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Endless love: 44 Years ago, she followed a man to Nigeria. Now, as a widow, she asks: Why would I go back to my country because I lost my husband?

Posted by Sun News Online on 2007/03/28 | Views: 2402 |

Endless love: 44 Years ago, she followed a man to Nigeria. Now, as a widow, she asks: Why would I go back to my country because I lost my husband?


Mrs. Sonja Ally is the widow of Brigadier G A. Ally, who hailed from Obudu in Cross River State. This afternoon, you find her at her Cappa and D’Alberto office where she holds sway as the personal assistant to the Finance Director. You watch her closely while members of staff walk in and out of her office, making one or two demands.

Mrs. Sonja Ally is the widow of Brigadier G A. Ally, who hailed from Obudu in Cross River State. This afternoon, you find her at her Cappa and D’Alberto office where she holds sway as the personal assistant to the Finance Director. You watch her closely while members of staff walk in and out of her office, making one or two demands.

You are impressed with her humble disposition and you try to chat her up. Then you refer to her as a foreigner but she quickly says: "I am not a foreigner, I am a Nigerian. I came to Nigeria in 1963 and got my Nigerian passport in 1966. I was married to the late Brig. G A. Ally, who was a native of Obudu in Cross River State. I have three surviving children and my daughter-in-law is from Awka in Anambra State".

Next she talks about some of the things she learnt from Nigerians and how she coped with the initial challenges. "I cook and eat African food, especially egusi soup and pounded yam. Our egusi is cooked with lumps, and it comes out really nice. I trained my children and grand-children to eat both African and European foods. Somehow, they prefer African foods. We had problems with languages because the languages are so many, but my husband’s dialect is called ‘bette’. I love and wear Nigerian outfits, they are freer and lighter."

Ally, who hails from Denmark, met her late husband in Britain in the 60’s. Shortly after, they came back to Nigeria and got married in 1963. The cold hands of death, however, snatched her husband who she described as "one of the few honest men" in 1997.

You want to know if she was a victim of the social menace called widowhood practices before and after her husband’s funeral ceremonies and she replies this way: "I was not a victim at all. My husband’s family were very supportive of me. They included me in all the burial activities and meetings. I was not excluded at all. Another reason was because my two sons were adults. If your children are of age, you might not pass through all that. But the greatest thing my late husband did was that he had a ‘will’ which covered his wife and children. I think every man should do that to avoid unnecessary agony when he is no more".

She also recalls how her husband played the key role in the family. This she says helped her to worm her way into the heart of members of the family. "My husband trained most of his relations, but they thought I was the one doing all this. When they come asking for assistance, he would give me the money to keep. When that relation comes around, he will tell them, go and talk to my wife. It was like that for years and the orientation of the people towards me changed.

She continues: "Even in my country, Denmark, we pay 55 per cent tax and that goes into the old people’s home, charity works and other social activities. So, seeing him train his people was not a problem to me; rather I saw it as empowerment that will stabilize all. You do not have the right to come from a foreign land and try to change the culture of the people on ground. You may not like it, but you simply try to accept them."

Listening to her stories, you realize Mrs Ally has made up her mind to stay for good. "Why would I go back to my country because I lost my husband?", she asks almost herself.
"This is a country where I have put in 44 years plus.. I joined Cappa and D’Alberto in 1975, and the people I am working with are nice. I do not see a reason you should change if you are okay where you are."

Ally then goes on to talk about her passion for the widows, not because she is one, but also because she has seen some pathetic cases. "I am the chairperson of the Widows Trust Fund of the International Women Society (IWS). The organization was founded in 1957 to bring foreign and Nigerian women together.

The sole aim of the organization is to assist the needy, take care of the underprivileged ones and support the handicapped in the society. In 1998, the Widows Trust Fund (WTF) was founded under the leadership of Mrs. Ijeoma Asala."

She goes on to explain that IWS is not running a charitable organization. "Rather, we assist and monitor how widows are coping and the progress recorded so far."

Her motivation came from the stories she heard about the plight of widows and some personal encounters. "When you hear what these young widows go through, before and after the funeral ceremonies, you cannot but reach out to them. There have been cases where in-laws take away the dead man’s belongings probably because his widow is not empowered. We have also heard that when a woman loses her husband, nobody visits to find out how the family is faring. These are some of the things we considered and set up the foundation. Funding comes from the interest generated from the real fund and about many women are assisted every year."

The Accountant uses the opportunity to advise women to sit up and empower themselves. "Do not sit back and wait for your husband to provide all. Get something doing while he is alive".

Having been in the country for over four decades now, you want her to look at the good old days with the present. "When I came to Nigeria in 1963, Ikoyi was very nice. Looking at it today, it has gone down security wise. Walls are not raise so high for protection, rather they are just built to beautify ones compound. In addition, the physical environment is nothing to write home about unlike when I just came to Nigeria."





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Comments (2)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown