular joint beside Onyeka Anyaene's beautiful mansion.
The joy of the previous days' Football victory against the Namibians had suddenly given way to a flood of anguish, dismay and wailing. Along with other villages, Ubaha village was thrown into mourning just as members of the St Lawrence Anglican Church where he worshippers were seen in groups whispering, wondering and ruminating over what has befallen them. The atmosphere was so tensed up you could almost touch it. To insiders, the mood of the community was not a surprise considering the popularity of the Anyaene's family as a result of the contributions of their late father Ben Anyaene, a popular church teacher whose intelligence and selfless service touched the lives of many citizens of the community.
First to break the news was Chibueze Kingsley Kanu who wrote on the community's forum on facebook "Please my dear brothers and sisters,can someone help to find out which of the Anyaenes. According to the manifest of the Dana Air plane crash, I saw Onyeka Anyaene and other Anyaenes in the manifest. Please make some diligent findings". It was no longer a matter of speculation when the towns' President General, Engineer Chike Emenike followed it up on the same platform asking for prayers. Hell was let loose as comments and lamentations began to flow. As at the time of writing this report, it had become a deluge.
One reaction that touches the essence and soul is captured by NkolikaNwankwo, a daughter of a prominent citizen of the community. She says. "I have called out severally and cannot but cry out now again for us all to demand immediate change.We cannot allow this country to drift so aimlessly whilst innocent lives are being lost in such cruel, irresponsible and heartless ways. So many children are orphaned, so many parents forced to bury their children, some in totally un-identifiable states, because we sit back hoping someone else will speak up. Is it when, God forbid, it comes home that we will feel the pain of this carnage? It could have been anyone of us caught on a distressed flight, unable to land even after a May Day call. Hers and others on that flight are gone out of negligence. A death that has resulted from the criminally negligent act of another should immediately be prosecuted.
Maimuna and son family: Photos
" The Dana management and Nigerian officials responsible should be tried and jailed for mass manslaughter. This corruption, nepotism, criminal negligence, dereliction of duties, state sponsorship of terrorism, blatant theft of state property, murder of innocent souls, must end. We must re-occupy until we are heard. We and no one else, must end this!"
The death of Onyeka and his family was the third of its kind for the community and apparently seems to be too much to bear. The first was the ADC airline which claimed the life of Ifeanyi Kanu. IfeanyiKanu was a young man that was yet to find his bearing after graduation. He was a member of the ADC crew that perished without compensation on the ADC flight. This was closely followed by the Kenya Airline that claimed yet another member of the Kanu's family, the Sosoliso clash also claimed one of its own and now the Dana Airline flight 992.
Onyeka was in his early 40s and has had a successful career as a lawyer. He was a law graduate of theUniversityofJosand the eight out of a family of 10. Of course,he was the last of the six men born by late Ben and Madam MercyAnyaene of Ubaha village inNdiowuTown, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State. Onyeka was a twin with her sister Odinaka. The Anyaenes had lived in Townhouse, in Elmwood's newly-developed Quaker Green condominium complex, for several years. According to the Hartford Courant, Maimuna, Onyeka's heart throb was a human resources manager for United Technologies inGoldBuildinginHartford. One report says that residents described the neighbourhood as very community-oriented, where neighbours immediately reach out to meet newcomers. Anyaene's family would socialize by the pool, and come to neighbourhood parties, they said. The mood in hisLagosresidence was even dizzier following the arrival from theUnited Statesof the family's elder brother Dr Anyaene Tuesday night. Tears flowed uncontrollably as emotions poured out for the whiz kid who was just bringing his family home for the first time for mum to see and hug. " Where is Onyeka and the kids he promised to bring to me," his mum oblivious of what was happening around her would demand from time to time. Providing a suitable and comforting answer was a big challenge and would remain so for long. InConnecticut,United Stateswhere Maimuna lived with her kids before the ill-fated crash that claimed her life and her kids, a makeshift memorial is being put in place tomorrow.
