Mom And Me - The Power Of A Loving Mother

Peter Oye Sagay

May 26, 2022

Photo of mom at 77 years old and me at 39 years old, unenhanced, just as we were many years ago when she visited me in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Obligations Of Parents

The fundamental obligation of parents is to sustain the lives of their off-springs. Implicit in this sustenance is the provision of food and security. All parents (humans and our cousins in the jungle) understand that these existential obligations are prerequisites for survival. The degree to which parents are able to fulfill these existential obligations is dependent on their respective existential circumstances. I deliberately used the word obligations because that is what they are at least up to the start of adulthood. However, the manner in which the obligations are delivered is the key. Are they delivered lovingly, or resentfully, or not at all?

Introducing Mom

My mother was Princess Margaret Oritseseyigbemi Simate (A.D. May 26, 1915 - Oct 28, 1995). She had eight children. Iam the fourth son of four sons and the seventh child of eight children. She was the daughter of Princess Esther AjaOlusanmara Yeyen Mishope (also called Missopu) and Olorogun Okaraku Simate. Princess Esther Yeyen was born in Ode Itsekiri (the ancestral capital of the ancient Warri Kingdom). She was one of the granddaughters of Prince Omateye, second son of Olu (King) Akengbuwa. The famous Princess Imele (founder of Aja-Imele, a suburb of Sapele) who was also born in Ode Itsekiri was her sister. Prince Omateye was to succeed his father but died within weeks of his father's death. Prince Ejo (Prince Omateye's younger brother) who was next in line to ascend the throne also died shortly thereafter. The current Emiko dynasty (the reigning Olu is Atuwatse III) are Prince Ejo's descendants. Perhaps the most famous Princess of the ancient Warri kingdom was Princess Iye. She was the older and fervent protective maternal sister and paternal stepsister of Prince Omateye and Prince Ejo. She essentially seized administrative control of the ancient Warri kingdom when her two brothers who were suppose to ascend the throne died. She wielded much power in the kingdom but was never crowned Queen since it is the custom that only males ascend the throne. There are always palace intrigues. Sometimes they are simple and at other times they are complex. At the death of Olu Akengbuwa in AD 1848, the palace intrigues in the ancient Warri kingdom were complex. They heralded the interregnum.

Olorogun Simate is a direct descendant of the Simate branch of Ologbotsere Eyinmisan (the first Ologbotsere of the ancient Warri kingdom). The exact status of the Ologbotsere in the ancient Warri kingdom has often been in flux. At its inception and for many years thereafter, it was common knowledge in the kingdom that the Ologbotsere title implied second in command to the king. This knowledge was very much ingrained in the minds of the population of the kingdom when Ologbotsere Rewane held the title. Olu Atuwatse III has iced the title as a result of the complex intrigues that ensued between him and the Ologbotsere of his predecessor, Olu Ikenwoli.
Olorogun Simate is a historic figure in the missionary and education space of early Sapele. He was one of the pioneering members of the congregation of St Luke's Anglican Church Sapele (the first church in Sapele). He was one of the earliest graduates of St Andrew's College Oyo, the premier Teachers Training Institution of his time and precursor of tertiary institution in Nigeria. He became the first headmaster of St Luke's Primary school and the first organist of St Luke's Anglican Church. According to my mother, he died by the time she was 13 so I never met him. However, I met my grandmother Princess Esther Yeyen and knew her for many years. She was the only grandparent I met. She and my mother lived in the family compound her father, Olorogun Simate founded. My grandmother lived in a spacious two bedroom flat at the east end (viewed from the street) of the family bungalow; my mother lived in a spacious three bedroom flat at the west end. In between their flats were three spacious rooms that tenants occupied. On the remainder of the land were four other structures: a three room structure (the house helper lived in one of the rooms, one room was the pantry and the third was the kitchen); a four room structure (a tenant occupied one room, the other rooms housed the equipments, office and other materials of their baking business); the structure that housed two bathrooms and two latrines; and a large brick oven at the center of the compound. My grandmother had a baking business that baked and supplied bread in the community. However, it was my mother I met running Progressive Bakery. She acquired it by the time I was born. It was in this compound my sustenance was initialized. My mother eventually built a two storey building in the compound: two three-bedrooms flats on the ground floor and one five-bedrooms flat on the second floor where she lived until her death. She is buried in the family compound (16 Decima Road, adjacent to the Bishop's court of St Lukes church, Sapele)

