Daily Champion (Lagos)
19 October 2007
Posted to the web 19 October 2007
TO most people service is synonymous to paid labour. But to 86-year-old Sir Dinah Nwankwo, service means nothing other than relentless and unconditional voluntary work for the upliftment of the society. And she have been involved in such selfless service since the age of ten.
Although 86 years, she is still fully involved actively in meaningful and far-reaching selfless services, instilling hope and growth in individuals, orgnisations and societies.
Born to Christian parents, missionaries who funded and ministered in many church missionary society (CMS) churches, Dinah first feat took place at the age of ten when she converted her maternal grandmother from paganism to Christian faith.
Considering the dangers posed by the pagan religion as at that time which gave credence to killing of twins and other obnoxious practices against women, Dinah felt that her future and that of others would not be guaranteed if the people around her would not tow the part of her missionary parents, so at 10 years, she converted her arch pagan grand mother and her retinue of friends to Christian faith.
Though born to African parents, Okonkwo's God parents were English missionaries, Bishop Galstope, Ven, Basden and Nigerian missionary family Emenokwam of Onitsha.
This solid Christian background ensured that she had a good education, which started at CMS schools in various towns and was taught by English teachers both in primary and secondary levels.
She studied on scholarship at Queen's College, Lagos due to her high degree of intelligence, and was later chosen on merit by the government, with other students to further their education at the United Missioner College, Ibadan (UMC).
"We had examination for the credential called Diploma in Education (DipEd) and that was after the Senior Cambridge Course, but now it is after the first degree," she said.
Incorporating her missionary work into her profession as a teacher, Nwankwo took her educational empowerment of the young ones to Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she taught in two different secondary schools.
Dinah married Mr. Frank Chinwendu Nwankwo while in Sierra Leone, her late husband, an education graduate of a British University and product of Furra Bay College, Sierra Leone, was a former principal of Lagos City College.
Even the death of her husband in 1970 which left her with ten children did not deter Nwankwo from continuing with her chosen part of transforming lives through her missionary works.
And the only thing that was certain for her then was to continue her teaching professors and working in God's vineyard. So she headed back to Lagos after her late husbands funeral in 1970 armed with the bible.
"Back to Lagos with the small children, I was re-employed into one of the municipal schools in Lagos. I taught in two other of its branches, but they refused letting me back into the education office at Ikoyi, Lagos, where I got in by merit as one of the education officers of the Lagos municipal schools before we, the Easterners ran back to the East in the middle of the sixties due to the war crisis".
She was however retained as assistant head mistress, sports mistress and class teacher.
When she tendered her letter of resignation to the municipal school Apapa, efforts were made to persuade her to serve longer.
But she was committed to working for God outside the education system.
At 86 years, Nwankwo's light has remained aglow. She not only looks as strong as a fiddle, but uses every opportunity to uplift humanity and enable the society. Nwankwo who despite her age could still hold any audience spell bound as long as they would want to give their time told Daily Champion that strength comes from God "who rewards people for all their deads".
Nwankwo as a national guide commissioner of the girls guide has shapened the lives of many girls who are today prominent women in the society.
As one of the twenty students that founded the Nigerian Red Cross in Lagos, Nwankwo has remained a life executive member of the society through which she has been touching lives of millions of people across the country.
Through her effort and others the present site of All Saints Church, Surulere, Lagos was secured through the benevolence of late Chief (Mrs.) Mercy Eneli.
For her immense contributions towards the advancement of mankind Nwankwo was awarded a knight of St. Christopher (KSC) by the Anglican Communion.
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Sir Nwankwo is a layreader in the Anglican Church and has been conferred with many honours including the honours "Mother of Good Faith in God (MGFG), Glorious Mother in God (GMG).
And was recently one of the distinguished personalities awarded meritoriously by the Mainland Diocese of the Anglican Church, through her local parish, the All Saints Anglican Church, Surulere.
The honour which was part of the celebration to mark the one year anniversary of Mainland Diocese was bestowed on her by Ven. Geoffrey Chukwunenye, Vicar of the All Saints Church.
For the entire period her citation was being read during the presentation of the latest award to her, Nwankwo volunteered to stand like other younger awardees, shoving aside the chair that was provided for her.
When she was granted audience to address the congregation, her oratoral disposition took the greater part of her as she held the audience spell bound with her youthful voice and clear eloquent and audible presentation punctuated only by intimidating applause from the congregation.
Speaking on the source of her strength and good health, Nwankwo told Daily Champion that her strength comes from God, even as she said that she eats foods introduced to her by parents.
"I wish all of you God's bountiful blessings, but remember in all things to give God preminence first, for so he has decreed, we must also obey, keep and practice all of his commandments."
She lectured, adding that these are part of her strength.http://allafrica.com/stories/20071019124