Already, flowers, stuffed animals, and photographs now blanket the front stoop of28 Park PlaceCircle inWest Hartford, the townhome where Maimuna Anyaene lived with her four children before they perished. "Your family will be in our hearts forever," reads one handmade card which included a photo of Maimuna and one of her children in costume. Hundreds of friends and relatives from all over the globe also expressed shock, grief, and condolences through a website dedicated to the memory of Maimuna, her husband Onyeka, and the couple's four children. A total of nine members of Anyaene's family perished in the crash. In addition to Maimuna and Onyeka, the couple's four children;Kamsi, twins Kayna and Kayne, and baby Kamal, also known as Noah; Maimuna's mother, Hajiya Berikisu Mijindad, and two cousins were passengers on the plane. The family was en route toNigeriato attend the wedding of Maimuna's brother Ndako, which was scheduled for June 9. Maimuna and her four children lived in West Hartford, but her husband, Onyeka, lived and worked inNigeriamost of the time.
Anyaene's oldest child, Kamsi, was a student atWhiting Lane'sEarlyLearningCenter. Dr. Eileen Howley, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum for the West Hartford Public Schools, read the following statement at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting: "The entire education community extends its deepest condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family." Maimuna, 32, was originally fromZaria,Nigeria. She graduated from theUniversityofIbadanin 2001. She earned a Master's Degree from the Smeal College of Business atPennsylvaniaStateUniversityin 2006. Her brother Mohammed Mijindadi also obtained an MBA atPennState, graduating in 2008. "It's certainly difficult for us to know that she's not with us anymore," said Robin Brouse, director of MBA student services at the Smeal College of Business.
The MBA program is a small, close-knit group of 85-100 students in each cohort, Brouse said, and the students and staff know each other very well. "Maimuna was a very special person. She had an infectious smile and was a humble and kind person. It was joyful to have her come through the office. It's hard to fathom," Brouse said. A post on the Smeal College of Business' Facebook page reads, "It is with great sorrow that we pass along the news that Maimuna (Mijindadi) Anyaene, along with her husband, four children and her mother were killed in the Nigerian plane crash last Sunday. Maimuna was a Smeal MBA graduate of the Class of 2006. Our deepest sympathies go out to the Anyaenes and Mijindadi families, especially Maimuna's brother Mohammed (MBA '08). We will pass along any news or updates we receive in the coming days." Brouse said that the University has not yet made any definitive plans for a memorial. Maimuna Anyene worked in the human resources department at United Technologies. UTC spokesperson Maureen Fitzgerald said in a statement, "Maimuna Anyaene was an invaluable part of the United Technologies team for more than four years. We are saddened by the loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends around the world. She will be deeply missed by all, including her colleagues at UTC."
In a website dedicated to the memory of Maimuna, her husband Onyeka, and the couple's four children, over 1000 condolences have been posted by family members, friends, school mates, colleagues in the office and those who were touched by the tragic love story of Maimuna and her husband. Onyeka's sister is former Vice President Alex Ekwueme's wife. In their family house in Ndiowu,AnambraState, the villgers were still too stunned to express their sorrow. Onyeka Anyaene's twin sister, Odinaka as at Thursday had not recovered from the shock and the entire village could not comprehend what came upon them. Writing his condolence on Maimuna's Facebook, Uche Okeke revealed " Ada Ekwueme, my friend was your husband's niece and that was how I met you before you got married. I andAdawere always at Elf estate where your husband lived. When I heard fromAdathat all of you were on that ill fated flight, my heart bled and still bleeds. When your corpse was found, your husband was on top of you and your kids. He protected you and your children from burning but rather got himself burnt beyond recognition all for his family. You both loved each other to death. Maimuna, we will not question our creator, but may you all rest in perfect peace till we meet to part no more."
A childhood friend, Kunle Lawal recalled their days fromZaria. Growing up with Maimuna in the ancient city ofZazzauhad fond memories of an always smiling,pretty lady. She was very intelligent and we kept in touch even after she left the shores of Nigeria.She had a wonderful personality. Its tragic how you left ,my old friend but who are we to question the Almighty." A University colleague, Uju King, nee Enuenwosu is yet to get over her shock. " I just can't believe it. I can rememeber our fun days onBenueroad quarters in UI. It's so sad.I ask myself if I feel this way, then I shudder to think what her relations and closest friends are feeling right now. May God grant us all the fortitude to bear this grave and unjust loss of such a beautiful, loving family." A relation of the Anyaene's, UO was looking forward to the wedding for which Maimuna and her kids returned but the story turned out differently. " I was expecting to see you at the wedding over the weekend so we could have a drink, have a good laugh, talk about the good old days, but do you and the kids, your mother and your husband had to go so soon. Ehm, sleep well Maimuna and take care of the kids okay."