Mom Ensured I was Never Hungry

Memories of my mother abound. I lived with her always (except for the times I was in boarding school and the times when it was impossible to travel with her during important business trips). Mom trained as a nurse in her youth and indeed worked as a nurse for some time. However, it was her entrepreneural spirit that charted her professional life. She was a capitalist and a serial entrepreneur until her death. She baked and sold bread and biscuits from her bakery; she traded in gold, corals and clothing; beds and matresses; she had a taxi service in town; she exported timber and built a furnished boat that transported her to the riverine areas where her timber business was located; and in her old age up until her death, she was a primary distributor of cement in her area. Consequently, I was never hungry as a child and there was nothing I needed that she did not provide and in the process she taught me the difference between need and want. Even when her timber business suffered a major setback because a relative she had trusted to supervise her business defrauded her and ran away with a lot of money, she made sure I lacked nothing I needed.

Mom Ensured I Was Healthy

Malaria was a major health problem for me as a boy and it was often accompanied by convulsions. The convulsions stopped by the time I was about nine years old. My mother was a very strong and fearless woman, but she feared the loss of a child. Perhaps because as a young mother, she lost Bawo, her second son and third child. She never forgot the loss. So, she prayed consistently and fervently for the safety and good health of her children. My convulsive malaria was always an event in our compound. At its onset, my mother rushed me to my grandmother. My grandmother then took charge of me thereafter. She gave me some of her native medicinal concoctions to drink; left the spoon in my mouth; and rubbed my entire body with her concoction. The convulsion stopped soon after and I was well again after few days of her malaria treatment. I am not sure how my grandmother acquired her expertise in native medicinal concoctions. However, I do know that her aunt was a known mid-wife in early Sapele and she practiced mid-wiving on the land where the current St Luke's Cathedral is situated. It was her who gave her portion of the land to the CMS missionaries. I never saw my grandmother sick even though I interacted with her well into her old age. I stood and walked on her back frequently (partially when I got older) at her request. It was her way of massaging her back. However, her vision deteriorated gradually until she left to live permanently with her son, uncle Raymond, in Lagos. My grandmother was one of the two persons who named me. She nicknamed me Okpeyo (offshoot of thanks). My mother sometimes called me by this nickname. The other person was my father Chief William A. Sagay. He named me Oniyeweyone (this person fits us). Oye my middle name is a shortened form. I named myself Peter at baptism when I was about seven years old (Chief Palmer, Chief Adewale and Chief Mrs Adewale were my God parents) when the presiding reverend at St Luke's church asked me to select a name from the Bible. My grandmother was about 95 years old when she died.

Exposure - Sustenance Beyond Basic Needs

The single most important aspect of sustenance (other than the basics: safety, food and health) I got from my mother was exposure: exposure to religion, excellent foundational education, good people (VIPs and non VIPs), interesting places, and interesting job.

Exposure To Religion

My mother exposed me to religion as early as I can remember. It was mandatory to go to St Luke's Anglican Church with her every Sunday. The church was adjacent to our compound. It has since moved to its new site across the street. By the time I was 8 years old, I was already an altar boy, a member of the choir under the direction of superb musicians, Mr Green and Mr Daniel Erhabor; and the cross bearer and lead of the procession of choir and clergy into and out of the church. St Luke's Church was the Church in Sapele at that time. Most of the prominent families who were church goers attended St Luke's: the Palmers, the Smiths, the Etuwewes, the Omatseyes, the Johnsons, the Renners, etc. Prominent societies like the Free Masons also came to give thanks to God at St Luke's. At such times, they were part of the choir and clergy procession into and out of the church. They came twice while I was the altar boy. At both times they were part of the procession and their big book was carried by Prince Barrister Etuwewe. About a year before he was assassinated, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh (Nigeria's first minister of finance), although a Baptist, came to St Luke's to dedicate the church organ he had donated to the church. He made similar donations to several churches in Sapele. St Luke's Church initialized my love for hymns. Both my grandmother and mother loved hymns. I still remember their favorite hymns at that time: On the Resurrection Morning and Nearer My God To Thee respectively. I made sure I played mom's favorite hymns (they were hymns I love) each time she visited me in the US. She sat close to the piano and sang along as I played the hymns. At the times when friends were present, we all sang joyously. Mom loved hymns and may have considered a singing career in her youth. However, such a consideration was never taken seriously because in those days, entertainment as a career was not allowed if one comes from a respectable family. Singing in church for free while pursuing any of the traditional careers was the norm. So, during one of her visits, and accompanied by some artist friends, we went to the music studio where she observed the recording of a couple of my earliest compositions. We all had a nice studio session.

