On the 17th of November, 2013 a young Nigerian, Adaobi Obih was murdered by her flatmate. Her friend, Stephanie Cole has written us with a tribute to her friend. With a very heart, we mourn the tragic loss of Adaobi. We hope you are inspired by this tribute and our hearts go out to Adaobi’s friends and family.
I met Adaobi in 2007 at Louisiana State University (LSU) where we were both undergraduate students. She was one of the first Nigerians I met at LSU during a visit to a friend’s apartment complex where she also resided. My first impression of her was that she was a loud, no nonsense person and any accidental wrong crossing of her path would result in a serious tongue lashing. Needless to say, I stayed in my lane and only spoke when she asked me a question. After that, it was hi or hello anytime I saw her around. Fast forward to a few weeks later, I attended the National Society of Black Engineers meeting on campus and Ada was there. She ended up giving me a ride home and we talked about different things; engineering, cooking, family and most memorably Igbo catholic mass and the Christian mothers (Ndi nne mama).
From game nights to LSU football watch parties, African students’ organization banquets, society of women engineers events, birthdays, car rides, and even taking shelter from hurricane Gustav in the same apartment. Over the course of the next two years as I interacted with Ada, I realized how wrong my first impression of her had been. Ada turned out to be one of the nicest people I knew. She was always laughing, down to earth, extremely funny, smart, care free, fearless and positive. Lord did she love football! Her laugh was infectious and she was always the life of any event/gathering she was at. She was not worried about being politically correct, pleasing everyone or fitting in. Although she was very opinionated she never judged people. She was always willing to help in any way she could whether with her time or just giving some advice. I can still hear her voice saying “my dear”. That was how she referred to anyone she was talking to.
I cannot still come to terms with the fact that Ada is gone. Worse still that she was brutally murdered in the comfort of her own home. I got a slew of messages asking me to be careful, buy pepper spray, and lock the doors. All well-meaning I know but where is safe? Children go to school and a lunatic comes in and wastes 20 beautiful lives.
People go to the mall and another lunatic opens fire. Is it the movie theatre that’s any better? On a plane perhaps? Maybe on a university campus? Definitely in a church right? Sadly none of these places has been able to protect innocent people from the attack of animals in human form. It is irrelevant to me if she had a male roommate that was an older Caucasian man. All over the United States and the world at large, husbands are killing wives, children are killing parents, and siblings are killing each other. Let us not even begin to talk of those who are not related. These acts transcend gender and race. Only God can protect and keep us safe because evil is everywhere.
Over the past two weeks, trying to swallow this bitter pill, I cannot help but be angry that bad things happen to good people, and there is not much we can do about it. I am angry that her life was cut short in her prime and that her last moments were full of fear and pain. I am angry about the wedding she never got to have, the children she never got to birth and the milestones she never got to attain. I am angry about the promotions she never got to receive and the inventions she never got to create. I am angry about the hugs she never got to give, and the “I love you’s” she never got to say. I am angry that her killer has the right to defend himself when he did not afford her that right. I am angry that even if he is sent to prison, money from taxpayers like Ada will be used to feed, clothe and provide medical care for him. I am angry that there will never truly be justice because Ada can never come back.
The older I get, the more I realize that truly tomorrow is not promised. I cannot count the number of times something or someone reminded me of Ada and I thought of sending her a message but never did. We always think we can do it tomorrow, next week, over the weekend or when we are less busy. What happens when that person dies before you have the chance to? Regret? Guilt? Frustration? What we must take away from this is to never take anything or anyone for granted.
LIVE like today is your last because you never know when your time will be up. Try something new, pursue your passion, start that business, take that trip, follow that dream, spend time with family and friends. Leave no room for regret.
LOVE unconditionally and without fear. Give love freely and receive love freely. You might get hurt but it is part of life. Don’t take it for granted that they know, let people know you love them (you can never say it enough). Be kind to strangers and more importantly to the people you care about. Lend a helping hand without always expecting a favor in return. Give a hug, make a call, send a text or an email. Let someone know you love and appreciate them.
LET GO of grudges, pride, hurt. It is inevitable that people will step on your toes, but it is not worth sacrificing your happiness and peace of mind by holding onto it the rest of your life. Don’t let pride prevent you from apologizing or from accepting an apology. We all offend and get offended. No one is perfect. Be the bigger person and reach out. Let someone know you are sorry or that you accept their apology.
LEARN to show gratitude. Say thank you no matter how small the favor. To friends, colleagues, spouses, siblings, parents, subordinates. LEARN to take responsibility for your actions. Be accountable. Look inwards and make the necessary changes. LEARN to grow, the only thing constant in life is change.
LEGACY is what you leave behind. What will you be remembered for? Will anyone even notice you are gone? Will they secretly be relieved or will you make such an impact that you will forever be missed?
A scholarship fund has been set up in honor of Ada by some former classmates at LSU. It is called the ADAOBI MICHAELLA OBIH SCHOLARSHIP FUND. It is to enable young female Africans at LSU pursue a major in engineering which Ada was passionate about. Please check it out on Facebook and consider giving towards it.
In a week from today Ada would have been 27. I know it is not the norm to celebrate the death of a young person, especially with her manner of death, but Ada was so full of life. I would like to dedicate her birthday as a day to celebrate the amazing person that she was and to let her family know she was loved. In the midst of the tears and pain, let us join her family and friends to remember her for who she was and not how she died. If you knew Ada personally, on wed Dec 11th 2013, please share a memory in whatever way you feel most comfortable. A status, picture, story, prayer, anything. If you did not have the fortune of meeting Ada, feel free to post a prayer or goodwill message to her friends and family.
To Ada’s family and close friends, may the peace of the Lord that passeth all understanding be with you through this trying time. May he give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
SLEEP WELL ADAOBI MICHAELLA OBIH.