The remains of 87 year-old Madam Elekhia Ayiyi, mother of Late Founding Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch Magazine, were Saturday laid to rest amidst tears and eulogies in Ugbekpe-Ekperi, Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State.
Madam Elekhia GIwa: burial ceremony
The burial ceremony which was attended by late Dele Giwa’s close associates evoked the memories of Dele Giwa as his mother was buried next to his grave along Auchi-Ekperi-Agenebode Road.
The interment was preceded by a funeral service held at the Church of God Mission, Ugbekpe-Ekperi at which the officiating Priest, Rev. Abraham Ikpotokin, extolled the virtues of Madam Giwa.
In his homily, Rev. Ikpotokin said: “Whatever you sow you will reap. Our mother has lived a good life, and her good will continues to guide her children.”
The clergy however urged all who survived the departed not to grief over much, reminding them that the good legacies of their late mother have “granted her eternal rest in the bosom of the Lord.”
Former Colleagues and associates of Giwa at the burial
Mr. Ray Ekpu led former associates of Dele Giwa’s to witness the burial of Madam Giwa, amongst whom were Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed, Nosa Igiebor, Soji Akinrinade, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, Kayode Soyinka, Tony Iyare and Funmi, wife of late Dele Giwa.
Ray Ekpu said: “I don’t know how am supposed to feel. We’ve been here a few times. You see we had to go and pray at Dele’s grave. It’s some kind of tragic nostalgia, because you can see the four of us here; Dan, Yakubu, Soji and myself. We are happy that (Dele’s) grave has been maintained, kept well.
“We hope we can continue to keep his memory alive in whatever way we can. It’s not something to feel happy about even though it happened so many years ago, but that memory doesn’t disappear”.
Speaking on the memory of his late colleague, Ekpu was of the opinion that the press has been fair in sustaining the memory of Dele Giwa.
“I think they’ve done well, I believe so. The manner of his death has a life of his own, it grows, it has grown. A number of things have happened. Institutions have been set up in his name, awards have been given in his name, so I think the press has done very well.
Surviving children of Madam Elekhia
“What it needs to do is to continue with that tradition of investigative journalism which he started in Newswatch, and of which Dele Giwa is a notable exponent. If the press can go on with that, then it can exhume some of the corrupt practices going on in this country for which am sure all of us are very much unhappy with,” Ekpu said.
Former London Bureau Chief of Newswatch, Kayode Soyinka, who was having breakfast with Dele Giwa when he was killed through a parcel bomb on October 19, 1986, described his presence at the burial ceremony of Dele as a “necessary thing for me to do, knowing fully well my closeness with Dele Giwa and what happened to us on 19th October, 1986. I am in the country at the moment. Immediately I heard of the event, I made it a point of duty to come here to give the to Dele’s mother.”
He described his presence at the burial of the late Madam Elekhia Giwa as one of the ways he immortalise his late colleague.
“Am a victim of the 1986 parcel bomb thing, just like Dele. The difference is that I survived it. But in terms of maintaining his legacies, even though I’ve not been in Nigeria, I have been very consistent in making sure that we get justice. We know those who did it, who sent bomb to us.
“They are still alive, and they walk free, they’ve been going around with their flowing agbadas (gowns) as if nothing will happen. But Nigerians should know what happened, Nigerians know those who killed Dele Giwa. Dele Giwa has done his bit, he did very well as a journalist both in Nigeria and internationally. His legacies cannot be erased,” he said.
Tunde Giwa, eldest surviving son of Madam Giwa, said his mother would be remembered for her selflessness, humility and her strict moral standard which he said she embedded in her children.
Also speaking to journalists, Mrs. Ronke Abibat Abaoba, last daughter of late Madam Elekhia Giwa, who broke down in tears, said she was very close to the mother and the mother close to her, explaining that she lived and died in her house.
“She was a loving mother, she was too dear to me and I was too dear to her because I was the last born and the intimacy was so much, she was so intimately close to me. It is going to take a long time before I can get over it. For the past 13 years, she had been in my house. She was so close to me to the extent that if did not return on time from work, Mama will start crying.
“I had a wonderful time with her, she was never sick, she never gave me problem. She had never slept in the hospital one day. But I never expected that she will die when she passed away. I was still commending her on the day she had that stroke. The attack came that same evening, and that was all,” she said.
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