Exposure To Education

I am a superb intellectual. However, my present commitment to the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge sake is relatively recent. I was a rascal and a party butterfly very early in my foundational years. But for my mother and my great uncle, Pa Andrew A. E. Sagay, I probably would not have been exposed to the foundational education that is the prerequisite for the development of a superb intellect. I often discuss with my daughter the importance of foundational education (education that span kindergarten through high school. Called secondary schools or colleges in some countries). It is on it one develops the intellect.

I breezed through elementary school as one of the top students with little effort. Thereafter, I was getting ready to upscale my playboy rascality. My mother being aware of my intention contacted my uncle and they orchestrated my sitting for the common entrance examination and my admission into Edo College where he was the Principal.

Two days before the resumption of school, my mother took me to my uncles' house in the premises of Edo College and handed me over to him. She left that evening. In the morning after a hearty breakfast prepared by ma Esther (my uncles wife), my uncle drove me into Edo College proper and checked me into Ozolua House. My uncle retired two years later. By then I was already popular and comfortable in the school environment. At the time of his retirement, there were five Sagays (Ben, Eworitse, Godwin, me, and Agbejule) in various forms at Edo College. Three of us were sons of Chief William A. Sagay. Pa Andrew A.E. Sagay was a Sagay Icon. What my father was financially to the Sagay family, he was educationally. He was knowledge and connection wealthy and a bastion of integrity. His integrity was always front and center when he was a magistrate and Chairman of a local government in Benin after his retirement. In fact, he was one of those called for questioning by the military government of General Mohammadu Buhari (current President of Nigeria) in 1983 with respect to corruption. He was found clean. I remember the two occasions he drove us to the motor park to catch our ride to Sapele after school break. He admonished us "the Sagay name does not belong to you alone, you are custodians of the name. Don't soil it." The Sagay family has become very large since then and spread out across the globe. So, properness is now relative and a function of their respective environments. Nonetheless, I think Pa Andrew A.E Sagay is the ancestor in charge of integrity in the spiritual realm and he is hard at work making sure that we all strive to live upright lives.

The following two comments are good and simple summaries of him. The first was from my mother when she first introduced him to me: "Oye, come greet the Principal". After I knelt and greeted him, my mother continued: "Do you know he is a Sagay? He is your uncle and a very important man. He knows a lot of very important people."

The second was from Chief Edwin K. Clark (a former Nigerian minister of Information). Chief Edwin K. Clark is now in his nineties and a major Elder in Nigeria. In 1968 when I was in form two at Edo College, he was young and the Commissioner of Education of the state. Edo College was a darling school to many in the state government, especially, the military governor, General (he was a Brigadier General then), Samuel Ogbemudia. One Saturday, Edo College had an athletics event in one of the sports arena in Benin. Commissioner Clark was present. Principal Sagay was absent. Commissioner Clark was furious that Principal Sagay was absent. If he as commissioner of education attended the event, Principal Sagay should have attended also. The details of why Principal Sagay was absent was unknown to us. What we knew was that Commissioner Clarke announced the firing of Principal Sagay within forty-eight hours. However, on Monday morning, Commissioner Edwin K. Clarke came to the morning assembly of Edo College students to retract the firing. He was graciously remorseful and informed the students that his phone started ringing very soon after the word got out. "He received calls from various individuals who told him that Principal Sagay is a good man and a distinguished educator." One of the callers was the governor of the state who knew my uncle. One of my father's wife was from the Ogbemudia family and Governor Ogbemudia's Chief City engineer was, Engineer Ezekiel Sagay (the two other Sagays, Ben and Godwin who were at Edo College with us are Ezekiel's younger brothers).

A good man, an important and distinguished educator. Pa Andrew A.E Sagay's importance was not based on some lofty titles (even though he had several). It was based on his dedication to the education of young minds. Many illustrious Nigerians were his students (including his biological children). The erudite law professor, Professor Itse Sagay is his first son. Professor Itse Sagay was Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Ife; the pioneering Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Benin; and curently a Presidential Adviser on corruption. Like his father before him, many illustrious Nigerian lawyers were his students. Professor Sagay was the one who foresaw the exceptional legal mind of Senior Advocate Michael Ozekhome, and advised him to switch major to his law department. The former governor of Lagos State and current minister of works and housing, Gov Babatunde Fashola, was his student at the law school of the University of Benin. There are many others. Pa Andrew A.E.Sagay directly and indirectly influence many lives. This is often the case with great people.

