By Debo Ikuesewo-Akinbami
I saw a widow cry. It is one soulful experience that draws one helplessly to poignance. She struggled for the microphone as event wraps up. She had a message. Before the tears dropped, her voice had broken, into sonorous splits. Visibly aged and frail, a widow in the club of octogenarians prayed for Betty. Her letters of prayers, in both texts and texture, sprouted from depths. She had benefited from the palliatives given to widows, and she itched to say how she felt.
Holding the microphone, I saw as points of prayer pours through her naked veins. The reliefs must have met the oldie at her raw point of need, I thought. She prayed for Betty; she also prayed for Betty’s, resoundingly. And quite affectingly, beholding Betty’s eyes as she fought tears,
she prayed that Betty, for helping the widow’s, won’t be widowed prematurely. This prayer struck a chord. It got me brooding. I reckoned, widowhood must be darker than our tangential definitions.
Widowhood must be unimaginably dark. We can imagine the word, maybe not the world. It is an experience that brings the saddest and darkest change to the life of a woman. When it comes, it brings unimaginable difficulties, moreso in this part of the world where bereaved families are wont to suspect a woman for her husband’s death and so, without proofs, crudely afflict her. The older a woman is at the time of her husband’s demise, the more difficult adjusting to a new shape of life becomes.
The praying widow knows what it means. I doubt that the cheering crowd does. Her prayer dropped new imports on one, and perhaps, new consequences. Betty watched her deliver the heartfelt prayers. She could feel the widow’s pulse, and she did pick the message. Yet, unlike many who merely watched the profuse prayers for the fun of it, Betty was truly driven by the weight of her words, and, of course, her sense of gratitude. She acknowledged the widow, markedly. She became even more spurred to do more.
I watched as Betty interpret the situation. She got credence for her convictions. The woman was a loud testimonial of her persistent pursuit for the sake of women. Before then, she has identified the widow’s weights. She knows that widows do helplessly suffer economic hardship. Betty knows that widowhood enburdens her victims and afflicts with untold deprivations. She is well emphatic, and so can relate to their case. She knows about their usual loneliness and depression. She understands how widows battle difficulty in getting socially reintegrated.
Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu knows what a woman worths. She knows about the plight of the womenfolk and so has serially fought in favour of women. Betty fiercely carries genuine convictions and concerns about womanhood, and she is daily spending her life giving vent to this article of faith. She has said it for the umpteenth time, how special women are to her. She told them they have a special place in her heart. Betty would heartily and convincingly echo these beliefs, not minding whose ox is gored.
She delivers the message in beautiful letterings, and with profound impacts. “I am a woman like you.”, “I fight for the rights of women because I understand the challenges of women”, “My concerned has always been about how to advance the status of women”, I appreciate women and the roles they play as economic actors in the scheme of things.” Little wonder she wants the womenfolk empowered and itches to have them economically productive. How lucky Ondo women must be!
As a First Lady, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has since led a noble cause for women in Ondo state. She would lash out at those who call women weak and constantly disprove impressions that attempt to portray women as unfit to deliver. Betty provides the platforms and nudges women to express themselves, to do the unusual. She, through BEMORE, harvests the girls early and impress upon them reasons to defy daunting odds and dare to be the best.
A long distance runner, Betty gained a voice and gives the same to womenfolk. She weathered the storms and works to calm the raging, cancerous storm for womanhood. Selfless and restless for the sake of women. Even now, Betty invites the women in marketplaces to come closer for reliefs, knowing that they toil all day to care for families. Knowing that they withstand harrowing experiences to fend for homes and believing that they deserve better attention of government. She tells women to register their trades as widows did and got relieved.
Betty wishes to see all women happy and healthy, a dream that drives her the most, a dream she feeds with her all. For her, this is noble and possible. She calls it a viable and worthy cause. There is no gain saying her previous interventions have been effectual and beneficial especially to the womenfolk.
This fact should draw women in markets to embrace the new advantage of relating directly with government, knowing that the First Lady’s presence reassures. And when the table is set, the women in business can trust Betty to deliver, the way she has done to girls and widows.