Introduction by Ifeyinwa Obi
Vice Principal (1982 - 1984; 1985 - 1991), Principal (1992 - 1995)
Those who attended our alma mater in the ‘80 - 90s will surely remember Mrs. Obiesie, perhaps as Vice Principal for most of the eighties, or as the successor to our founding Principal, Mrs. Okobi, serving as Principal from 1992 to 1995.
Mrs. Elizabeth Obiesie, the second principal of the then still young FGGC Onitsha, gave several years of her life and self to the institution, serving with the dedication, dignity and grace that epitomized her principles. She served for a total of 35 years with the Ministry of Education, including her years of service to our Alma Mater.
Indeed, from what I have learned of our former principal, these could have been her words.
We invite you to get to know this amazing woman, yet another woman of substance and influence, who contributed much towards the individual and collective development of her students and the school she served, through the words of her daughter and alumna, Anwuli.
My first memory of my mother was at the age of 3. I saw her sitting in front of her dressing mirror, applying her lipstick, combing her hair and adjusting her clothes and I was instantly fascinated. She noticed my intense looks and smiled, held out her arms and lifted me up; her words to me that day were that no matter how hard you work, taking out time to look tidy and presentable was very key. She added that this will aid my organization in life with relation to academics, career and home making, and looking back to this point, it has been an advice that has been of tremendous value to my siblings and I.
Elizabeth Ozoemena Obiesie was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. She excelled at her studies and proceeded to the United Kingdom for her secondary school education. Afterwards, she attended Howard University in the United States and graduated with a BA degree in Education. She met my father upon her return to England, he had finished his law degree from the University of Dublin in Ireland, and after two years of courtship, they got married, relocated to Nigeria and had four children - 3 girls and a boy.
My mother first came to work in FGGC Onitsha in 1982 as the vice principal, administering under Mrs. Mary Okobi, who was the principal of the school at the time. It was a very sobering period for my sister, Chinwe and I, then both students of the school, as she had drilled into us the dire consequences of bad behavior under her watch. She expected us to be at the top of the class academically and of excellent behavior outside the class room.
In fairness to her, her standards were not unrealistic. The problem was my sister and I were just too rascally to avoid trouble. Although Chinwe did meet the expected academic standard, I managed to scale through with the achievable goal each term not to be at the bottom of the class for fear of what punitive consequences awaited me at home during the holidays!
She left FGGC Onitsha to serve as Principal of FGGC Akure in 1984, returning again in 1985 as Vice Principal in order to be close to her family. She became principal in 1992, following Mrs. Okobi’s retirement. Her record as principal was recognized both by parents and colleagues as an excellent one - academic standards were high; and the dormitories, classrooms and school compound were always in clean and hygienic conditions.
What I remember quite vividly was her insistence that all the girls from forms 1-6 be allowed to grow their hair, if they so desired. She felt that women should learn the art of good grooming and appearance from a very young age. She firmly believed that if one could be organized with one’s appearance, it would be easy to be organized in other areas of life. This didn’t surprise me that all, as she had always emphasized that women could be all-rounders in everything they set their hearts and hands to, looking good and tidy included.
Here is a recent picture of her taken in June of 2014 with some of her grand children: my son CJ & her eldest grand daughter Nwando. I am so proud to say that she still looks as amazing as I remember her to be while growing up.
My sisters, brother and I try every day to improve on who we are so as not to forget the home we came from and the valuable training on academics, career, manners, etiquette and cleanliness we received from our parents, which we are passing on to our children.
In conclusion, I would like to give a shout out to all the ladies of the 1986 class of FGGC Onitsha. You were all amazing to meet and I look forward to seeing the remarkable women you are today.
Thank you so much for the honor of writing this piece on the most important woman in my life.
~Anwuli Obiesie UIjlenhoed