I am glad that I was able to express my profound gratitude to him before he died in 1998. I visited him at his retirement home in Benin before I departed for the US in the mid seventies. He gave me 50 naira (the naira was a strong currency then and was good gift to a young man). But more importantly, he prayed for me. After my mother's funeral in December 1995, I visited him with two of my paternal siblings to greet him before I departed. He apologised that he was unable to attend the funeral for health reasons and that he will always remember my mom. On news of his death, and with the wise counsel of a great Sagay wife, Mrs Comfort Buwa Sagay (the wife of my father's younger brother late Engineer Gabriel Sagay) who was living in Chicago with her son late Jemine Sagay at the time, I contacted all Sagays in the US at that time. I had established a Sagay directory of Sagays living in the Western Hemisphere at that time because of the goals of the Sagay Family at that time. The request was a minimum of $100 contribution to be sent to me as our gratitude to a great Sagay. The response was immediate and without complaints by almost all who could afford it. Some sent more than was requested. I drove from Philadelphia to Washington's Dulles airport to personally deliver the contributions to Attorney Sisan Sagay (Pa A. E. Sagay's second son) who was traveling to attend his father's funeral (He was with his son, Zac Sagay who was ten years old then. Sisan is also the father of Elliot Sagay). The efforts of Sagay USA was appreciated by Professor Sagay. In fact, Professor Sagay sent me a custom made native Danshiki which I stll have. Pa Andrew A. E. Sagay, a Sagay Icon. I bow Sir.

Exposure To Good People

I met many of the important people of her time at my mother's home at one time or another, or at church or other social gatherings through her. I met good friends and relatives that came from Aja-Orogun (the riverine village her paternal grandfather founded), Bateren, Koko, Ologbo, Benin etc. I remember papa Ofame from Aja-Orogun and several others whose names elude me. Papa Ofame was her close relative who held the village together. These were not materially wealthy people. But they possessed rich character and wisdom.

Exposure To Interesting Places

My mother took me to many interesting places. Twice ( late 1950s and early sixties) my mother took me to Ode Itsekiri during the reign of Olu Erejuwa II. My father Chief William A. Sagay was a chief at his court. In fact three of my mother's children are children of two prominent Itsekiri chiefs: my mother's first child and first son, Choreographer, late Dr. Felix Oritsemajemite Begho is the first son and first child of Chief Elliot N.A. Begho who with his friend Ologbotsere Chief Rewane, cofounded the famous Hussey College Warri. My mother's last son and seventh child, Peter Oye Sagay (me) and her last born and eighth child Weyinmi Sagay are the 21st child and 23rd child respectively of Chief William A. Sagay. All her children are children of prominent chiefs. Her first daughter and second child Joan, is the child of Chief Ojogwu of Asaba, her third son and fourth child, late Adeyemi, second daughter and fifth child, late Modupe, third daughter and sixth child Oyinkan, are children of Dr Chief Fawole of Ibadan.

Other places we traveled to were Benin (we frequented Benin many times and stayed with her friend mama Titi who was a successful coral beads trader); Ibadan, Owo (visiting her cousin Mrs Chief Johnson of Owo); Lagos ( several times visiting various relatives), Koko, Ughelli, Obiaruku, etc. When at my third year at Edo College our French teacher planned a comphrehensive excursion across French speaking countries of West Africa, my mother made sure that I was able to afford the contribution required from participating students. So, at 16 some of us from Edo College, Government College Ibadan and Queens College Ibadan visited the French Speaking countries of West Africa. That excursion helped those of us who took French in our WAEC. French was the only non-A subject in my WAEC result. The written French was A but the oral French was problematic particularly because the examiners were tough. We had to get all the intonations right. I remember my friends teasing me for taking French in WAEC. The French came in handy though when my wife Kimberlee and I were in Paris, France in 2004.

Exposure To Professionalism

It was my mother who orchestrated my first job after secondary school. The company was Elder Dempster Lines. It was located by the river in the area of Sapele called European Quarters. At that time, there were a significant number of European professionals in Sapele. They headed the companies they established in the town and lived comfortably in the European Quarters. Looking back now, it was a segregated community. Black people only came there to work. The white people are now gone and the buildings they left behind have become homes to the town's elites.

