Interdenominational Service At Transferred RCM School, Garkawa, In Memory of Mama Mary Jummai Dabup
Mama Mary Jummai was born to the family of Mr & Mrs Rawanjab in a tiny village of Dwankwan, in Shendam Division, a few kilometers away from Garkawa. The year of her birth marked the period when the soldiers had returned home after the World War II.
Life in her tiny village was lived much as it had been for many years. Dwankwan is a beautiful tiny village of rolling hills, fertile valleys, a river and tiny stream, which keep the landscape green even during dry or harsh weather, and also a home to many Catholic adherents.
Being a fertile land, Miss Mary Jummai was, therefore, a peasant farmer. She had always along with her peers attended the evening catechism classes after working on the farm. In addition, she helped her parents in fetching firewood and water from their nearby stream for domestic use – just the same way like other female children of her age in the village did.
Unknown to her, all the activities she was engaged in were preparing her for future responsibilities. At times, when the male children were engaged on the farm, she would help them take the family’s livestock to communal grazing land and watered them. The society from where she came is proud of its abiding belief in the importance of courtesy, harmonious social order in which every individual knew his or her place. She was at an early age trained to take care of her young ones. Subsequently, therefore, bringing up her children was not difficult for her.
Mama Jummai was, therefore, groomed for future responsibility, which as a young girl, knew little about that. She could then neither read nor write but had a good gift as a communicator, and an orator. She was good in the catechism lessons ever before she got married. She was light-skinned with Goemai tribal marks to fit. She had sisters and brothers, who are now deceased except a sister. Her parents were molders of personality. Her brothers would not help much even though it was in a village of women and children. The concept of education, then, was still a foreign one to many, but the Roman Catholic Church ran catechism classes, which she attended.
Mama Jummai was married to late Mallam Makama Peter Dabup of Garkawa at an early age. As a young girl, she was vibrant, strong, energetic and very lively. She had strongly willed, highly principled and religious. She possessed a sense of fairness – the qualities that manifested themselves soon after her marriage. The house of her husband is of a large family.
Her late husband was a Native Authority Scribe, who had worked in Shendam and Kwalla districts and, so, she was exposed to many people outside her environment as a result of contact, which her late husband had when he was working. In addition, she had to put up with uncountable in-laws (male and female), numerous family children, which she also had to contain with. She soon realized that she was married into a family of patrilineal people. Her background training, therefore, enabled her to integrate easily into the family.
All these challenges did not deter her because unknown to her, her childhood upbringing was preparing her for responsibilities of womanhood. When she started bearing children, her responsibility in her husband’s house multiplied, and she played an important role in bringing the children to order. She first had four male children, and later a female; and each time she called the younger ones to help her, they would say, “Mama, this is women’s work.”
From their early age, her children spent their free time in the village square, playing and fighting with other boys of the village; but she would still demand to know from them to account for their movements. At nights, she would still insist her children shared their food and blankets with these same boys with whom they had fought. While she would always insist to know their movements – in order to keep them in check – their answers would always be, “Mama, we are out in the fields to learn how to knock birds out of the sky with slingshots, gather wild honey, fruits and edible roots, catch fish with twine, frogs, hunt with bow-and-arrows.”
Their activities were essential knowledge to any rural Yioum boy. In Yioum custom, men followed the path laid out for them by their fathers, while women led the same lives as their mothers had before them. A boy, who remained at home, ‘tied to his mother’s apron strings’ (as the saying goes) was regarded as a Sissy. Mama Jummai Dabup had her own farm where she planted and harvested her own varieties of crops and stored them in a store house for domestic use. Her strict upbringing and spiritual uplifting in the Catholic Church enabled her to succeed in training her children to adhere to the Catholic faith.
Mama is survived by a sister, seven children and twenty-one grand children.
By Mrs Juliana Sheikaa Ahmadu (Sister)