On Saturday, October 24, 2020, the burial service for the late Victoria Agbotui, mother of former President Jerry John Rawlings, was held at the forecourt of the State House.
At the service, Col (rtd) Joshua Agbotui read the following biography of the late Madam Agbotui.
A brief life history of the late Madam Victoria Agbotui
She had charm, was beautiful, she was not self-centred.
All the charm and beauty and woman may have amount to nothing if her ambitions are self-centred. But if she reflects her creator and assumes the posture of a grateful servant, she cannot help but command high respect and favour – John Hendrick
Family heritage and early years
Madam Victoria Agbotui was born in Keta on 9th September, 1919 to Emmanuel Kofi Agbotui, a district court registrar and Madam Christiana Tamakloe, an accomplished trader.
Christiana Aku Tamakloe was also the grand-daughter of Torgbui Nyaho Tamakloe I, Dufia of Vuti, Emiafiagah of Anlo.
Victoria Agbotui was the second of the six children of her parents and one of the 20 to her father. She hails from the Bate clan and was a descendant of the royal household of Nkponku and Klugah.
Auntie Vic, as she was fondly called by friends and family, was baptised early in her life into the Presbyterian tradition by the then Bremen missionaries of Keta even before she dreamt of going to school.
She started her basic school at the Bremen Mission School in Keta, where she enrolled in the Kindergarten and progressed through primary to senior school and eventually graduated in 1935 with the Standard 7 leaving school certificate.
Victoria spent her early years under the tutelage of her parents who were both very strict disciplinarians, hardworking and industrious. This period in her life was instrumental in preparation for what she was to become in the future.
Victoria was disciplined and nurtured in the Christian way of life. She was groomed and fashioned to face challenges and imbued with the spirit of self-reliance.
Being the second born and the first girl-child of her parents, she was extremely attached to her mother. This close bond with her mother enabled her to learn and adapt to housekeeping chores. She had a natural flair for cooking and catering which she developed further, mastering the craft and turning it into a career.
Victoria Agbotui was married to Mr Thomas Nii Addy and gave birth to her first son, Isaac Nii Addy, on 4th June 1938 in the Dzelukope Hospital.
After Nii Addy, her daughter Elizabeth Dangboki Kodjie was born on 6th August 1941. After some years, Victoria decided to relocate to work in Accra. Keta those days was a small district capital with few job opportunities. Therefore, drive and ambition led her to the bustling metropolitan city of Accra.
On arrival, Victoria stayed with her family members in the local house at Osu. Relocating to Accra created more opportunities for this young and enterprising woman. It was also the start of a new chapter in her life.
Therefore, after acclimatising with her new environment, Victoria moved to Adabraka Official Town where she rented a house which became her home, and a home to her children in her younger years.
Victoria Agbotui had another son and the youngest of her children on June 22, 1947 name Jerry Rawlings John. She later adopted Judy John, now Judy Nkansah, half-sister of Jerry John from the same father.
Whiles in Accra, Auntie Vic spent her three years perfecting her dressmaking skill at Mrs Van-Lare’s Boutique…through which she gained employment with the United Trading Company (UTC) and then moved on to work with the Ambassador Hotel in 1957 when it was first established.
She worked there in the catering division, progressing to become head of that division. With the formation of the catering division within the same protocol department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Auntie Victoria applied for a job and was recruited to serve in this new establishment in the late fifties.
It was set up to cater for residential culinary needs of the ever-growing number of visitors to Ghana during the First Republic under Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
During this time, this enterprising woman took up the challenge of driving her own motor vehicle. Her first driving instructor was her son but after a few clashes, she relieved him of his duties and proceeded to teach herself.
Eventually, she mastered the act and got a licence to drive.
Victoria Agbotui worked with the state protocol for many years and rose to become the head of the catering division. However, in 1979, around the time her son assumed office, as the head of state, and chairman of the AFRC, she retired from the service.
Victoria Agbotui and her young sister, Joyce, made a name for themselves through their dressmaking skills, creating couture gowns for wives of government officials and diplomats, including the First Lady, Mrs Fatia Nkrumah.
Never an advocate for idle hands, upon retirement from state protocol, Victoria quickly moved to Tema, where she settled in her son, Nii Addy’s house in Community 8. This became her home until her passing.
During the economic hardships of the early 1980s, Auntie Vic, without fail helped her daughters-in-law by providing bread and pastries for their households. On one occasion, where one of her daughters-in-law and children were visiting her, they were met by a long queue to Auntie Vic’s house with people lining up for her bread, which she gave out without charge.
Ever the entrepreneur, Auntie Vic worked with her old-time friend, Mrs Brenya of Brenya Fisheries. Brenya Fisheries was then one of the first indigenous fishing companies in Tema. Having under-studied her, and obtain the necessary skill, she set out on her own and obtained a licence and started her own business.
She combined fishing with her old love, catering and baking pastries. This she did with until she turned 80 years, after which she entrusted her business to friends and relatives.
Whilst in active service, Auntie Vic never forgot her service to God. In Tema, she would organise regular prayer meetings in her house, where she would fellowship with friends and relatives. Eventually, she joined a Pentecostal Church in her vicinity.
Auntie Vic was a truly remarkable and amazing woman. Through dint of hard work, determination and tenacity of purpose, she was able to raise her family under difficult circumstances and also providing shelter and support to many who came her way.
Victoria was very tough, independent and a positive-minded woman. She was a disciplinarian of a kind she was also strict to the letter, which sometimes could be misinterpreted as being hardhearted by those who did not know her well.
Behind this though, strict, no-nonsense woman was a caring heart, full of kindness and love. She made a positive impact wherever she stepped and lit up every gathering with her presence. She lived a full life. She was active most of her life, strong and healthy.
However, her health started failing when she turned 100 years. But she managed to journey onto a century and one years. 101 years.
Auntie Vic, it is time for you to take a leave. You towed in the line with the order of divinity. Your soul was called to rest in the early hours of 24th of September in the year of our lord 2020.
May your indefatigable and never-failing spirit rest in perfect peace.
Auntie Vic, we shall forever miss you. Amen.