One of the most tragic stories from the ill-fated flight Dana Air 992 that crashed in Lagos on Sunday revolves around Maimuna Anyene, a Connecticut-based Nigerian woman, who died along with her husband, sister, her four kids, two cousins and her mother-in-law.
Ms. Anyene, who is being mourned by friends, relatives and colleagues around the world, was described by several sources as having a boisterous laughter, a happy spirit and an infectiously cheerful disposition.
One of the late woman’s spirits closest friends captured her spirits. “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.”
Maimuna was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Ndanusa and Birikisu Mijindadi on July 30, 1979. Her father, from Bida, Niger State, was a professor at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Her mother had worked for a few years as a nurse in the United States before returning to Nigeria where she began and ran several enterprises, including a large grape farm in Zaria.
Maimuna 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.
One friend said she stood out as the most studious in her circle of friends. “Maimuna was the one who talked to her friends to focus on their academic work whenever she found them in danger of getting too distracted by the many temptations of student life,” said the friend. “No surprise that we called her ‘effico,’ a nickname for nerds and bookworms. It meant she was efficient in organizing her study and play time. She was diligent and hardworking, and simply never lost sight of her priorities.”
AnOther 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).
One friend in Connecticut recalled how “Maimuna loved to take pictures, to capture every memorable moment on film whenever possible.”
One source said she had traveled to Nigeria to visit with her husband, who lived mostly in Nigeria. “She also went to attend the wedding of her younger brother, Ndako, scheduled to take place in about a week’s time – on June 9,” added the source.