Biography of Killian Ekhemie Etafia Ede

10 October 1947 – 22 December 2015


“The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them … they are in peace … God has put them to the test and proved them worthy to be with him.”

Wisdom 3:1-5

Killian Ekhemie Etafia Ede, fondly called “IGUY” by loved ones and “DADDY” by many others, was born in Irekpai in the early hours of 10th October 1947, to the family of Paul Ede Imoviera and Odovue Asimhawu Ede (nee Omonokhua). His birth occurred at a time when nobody in the village expected it. After the birth of his elder brother, James Oseni, their father, Paul Ede decided to marry a second wife, but the woman of his choice, Sametu Egwa (popularly called “Iya”), was not acceptable to the family because she was from the same lineage with Odovue. When Paul went ahead to marry Iya, the family declared that Odovue would never have any other child. Many years passed and truly Odovue could not conceive. When eventually she took in and the pregnancy became obvious, they declared that the child would not be born alive. But when the appointed day came for the baby to be born, he came forth from the womb alive, hale and hearty, to the utmost surprise of everyone. With great joy and excitement, his father declared: “ekhemie kh’eta lefia?”, meaning “can they now see that they lied”? Hence the newborn infant, whose birth was considered a miracle, was named “Ekhemie” (“they have seen”) by the kindred, and “Etalefia” (“they have failed”) by his father. In the village, everyone called him “Etafia”, for as it were, through the many fatal adversities that would befall the family in the years to come, this miracle child proved all detractors to be liars and failures.

Etafia was nurtured by his parents and taught the ways of wisdom and love right from childhood. At the age of six, he was enrolled as a pupil at the C.M.S. Anglican School, Ayogwiri. His mates at school attest that he was a very bright student who exercised a high level of maturity and wisdom. The dreams and prospects of this promising child-star were soon dampened when the first in a series of tragedies struck at his household while he was barely nine years old. His mother, Odovue died in November 1957, leaving behind a six-month old baby, Mercy (popularly called “Iblaki”), who at the time was still a suckling. Etafia had to drop out of school to accompany his baby sister, Mercy, to Afashio where she was weaned by one of their aunts, Mrs. Enamhegba Ikhane. While at Afashio, he converted to Catholicism and was baptized in 1958 with the name Killian, followed by Confirmation in 1960.

Daddy and Mummy

Killian was to later continue his education at Afashio, obtaining his Primary School Leaving Certificate in 1960. Seeing how good his results were, an uncle (a man who married his father’s sister), living in Sokoto promised to help him further his education in the city. Killian welcomed the idea and followed this relative to Sokoto. But on getting the Sokoto, the man did not enroll him in any school. Rather, he forced him to learn his own trade, and so Killian was sent to be trained as a Blacksmith. He did not show any interest in it because he had his eyes set on formal education. This brought frequent disagreements between him and his uncle. Furthermore, his uncle who happened to be a Muslim also tried to convert him to Islam by force. He gave him the name, Atiku, which he was called all the three years he was in Sokoto. Each time his uncle forced him to sit down to pray in the Islamic way, Killian would sit down like a Muslim with the tešbî his uncle gave him in his hands, but inwardly in his heart, he would be reciting the Rosary, unknown to the man. His refusal to convert to Islam further strained their relationship, yet the uncle would not grant him leave to return to the village.

In 1963, still determined to leave Sokoto back to the village with the hope of continuing his education, Killian decided to raise money by himself in order to procure the transport fare. For this, he went out daily to work as a labourer, along with his friend Musa, until he had acquired enough money to see him through the journey. Unknown to his uncle, he left Sokoto and arrived in the village in August 1963. Back in the village, he farmed with his father, saving up money through the next two year that would see him return to school. Just as he was looking forward to the arrival of the new year which would have seen him return to school, his father passed away on 27th December 1965, leaving Killian at home alone with his immediate younger brother, Peter Babatunde Ede, along with their uncle, Jacob Aweneghiemhe Imoviera and his wife Mrs Alice Awawu Aweneghiemhe. At this fateful turn, he had no other option than to keep working to fend for himself and his brother. His troubles worsened when in 1967, Peter Babatunde fell critically ill. As the illness which lasted for about eight to nine months persisted, Killian had to carry him on his back from one village to another in search of medicine for his cure. In spite of all the efforts, Babatunde died on 22nd December 1967. Unable to recover from the shock of this tragedy, Killian fell sick to a point that he thought he was going to die and wished at the time that it happened. He left the village back to Afashio to be looked after by his maternal aunt. After many weeks of infirmity and pain, his fighting spirit returned and he got well again. Following the new lease of life, Killian rekindled his dream of furthering his education, but there was no one to help financially. A glimmer of hope arose, when one of his maternal uncles, Thomas Aleore Obo Omonokhua invited him to Ibadan in 1968 to live with him. But when he arrived Ibadan, hope went forlorn again when he was not enrolled in a school. Instead, he was sent to be trained as a Plant Mechanic, which was to eventually become his occupation.

