Monday, 3 June 2013



It's been exactly a year since the ill-fated Dana plane crash in Nigeria that claimed the lives of 153 people; men, women, children born and unborn. Today in Nigeria, a memorial service is being held in honour of the victims at the very spot where the plane crashed in Lagos, with family members of the deceased, members of the public and government officials, including the Lagos State Governor in attendance. May their souls continue to rest in perfect peace, and hopefully their deaths are not in vain, but will serve as the wake up call the government so desperately needs to do something about the aviation system in Nigeria.

For me, one of the most touching stories I stumbled on while reading through articles in the wake of the crash was that of Connecticut based Nigerian native, Maimuna Anyene who had been in Nigeria on a visit from the United States with her husband and four children to attend the wedding of her younger brother, which was scheduled to hold less than a week before the fatal crash. She perished in that plane crash, along with 9 members of her family; her husband, sister, her four kids, two cousins and her mother-in-law.

She was beautiful, and as much as I didn't know her, she appeared warm and sincere, a true beauty inside and out. One of her closest friends captured her in the following words  “When Maimuna laughed, she was always loud, joyful, and even crazy in the good sense. She laughed spontaneously and excitedly. It was a full-of-life kind of laughter that seemed to come from deep within her belly. She laughed without inhibitions. She was pretty and had cute dimples that made her round face memorable.”

Meimuna Anyene

Maimuna was born July 30, 1979 in Zaria, Nigeria and attended primary school in Zaria and completed secondary school at Queens College, Lagos. She proceeded to the University of Ibadan (UI) where she studied Economics, graduating in 2001 with a second class (upper) degree. At UI, she made many friends, staying close to several of them years beyond her university days. She was known to be very studious, dilligent and hardworking and someone who never lost sight of her priorities.

A friend said she fondly remembered how she and others called Maimuna “effico.” “It was a term of endearment but also a playful kind of derision. We derided her for keeping us honest by enforcing group discipline. And, at last, we cherished her for keeping us honest that some of us graduated with honors from Ibadan and other universities.” 
 On graduating from UI, Maimuna returned to Zaria for a few months before heading to Lagos for the mandatory one year stint as a member of the National Youth Service Corps. She served with Citibank in Lagos. Maimuna was married to Onyeka Anyene, a lawyer who has offices in Abuja and Lagos. Friends described the marriage as one founded on religious tolerance and broadmindedness. A devout Muslim, Maimuna married Mr. Anyene, a Christian. 

 A few friends disclosed that Maimuna’s parents were at first reluctant to approve their daughter’s choice of husband-to-be. Even so, Maimuna and Onyeka displayed their determination by heading for the Marriage Registry in Ikoyi, Lagos to solemnize their wedding. The ceremony was marked by a simplicity that was characteristic of the couple; it was witnessed only by three persons: a close friend of Maimuna’s from her U.I. days, and a couple who were friends of the groom.

A relative said Maimuna was a woman of great professional ambitions who was willing to work hard to prepare for the realization of her dreams. This led her to Pennsylvania State University in the United States where she earned a Masters degree. In 2005, she relocated to Connecticut and lived there until her death in the Dana Airlines crash that also claimed close to 160 passengers as well as an unclear number of people on ground. The plane crashed into buildings in the densely populated suburb of Iju-Isahaga, in Agege, Lagos. Ms. Anyene and her husband had four children: Kamsi (two-years old), twins Kayna and Kayne (one-year-old), and Kamal, also known as Noah (seven-months-old).

The home where the couple lived with their 4 children

 Today, I remember Maimuna, her husband Onyeka and those four beautiful children, their aged grandmother and two other relatives and all the other souls that were lost in that plane crash. May God continue to comfort their families and grant the deceased rest.

CCulled in part from Sahara Reporters.

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