Adaora Nellen Zinno-Orara passed away on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 44. She is survived by her husband, the renowned artist Zinno Orara and their four children.
Adaora was born on April 8, 1970 to the Onyemechara family of Egbu, Owerri in Imo State. She attended Owerri Girls Secondary School and proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt where she studied Psychology. She got married to the critically acclaimed artist Zinno Orara in 1995 and together they had four children: Majiri (19), Chidera (15), Kesena (15) and Princess (11).
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and she fought it bravely and continued fighting even after it became terminal. During this time, her family, friends and well-wishers rallied around her, willing her on. Aside from the numerous messages of encouragement and visits, an exhibition of her husband’s paintings was organized in her honour from 5th to 12th December, 2014. Fight on she did, from one day to the next, week after week, month after month until God in His infinite wisdom decided the time had come.
Breast cancer is diagnosed in roughly 34 of every 100,000 Nigerian women per year with its peak age range being between 36 and 45 years old. Of this number, about 17.2 percent of breast cancer patients are diagnosed with Stage I or Stage II cancer while 73.8 percent are diagnosed with Stage III cancer. Early detection (while at stage I or II) is often key to surviving this disease.
Adaora was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in 2010 and courageously refused to give in to it even after it became terminal. That she held on for a further four years after her diagnosis is testament to the brave rallying effort put in by her husband and children as well as the allied efforts of friends and well-wishers. In particular, Zinno Orara’s art exhibition titled “Against All Odds (A Celebration of Adaora)” which ran from December 5 – 12 at the Mydrim Gallery, stood out for the effort and time put in to raise support for her treatment. Nobody wanted to see such an amazing woman whom a close family friend of hers once described as the most beautiful woman in the world suffer in pain and so all hands were on deck to drum up awareness, raise funds and lift her family’s spirits.
Adaora passed away on Sunday December 21, 2014 at 44 years of age but her imprint on the world will long outlive her through the way she directly interacted with the world and her family and through the internationally recognized artworks of Zinno Orara of which she was and is the main creative inspiration. She will continue to impact positively on people’s lives in her absence as she did while she was with us. Her four children and husband will safeguard their priceless memories together, as will everyone else who had the pleasure of being acquainted with this wonderful woman.
Prior to “Against All Odds”, Zinno Orara had not organized an exhibition in several years and was unsure when approached with the idea of going back to work. It is to his credit and it is also a measure of the woman that Adaora was to him that he took the important step of returning to the canvass from where he continues to express his pure and unflinching love for the love of his life and the mother of his children.
Throughout the entire trying period, not once was there an aura of despair or resignation on the part of those surrounding Adaora. Rather, they chose to support her courageously as she faced this trying disease and fought it with all she had. In the end she gained the victory – the real victory: uniting everyone around her into one loving, nurturing entity which never gave in to discouragement, despair or misery in the face of a formidable enemy. Everyone who ever knew and loved Adaora came to understand the true meaning and value of friendship and self-sacrifice.
The following quote from Zinno Orara sums up this spirit of uncompromising self-sacrifice: “Life’s heaviest burden is to have nothing to carry. The value of every person is determined by the sacrifice he is willing to make for others.”
Rest in peace Adaora Zinno-Orara.
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
– 1 Corinthians 15:55