Late Mrs. Christy Ngan Elema passed on Wednesday, 25th July, 2018 at the age of 53 after a brief illness.
In this piece, her husband, Mr. Sylvester Elema SAN wrote a moving tribute to his late wife
Tribute to my late wife Christy Ngan Elema
Many years ago, as a young struggling lawyer in Kano, (at the age of 31), from a very poor family, I felt that the time had come for me to get married. I sat down in my office one evening and took a piece of water where I wrote down all the qualities I wanted my wife to have, bearing in mind my own circumstances and weaknesses as a human being.
Thereafter, I took the matter to God, asking him to give me this Wife that I had in mind. I prayed and prayed for a wife. And then Christy came along. I was confused initially because both of us were from two different tribes. I am Igbo and she was from Kwoi in Kaduna State. But it soon became clear to me that she combined all those qualities I had listed out, such as humility, generosity, selflessness, tolerance and above all Godliness . I then recognized that God had answered my prayer and we got married on 11th May, 1991 at St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Kano.
After our marriage, I became alarmed at the rate my wife was displaying her generous spirit as she took great pleasure in giving out her things such as clothes, shoes and even jewelry to her friends. I quickly lodged a report against her with her parents and elder ones. They told me to be patient with her as it was her nature. When I tried to stop her, it made her very unhappy.
Let me tell a short story to illustrate this point a little further. A cousin of mine who lives in USA used to stay with us in Lagos anything he visited Nigeria. During his first visit, he was scandalized by the fact that my wife had only 4 (four) pairs of shoes and he strongly blamed me for not buying enough shoes for my wife. Later that year, Christy and I traveled to USA in the month of August on vacation and we stayed with my cousin. By the time we were coming back, my cousin made sure that Christy had 8 (eight) new pairs of shoes in addition to the 4 pairs she had before. This gave her 12 (twelve) pairs which she lined up nicely up in our bedroom. But soon thereafter these shoes started disappearing one by one. By December of that same year when my Cousin came to Nigeria once again, he was speechless when I showed her Christy’s shoes! The number had dropped to 4 (four) pairs of shoes once again!
Christy was very humble and did not discriminate on the basis of Class at all. Again let me tell another story. Unlike what usually happens between Madam of the House and House helps, my wife converted her House helps into her bosom friends with whom she was gist and laugh far into the night. I felt strongly uncomfortable about this because in each single case, these House helps soon forgot that she was their Madam and started treating her with disrespect. I therefore decided to do something “smart”. I told her that any future househelp must possess the following qualities; she must be much older than her, she must be illiterate or barely literate and she must not live inside our house. I wanted to make it inevitable for her to maintain the necessary “distance”. We soon found one who fitted into the description I gave. I parted myself on the back for finding a clever solution and for the first few months, it appeared that everything was going according to how I wanted it. Then one evening when I came home from work, the following conversation took place;
Christy……. I have something to tell you about our new househelp.
Me…….,,…….Yes what is it?
Christy….,,,,,,,She has a very brilliant son who has no money to go to University. I would like you to help him!
She then continued repeating this discussion on other occasions until she extracted a commitment from me.
Christy gave me a peaceful home which made it possible for me to grow in various aspects of my life. She gave us a home which was an oasis of love where laughter often rang out, especially from her and from the children
Above all, Christy had great love not only for her neighbours as enjoined by the Son of God, Jesus she also had great love for God. Her very first task every single morning immediately she woke up from sleep was to read her Bible and pray. She did the same thing before going to bed every night. She did this everyday without fail.
There is not enough space and opportunity in a short tribute such as this to say all that one can say about Christy. My task now is to strive to cultivate the virtues of selflessness and generosity which she embodied and to thereby become a better human being than what I am today.
Christy was a beautiful, pure soul who came for a short time. God called her back and she is in a better Place now. I thank God Almighty for the gift He gave me through her and I pray that we whom she has left behind would be given the strength and fortitude to bear this loss. Amen.
Sylvester Emenike Elema SAN.
Mrs. Elema was buried on Friday, 10th August, 2018 at her home town in Kwoi, Kaduna State.
May her soul continue to rest!