The late Mrs Delphina Ejimenyerie Akpederin was born on the 27th of October, 1951 to the family of the late Elder Cosmas Agadago Ukueje of Deghele Elume and the late Madam Edah Urhiemefe of Okuovu Ozue both of Sapele Local Government Area of Okpe Kingdom and Delta State.
The late Delphina attended St. Theresa’s Primary School, Adagbrassa Elume, the Teacher’s Training College, Evwreni, and the College of Education, Warri where she studied Education, and English/Urhobo Languages.
Her Inspiring Zeal for Advancement
The late Delphina got married before any post primary education. Just after her primary education, she moved to Sapele to acquire skills in fashion designing. She got married in 1969 to Mr. Benson Oyibo Akpederin of Edegbrode Elume and supported the family with her fashion designing business until she had all her children. In 1983, she got admission to the Teacher’s Training College, Evwreni and after completion of her studies with flying colours, she secured teaching appointment with the State Primary Education Board of the then Bendel State. She taught at the Otoranmwan Elume Primary School until she was transferred to Sapele in 1992. She secured admission to the College of Education, Warri and specifically opted for English Language and Urhobo Language because of her dream to develop the Okpe Language curriculum.
Her Legacy in Developing the Okpe Language
The passion of Mama Delphina Akpederin for the promotion of the Okpe Language knew no bound. After completing her programme with the College of Education, Warri, the opportunity for her to realise the dream further came during the Hon. M. O. Igbuya tenure as Chairman of Sapele Local Government Council. The policy to teach the Okpe Language in all primary schools of the Sapele LGA was begun. It was discovered that only the late Mrs. Delphina Akpederin studied local language amongst the primary school teachers of the Sapele Local Government and was therefore appointed into the Local Education Board of the Sapele local government. As a member of the board for the purpose of implementing the teaching of the Okpe Language in the Sapele LGA, Mama Delphina proposed a training workshop for the Okpe Language for selected teachers in all the primary schools of the local government. She was the sole resource person for the training. After the training workshop, the stage was set for the teaching of the Okpe Language in all the primary schools of the Sapele LGA. She handled the Okpe Language classes for Oton Primary School, Sapele, which became more or less the Mecca for Okpe Language teachers to consult on the subject. In 2008, during the opening of the Okpe Language Centre sponsored by Chief Cosmas Ighoraye, HRM, Orhue I, the Orodje of Okpe sent a public commendation to the late Mrs. Delphina Akpederin, for her efforts in promoting the Okpe Language.
Her Promotion of the Okpe Language in Church Worship
The late Mrs Delphina Ejimenyerie Akpederin was a faithful Catholic. As the choir mistress of the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Adagbrassa Elume in the 80s and early 90s, she composed several Okpe Christian songs and translated several Christian hymns into the Okpe Language. In fact, it was the practice in that church then that during harvest and special occasions, only Okpe songs were rendered including the congregational responses in the mass. When the Okpe Catholic Community was established in the Catholic Diocese of Warri, the late Mrs Delphina Akpederin was mandated to translate the Catholic worship liturgy into the Okpe Language. She completed the task and handed it over to the Okpe Catholic Community after more than a year of painstaking efforts.
The Okpe Dictionary, Her Pet Project
At retirement from the Primary Teaching Service in 2015, the late Delphina opted to begin a legacy project in the form of an Okpe-English-Okpe Dictionary. The dictionary project was meant to give us a dictionary which explains Okpe words in English in the first part, and also give us the Okpe equivalent of English words on the other part. She had gone far into it when cervical cancer was diagnosed in her. During the treatment which got her referred to the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital (UCH), she endured and continued the Okpe Dictionary project whenever the ailment relieved her. She completed the first part for Okpe to English which is the most tasking, and had begun the second part before the report from the investigation at the Teaching Hospital, Oghara reflected the further spread of the cancer cells to other organs. This situation severely limited the minutes she was giving to the Dictionary project as sitting down worsened the pains from the ailment.
Her Devotion to Church Service
Mama was a dedicated Christian worker in the Catholic Church. She was active in several lay apostolate groups in the church including a member of the choir, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lay Reader’s Society, and the Legion of Mary to mention just a few.
Her Innate Qualities
The late Madam Ejimenyerie was an exemplar of personal cleanliness, discipline, dedication to duty and honesty. She was also a justice advocate. She was vocal in condemning injustice around her.
Three Weeks Shy of seventy years, “Mama Okpe” as her primary school pupils fondly called her, breathed her last, at about 6am(Nigerian Time) on the 4th of October, 2021 with two of her children, one daughter in-law and three grand children singing one of her favourite hymns “To God Be Thy Glory” for her, as she had demanded some two days earlier.
Mromẹ oboghwa oo!
Akpederin Ehensiri, on behalf of the Children.