The head of Elder Dempster was British. The Chief chartered accountant was Yoruba (his name eludes me because we always called him chief). He was our family friend. During one of his visits, my mother informed him that I had just returned from Ibadan where I was vacationing with my sister Modupe who was working as a secretary at that time (Modupe became a barrister, Presidential Adviser and a popular Lagos politician); and my brother Adeyemi who was studying economics at the University of Ibadan. She further informed him that my WAEC result was very good, but that it seems I am not yet ready to continue further education. So, she wants to keep me busy for the time being. Chief told my mother, that in fact its good timing because he was looking for someone to train to takeover the travel bookings he has been doing himself. So, he asked me to show up for work the following week. That was my first employment nine months out of high school. I arrived early. It was my first time seeing the premises because it was not observable from the street. The premises was impressive and gated. I had to prove to the gate man that the Chief accountant was expecting me. Luckily, I saw him driving up, so I waited for him. He waived to the gate man and asked me to get inside the car. He then drove into the premises and parked at his reserved parking space. His office was impressive, but too cold for me. It was like entering a refrigerator. I sat with him in his office Monday - Friday for two months of training. At the end of the two months, he took me to an adjacent office and said: "this is your office from now on. You will report to me, and all the tickets remain in the safe in my office."

The office was a nice looking travel office (nice chairs, desk, floor, phone, wall pictures, brochures and models of planes and the Elder Dempster ship) It was well ventilated with a river view, so I let the breeze in most of the time and used only the fan (I am not a fan of air conditioners). There were only two offices (the accountant's office and my office) in that part of the building's ground floor. The remaining space was the open accounting space where four accounting clerks, the head accounting clerk, the accountant's typist and the company cashier worked. The cashier's space was secured with walls and iron. Every non-management employee of the company got their paycheck from the cashier on payday. The British director's office was on the second floor. I was there once when the accountant took me to his office to introduce me. Periodically, he came to see the accountant and twice, he leaned into my office to ask how I was doing. He was a tall middle age man and he walked briskly. He seemed quiet. The typist Francis, was a friend (he died about five years ago), he grew up with his aunt who lived across from us. He chose the path of stenographic education and he was very good in the stenographic language and speed typing. I never knew he worked there and he never knew I was coming to work there. So, we were both surprised when we met on my first day of work. I remember him joking that my family has used long leg (colloquial for influence peddling) to get me the job. My reply was no, I was born lucky.

My job was basically booking optimal flight and cruise itineraries of Sapele's European community and Sapele's Elites. The ship was Elder Dempster Line. Passengers board in Lagos, travel for about two weeks on the Atlantic ocean to Souththampton in England, with a stop at Las Palmas. The airlines were all the major airlines (KLM, Lufthansa, SwissAir, Alitalia, PANAM). Customers come into the office, we discuss their travel itineraries. I book them (this involved best route and fare calculations), collect tickets from safe in Chief Accountant's office, write, sign and hand over tickets to customers. Most of the customers had accounts with the company. Those without accounts paid by checks. These were rich people who had the money to travel or were traveling on company's expense. I never experienced non-payment of fare while I was there. The process could be fast tracked (same day or within 48 hrs or relaxed (several days to a week) depending on customers' requests. Communication was by telex and phone (this was before personal computers and the internet). Most of the travelers were Europeans returning home on leave with their families. The Sapele elites that came to book flights, I knew. They were few. Prince K.B Omatseye and his wife Mrs. Omatseye were the most frequent travelers. I booked their trip to London twice. I booked Mrs Omatseye's trip to New York once. All within the year and half I was there. The exposure allowed me to make European friends for the first time. A couple of the friendships continued long after the friends had returned to Europe. Also, the exposure allowed me to come to the conclusion while a teenager that there are good white people.

I was able to travel to Lagos and Las Palmas for further exposure on company's expense while at Elder Dempster Line. After a year and half in my first job, I was ready to move on. My mother was happy that I did not embarrass her and that I worked diligently in my first job. Next stop was The University of Benin. Again, my mother and my uncle Pa Andrew A.E. Sagay orchestrated my admission into The University of Benin. This was their last orchestration. Every move thereafter have been made by me for better or for worse. I am permanently grateful to my mom, my uncle, my father, chief accountant, my wife and all those who played various roles in my checkered journey towards the acquisition of a superb intellect. In the spring of 2005, I summarized my gratitude to my mom in a song I wrote in Germany after an emotional visit to her compound in the summer of 2004. The song is I Love You Mom.

For Knowledge Sake, One Code (SiPjAjk) For All Knowledge TECTechnics Overview

What is Time?
St Augustine On Time
Bergson On Time
Heidegger On Time
Kant On Time
Sagay On Time
What is Space?
Newton On Space
Space Governance
Imperfect Leaders
Essence Of Mathematics
Toolness Of Mathematics
The Number Line
The Windflower Saga
Who Am I?
Primordial Equilibrium
Primordial Care
Force Of Being

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20:29

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