-Calabar Royal Figure: How my Mother Attempted to Abort Me.
Kadimo Oqua, first son of the Grand Patriarch of the Qua Nation and Paramount Ruler of Calabar Municipality, late Ndidem (Dr.) Thomas Ika Ika Oqua III, has stated that his late mother, Odo Effiong Okang, attempted to abort him, when he was conceived. Kadimo stated this during the week, in an exclusive interview with LinCornellah’s blog. He disclosed that: “Those days there was no money to pay bills and buy drugs. So, she must have relied on local herbs that failed to eliminate me. I was born in August 1966. When I was born, my Uncle said that I was unusually tiny and dark, with an unusual shape as well. He showed me with his hand that I was smaller than the length of that hand. He said that I was black and when they showed me to my mom, she said, ‘Take that thing away from me’. She had that hatred, that bitterness and felt that I had come to spoil her career.”
This sounds unusual, considering Kadimo’s royal parentage, but Kadimo insists that it is real and he has written a true life story on himself, titled “It is Not All Black” and plans to publish it very soon. The contents of that book tells the story of his struggles with sickle cell anemia, what he described as his step mother’s hatred of him, his attempts at suicide, his marriage, and a lot more. Ordinarily, one should address Kadimo as a Prince, but he told this blog not to address him with any title. Kadimo lectures in the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Calabar. His conversation with this blog previews his forthcoming book and shows that royalty also cries. Please read on.
On your last birthday, you mentioned on Facebook that you owe your existence to divine providence because your mother attempted to abort you when you were conceived. How did you know this?
A lot of people don’t know about me. When people say ‘I know you’, I would say to them, ‘You see me but you don’t know me’. I have captured everything about me in my forthcoming book, titled “It is not all black”. It is a real life story whose last part I am still trying to write. That part is about my father’s death. Those who knew my mother often tell my first daughter that even as beautiful as she is, she is not as beautiful as my mom was. They tell me that my mom was a model. I named my first daughter Odo, after my mom. My mom’s other name was Gloria. So, each time my relatives see my daughter, they start talking about my mom. They say that my mom was a beauty queen. I am told that she was winning beauty contests before I was conceived. She won about three or four contests in Lagos then. I did not know that part about her until recently when I was told that the beauty of models used in commercials nowadays, cannot be compared to my mother’s natural beauty at that time. My mother was living in Lagos with her Father who was working in Odumegwu Ojukwu’s company. Her father had two girls from her mom and had gotten two other males from another woman.
My mother was the second child and my Aunty who is still alive, was the first. There was no money to train my mom in school. She used the little education that she had in primary school and secondary school, to work in Kingsway Stores, Broad Street, Lagos Mainland. Her beauty must have secured that job for her, as Kingsway had Europeans as staff mainly, at that time. My mother was a Supervisor and Model in that store. This gave her the opportunity to make frequent trips to European countries, at that time. By providence, she met my father, a village boy in Lagos whose father was a King in Calabar. My Dad’s father was the famous Ntoe Ika Ika Oqua II, a powerful King in Calabar at that time. Ika Ika Oqua market in Calabar, is named after my grandfather. So my mom knew about my Dad when both of them were children in Big Qua, Calabar. My father was schooling in Yaba College of Technology (Yaba Tech).
At that time, my mother left my maternal grandfather and went to live with her elder sister, my Aunty, and her husband, Elder Effefiong Bassey. Elder Bassey was a Senior staff of Post and Telecom (P&T) company in Lagos. He told me all about my mother before he died, recently. He told me the circumstances of my birth because I was born in his house in Oshodi, Lagos. His house in Lagos was a rallying point for Calabar people living in that city.
Elder Bassey told me that he used to fondly address my Dad as Tommy, from his name Thomas. My Dad was a constant visitor to that my Aunty husband’s house. But the man did not know that my Dad’s visits there equally involved sneaking to do something with my mom, from time to time. My Aunty didn’t know this, too. They only knew that something was happening between my Dad and my Mom, when my mom got pregnant. I imagine that my mother must have felt devastated about the pregnancy because her office won’t accept a pregnant young lady as their model. She may have also asked herself, ‘Why would I get pregnant for a village boy, when rich men are dying for me?’
