Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Birthday - When “Queen Elizabeth” Marked Her 70th Birthday

“You can dance, you can live/ Having the time of your life/ Ooh see that girl, watch that scene/ Digging’ the dancing queen...”

The birthday woman was everything in “Dancing Queen,” that great song of ABBA, the sensational Swedish group that took the music world by storm in the 1970s. A lover of songs, a great dancer and a lady fondly called “queen” by fellow student nurses in the 1960s, not only by virtue of her being pretty but also by having many things unusually common with the reigning Queen of England. She bears Elizabeth like the queen, both share the same birthday, April 21 (she was born April 21, 1943 while the queen, her namesake, was born April 21, 1926). Again both were born on the same weekday, Wednesday! Still they seem to have a common passion for music. One of the queen’s hobbies is dancing. So is her fairy tale alter ego.

Elizabeth Ayodele Oderinde, retired nurse and Iyalode Ijo of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ayetoro, Osogbo, was indeed a dancing queen on December 21, 2013 as she belatedly, due to what family sources described as unforeseen circumstances, marked her 70th birthday. She regaled her audience with fanciful dance steps and a flamboyant display of joy at reaching the remarkable 70th milestone after such a long walk in life.

Tagged a celebration of “God’s Goodness,” the two-part event was an opportunity to go down memory lane. An offspring of migrant workers who literally traversed the length and breadth of the old Western Region in search of greener pasture, little Ayodele was born in Gbongan and had her primary and post-primary education in Agege, Lagos, Otan Ayegbaju (her hometown), Ile Ife, and wherever the call of duty took her parents. She later enrolled at the Sacred Heart Hospital, Abeokuta, for a course in midwifery and another in general nursing qualifying as a state registered nurse. She started work as a midwife at the Igbaye Maternity Centre, Igbaye, near Inisha in present day Osun State before crossing over to the popular Jaleyemi (Our Lady of Fatimah) Hospital, Osogbo. She eventually retired as a senior matron in 2000 having earlier transferred her service to the state’s ministry of health in 1977…

Inside the St. Benedict’s Cathedral Church hall, Popo, Osogbo, venue of the reception, the bandstand had a busy day beating the drums and singing songs of praise in high decibels. The celebrant could not help displaying some few more dance steps to the admiration of her husband, a retired principal, children and grandchildren in tow. Other relations, guests, former colleagues and teeming well-wishers did not miss out on the spectacle. Like in ABBA’s song they watched the scene, saw and clapped all the way, “diggin” the dancing queen. It was happy time and she had the fun of her life.

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