My grass to grace story – Chief Gbenekama, as he clocks 55


Fiyewei of Gbaramatu kingdom

…I started life as a poor fisherman – Fiyewei

…Dad taught us to be honest – Barr. Gideon, first son

A prominent chieftain in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, Chief Godspower Gbenekama JP, whose 55th birthday held yesterday at his residence in Warri, has disclosed in a brief chat with GbaramatuVoice that he spent 15 years of his life as a poor fisherman trying to eke out a living.

Chief Gbenekama, who was in the early part of this year elevated from the traditional rank of Ibe-Benemowei (Chief Mobiliser) to that of Fiyewei (Spokesman) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, also recently received the honour of the Niger Delta Activist of the year during the 3rd anniversary celebration of GbaramatuVoice newspaper.

According to him he was taken aback by the birthday celebration organized for him by well-wishers stressing that he had no inkling that a day as this would dawn, as he recalled his days of humble beginnings and the trying times he had to contend with in order to scale through.

In his words, “I was born in 1963, September 28 precisely, to a very humble family of Mr. Samuel Gbenekama Mulade. I was actually born to a fishing family in a fishing camp called Oburu and started life as a fisherman; struggled through, never even thinking that one day I will find myself in an environment where people will come around me to celebrate me because the situation was so good. 

“I went through my fishing life for 15 years; about 15 years was spent fishing to make ends meet but that couldn’t happen. And when my father died in 1993, I actually didn’t have anything to bury my father so I had to go and borrow money to buy white cloth to wrap the cheap coffin that was used in burying my dad.”

Continuing, he said, “Today, this young man who seems to have no future some few years back is today married and presently the Fiyewei (Spokesman) of the most celebrated clan in the Niger Delta. I thank God for what I am and I believe with the population of the people around me and the people who believe in me, the sky will never be my limit. I thank God for what I am today. It is by His grace that I am what I am.”

GbaramatuVoice spoke to family members and well-wishers who all poured encomiums on the celebrant whose virtues they said were worth emulating.

To Barrister Gideon Gbenekama, the first son of Chief Gbenekama, “Dad always taught us that no matter how tough things get, you must find a way. From things as simple as light going off at night, to things as hard as how your exams are going. It has been an empowering lesson because at every point of his life, our lives, you find things that are not at the premium level. 

“Secondly, my dad is an honest person. To be serious, it is hard to be honest in our world but my dad has been able to speak truth to power. Considering he came from nothing, I think it is a very big lesson anyone can follow,” he added.

Also speaking, Chief Mrs Mercy Gbenekama, wife of the celebrant said, “My husband is a caring and loving man. No matter the circumstances, he cares. He also cares for his children; their education, he doesn’t look back to take responsibilities. Without him, we cannot do anything on our own. We thank God. It is by His grace he is alive.”

For Hon. Gladys Gabari, Secretary, Warri South West local government council, “Chief is someone that you cannot oppress. If he wants to tell you something, whether you’re the president or not, he will say it. It is not easy for someone to clock 50 years and then add 5 years to it. We thank God for His life. God will continue to bless him and we will see more birthdays.”

Chief Gbenekama, while appreciating family members, friends and numerous well-wishers who took out time to celebrate his 55th birthday, gave a word of encouragement saying, “to the people, when you believe in a cause, please don’t look back. Don’t look at the pecuniary benefit that you have, the immediate benefits that you have; keep doing what you believe is right. One day, people will celebrate you as they just celebrated me.”

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