Ms. Stephanie Mngu Wase Adaa, daughter of one of the military officers who died in the C130 Airforce plane crash of September 1992, remembers that black letter day.
September 26, 1992, marked exactly 25 years from the day I made my first acquaintance with grief, which eventually bore despair in my heart and the hearts of my loved ones. When the news of the ill-fated Charlie-130H crash reached most families of the officers that were on board that plane via the 9 o’clock Network News, I can only imagine what their reactions were. I know with certainty that in our own house time seemed to stop in her tracks.
It was silent yet the intensity of the grief felt by all the adults quickly spread through the entire household. Soon, the sound of that grief was so loud it almost made our hearts burst from its intensity. At first, we were sad because our mum and the other adults were sad.
Soon we became even more sad when we came to the realisation of why they were sad: We got to understand that the last time we saw daddy was indeed the last time we were ever going to see him again as long as we lived. The shock was rude. Our father, Major Wase Adaa, was among the fine officers who perished in that crash.
Their plane had taken off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, and within three minutes, it had crashed into the swamps of Oke-Afa canal in Ejigbo. Their trip to Kaduna, en route Jaji, had been aborted – forever. All 158 officers from the various arms of the Armed Forces died.
Things got sadder when sympathisers began pouring into the house. We had those who just sat there with us in silence, letting only their presence reassure us that we were not alone and that all would be well. There were those who had words of encouragement to offer. I must not forget this very significant batch of sympathisers who indeed cried and wailed more than the bereaved.
The burial eventually took place; the presence of the sympathisers gradually dulled as everyone faded out of our house and went back to their own lives. After this, grief unwrapped herself gradually as she made us come to terms with the bitter glaring difficulties we were going to face for the rest of our lives.
Twenty-five years later, I look back and smile; grief and sorrow didn’t win. With every passing day their effect on us dulled till it faded away and eventually we’ve been left with only the good and fond memories we had of the ones we lost.
Twenty five years later, we’re here, happy and able to appreciate what joy is; we are able to appreciate laughter as we already cried on too many times; we are able to appreciate abundance as once upon a time we did know what want meant; we are able to appreciate our self worth as in one way or the other some of us might have suffered scorn and reproach. Above all, we are able to appreciate life because we’ve felt the sting of death.
Indeed, we may have suffered a lot of ills and disadvantages but I insist that we only suffered these things because we let grief take over. Grief sure loves to have a grip on you and once she has you addicted to her lies, you find that she succeeds in making you focus on the things you do not have and eventually lose sight of the things you have and ought to be thankful for.
It’s a pity husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and friends were taken from us so early and so suddenly, a pity that they left behind their beloved wives, children, their parents, siblings and friends.
However, I’m glad to say in the end we won a great victory over grief. The moment we realised that the men we lost were replaced by a higher, more affluent, all powerful, ever sufficient, always victorious Husband and Father, things did look up and I can tell you with all sincerity that this Husband/Father is ever faithful and He loves to always give us pleasant surprises.
Indeed, He is a master at making a way where it seems there is none. He uses the most unlikely people to come to our aid; He also uses the bleakest moments to show that He is our rock, fortress and refuge, our great provider, healer, peace, ever present help in time of need, and our hope for years to come, the author and finisher of our faith.
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I could go on and on and never exhaust the descriptions to who my new daddy is. In spite of the tragedy that befell our young families and the families of others as a result of this accident, we have been blessed. The Almighty God has been our shield.
Adaa, a legal practitioner, wrote from Port Harcourt
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