Mama Janet Ekundayo truly lived to her name as she turned the mourning of many kids to joy. Some even call her the Mother Theresa of Africa. At the time mama was born, age records were not being kept but she was estimated to have died in her late 80 or early 90. Mama had five biological children. According to her, taking care of children came naturally for her and she also enjoyed the company of children.
The Kogi-born decided to devote the rest of her life to taking care of orphans and abandoned children in 1969. In 2007, she adopted her 469th child and by 2008, the figure rose to over 500 children. The children were from different part of the country, age group even religion.
This fetched her the nickname “Olomo yeye”, meaning the one with many children.
When asked how she was able to pull through, she mentioned that in addition to her little contributions, God helped her and that some kindhearted individuals, religious organizations and local government authorities also came to her aid.
Mama’s orphanage, Ekundayo Children’s Home, is located in Isanlu Makutu, a rural part of Kogi State in North-central Nigeria. According to her, caring for kids was a calling she could not overlook and she would also not stop till she breathed her last.
Mama loved to sing a lot.
According to her, “Emi ko, ishe Oluwa ni (It is not me,it is God’s handiwork).
Agbara mi ko, agbara Olorun ni (meaning: It is not by my power but God’s). This saying is at the entrance of mama’s orphanage home.
Bawo ni mashe jeun nigba ti gbogbo awon omo mi o ri je, ti won rimu? (How can I eat when all my children are starving?)
Ayo mikun, gbogbo igbese aye mi, ayo ni. Mi o mo idi ti Olorun fi pe mi be. Ohun to mu inu mi dun ni ti awon omo yii. (I am full of joy, my whole life is joy. I don’t know why God chose me. What gives me Joy is these children).
Eje fogo Olorun han. Ma se bo talenti mo le rara, eje fogo olorun han. (Reveal God’s glory Let your talent flourish, don’t hide it).”
Mama passed on to glory in 2009.
Among mama’s children is the popular Nigerian singer and photographer, TY Bello who made a video in her honor and also produced a song titled Ekundayo featuring Olufunmi in 2008. The song is in her popular album, Greenland.
Mama’s only prayer to God was for Him to give her a successor when she breathes her last. Her prayer was however answered as one of her daughters, Grace, has taken up the project.