Sunday, January 11, 2015

Meet My 125 Years Old Grandfather Pa Ekhator Onabor, A Supercentenarian

Meet My 125 Years Old Grandfather Pa Ekhator Onabor, A Supercentenarian

My grandfather, Pa Ekhator Onabor, is a supercentenarian, who is now around 125 years old according to what he told us when we were growing up in the village, based on the information his late mother had provided him.

Pa Ekhator Onabor is the current Odionwere of Former Ugbugo village, now Evbuohen N’Oba, near Ugo Niyekeorhionmwon, in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria.

Although he grew up as a servant (Oguomwandia) with his parent’s relations, but their waking him up with whips every morning to get ready for farm prepared him to become a strong farmer and a hunter in his life.

He married a wife who had six children for him (2 men and 4 women), but died in the late 80s. One of the female children (the first born) is late now some years ago and was of old age, as Pa Ekhator now has 5 surviving children.

Although he never went to any former school, but work with white men in the timber industry where they were used as tree (igedu) cutters with axe, and then prepare the logs for transportation through the sea via Sapale for industrial usage by the white men.

Although he was born and bred as a traditionalist, (I used to follow him to make sacrifices in the bush for the gods in my younger days) but today he is a professing Christian, who underwent water baptism some five years ago or thereabouts, after confessing JESUS as his LORD and personal saviour. Hallelujah!

He was never rich financially in all his rich but this never stopped him from ensuring that his children attend standard schools as it was known then, which led to his first son Mr. Johnson Ekhator, 3rd born to served and retired from Pamol Rubber Company, Sokponba, Edo State. His second son, Mr. Raphael Ekhator, (my father) 4th born served and retired from the services of Edo State Government as a Messenger.
To appreciate the longevity of Pa Ekhator Onabor, his last born is 61 years old this 2015.

According to Pa Ekhator Onabor, his mother told him that he was around 7 years old when Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi was exiled to Calabar during the invasion of the Benin Kingdom by the British in 1897. That means, Pa Ekhator was born around 1890 thereabout though no single document whatsoever is available to back this up.

He told us that he once fell from a palm tree and died when he went to harvest palm fruits (banga) for his uncle. The death story was a result of what he witnessed his unconscious state. Although no one was with him in this journey, but the evidence that followed when he finally regained consciousness by cutting down the palm to remove his ropes used in climbing up the tree because it was hanging up there proved that he was actually involved in that accident. He never broke a single joint in his body but when he cut down the tree, it fell across the road path to the farm. He cut it again to free the road for passage, went home and never told anybody about the development.
On the following day as he was going to the farm with his uncle, they came to the place and his master said “there was no rain yesterday, what felled this palm tree?” It was then he told he told his uncle that he was the one that cut down the palm tree. When he queried the reason, he then told him that he fell down yesterday from the tree and in order to remove his ropes, he had to cut it down. He was that strong.
On getting to the farm, he said his uncle rubbed his body with fresh pepper in order to melt any frozen blood vessels that may result from the fall. So many years after, Pa Ekhator is still strong. This is amazing.
Another occurrence in his life was in 1990 or so. I witnessed this very one.
The previous day, we made a sacrificed for a woman where we had killed a he goat. The following day being Eken (native Sunday), he woke up early in the morning and then prepared for the village elders’ meeting, usually called by the Odionwere. He left for the meeting around 9 AM without eating. He came back and towards the afternoon and after some time, he went to sleep. During the evening meal, when he was woken up to eat, he couldn’t wake up. Soon, a lot people had come around trying to wake him up to no avail, though he was breathing.
Native doctors were quickly brought in to make incantations whether he was still alive and stuff like that. He never woke up and he started battling for life. He was just dragging here and there on his mud bed and making some sounds gasping for life. This continued until around 4 AM the next morning, keeping the villagers awake and people providing one form of thing or the other to revive him. And when he finally regained consciousness, the first thing he asked was “what are people doing her?” He was told that they have been there since yesterday for him because he refused to wake up. He dismissed it, but when he wanted to move out of the room, his legs couldn’t take him. It was then he believed what people were telling him that he had died earlier. Hmm! Granpa is still alive ooh 25 years after.

And in October 1996, he was crowned the Odionwere of Ugbugo, now Evbuohen N’Oba in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State.

My ground father no longer see due to his old age and the long time hunting he engaged in his earlier years in life, but his eyes are still open as if he still sees.

As old as he is, he still go out of his room to the backyard to defecate with the help of others.

His old age is really a blessing to us because it is a thing of joy to have a very old man as your grandparent. Even though financial blessings and all the comfort it provide are not there, but money can never buy nor give long life as seen in the life of my grandfather, Pa Ekhator Onabor.

And so, when I visited him this December 2014, I was pleased to still hear his voice and meet him alive even though many are worried that he ought to have died by now. But can he kill himself because people want him to die? Live on Grandpa and enjoy the remaining days of your existence here on earth until you meet your saviour in glory if Jesus tarry.

The unforgettable lesson I learnt from my Grandfather even when I was not a Christian by then was the warning he gave us, when my father was accused of being a wizard. He said “My son, if lie is as sweet as salt and native chalk, don’t use it to rub your body.” This advice of my Grandfather has helped me over the years to be weary of lying. He ensured that allegation of wizard against my father was pursued to its logical conclusion until it was confirmed that my father was never a wizard through the traditional means of defining such things at the time.

LORD JESUS, should you tarry, grant us long life as seen in the life of my Grandfather to your own glory.

And grandpa, should you pass on to glory now, surely you've left an excellent life of longevity worthy of emulation. It is my prayer that you will make it to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Amen.

To GOD be all the glory.