At that time, my father was combining his studies in Yaba Tech, with work in a railway station. I imagine that when she told my Dad that she was pregnant, he must have said to my mom that he was not ready and must have ordered her to ‘take care of that thing or you remove it’. Anyway, Elder Bassey told me that my mother was suspended as a staff of Kingsway Stores when they found out that she was pregnant. Elder Bassey took care of my mother until I was born. According to him, my mother confessed that she tried to do away with me, when I was conceived. Those days there was no money to buy pills and drugs. So she must have relied on local herbs that failed to eliminate me. I was born in August 1966.
When I was born, my Uncle said that I was unusually tiny and dark, with an unusual shape as well. He showed me with his hand that I was smaller than the length of that hand. He said that I was black and when they showed me to my mom, she said ‘take that thing away from me’. She had that hatred, that bitterness and felt that I had come to spoil her career. She must have been thinking of so many things. She was sad. But she was persuaded and made to accept me. My mother’s story became popular among Calabar people in Lagos. That was how the story spread to Calabar and my grandfather who was a King in Calabar, got to know that his last son had gotten a lady pregnant in Lagos, but had refused to accept the baby. My father also didn’t accept me because he didn’t know how to face my grandfather who sent him to Lagos to school.
Who accepted you and how did you survive, if your own parents did not accept you?
My grandfather was a strict man. When he heard the news of my birth, he sent that my mother should bring me to Calabar to see him. When my mother travelled with me through train to meet my grandfather, they told him that I was very sickly. But he replied that whatever happened in the past has happened and I am here to stay. He blew his breath into my hair, blew into my tiny palms and rubbed on my head and said I am going to be a great man and nothing would happen to me. After December 1966, my mother went back with me to Lagos. My grandfather sent a message to my Dad, ordering him to take care of me. That was how my Dad complied and accepted that my mom and I should join him in a two bedroom apartment he had rented, at number 2, Akintola Street, Surulere, Lagos. My father accepted me on the orders of his father.
In retrospect, would you blame your mother for attempting to abort you?
I don’t blame her. It was the circumstances she found herself. I don’t blame anybody. I believe in destiny. What would be, would be. I only look ahead.
What did your parents tell you about the cause of your constant illness?
The truth of the matter is that I am what they call ‘sickler’. But there is no English word like that. I am a patient of sickle cell anemia. When I interviewed a Gynecologist concerning this kind of illness, he said that attempted murder or abortion can affect the foetus. Depending on what their mothers took, sometimes the children come out as imbeciles. Sometimes, they come out deformed. I could have come out that same way. But I didn’t. If you look at me, I have a very short trunk. But all my limbs are normal. My father is a tall man. My children are both tall. So it is possible that all those concoctions that my mother took affected my physical features.
How was your childhood in Lagos, from what you can remember or what you were told?
Tension was brewing in Lagos, when we went back there. That tension eventually led to the Nigerian civil war. There is something that happened in Lagos that increased tension that led to the civil war that people don’t know. One prominent man, Akintola in Lagos, was killed and his corpse was found in a well. It was alleged that Igbo people killed him. This thing that happened in Lagos few months ago when the Oba of Lagos ordered the Igbos to leave Lagos, is similar to what happened at that time. The Yorubas hated the Igbos and stories of war started spreading. This caused the Igbos to start migrating back to the East…. Aguiyi Ironsi who was Head of State at that time, was killed. In fact, the killing of Ironsi who was an Igbo man, prompted the killing of Akintola, as alleged. That is what my elder sister who was about 10 years old at that time, told me. Even at that time, my Dad had not accepted me, despite the fact that his own Dad, my grandfather, ordered him to take care of me. Due to the tension in Lagos, we all moved back to Calabar in 1967.
In those days, transportation was not as easy as it now is. When we got to Calabar, my grandfather had died and was buried. But people did not know about it because he was a King and traditional rites had to be observed. Few weeks after we got to Calabar, my Dad left us. He went away to Enugu and got conscripted into the Biafran Army. My mom and I were left alone. We were living together with my elder sister whom my Dad also got from another woman he impregnated here in Big Qua, Calabar, before he left for Lagos. My own birth was his second problem with children he wasn’t prepared to have.
How did your mother cope with you, after your Dad left to join the Biafran Army?
