Mrs. Nkoyo Samuel Ekong was born on December 15, 1936 to the late Elder Samuel Akpan and Prophetess Mary Afiong Akpan in the village of Ikot Ebitta of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. She was the oldest of 14 siblings, including two brothers who preceded her in death. Mrs. Nkoyo Samuel Ekong was nicknamed “Mma,” “Nne Nko,” “Mma Titia,” “Mma-Nyong,” and “Mama Ekong.” But to us, her children, she was simply “Mommy.”
Mommy was the first girl in her village to receive a formal education in Nigeria. She completed her secondary education at Mary Hanney Memorial School in Oron and aspired to be a teacher. Her love for teaching led her to attend Women Teachers’ Training College in Akwa Ibom State.
Nne Nko was the first woman to get married with a white wedding ceremony in her village. She grew up with Rev. Ekong Etim Udo Ekong, who would later become her husband. They married on January 20, 1959 and were blessed with four children. Nne Nko and Rev. Ekong enjoyed spending time with family, traveling, and participating in church activities together.
Mma Titia was a trained professional licensed teacher in Nigeria, where she taught for 11 years. In 1967, she moved to the United States with her two sons, joining her husband in St. Louis, Missouri. She then started teaching at St. Louis Public Schools through Springboard to Learning.
In the late 1970s, Mma-Nyong had her mind set on the medical field and decided to pursue nursing. She earned her Associate in Nursing from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park (1977) and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Missouri St. Louis (1987). She was a professional Registered Nurse for over 30 years, serving patients at Central Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital, Normandy Osteopathic Hospital, Deaconess Hospital, St. Louis City Department of Health (Maternal/Child Health), and Forest Park Hospital. She would eventually retire in June 2006, leaving behind a legacy of providing quality and compassionate care.
Baptized at an early age, Mama Ekong was a devout Christian from childhood. Growing up, she was a faithful member of the West African Spiritual Church in Ikot Ebitta, where her father was the founder. In the United States, she was an active member of Greater Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, under the leadership of Rev. Earl E. Nance Sr. and Rev. Earl E. Nance Jr., for over 30 years. In 2002, Mama Ekong joined Lighted Path Christian Church International under Pastor Bori Oginni, Ph.D. As a member of Lighted Path, she was well-loved because of her love toward God and everyone.
Mama was also actively involved in the Nigerian community in St. Louis. She was a lover of traditional/cultural and religious dance and music. She loved to dance, dance, dance. Mama was a member of the Premier Association of Nigerian Women in St. Louis, the Nigerian Cultural Association of St. Louis, and an indigenous group called “Nka Ima Ndito Nsit-Atai Ke North America.” With the latter organization, she helped send a medical team and supplies to her village to treat people who needed help but did not have access.
Mommy’s life story is a testament to her faith, determination, and perseverance. She was banished from her village at birth, along with her mother and twin brother. Twins were considered taboo in those days. Mommy and her twin lived in a missionary orphanage, not returning to their village until age three. Later in life, she beat death not once but thrice. She survived breast cancer two times and had a near-death experience in her basement. Through it all, Mommy was a phenomenal mother, sister, grandmother, friend, and role model. She was also a kind, gentle, generous, and caring soul.
The legacy of Mrs. Nkoyo Samuel Ekong lives on through her loving husband, Rev. Ekong Etim Udo Ekong; sons, Eno-abasi (Sybil) Ekong and Attauyio Ekong; daughters, Anietie (Samson) Ekong and Namnso (David) Ekong-Whea; six grandchildren, Ama Yates-Ekong, Attauyio Ekong Jr., Nsikak Ekong, Mokutima Ekong, Daraeno Ekong, and Alice Ekong; siblings, Rev. Edem S. Akpan, Sarah S. Akpan, Bassey S. Akpan, Elder Imeh S. Akpan, Jacob S. Akpan, Okon S. Akpan, Bishop Effiong S. Akpan, Amaunam Etakpo, Akon Joshua, Nkoyo Edem Okon, late Pastor Mfon S. Akpan, Ima Emenyi, Idungima S. Akpan, and Mandu Bassey Ama.
In the end, Mommy fought a courageous battle. She passed away at age 85 in her home surrounded by her loved ones on December 10, 2022. During this time, Mommy would ask, “What can I learn from my suffering? Can I display God’s glory?” And to that, we say, “YES, YOU DID!” Mma, Saña suñ. Ba ke emem. Goodbye. Rest in peace.
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