She will no doubt be remembered for her trail blazing efforts of changing the face of pageantry in the whole of African continent and it will take some time for her impressive records as an artistic symbol and cultural ambassador to be beaten, most especially among the women folks. Even those who know her when she was her charming and elegant self will still see her death as a reverie owing to her personal idiosyncrasies, not just as a jolly good fellow but a lady of honour who lived the best of life till she breathed the last.
That’s Lady Angela Onyeador, one of Africa`s illustrious daughters who has gone to join her ancestors in the great beyond. The beauty personified who was so full of life joined the Saint Triumphant on Sunday, June 17th, 2012 in a U.S hospital after a brief illness.
Her Early Life
She prided herself as a fortunate young girl who had a platinum spoon in her mouth while growing up in a privileged environment exclusively meant for upper cadre executives and revered expatriates who worked in Shell as at then, “Look, am grateful to God for the kind of upbringing we had, my parents, Sir. Alexander and Lady Beatrice Onyeador were part of the few black people living in Shell camp in Port Harcourt then and this gave me a great opportunity to mingle with top people. It will interest you to know that, as a young girl I learned to speak Dutch from my peers who were also pupils even though we were not attending same classes, our school was such that, they taught the blacks and British pupils in English and Dutch for Germans, so all my life, I`ve lived quality life with quality people, she had told us in one of our chats years back. Well cultured and well read, after her primary education in the Shell camp, she proceeded to the prized Queens College, Lagos, where she discovered her talent and bias for the arts – fine art and music. She wanted a career in the arts but her parents insisted such courses were not befitting enough. She thus enrolled at the Slade School of Arts, University College, London, where she eventually bagged a degree in Psychology.
A.O as she preferred to be addressed became a public person when after her studies in England tried to organize a beauty pageant, “I am the first to put a real face to this beauty pageant thing they`re doing now, I did a beauty pageant in the early 80s and the success was all over the place, and that was when everybody wanted to know what makes that Angela tick, the Queen then was Diana Ndoye, it was a big show, she said with her tiny but well accented voice.
The Big Break
The society queen who hails from Arochukwu, Abia State cut her teeth in public relations and according to her, one of the very first jobs she got was a CBN contract in 1986 which made her smiled to the banks, it was a calendar job she got from one of her close friends whom she said she was ever grateful to. And no sooner she finished that, than the coast cleared and the rest was history.
The woman of substance never liked to discuss anything about her private life, she`s a lively fellow whose dream was to touch lives which she did. Be that as it may, it will be worthy of mention to say something about these nice people passionately spoke about as people who had touched her life at one time or the other and it was obvious she cannot forget them, even in her grave. She spoke about Alhaji Garuba Style whom was like her first love, then the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Alhaji Mayaki, the late Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo before she met the man who stood by her through thick and thin, Captain Sam Mayson, her hubby who`s the elder brother of a Liberian diplomat of international repute, Ambassador Mayson.
A.O had 2 sisters and a boy but her only surviving sister is Mrs. Ebele Onyeador-Egolum who live in Festac, Lagos. Her eldest sister who died last year, Stella was married to the late Biafran war Lord, Chief Odimegwu Ojukwu.
Her Regret In Life
The symbol of beauty sure did not have any spare time to start to think of her past mistake or what someone has done to wrong her but if there`s anything she did not stop talking about, it was her bad experience at the Miss World pageant where she lost so much money. There`s no need to open can of worms now but the episode led to her selling one of her major properties in London because of her indebtedness to HSBC. Aside that, she also lost some of her greatest art works which she had flew to England when the Miss World pageant was stopped to hold in Nigeria. The idea was for A.O to show case those art works to make some money and the business had warranted her borrowing lots of money from HSBC with her London home as collateral.
The late A.O was very connected and influential, despite her monumental loss at the Miss World pageant in London, an incident that saw her even spending more in the law suit against Julia Morley, Miss World chairperson, the late Stella Obasanjo and the local promoters of the pageant in Nigeria, she then pulled her resources together and bounced back. She got back on her feet by assessing her shares, jewelries and also some of her properties here and there and she was able to stock her gallery back. Till she died, AO is still very rich both in cash and material acquisition, as she once confided in yours truly in one of our conversations that, “haba, wetin we dey eat, see you what are you talking about, that whether am broke, no never, I have enough even to take me till the rest of my life if I don`t work or what are you thinking”, she said as she laughed hysterically to erase that funny idea of her being broke.
Her Fulfilled Dream
Of course, the avid collectors of paintings and arts lived a fulfilled life. Having discovered herself as a bold courageous goal getter, she thought of founding Africa Foundation For Arts, it`s an NGO aimed at preaching anything of African heritage aside from promoting arts and expensive paintings. There`s no gain saying that her gallery is one of Africa`s biggest. The fashion aficionado actually set out to write her name in gold as one of the promoters of arts and culture and more evidently, this was apparent through her strong tilt to Afro-centrism in her fashion sense; like stepping out in series of gorgeous beautiful dresses made from adire and other local fabrics that she wore with self-confidence. Her signature hairstyle of hand weavon always stood her out in the crowd and she was always the cynosure of all eyes at most events. Her beauty was both charismatic and enchanting, that men with no guts would never want to look at her eye ball to eye ball.
Inside Her Will
Not so many people are aware that, the late Lady Onyeador is survived by 2 adopted children, Albert 25 and Adaora 23 who`re undergraduates of Babcock University but it’s a story she would not want to tell herself but towards the later part of her illness, she must have thought about her heiress as she kept talking about Ebele Ojukwu whom she was calling and probably must have shared some personal secrets with. A.O was so fond of Ebele and the affinity between them and what she told me about her is a story for another day.
Her Last Companions
There are few important people, who stood by her during her last moments, and one of these is her husband, Capt. Sam Mayson who did everything humanly possible to make her live, this quiet achiever tried his best by taking her abroad for a combination of naturopathic and conventional medical interventions for her ailment; they were in Austria, and Spain for various treatments and she was quite better before it relapsed again and they had to leave for the US where she eventually succumbed to fate. Another of her very good friend who was on her bedside with Mayson is Sister Bintu, a Serria Leonia who had been her long standing pal, in fact no one knows much about A.O`s properties and investment more than her.