Daddy in 1974

As soon as he completed his training in 1972, he came down to Benin-City, and was immediately employed as a Plant Mechanic with Gwatto Construction Company. After a two-year stint with this company, he picked up another job at Bendel Food Production Board, Agbede. Two weeks into this new job, he was transferred to their newly installed farm facility at Warrake where he became one of the pioneers of the Warrake Farm Project under the Government of Midwest/Bendel State. It was while he was visiting his aunty at Afashio from Warrake that he was introduced to a beautiful young woman, Lucy Eneyime Aduku, who would later become his God-made companion for the rest of his life. Killian got married to Lucy on 17th October 1974, and God blessed them with children, grandchildren and foster-children through the years.

Still determined to study and further his education, Daddy enrolled with the Correspondence School, Florida, while he worked, whereby he received study materials and exercises by post-mail. He followed through meticulously and submitted his exercises and exams by the same means until he graduated with distinction in the late seventies. Little wonder Daddy was able to read and write very well with a very beautiful handwriting, and was able to deliver talks and lectures in both Church and work-place with well-researched profundity during his life time.

In 1977, Daddy left Warrake Farms to work with Progress Engineers where he rejoined his former General Manager while working in Gwatto Construction Company, Engr John Udoh. Working with Progress Engineers took him to several places in Nigeria where they had projects, the last of which was Jebba in Northern Nigeria. He resigned from this job in 1979 in order to settle permanently with his family in Benin-City. Back in Benin-City, he was making plans to establish his own mechanical firm and be independent, when he met his former Farm Manager at Agbede-Warrake Farms, Mr David Oyakhilome, who convinced him to take up appointment with Yakon Motors Ltd, a division of Yakon Enterprises, owned by Chief Tony Anenih, who was also CEO/Managing Director. Between March 1979 and 1980, Daddy’s performance at Yakon Motors along with his hardwork and diligence earned him the opportunity to go to Romania for a three-month industrial course. In Romania he studied more about tractors and agricultural equipment. On his return to Nigeria in 1980, Daddy remained with Yakon Motors Ltd.

With the military take-over of 31st December 1983 and the consequent incarceration of Second-Republic Politicians, which included the CEO/Managing Director of Yakkon Enterprises, business was closed and the staff sent away. At this, Daddy went to join Skanga Construction Company, while at same time, he did some jobs with the Benin-Owena River Basin and Development Authorities (BORBDA). Twice between 1984 and early 1985, he attended training courses on Peugeot automobile, and was invested with a merit award upon completion.  After nearly two years of working at with Skanga and picking up jobs at BORBDA, Chief Tony Anenih was released from prison in 1985, and he implored Daddy to return to Yakon Enterprises. Daddy agreed and had his appointment renewed as the Senior Supervisor at Yakon Motors Nig. Ltd. He served in this capacity until July 1987 when he left to be on his own. He then established the Killian Ede Mechanical Engineering Works (KEMEW) in the later months of 1987, and became a mechanical contractor, getting contracts from the State Government, from Benin-Owena River Basin and Development Authority (BORBDA), and from the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR). Amidst many challenges and occupational hazards, Daddy endured in his own establishment as an independent mechanical contractor for 25 years, before he eventually retired from active work in 2012. After retiring from full-scale mechanical work however, he still occasionally went out for small job supervision or inspection until he passed on in 2015.

When Daddy retired in 2012 at the age of 65 from the occupation he practiced for years, he was not tired, and so he planned to establish another business which would be less physically-involving than the one he had practiced for years. The new business was to be named Kedesco Enterprises. With the target of having it realized by the middle of 2016, Daddy planned and strategized toward this new business venture through the course of three years, until God called him in December 2015.

Daddy was a family man who with his very dear wife, Lucy (fondly called “Mummy”), had six children, Helen, John, Stan-William, Kenneth, Emike and Emoye, whom he loved so much and cared for. Beside their six biological children, Daddy and Mummy also raised many others as their own children from early childhood to adulthood, amongst whom are Mr. Michael Imoviera, Mr. Charles Egieyeh, Miss Idowu Dominic and Mr. Lucky Afariokhai. There are likewise others who stayed with them for a few years and were also largely trained by them.

Among his many legacies, he will be remembered as the nucleus and sustaining pillar of the entire Imoviera family of Irekpai-Uzairue. Crisis upon crisis in the fifties and in the sixties, death after death and fueling of controversy between Daddy’s father and his uncles by the village neighbours led to a big split in the Imoveria family, to the point at which no one in the village thought that the family would survive nor that unity was ever going to be possible. But on his returned from Ibadan in 1972, Daddy went back to the village and gathered all the scattered children of his late father and uncles into one fold, and from then he became the cohesive force of unity that has bonded the family together until this day.

