In the next few days, the Iya Oge of Lagos, Chief Mrs. Opral Mason Benson will be 85 and she is celebrating it with an exclusive dinner in Lagos. She is not having any big Owambe party, because she had an elaborate 80th birthday five years ago. But her staff and close friends prevailed on her not to let her 85th slip bye. And she agreed.
For those who don’t know this woman of substance, let us quickly tell you that she is one celebrity and glamorous woman of style who has dominated the Lagos social scene for the past 50 years, since she got married to her late husband, the ebullient, Chief Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale Benson, fondly called TOS Benson.
He met her when he was the Information Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He met her in May 1961, in Monrovia. He waspart of Nigeria’s delegation to that country and he fell in love with Oprals “unmatched elegance”.
She is a Liberian. And a distinguished one for that matter. He met her during a conference, sequel to the formation of the OAU by Independent African States. He was 45. She was 20, young, and delectable. She was the Assistant Secretary-General to the Historic Conference. And the rest is history.
Since she got married to him, she’s lived in Nigeria. And she was quick in adapting to life in Nigeria.
In recognition of her involvement in the Culture and Tradition of the various communities in Nigeria, she has been honoured with about 10 traditional titles, namely: Iya Oge of Lagos, Iya Mesho of Ikorodu, Lika of Imota, Adetilehin of Ijede, Atoloye of Ile-Ife, Yeye Lafin of Ode Remo, Yeye Oba of Ipakudo, Iya Mokun & Iya Mosa of Egbaland, Nwanyi Di Ebube of Ibagwa Nike, Ezeokwe Ancient Kingdom, Enugu.
She is the Honorary Consul of her country, Republic of Liberia in Nigeria.