A Homily Delivered at 2014 Ebonyi Women Day Celebration holding at Abakaliki Township Stadium on November 4, 2014


I must confess my admiration for the theme of the years, annual women summit- Women as Vanguard of Security in Ebonyi State. For me, it is a drift from reaction-characterized pattern of recent years to address gender role of womenfolk.  In recent years discussions about women have always centered:

  1. Gender difference which emphasizes the difference between men and women in terms of their location in, and experience of most situations.
  2. Gender inequality which stresses that women’s locations in most situations are not only different from that of men but are also less privileged and unequal. Here the appeal is for gender equality in democratic governance, increase women participation and access to politics.
  3. Gender oppression which promotes the view that women are in addition to being different and unequal to men are oppressed and actively restrained, subjugated, molded as well as used and abused by men.
  4. Third wave feminism which argues that women’s experience of difference, inequality and operation varies by their social location.

These discussions have not been in vain. There is no march to historical forces which have begun to crush the stereotypes that have impeded women’s success in politics and economics. In the process, the chauvinistic foundation that has supported the dominance of the male is beginning to wobble. The prospect of true equality that was promised by the birth of multiparty democracy in is on the horizon. Yet gender inequality is like racism. As Robert Mugabe would say,

Racism will never end as long as white cars are still using black tyres

Racism will never end as long as we still wash white clothes first, before other colors

Racism will never end if people still use black to symbolize bad luck and white for peace

Racism will never end if people still wear white clothes to weddings and black clothes to the funerals. Racism will never end as long as those who don’t pay their bill are blacklisted not white-listed. But I don’t care so long as I’m still using the White toilet paper to wipe dirt.

I’m still fine-



Women are fine because they are the moving force of history. From the Scriptures we know that:

  1. The first party defection was caused by a woman. Eve prevailed on Adam to defect from God’s Ruling Party to the Opposition party as man lost speakership and divine security was withdrawn.
  2. In the first political maneuvering ever recorded in the scriptures, Rebecca rigged election in favour of Jacob as Esau lost his political mandate.
  3. When she could not get want she wanted, Potiphar’s wife cooked up allegation against Joseph and had him sent to prison.
  4. Jezebel, a woman, strategized for Ahab and had Nabaoth’s vineyard delivered to him not even with exchange of another vineyard as Ahab has requested from Nabaoth.
  5. Esther’s beauty won King Xerxes’ heart and saved Israelites in Persia and Media
  6. Just a graceful dance of an under-aged Salome melted Herod’s heart, made him swear with half his kingdom and later assassinated his admired preacher, John the Baptist.

In the ministry of Jesus, women were instrumental. Mary his mother was one disciple who remained with Jesus from birth to death. John’s gospel reveals that it was Mary’s words to Jesus that occasioned his first miracle in turning water into wine. In John’s passion narrative Mary appears at the foot of the cross along with the ‘beloved disciple’. With the dying Jesus they formed a community of compassion and provided a model for all Christian community. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Mary was present with the Twelve and other disciples as they gather in Jerusalem after the Ascension of Jesus awaiting the Pentecost.

The women followers of Jesus are especially prominent in the gospel account. They see Jesus die, they see where he was buried and they find his tomb empty on Easter Sunday. In describing the women who witnessed Jesus’ death and burial, Mark mentioned in passing-almost as an afterthought-that several women had accompanied Jesus and his male disciples during his public ministry: They “used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee, there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem” Mk 15: 41. Luke offers this surprising information much earlier in his account Lk.8: 1-3. He names three women- Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna- and adds that there were many other women who provided for Jesus and his male disciples. In fact, it was only when a woman touched Jesus that He complained that power had gone out of him.

And from ancient and modern history we learn that while men are the heads, women are always the necks that turn the heads.  In moments of wars and repressions, motherhood has always played a great role. Take for instance.

