The Women In My Life: Mrs Chioma Ezemba
Chioma is my sister. The first child of seven children. And someone I describe as “still water that run deep”.
My sister has always been and will always be the one constant in my life. Steady. Strong. Sure.
She got married at a very young age to a dashing young man who was already a member of my family before he married her. That was in 2000. And together they have given me the most beautiful niece anyone can ask for and 3 wonderful gentlemen.
There are so many things I could tell you about my sister, but I will be biased because, yes, I love Chioma very much. She means the world to me and I don’t think there is anything I would not do for her.
Growing up with Momi, as I fondly call her was fun and stress free. As a matter of fact, I was probably the one that gave her some stress. She was the quiet one. The calm one. The good one. I was the restless one. The troublesome one. And, most times, the lazy one. She did both her work and mine so that Mum wouldn’t give me a row… Then, as teenagers, most people meeting us for the first time thought we were twins. The bond between us deepened and is still going strong. She was my sister, but she was also my closest friend. The photo below was taken when I was 15 and she was 16.
After our parents passed away, Chioma became Mum to our younger ones as well. A role she has played excellently, even while raising her four children.
A relentless entrepreneur building a business, and helping so many other women to start their own business. She selflessly shares what she has learnt since she started First Steps, a business which provides all your baby’s needs, from pregnancy to child birth, onwards to the early years of your young one.
A dependable and amazing daughter and sister keeping my father’s family together and a devoted wife keeping her own home.
Momi (that’s what I have called her since the days the photo above was taken and that’s what a lot of people who know her now call her) doesn’t talk much, but she smiles often. And, I have since come to realise that one of the things that truly makes me feel happy is seeing her smile. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for this woman who not suckled the same breast as I did but has managed to teach and inspire me in countless ways.
Here’s a short story that might help you to see who this woman is…
This past summer, I spent almost one full month at her house. And one day, we went to her business centre. As I watched her relate to her employees and clients, I was reminded again about the values that Mum instilled so strongly in us.
That day, we arrived one of her shops late because she had gone on an errand with me. After exchanging pleasantries with her neighbours and chatting a bit with her shop attendant as well as the lady who was doing a training course with her, (something I was told that she does every day) she sat down to review the day’s sales. A client walked past and when she saw us, she came in.
After the initial greetings, the client who I am going to call Bunmi, said that she had come to the market very early in the morning and had found the shop not opened. She had then proceeded to do her shopping in another place because she had other errands to run. asked if she had a few other things. As the conversation was going on, she saw a disinfectant in the shop and said that she was looking for that particular one but the shop where she went didn’t have it but that they had convinced her to buy the brand they had in stock by telling her that that particular brand was better. She was even told that it was more expensive. She bought it. When she brought it out, I was not only surprised but also a bit upset at the apparent dishonesty of whoever told her it was a better and more expensive brand. I might not know much about baby products, but I knew that she had been deceived, on both counts. I didn’t hesitate in telling her so. I told her it was a good brand, but not better than the one she wanted, and it certainly wasn’t more expensive. Bunmi then decided that she was going to return the one that was given to her and come back to Momi’s shop to pick the one she initially wanted. When she told Momi, my sister immediately said no.
I was surprised at her reaction and asked her why. She explained that since Bunmi had already purchased the item, that even though the comparison between the two product might not be totally correct, that the brand she bought was not a bad one. She went on to say that she doesn’t want to be the reason why the other shop owner will lose a sale or a client. She was even trying to make excuses for the other shop owner (who she didn’t even know) that maybe that was what he or she was told. She then advised Bunmi to use the product and make up her own mind and that once it runs out, she can come buy the brand she has if she wants to.
I opened my mouth and then closed it. Only my sister. Only Momi would still think like that in a competitive marketplace.
I thought she was being naive and after Bunmi left, I was going to remind her of lesson 101 in the marketplace, but she shut me up by reminding me that she prefers to have peace of mind in her business than just making money by making other people look dishonest or lose clients. Do I agree? Partly yes, and partly no, but that’s besides the point. This is just one of many examples of the ways the woman I call my sister sacrifices and shows goodness to the world.
Momi has taught me patience, she has taught me that I do not always have to be right. That I must choose my battles wisely. She is a constant reminder of all the eternal values we learnt from Mum. She reminds me of how to love. She reminds me that family is indeed everything, and that if you are blessed with a good family, you must do everything in your power to keep it intact.
Sometimes we disagree with each other. Every once in a while, she gets on my last nerves. And I am sure that there are moments when she can’t stand me. But love, respect and admiration for each other is one thing that we have for each other and for the other 5 siblings behind us and that is what keeps us going.
I love my sister. And, I admire her simplicity, her calm, her honesty, her naivety, her goodwill and the sheer force of the strength that propels her and positions as my role model.