Mother Theresa of Africa: Spotlight on Janet Ekundayo, Nigerian Woman Who Adopted & Cared for Over 500 Kids

Mother Theresa of Africa: Spotlight on Janet Ekundayo, Nigerian Woman Who Adopted & Cared for Over 500 Kids

When one takes a simple walk around Nigerian streets, markets and even traveling on major roads, it is possible to come across children who have no place to call home or no one to call parents.

These children either do not know where they come from or they know where they come from but their parents are late, either as a result of communal conflicts or natural causes.

Mama Janet Ekundayo.
As of the time of her death, Mama Janet Ekundayo cared for more than 500 orphaned children. Photo credit: TY Bello Photography.
Source: UGC

So due to no fault of theirs, they roam the streets as orphans and abandoned children, sometimes growing into hardened criminals who would later torment society.

But there was a little-known and a little-remembered Nigerian woman who fought hard to change this sad narrative about orphaned children in Nigeria. Her name is Mama Janet Ekudayo.

The Mother Theresa of Africa

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Mama Janet Ekundayo was rightly called the Mother Theresa of Africa because of her passion for caring for orphaned and abandoned children who had nowhere to call home.

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There is little information about her date of birth, but what is known is that from 1969, she dedicated her entire life to raising orphans. Mama Ekundayo had five children of her own.

Ekundayo Children’s Home, Isanlu

Mama Ekundayo's work was done from the Ekundayo Children’s Home, Isanlu, Kogi state. She started the home in 1969 when she made the ultimate decision to give hope to children who are hopeless.

The orphanage home would later house more than 500 children who she adopted and cared for like a mother. She adopted her 469th kid in 2008.

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The personality of Mama Ekundayo

Adopting and caring for a large number of children is obviously a lot of work that requires a cool-headed personality. All accounts of Mama Ekundayo describe her as welcoming, charming, kind, accommodating and always prayerful.

She had a famous Yoruba expression that embodies her philosophy. It says: "Emi ko, ishe Oluwa ni (meaning: It is not by my efforts but by the grace of God)."

Recognition of Mama Ekundayo

There is little mention of Mama Ekundayo in major online platforms. However, the major work that recognises her life of service was done by Nigerian singer and photographer, TY Bello, who recorded a song about her in 2008.

The song titled Ekundayo has a video capturing the selfless life of the caring woman and was done in her honour.

Until TY Bello recorded the song and the video, very few people knew the woman despite the amazing work she was doing. TY first came in contact with the woman in 2003, but she could not forget her due to her striking personality.

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The death of Mama Edkundayo

After a lifetime of service, Ekundayo passed on in 2009. At the time of her death, she was believed to be in her 80s or 90s.

Until her death, she continued to work in the orphanage home as she famously said that she does not know why God chose her for the service.

Remembering Bola Ige had also written about the life of late Nigerian lawyer, Bola Ige. Ige, a former governor of Oyo state was assassinated in 2001.

Before his murder, Ige was the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

To date, his murder case has not been resolved. Many have called for the case to be revisited and for those who mured him to be brought to book.


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