  1. During the First World War, the American Gold Star Mothers emerged to honor women whose sons had been slain in battle, and the organisation still exists today.
  2. In America too, Another Mother for Peace (AMP) grew out of opposition to the Vietnam War.
  3. In El Salvador, the Comadres (Mothers of the Disappeared) supported the families of the disappeared and murdered during the civil war and advocated civil rights’.
  4. In Argentina, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayor, whose children disappeared during the military dictatorship marched around that square every Thursday for half an hour for almost three decades demanding answers and wearing white head carves embroidered with their children’s names. They demand an end to such reoccurrence.
  5. When his son, Christopher, took his own life with a gun, Betty Holocom of Peoria along with his husband Forres Holocom, founded ‘Children for Peace’ because he wants the memory of his son to be a force in the lives of others who could be victims of gun violence. Since inceptions, Holocomb has helped initiate peace walks in some of the highest crime areas and christened a program to provide mentoring to children against crime.
  6. Clara Feldman is one of the Jewish mothers who survived the Nazi Holocaust. Today she goes from school to school in New York to teach students about what happened to Jews in Germany during the war. She applies the lessons to our modern world making it clear to students that they cannot remain silent about the violation of human rights wherever it occurs and must be vigilant to keep the society secure.
  7. Tommy Pigage was drunk when he hit and killed Ted Morris of Kentucky. Ted was the only son of Mrs. Elizabeth Morris. The death of her only son left Elizabeth stunned and angry. Tommy pleaded guilty and was convicted, and was ordered at the request of Elizabeth to give talks to high school students on behalf of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). One day Elizabeth went to hear Tommy speak. She heard him say with felt emotion that he ‘murdered Ted’ and should be behind bars for what he did. Elizabeth said, ‘I didn’t want my son’s death to be totally in vain. And in my heart, I knew that if he could, Ted would tell us to forgive Tommy’. Today, Elizabeth and Tommy are friends and they are preaching against drunk drivers and similar vices.
  8. Women are important in the Israeli-Palestine peace process. Jewish invasion of Lebanon in 1982 provoked movement among Jewish women opposing the conflict. Again the first Intifada in 1987 saw the formation of Jewish women’s organisation such as “Women in Black”, “Israeli Women Against Occupation”. In 1989, Israeli and Palestinian women met in Brussels and evoked importance of resolution through negotiation, Israeli’s recognition of Palestinian representatives, and mutual recognition of peace and called for two-state solution. To maintain security, they have many grass root initiatives to build trust, cooperation and understanding between Jewish women in Israel and Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  9. Casey Sheehan is the 24-year-old soldier who left Zacaville, just north of San Francisco,

for Iraq and was killed less than two weeks later- one of the eight American soldiers who perished in an ambush near Baghdad on 4 April 2004. Before he left home, his mother Cindy Casey had offer to take him to Canada or even to run over his leg in her car so that he wouldn’t have to go. But Casey insisted he did not want to let down the buddies. Sixteen months later, his mother was camping in Crawford, Texas, demanding to see the president. ‘I want to ask him: why did my son die?’ What was this noble cause you talk about?’ And if the cause is so noble when are you going to send your daughters over there and let everybody else’s son come home?’

Sheehan’s identity as a mother was central to protest against war in Iraq. ‘To hear of another soldier being killed rips my heart open, because I know there is another mother whose life is going to be ruined that day. …And I said why should I want one more mother to go through what I’ve gone through, because my son is dead.’ In a personal introduction to Sheehan’s book, Not One More Mother’s Child, Jodie Evan describes her as ‘the mother we long for. She is nurturing, a she-wolf, a mother bear, unafraid when it comes to the protection of our children. She has empathy, she does not want another mother to experience the pain she is enduring losing a child needlessly.’ Sheehan actually took it a step further, effectively inventing a condition blending love of country, maternalism and feminism: she calls it matriotism.



Nigeria is a country on fire. On routine basis, innocent Nigerians are dispatched to their graves in most horrible ways by depraved people who think they have divine and political mandate to kill. Every fraction of a breath bombs explode, somebody is kidnap, a girl is raped or killed for rituals, a child is trafficked, a traveler is attacked, name them. Along the road we see severed limbs, cracked human skulls, disgorge brains and viscera, human being in flames. When we come face to face with these ghastly human atrocities, we are appalled and want to ask, “But what has happened to our humanity that we have become inhumane?”

