“Irene [Irene Dinah Wasibi Odeke] died in 1994 when the girls were still very young. At the time, Valentine Tino was about three years old and Gertrude Maase four. After her passing, I did not want to marry immediately out of fear that another woman would mistreat them.
I decided to concentrate on bringing them up alone. Besides, it was an emotional period and we all needed time to heal. Since I was now their only parent, I ensured that I gave them all the time and basic requirements they needed, including sanitary towels.
Gertrude was the more emotional one about their mother’s passing. There was a time she would break down when other mothers came to visit their children on visitation days at school. Then, I would reassure her that I would always be there to take care of her.
It was, however, only recently while at the university that they started asking me questions about what happened to their mother. I explained that her death was as a result of a health complication and that there was a medical report to prove it. They seemed contented and more at ease after seeing the medical reports. They stopped asking questions.
The most challenging time for us might have been around 2010 after I resigned from my job at United Bank for Africa (UBA) as executive director and started doing consultancy work.
Paying their tuition fees became so hard that I sometimes asked the concerned university authorities for more time to come up with the money.
However, it got better in July 2012 when I got a job at Orient bank as country treasurer. I worked there until December of the same year when I was hired at Commercial Bank of Africa as chief executive officer, where I work up to date. Despite it all, I’m very proud that the girls successfully completed school. It is never easy for a girl child, but they made it, which makes me satisfied with the job I did raising them.
I was also fortunate that my mother, Ann Mary Anyait, occasionally stayed with us to help me with the girls. She bathed, clothed, fed and disciplined them as if she was their biological mother.
The girls were so distraught when she passed away in 2006 that I ran out of ideas on what to do to help them.
That was when they openly told me to find them another mother.
I was a bit surprised by their suggestion, but I gave it some thought and eventually got into a relationship with Racheal Wakabi with whom I have three children now.
They may not be little girls anymore, but I still tell them that they should never hesitate to run and talk to me about anything. Regarding the issue of relationships, I often tell them to finish with their studies before seeing any boys, advice they seem to have heeded so far.
I will always give gratitude to God for giving me the strength to look after them for all those years. Surely, if it had not been for Him, I do not think I would have managed to raise those beautiful girls on my own.”
As shared by Samuel Odeke