Her school daughter, EmemAssam's heart is still racing. "I couldn't sleep for two days. Maimuna, you were my school mother and dorm mate in Queen's College and then my school mate in UI. Somehow, you've always been there. Your laughter, those dimples!!!You taught me so much in boarding school. All those secrets. I remember the days we used to exercise together. You did all those sit ups and leg ups and kept adding on everyday. You'll hold my legs, then I'll hold yours. Then leg ups, then more. You had so much faith in me! Even more than I had in myself. You never missed a prayer! You inspired me. You handed over your prefectship to me, and taught me how to ring the bell for dinner, do inspections, etc. No, I didn't become a prefect but I know you believed in me. I knew you'd make a perfect mother and wife. I wish I was able to see you one more time last year in DC. I feel bad for not reaching out more in the recent years. I can go on and on. I wish I got to see you and your family. I wish our children and husbands became friends. I wish I know we'll meet again. For me to hurt this much here, I can only imagine how your family is doing."
Maimuna's neighbour , Gail Goddard inWest Hartford,Connecticut,United Statessaw her last "a little over two weeks ago at our town library's used book sale. We were picking out books for her children to read, and be read to, which was very important to her. We then had lunch and discussed the trip toNigeriaand her new job opportunity inRhode Island. Maimuna was radiantly beautiful that day, as always with her calm smile even though she had so much going on in her life. I cannot believe she and all of her children are not coming back fromNigeria. I am crying writing this. So sad, so much loss, so much to mourn." Joke Thompson would always remember Maimuna's loud and heartily laughter on the phone when she called her that saturday, a day before the unfortunate incident. "Your loud laugh through the phone still rings in my head. I met with you atSami Courtin Maitama that Saturday.I saw all of you, your mum, husband, children and cousins. We all gisted at the dinning area.Mummy was so hilarious as we talked and laughed about everything. You asked about everyone. Mummmy told me you all would be flying on Dana the next day. She asked who owned Dana flight and we said we have no idea, she then wanted to know if it was a good flight. Hmmmm, I wish I told you all I know about it now, just wish all the news flying around by the flight had come in a day earlier. Would it have stopped you? Maimuna, you said you wondered why anyone could name a flight Dana, that it sounds funny. We took pictures with your camera. Mummy also snapped us with hers and I snapped with my phone.I was privileged to meet you all before your last day."
Another childhood friend, Kayode Gbodi remebered their days and " those precious times we all spent back in the days at both our homes at Area A in Zaria and NVRI Qtrs in Vom/Jos,from childhood. We played,ate and did so much together as brother and sister. I remember your warm welcome and hospitality,coupled with your entertainment with a barrage of albums with thousands of beautiful pictures. As an undergraduate at U.I when I visited from O.A.U,you always loved trapping memorable moments in pictures like you knew.They are vivid display of your smiley and warm personality, now vivid for all to see across continents.Those lovely pictures of yours really took hours to glance through,but were really worth the while.I will miss you Sis,Mumsi,Oluchi and all your adorable angels and their dad." Rita Eyo Arharhire saw Onyeka on Tuesday before they died on Sunday. "I saw Onyeka on Tuesday before this accident, how marriage had changed him for the better. Where you are now, there will be no more death and sorrow. May your souls rest in perfect peace"
The Anene family memorial services would hold tomorrow at 10am at beachland park47 Squaker laneWestHartford,CT06110.
May the souls of all those who lost their lives to death caused by the Dana Air Crash Tragedy rest in peace, amen! Lord take all of them to heaven directly, as you gracefully forgive whatever sins they committed against you in their travails in this wicked world. More importantly, the innocent children who were killed deserve all your grace to dwel with thee, Lord. A story of coming to ala beke to live a better life and returning home just to perish? May this shocking and embarassing tragedy not happen again in this way through better leadership in Nigeria! (Patrick Iroegbu, June 11, 2012).
This article was culled from Vanguard Online, June 9, 2012. Just Human.