From birth to death, Daddy’s life was a share of the Cross of Christ, living through and surviving many hurdles. In the midst of all his struggle and efforts, he was rocked by many challenges, trials, setbacks, industrial accidents, disappointments from friends, violation of contract terms by the powers-that-be, persecution at work and business, and various threats to his life. In all these, Etalefia. His resilience was not broken and his firmness of purpose superseded. He found the consolation and strength he needed in the support and love of his dear wife and children. Above all, he found utmost consolation in God whom he served with all his heart and might, and in the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom he was highly devoted.

Daddy’s religious profile is so rich and lengthy that we can only briefly summarize it here. He was a Christian, a true Catholic to the core, and a well-known practitioner at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Benin City and St. Gregory Catholic Church, Benin-City, until his passing. Daddy was among the few people selected by the then Parish Priest of Holy Spirit Parish, Rev. Fr. Cosmas Ojemen for the Archdiocesan training as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Along with 29 others from all over the Archdiocese, he was installed as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion by the then Archbishop of Benin City, Most Rev. Dr. Patrick Ebosele Ekpu, at Holy Cross Cathedral, Benin City. Upon the retirement of Archbishop Ekpu in 2006, they were all stopped from continuing with the ministry. With the emergence of a new Archbishop the following year, some of them were recalled, and once again, Daddy was among those who were installed in 2007 as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion by the then Archbishop, Most Rev. Dr. Richard Burke of the Archdiocese of Benin City, and he functioned in this ministry until his earthly life was completed. He is very well remembered for his active service to the sick and the elderly whom he constantly visited both at home and in hospitals.

Daddy as Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist

At Holy Spirt Parish where he worshipped for over 30 years right from its founding, Daddy was an active member of the Legion of Mary (Our Lady Help of Christians Praesidium) and he always carried out his Legion work devotedly. He was a ardent Divine Mercy Devotee and always made it to the daily 3 O’Clock Divine Mercy Prayers. For a long time, he was the coordinator of the Cenacle of the Marian Movement of Priests, as well as Patron of the Blessed Voices Choir. He was also actively involved with activities of some other Lay Apostolate Groups, and was sometimes invited to give a talk or reflection during Spiritual Exercises. Through the years, he served in various Church committees in various capacities. He was the Chairman of the Merit Award Committee of the Jubilee Year 2000, whose outcome many still happily narrate until this day.

For the few years he worshipped at St. Gregory Catholic Church, there is also so much to talk and write about with regard to his involvement, but everything cannot be written in one short piece.

It is interesting to note that Daddy fathered two Catholic Priests, one biologically and the other spiritually. He is the biological father of Rev. Fr. Stan-William Ede of the Diocese of Auchi, and he is the Christian Godfather of Rev. Fr. Christopher Esheokhai of the Archdiocese of Benin-City, whom he sponsored at Baptism and guided to choose the priestly vocation and further until he was ordained a priest. Apart from his close friendship with many other priests of Benin, Ibadan, Auchi and Uromi dioceses, many of whom also called him “Daddy”, he was a spiritual companion and soulmate of Rev. Fr. David Aruonokhale, O.S.A., an Augustinian Priest. Daddy is also a first cousin of Rev. Fr. Cornelius Omonokhua and a brother-in-law to Rev. Fr. Teddy Adukus.

Daddy and Mummy

Many co-Parishioners in Benin City, work colleagues, friends and neighbours, as well as people in his hometown have given various testimonies that attest to the splendid life that Daddy led. But for lack of space, everything cannot be written. The summary of it all is that Mr. Killian Ekhemie Etafia Ede was a faithful Christian, a holy and virtuous man, a loving husband, caring father and grandfather, man of honour and dignity, diligent worker, soul-saver, humble man, peacemaker and motivator. 

As the feeling in the neigbourhood where he lived and in other places where he is well-known in Benin-City, so is it is at the home front, back in Irekpai village. Daddy’s deeds and virtues are everywhere sung.

When the time came for Daddy to make his noble bow out of this world on 22nd December 2015, God bestowed upon him the grace of a happy and holy death, when some few minutes before he passed on, he was visited by the Parish Priest of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Isaac Ebeigbe, who prayed with him and administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction unto him. Oh, what great joy! At about 2:45pm, shortly after he had received the last Sacraments, i.e. just some few minutes before the Hour of Mercy, Daddy answered the home call to take his blessed rest forever with his Almighty Creator.

Enjoy your blessed rest, Dad, in the Bosom of the Almighty God