By Adewale Adeyanju (INN), Lagos
It was celebration galore penultimate Saturday 14, January 2023 at the Meiran, Alimosho residence of Deaconess Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase (aka Mama Deaf) when the Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN), Lagos State Chapter, members of Alimosho Association of the Deaf (AAD) and others converged to felicitate with the DWAN Founder on the occasion of her 68th birthday and New Year get together of DWAN Alimosho.
The birthday party which was jointly organized by DWAN and the Alimosho Deaf Community was well attended by DWAN members, families, friends and well-wishers of the celebrant. The occasion was marked by an overflow of gratitude and appreciation to God for the health and preservation of life of the DWAN Founder and visioner.
The ceremony kicked off with Chief Olatunde Maiyegun, a younger brother of the celebrant offering prayers of thanksgiving and supplication to God Almighty for adding another year to the matriarch.
Interesting highlights of the get together includes songs, testimonies, mimicking the celebrant show and an intimate interview session with the celebrant where attendants got a peek into the life of Mama Deaf – as she is fondly called.
During the interview session coordinated by Mrs. Funmilayo Obasa, an experienced Events Organizer, the following questions were randomly posed at the celebrant.
1. What color is your toothbrush, Mama Deaf? Mama fidgets, then responds: “White and Green”. Audience smile.
2. Tell us ma, if you could be an animal, what would it be, and why?
Mama answers: “Cat, because it is a lovely pet and it loves to be pampered”.
3. Who do you admire the most? Her response: “It is my landlady; she brought me to this vicinity (Meiran township) and helped secure a Plot of land which in turn helped me become a landlady too”.
4. What is your favourite summer activities? “Travelling”, she quips.
5. What is the one thing that annoys you the most? “I hate laziness with much passion. I hate to relate with the lazy and sluggards”.
6. Asked to describe herself in 3 words, Mama replies: “I am very loving, caring, and a workaholic. I work hard and diligence paved the way to success for me”.
7. If you could talk in your dream, what would you say? “This is what worries me most: the current insecurity which pervades Nigeria. I will tell God in my dream to let there be peace in Nigeria. The insecurity is worrisome to the extent that one is not sure what is coming tomorrow”.
8. What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Mama: “I say a short prayer, immediately I wake up, then go on to ease myself. I check for spam messages on my phone and get prepared for the day’s activities”.
9. If you could get yourself anything , what would you get? Mama: “Easy, I will get a flight ticket and fly to USA or Europe”. Audience roar in laughter.
10. When asked to describe the perfect kiss in 3 words, Mama Deaf drank water from a bottle as an illustration. Her response elicits laughter and a loud ovation.
11. What is your biggest addiction? “I love cooking, dancing and always pressing phone”. More laughter.
12. Do you have a song that reminds you of a relationship? If so what is the song? “I am not in a relationship anymore so I don’t have any song in mind”, was the blunt answer.
The occasion saw a number of people testify to Mama Deaf’s caring nature.
Blessing Okediji, Secretary, DWAN, Lagos State Chapter speaks in glowing terms of the celebrant. She said: “DWAN exists because of Mama Deaf who has been a great and caring mother to all deaf women and girls. Mama will always be in our hearts. Okediji added that before DWAN was established, Deaf women and girls in Nigeria were under-served and excluded from benefitting equally from opportunities around them.
“Deaf women and girls were encountering problems. This implies they needed a voice to articulate the many problems they faced in the society – especially in sexual/reproductive health and economic well being.
“It is this need (a voice) that our visionary Mama Deaf –Deaconess Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase sets out to meet. At a time when Deaf women had no voice, she saw a future where deaf women can live meaningful and dignified lives and that was how DWAN was birthed on September 3, 2001.
“Since the creation of DWAN, Deaf women have become better empowered economically. They now have more options that prevents them from exploitation. Likewise the education of Deaf women has improved, thus ensuring that Deaf women are equipped to handle and dictate their sexual and reproductive health.
“For this and many other reasons, we are much appreciative of Mama Deaf for the sacrifices she made in creating DWAN as a platform for deaf women to access better life. We love her and have put together this birthday ceremony to show our love for her”, she concluded.
Mrs. Ogundipe Monsuratu, Chairperson, DWAN, Lagos State remarked that DWAN is a vision become reality inspite of odds and challenges. DWAN is waxing stronger day by day, partnering with national and international organisations to move deaf women forward so that they are not left behind.
To Monsuratu, Mama Deaf is a visionary. She sees her as her own mother because from the time she was a child, Mama Deaf has been caring for her. She says she learnt a lot under Mama’s tutelage and she will always appreciate the role Mama Deaf played and still plays in her life.
The Lagos State DWAN chairperson continued: “Vocational training is one of the benefits I was privileged to obtain apart from formal education. All Deaf women and girls learn a trade or a skill that we can use to earn a living. Many of us learn different skills which we are enjoying today under Mama’s supervision”.