Our country is politically charged, socially tensed, economically cursed, ritually lucrative and religiously confused. Anxiety hangs thick on every mind, the powerful not spared. Man is descending to the level of beast, state of nature. Every transition period takes us a step back civility. It is as if modernity has been prematurely declared on Nigeria. In an English class, a student asked to state the tense of the sentence: ‘One day our country will be violence free” was correct by saying that ‘it is future impossible tense’.

Nigeria’s type of violence is not natural but man-made. We see it when our TV screens relays gory images of a bared head rolling on the road courtesy of cult clash over ownership of girls they will never marry, community taking up arms against another, one religion rising to hack to death the adherent of another religion, one political party shooting at the opponent, intra village wars, cultists drawing daggers to cut throats of opponent over ownership of girls that they will never marry. There are many faces of violence.

Yet, while not every crime perpetrator is a mother, there is one universal truth that we cannot dispute no matter how hard we try. Everyone has a mother. Mothers give life. If the child is lucky, mothers nurture life. And if a man has a nurturing mother, he will have a base for matriotism according Cindy. ‘A matriot will never send her child or another mother’s to fight nonsense wars…she will march into a war which she considered just to protect her child from harm’ she will not allow another mother’s son, another wife’s husband to die.

There is this certain aura of sanctity around the role of motherhood explains Meghan Gibbons, a scholar whose research concentrates on the global politics of motherhood. It is the purest of roles bound up in myth and imagery with everything that is good and wholesome. James Hardly Chase remarked that of all animals, none has the patience of vulture, yet the patience of a woman cannot be compared to that of vulture. No wonder, it is said that before every woman, no man is a hero.



If any society is in need of matriotism, it is Ebonyi. Our state is in no longer at ease. Cold and warm wars! Hatred! Family rivalry! Political tussle! Intra-clan rivalry! And with 2015 realignment, more dangers lurk on the horizon. According to Paul Oritz, “There’s a cost to a war that doesn’t end when the war ends.” The serious impact of insecurity is that it rapes future of content.

For peace, in the spirit of women movement enumerated above, Ebonyi women must rise to say no as wives to Ebonyi husbands and as mothers ‘stop-it’ to Ebonyi children. Whether they sign up to Matriotism, Mothers Against Drunk Politicians, Not-One-More-Mother’s Child, they must no longer remain idle in the sight of a burning destiny. For Joseph Fletcher, there is actually one thing worse than evil itself, and that is indifference to evil.

First, as vanguards of security, we must be woman. And to be a woman is to be a wife and a mother. Women’s persuasive power is needed as wives, their advisory role needed as mothers and their boycott as wielders of bottom power. A woman who lives out true womanhood tames her home, keeps her eagle eyes on the husband and the children. Like Cindy, a vigilant woman is a she-wolf, a mother bear unafraid when it comes to the protection of her children and lover. Where women are women, community wars are stopped as soon as they erupt. St Monica is a perfect model of home control. Her duty and persistence converted both father and son. Mothers should create a home where forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule.

Secondly, our society bleeds because we have taken many things for granted. Our families are in ‘moral nowhere’. We don’t have homes any longer. A mother who takes motherly role for granted risks losing her son like Mary. When Jesus went with them to Jerusalem, she took it for granted that He was with his relatives and Jesus went missing as anxiety set in the Holy family of Nazareth. All of us must begin looking for the missing Jesuses of our apathy or anxiety will be a permanent emotion in our society. Gravissimum Educationis stresses that ‘true formation is directed towards human person in view of the final end and the goal of the society he belongs, in the duty he will as an adult have a share.’ Today, there is a generational gap created to the detriment of children because of erosion identity and rich cultural values. That is why there is violence. My final words: Women return home! There is fire on the mountain. God Bless Ebonyi Women. Amen.



Appendix I:     In a discussion, a son told his father that he was considering taking up a career in organized crime. The father asked him: is it in government or private sector? Striking in this dialogue is the maximum danger of either choice. Next, the absence of a mother-figure in such moment of discussion is not a matter of little consequence. Many critical decisions go on behind mothers.

Appendix II: The Story in Riel de Janeiro 2004 where a lady made caricature of motherly advice to travel with God on excuse that there was no more space unless God could manage the boot. Five minutes after departure she died in accident and the boot was not affected.