Tuesday, June 16, 2020 3:41 pm
There is much to learn from Pastor Ituah Ighodalo and his late wife, Ibidun, on how to effectively handle life
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
In Ishan language of Edo State, Itua means “I am not in a hurry,” while Ighdalo is “I am looking ahead.” In other words, there is something highly philosophical about the Ighodalos. Itua Ighodalo, Pastor of Trinity House, Lekki, Lagos, lost his wife, Ibidun on Sunday, 14 June in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at the age of 39. Two things stand out in the history of the couple. First, the stoic equanimity with which Ighodalo handled his bereavement. Two, despite her childlessness, she put smiles on the faces of those looking for fruit of the womb. She must be the meaning of the word, “empathy”!
On the death of Ibidun, many cyber rodents, weevils and stem borers went to town, making Ighodalo the butt of their snide remarks. Their grouse was that he did not mourn the conventional way! In other words, despite what happened, they said he still ministered at the funeral of Biola Okoya’s son, Deji, just hours after he was informed of Ibidun’s death.
At the funeral, he told the mourners: “Everywhere is tense, frightening and confusing. If anyone told us last Sunday that we would be celebrating Ayodeji’s life, we would say it’s not possible. He was ill nevertheless, we believed God he would be well. Here we are and there he is. Of course many of you know I shouldn’t be here. But that is how life is. At 2 o clock this morning, I received a call that shattered my life. That is life. Life must go on. Here we are today. I have come here to speak to you on a subject, ‘Life.’ Life is a deep mystery. There is no human being however wise he is like Solomon, who can say he fully understands life. The Bible says we see in part, we understand in part and we prophesy in part. It says we see as if we are in a dark alley. There is going to be a time when we will see more clearly like Jesus sees. Let us accept the mystery of life.
I was telling some people yesterday that you don’t have any control over how you were born, your complexion, people through whose womb you came, your complexion, your race, your colour, the colour of your eyes, you height. You have very limited control over your weight. Some people eat much, they grow thin, others eat less, they grow fat! They are all confused all over the place. Nobody has control over life. If anyone said yesterday that this is the way things would be, I would say it was not possible. This is how life is. Life is a mystery. Life is nothing.”
However, one critic, Ogunjemiyo Folorunso Lano, said on Facebook: “ He’s just a pretender, internally he’s devastated, he’s assuming bravery just to cover for excessive lust and attachment to that pulpit, accept you are human Mr man, and give some break to put yourself together!”
Defenders of Ighodalo intercepted that missile mid-air. In an article, “Allow People to Mourn the Way They Choose, Please,” Richard Akinnola, veteran journalist, lawyer and human rights activist said “People don’t understand that we mourn differently. If you watched that exhortation at that funeral, Itua was actually speaking to himself, trying to lift up his spirit. It could be therapeutic to him for all you care. Some people, out of shock, after losing a loved one are in denial, while some, due to their spiritual maturity or depth, don’t react the way normal people would react to such things. Besides, you are not with him when he is alone in his bedroom.” See box.
Ighodalo is not alone in how to handle bereavement with calmness. When Pastor Williams Folorunso Kumuyi lost his wife, ‘Biodun, in April 2009, a program was going on in the Church’s camp on Lagos Ibadan Expressway. He dashed home when he was informed and still went back to preach at the camp.
In fact, Akinnola quoted Evangelist Umah Ukpai, about 30 years ago who, on his way to a crusade, lost his two children and still went ahead to preach at the crusade. He once narrated: “On our way to a crusade in my village, my driver carrying my children and a cousin, drove into a river. I attempted to bring the children out, not knowing that my wife also jumped into the river behind me and water carried her, threw her up six times. It was the seventh time that somebody called my attention to her. I used one hand to swim and the other to hold her and brought her ashore. I rescued the children later. They had died. I put them in a car to pray for them but an oncoming car from the opposite direction drove into the car and smatched it. The bumper flew out, the bonnet flew out. I stopped and l was pacing up and down, not knowing what to do next. Just then, somebody ran to me, grabbed me and said my 50-seater bus carrying my band, had caught fire. He was not sure how many people died in the accident. I was composed because God had warned me. I didn’t make those children. God gave them to me. When l proceeded to the crusade venue to preach, people were asking me ‘what will you preach? We had been driving on that same road for years and that driver had been my driver. If God, over the years, protected us and decided to lower the hedge one day, why l should l protest? So, l marched on and preached at the crusade.”
The other part of the Ighodalos’ life is that despite Ibidun’s childlessness, she put smiles on the faces of people in her situation. Here is how. She went through 11 unsuccessful IVFs. When this failed, she sett up the Ibidun Ighodalo Foundation, through which, according to Yes International, “she bore the IVF cost of other not-too-privileged women.”
The foundation, in 2016 when it was established, provided fertility services to 28 couples which, according to media reports, “resulted in 15 successful treatments, five confirmed pregnancies and one successful delivery.” In fact, Bodunrin and Lola Oye, who benefitted had a set of twins.
Ibidun established Elizabeth R., an event management company in 2003. During Fashola’s tenure in 2007, Elizabeth R. was given the arduous task of beautifying Lagos.