Sunday, June 16, 2024

Servitude personified ÔÇô Onameditse Josephine (O. J.) Mpho

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” – Isaac Asimov

Physical pain stung like scorpion. But she smiled broadly and loved heartily. Before she became “Mother” to the many, especially those languishing in despair, Onameditse Josephine would have been a typical girl from Sanyedi ward in Maun, who rose from ashes to the heroic accomplishments in her short life of 64 years. Born daughter of Ditshoswane and Basuti Kanyeto ÔÇô the resident ministers of St. John’s Apostolic Faith Mission, her childhood would have been characterized by loud singing, clapping of hands, stomping feet during exuberant church services that often were accompanied by the sounding of the horn and drumbeat as she majestically sauntered in front of the marching band. She underwent catechism of the denomination at Everton under the tutelage of the founder and prophet Christina Mokutuli Nku, where she spent seven years. 

“My sister was anointed by the prophet of St. John at an early age. Many people used to wonder at the miracles she performed, but those of us who knew of her close affinity with Ntate Johannes Nku and the prophet herself knew she ought to be different from the rest. Once you’ve gone through the hands of spiritual giants to the extent she did, you ought to stand out,” Botshelobokae Ramasu eulogized. 

Well-known to her followers was the unmatched gift of composition. She was a keen observer of current events from which; she would wax lyrical notes to rhyme into hymns and anthems. Her compositions included among many that are less known, ‘the installation of Ian Khama as Bangwato Paramount Chief,’ ‘the 15 slain soldiers at Lesoma’ and ‘the passing of Batawana Paramount.’  

O. J. loved and was soulfully loved back by Boikanyo Mpho who turned her into a respectable wife and mother of five children (Edwin, Kekgabile, Tiego, Tsholofelo and Disang).

“It would be our 41st anniversary in October, had this not happened. Including me, I don’t think we understood who this woman really was all about. For the first 20 years of our marriage, I had no idea. But if you are a keen observer of life’s events and you are that close to someone as remarkable as she, you learn to let go of someone endowed with such gifts as my wife to serve her Creator and God. My wife was amazing in that respect,” Boikanyo Mpho told mourners last week Saturday. 

For everyone whose paths crossed Mma Mpho, here was a woman who related with people in similar attitude. O. J. knew no class. Her funeral attracted kings and lords, servants and slaves alike, young and old, but even more chilling was to see the number of those the mainstream society dismisses as mentally deranged, who wilfully camped at the homestead throughout the week and helping with the daily chores leading up to the burial. 

“Mma Mpho loved people. You were one of them,” one man said to me. 

Only in 2015 was she consecrated into bishopric, but O. J. believed earnestly that “good things come to those who wait…” She cleansed thousands using life-giving gospel. A few servants of God stand out today as prosperity ministry has taken us by storm. But O. J. was one whose cause was to see outcasts alleviated from their groans of pain and suffering to a life filled with hope for the next day. She never lost heart of Jesus’ ministry to impact the lives of those needing help. This larger-than-life-personality made friends and foes as would be imagined of the supernatural powers that God gifted her. But she was content in loving her enemies and praying for them, in return teaching her children to never pick up her battles.

Publicly, speaker after another speaker attested to having been forewarned about the black Friday. “During service back in February, Mother said to a packed church, ‘something unforgettably tragic will happen on 17 March at the hour of 11 in the morning. Those with diaries, underline this date.’ This woman was a messenger from God, I swear,” Olerato Serite attested.

“I shudder to imagine that my wife might have spent the whole day lying lifeless, had this happened the previous day when my work took me far away from base. But on the fateful morning as I left the house, I asked her to get ready because I would return at nine to take her for physiotherapy. I found her sleeping in the same spot I had earlier left her, a beautiful smile perched on her lips. I called out. There was no answer. I imagined she was in a deep sleep, so I shook her, but still there was no response. I could not believe she just left me like that. She certainly was in peace from the smile on her face, no struggles whatsoever before her last breath,” Mr Mpho told the crowd.

O. J. was no judge of moral character of individuals, hers was to get close to those who struggled to live a life worthy of respect and help them one step at a time to get to where they desired.

“I know that my siblings and I have lost the only mother God gave us. But I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that is piercing through many hearts of boys and girls, men and women who blossomed under the guidance of this ‘Mother of Nations’. What hurts me is that many of these people have not experienced being loved, until they met mother and now she is gone,” Kekgabile Rabasha stated in her eulogy.

If there were any powers to be sourced from elsewhere, O. J. would posthumously be canonized into sainthood like those whose deeds served humanity. Truly, life was pleasantly flavoured with your presence, but there is no confusion that in death, you have found absolute peace that this earth could not grant just a fraction of [it] to your beautiful soul. You lived your life in the way it pleased your God and in the manner it edified the name of Christ ÔÇô rest my dear friend and mentor ÔÇô you were servitude personified!


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