Anunti - A Mother's Sacrifice

Mothers Sacrifice so much...

Tobi’s clouded vision began to clear and the roar of the crowd started to return like the early pelting of rain, gradual and steadily getting stronger until it became a storm of shouts, whistles and cheers. In the midst of the crowd of waving hands and shouting voices, he located the face of his mother crisscrossed with wrinkles, and hair bleached white features not seared by age but by a hard life. He locked eyes with her just as her dam of tears broke and a stream flowed down her leathery face from eyes undeniably full of love, gratitude and yes he could make it out; pride, pride at what he had become, her little “anunti”. His heart exploded with a thousand different emotions and burst through his eyes in torrents unbecoming of a man of his status, his vision blurred again and faded completely and the shouts of the crowd became a murmur until he was in complete darkness as dead as night and he heard it, as strong and commanding as ever

 “ Tobe! Tobe! Tobias ChukwukaOkenwa! Where are you?”

“ Mama” He answered trying to hide the tears from his voice.

He wiped his face clean and jumped down from the guava tree where he went to hide away from his mother’s ever watchful eyes, to think and give vent to the pain he carried around. Since his father’s death from a protracted illness, things had been hard, very hard. He had watched his mother go from a voluptuous water melon to an unrecognizable shrivelled old corn. That was the hardest thing he had to endure, harder than getting accustomed to life in the village, which was as tasteful as eating live maggot.Wrapped in his thoughts he didn’t see it until it was too late, he had just stepped into a fresh heap of faeces deposited by Kodo, Nkechi’s very ugly mongrel dog.

Tobi let out a stream of curses, “that does it, kodo rest in peace, because I shall surely lay you to rest” he muttered under his breath as he rubbed his foot on the dust trying to get rid of the feaces which had found refuge in-between his toes.  
He shook his head and wiped his hands on his torn khaki shorts as he strolled casually towards the house.

“Anunti!Anunti!” his mother screeched

She called her Anunti – ‘he that does not hear’ because he usually came home every day with a fresh wound from trying things he had been warned not to do. Tobi knew certainly that he had done something wrong. She called him that name only when she was very angry or excited, but since she seldom got happy or excited these days, he must have done something wrong again.  He picked up his pace, this must be important. As he approached the door, he saw her standing impatiently with some papers in her hand. He entered the house and greeted her with a bit of apprehension.

“Good afternoon mama!”  

“Good afternoon is all you are saying abi? Good afternoon” she said, eyes sparkling like the reflection of the sun off the clear stream.

It was highly unusual, his mother usually smiled, maybe once or twice in a month, and even then, it was nothing like the sparkle in her eyes. It was pure joy!

 “Mama what is wrong with you?” he had to smile, but curiosity was getting the better part of him,

 “What are you holding?”

“Take it if you can get it” she replied with a twinkle in her eyes

Tobi laughed out loud “mama should I call for help?” 

His heartbeat had started picking up speed, like a car that just got to the high way. Had his loving mum finally lost her mind? He shook off the fear and with the same speed that had made him popular among the teenage age grade; he slipped the papers from her hands before she could pull away. She tried to grab at his arms, but like one trying to kill a house fly with their bare hands, he easily slipped away from her and opened the papers. What he saw sucked the air from his lungs, like when Nnanna his grade eight bully hit him square in the tommy.  He swallowed hard, and turned to his mother who was now standing with a smile of content on her face,

“how?” he gasped, “how did you do it mama” he asked again,

In his hands he held the forms for both the ‘West African Examination Council (WAEC)’ and ‘Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), pipe dreams he had long given up on for furthering his education. He had made peace with the life carved out for him, a life of hardship and penury.

Tobi stared at the forms in his hands, “what did she have to do to afford these forms?” the vegetables she planted at the back of the house and the manual labour she provided  for the farms in  the surrounding villages could not afford it, not if she did it for a year.

 “Mama how did you afford this?” he asked again in a voice now broken with emotions. 

“Does it matter anunti, she replied, also in a voice broken with emotions, “Just promise me that it will be worth it, that you will make something of your life, let the seed of Ebuka Okenwa be great on the earth and prove everyone wrong” she paused for effect, “ promise me Chukwuka that the sacrifice will be worth it, promise me that your father’s enemies will not laugh last, promise me that the witch and wizard that the gods sent to earth through the same womb that bore your father will not have the final say over our lives ”

By now, her eyes had started leaking tears. Tobi looked at his mother’s calloused hands from the most intense kinds of manual labour, and her skin leathery from excessive exposure to the merciless African sun, just to change his future, to give him a fair chance in life and he burst into tears. The sacrifice was too much, just too much. Stumbling outside, he stared directly into the burning afternoon sun and like he has seen Amalunze the self-proclaimed village priest and distant relative swear when he wants to make an oath, he swore!

…The one thousand watt stage light that shone directly into his face was as blinding as the hot sun that afternoon, and the stage was as hot. The crowd continued to chant his name as the image of that afternoon faded from his vision and he was back on the stage, face stained with tears, nose beginning to run, “come on, I need to pull myself together “he thought to himself, the first African to win this award should have better comportment, but the waves of emotions wrapped round his neck like strong fingers made breathing difficult. The crowd lightened up the chanting and the Master of Ceremony who had been standing beside him almost embarrassed at his display of emotions, motioned for him make a speech. He approached the podium, adjusted the microphone and once again located his mother in the sea of heads. Defying the power of the blinding stage lights, he locked eyes with her once again that afternoon. Blanking every other person in the auditorium, he leaned forward, what he had to say was for only one person and he had her undivided attention. Drawing in his breath he began

“good afternoon everyone, for you to understand what unfolds before you today, allow me path the curtain of history into my background for a peak at the journey you witness before you today …”

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.


  1. Wow. What is it that a mother can't up for seed? When it comes to her child, nothing is IMPOSSIBLE. #tears# help me Lord.

  2. Sir,your cyberspace i.e your blog is well utilised even causes a jam as a result of traffic,full of inspirations and motivation,lessons well on point with endless impact.I'm privileged tapping into this wealth of experience and knowledge.What a well!

  3. Wow..............speechless!!!