Even as I write this I find it hard to accept that she is gone for good from this side. My ears reverberate with her distinctive low voice; her face, her expressive eyes which can take you to the heights of hilarity with their comic roll or chill you with frosty irritation are visible to my mind. I vividly recollect our last meeting when I sat opposite her and listened to motherly counsel spiced with humanity and astuteness. I remember how she out-danced her pupils at end-of-year celebrations and graduation parties. I recollect how she brought a stubborn senior class to submission with steely words and a unique form of corporal punishment called 'okada riding.' My mind overflows as I remember, in my first year as her staff, how she personally drove a new female but heavily pregnant colleague to the hospital.
I remember all these and cannot believe that Carol Anaele, the Director of Studies, Emdee Schools, Lagos, has dropped the marker for the last time.
At forty-five she was too young to leave her family which was not limited to those connected to her by blood, birth and marriage.She was rich but at home with the poor. She was a teacher and an intellectual who knew how to make the unlettered feel at home. She was a party rocker who appreciated quietness and peace. A devout Catholic, she was on first-name terms with even non-Christians. In a gathering she never made unnecessary waves but she was no shrinking violet. Beautiful, a sharp dresser and the wife of a notable, she was the proverbial big masquerade whenever she stepped out.
In the five years I taught at the secondary school arm of Emdee Schools I imbibed the ultimate philosophy of education, courtesy of the examples of Carol Anaele and her husband, Ogbuefi Mark Anaele, the proprietor of Emdee Schools: no matter how knowledgeable you are; even if you are a bottomless well of intellectual fecundity; though your pedagogical skills are first-rate, they are not worth the lesson note you take to class if you do not have unadulterated love for the children parents entrust to you every morning. I was a teacher for years before joining Emdee Schools but it was under the tutelage of this wonderful woman and her husband that the spirit of education found its right place in my heart.
But Carol Anaele's legacy goes beyond arguably the oldest profession. Up close she was real. She walked among the nouveau riche where being fake and snobbish is the order of the day. But she was not above thanking the humblest person for a favour. She could give and receive corrections. She was a fashionista who controlled fashion instead of being controlled by it. Silently she wiped many tears. She was Akwa Ibom State's true daughter who embraced her husband's Imo State with love.
Jee na udoo, (Go in peace) Ma. We have lost a gem.
Henry C. Onyema is a writer and historian based in Lagos. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org