I remember that when people we knew were coming back from Biafra after the war, there was a lot of jubilation, but I didn’t see my Dad. We heard rumours that he had been killed somewhere. My mother was devastated and didn’t know how her life would turn out. However, my Dad eventually came back from Biafra in 1970. Although I was a boy at that time, I still vividly recall the scenario when my Dad came back. He came back on a Sunday in an army coloured Land Rover. There was a rousing reception for him in Big Qua because he was a Prince. He was in the Biafran Army but he came back, driving a Nigerian Army Land Rover. I still remember the plate number of that Land Rover. It was NA 735. Maybe he waylaid somebody and took that car home. He came back with another woman and introduced her as his wife. That woman was a beautiful, dark skinned woman. She was already heavy with pregnancy. My mom who had waited patiently for his return, couldn’t take that. She left me behind in my father’s house located at number 49, Big Qua. My father’s new wife gave birth to my younger brother, Bassey Udo. My paternal grandmother mostly took care of me in that house.
A lot of things happened when my father’s new wife moved in. Generally, I had one step mother after another. One of them was Eno Oqua, a prominent lady in Cross River State. I was living with her and my Dad in Ikom, where he had been transferred to work as a Civil Engineer in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Housing in the Civil Service of the then South Eastern State. That was in 1973, the same year Eno Oqua gave birth to Ngore, my younger sister. A lot of trouble arose from that, as the woman my Dad brought back from Biafra did not know that my Dad had married Eno Oqua. This adversely affected me, in several respects.
In what respects did this affect you and when did you know that you are a victim of sickle cell anemia?
In between all these, I was very sickly. They were looking for the source of my problem. Nobody knew what it was. My elder sister told me that when we were in Lagos, I was taken to Aladura spiritualists to find out the source of my problem. Yet, nobody seemed to know. The source of my problem was only identified when my Dad’s elder sister, Princess Emana Ika Ika Oqua, took me to Enugu to spend my holidays with her. That my Aunty was the first female police woman in Nigeria. There in Enugu, I got ill and was taken to the hospital where one medical Doctor from Efik land attended to me. His name is Dr. Nya E. Nya, who later owned Nya clinic that was popular at Ekpo Abasi in the 1970s. He diagnosed in Enugu that I was plagued with sickle cell anemia disorder. Thereafter, I grew up to discover that I couldn’t do what others could do. I hated my life at a point. But I had to reject my condition. I forced myself to do certain things. I had crises, each time I forced myself to do such things.
How did you cope with your Step Mothers?
Coupled with how my step mothers maltreated me, I attempted suicide thrice. My mother died in 1974, when I was about eight years old. Someone she employed, poisoned her not through food, but through spiritual means. So I grew up without my mother, mostly. Before I got admitted as a student of the then Polytechnic Calabar, my step mothers just picked on me unnecessarily. My father was looking for money, so he was seldom at home. I tried to hang myself once. There was a guava tree in the boys quarters of our house in Calabar and I was told that a guava tree is very strong and couldn’t be easily broken. That was where I planned my first suicide. I climbed that tree and told God that ‘I don’t want this kind of life anymore, just allow me to go’. After praying, I jumped down. I was expecting to die but a branch of the tree just tore and brought me down safely. I stayed down there and wept. I told God, ‘why don’t you want to take me? Okay, if you don’t want to take me, then don’t let me see shame’. That was my first attempt at suicide.
My brother, I had problems. I have suffered o! After my Dad was transferred from Ikom to Obudu and then to the headquarters of Ministry of Works in Calabar, Eno Oqua moved out of my father’s house. That was about two years after we moved to Calabar. I was schooling in Hope Waddell Training Institute then. Eno Oqua discovered that my father had found another woman and had started doing something with this latest woman. Although Eno Oqua left my Dad’s house, she is the Step Mom that is still dear to us till date.
The new woman now moved in and became my Dad’s wife. That is the woman who wanted to kill me. She hated me. Once when I was ill, she deliberately gave me injection in the wrong place. This my leg (holding it) became twice its normal size. They tried everything on me before they found a cure to it. If I was somebody who had bigger body, you would discover that one of my legs is bigger than the other. That woman caused it. She was the same woman who told my father to stop sending me to school. She had three children for my father. She told my Dad that my own problem is too much and that after all, she had gotten a boy for him. When I was in The Polytechnic, my father stopped paying my school fees.
My second attempt at suicide was in the Palace at Big Qua. That one was after I heard that Valium five, Valium ten and so on, kills people. I was schooling in the Polytechnic Calabar at that time, studying Mass Communication. Before making that suicide attempt, I wrote a suicide note before I bought Valium ten and five. I took all that I bought. After sometime, I was just hearing some commotion, faintly. My elder sister, my step mother, my Dad and other siblings had opened the door and stepped in. They were saying ‘hey, he is coming around’. When I woke up, I saw that I had drip on me. Everybody’s face was getting clearer and clearer. I had slept for four days….
Besides your royal background, you were popular and highly admired by students, during your undergraduate years in the University of Calabar. How did you achieve this, if you suffered as much as you have disclosed?
My brother, I don’t like telling my life’s story. But as God would have it, I used my hands to achieve so many things. When I was in University of Calabar (Unical), I went into showbiz and excelled in it. I was printing cards and acting comic shows. I became popular on campus. That was how I became the Director of Socials in the Students Union Government (SUG) more than twenty years ago. In my second semester in the university, I got a Cross River State government scholarship, having applied for it earlier, through Prof Kalu Uka, my Head of Department at that time. But my father didn’t know about this. I didn’t need to tell him, since he had stopped attending to my needs in school.
I remember that problems always emerged, each time I wanted to go back to school. My step mother would foment problems that caused him to stop paying my school fees. This caused me to park to Unical. Since I knew that I was on scholarship, I only needed money for feeding. That was how I met Raymond Obaji and my friendship with him blossomed, because we almost have the same story. He was a gifted actor and I partnered with him to organise shows on campus. We were using our little savings from his Uncle and from my scholarship to organise shows on campus. It fetched us a lot of money and we were living like big boys in school.
I know that you were driving a car during your undergraduate years. It was assumed that it was part of your royal heritage. How right was that assumption?
I started driving when I was in The Polytechnic, before I entered UNICAL. My step mother who made me want to commit suicide, is the same person who indirectly caused me to learn how to drive. She left my father’s house and abandoned the three children she had for my Dad behind, after she discovered that my Dad had started seeing another woman who later became my Dad’s wife and now, his widow. That my step mother who wanted to kill me, left her young children behind for me and my Dad to take care of. When she left, her third child was about 8 months old. That was when I started taking that little girl to my school. I would wake up early in the morning, take the little children to Aunty Margaret, before driving with the last child to The Polytechnic where I was schooling. I would put the baby at the back seat with her food and take her to the General Office of my department where I would appeal to the people working there to take care of the baby for me, while I attended lectures. I would always leave the class to attend to her and feed her, as the need arose. That woman didn’t want me to go to school. That was after she gave me an injection and I recovered o! So, that is how I started driving.
How good was your result at The Polytechnic Calabar, considering the problems you have mentioned here?
In the Polytechnic, I had a problem with Akpan Iquot, the Head of Department (HOD) of Mass Communication. I wanted to study Fine and Applied Arts at Nsukka, after my National Diploma (ND) programme. In ND 2, my mates had filled a form and I also filled. Their results were released but mine wasn’t released. I was later told that Akpan Iquot was sitting on my result and didn’t want to sign it. There is a girl, Judith Mayen Etuk, who was my friend. Because I had a car, she was always with me. She told me that Akpan Iquot was sitting on my result because he wanted her and she was unwilling to accept him. He wanted to frustrate me because of a woman. I got so frustrated and went to meet him. But he told me to get out of his office. When I told him that I would deal with him, he said, ‘Cranky man, what can you do? Go and sleep’. This matter had to go to the School’s Academic Board because I wrote a petition on it. I remember that Akpan Iquot was teaching us Photography then. But he would come to class to read from the text book for us. He was always saying ‘this is the aperture’. I wasn’t convinced with that. I always asked myself, ‘How can a Ph.D holder not know parts of a camera?’ So, I had to write a petition that they should investigate his credentials because he doesn’t know parts of a camera.
That was how the authorities of The Polytechnic wrote to the school he claimed to have graduated from in the USA, to ask if he actually earned a Doctorate degree there. That school wrote back and stated that they never had a Ph.D candidate bearing that name. They said that a bearer of that name only did a first degree there but never did a Masters, not to talk of Ph.D. At that time, I didn’t even know that my petition was creating such ripples because I had already bought JAMB form and secured admission into UNICAL. It was Reverend Felix Ajoku who later became the Head of that Department, that came to invite me to appear before the Senate and I had an opportunity to meet Akpan Iquot face-to-face again. In my presence, they showed him a reply they received from the University in the USA and asked him if he had a Ph.D. But he didn’t have an answer. That was how they disgraced and demoted him from his position as HOD, right in my presence. They started calling him ‘Mister’ instead of his usual ‘Doctor’, right there.
Please watch out tomorrow, for the concluding part of this conversation, where the royal son, Kadimo, disclosed how he met his wife, as well as his ambition to be the Governor of his state.
- Cornelius Ellah
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