The Legend of Mama Ekundayo: A Woman Who Raised Over 500 Orphans And Abandoned Children

Africa is a continent full of unsung heroes and heroines. Our star character in this piece is one woman who dedicated the most of her life and resources to taking care of many poor and vulnerable children in Kogi, north central Nigeria. Her name is Mama Janet Ekundayo.

Ekundayo is a name in the language of the Yorubas of West Africa. It can be translated as ‘tears turned to joy’ or ‘my tears have turned to joy’. And truly, this wonderful woman turned the tears of many kids into unlimited joy.

Mama Ekundayo has been described as the Mother Theresa of Africa, because she dedicated most of her life to take care of orphans and abandoned children in the society. In 2007, she adopted her 469th child, and by the year 2008; she had already cared for over 500 children. This act earned her the nickname “Olomo yeye”, which means someone with many children.
Mama Janet Ekundayo
Her lifestyle projected the meaning of her name, “Ekundayo,” which is translated to mean, “tears have turned to joy” in Yoruba language.

Mama Ekundayo, who’s real name is Janet Ekundayo gave birth to five children of her own, but that did not stop her from adopting other kids because of her love for children.

She enjoyed the company of little children, therefore taking care of them came naturally to her.

In 1969, Mama Ekundayo made a decision to dedicate the rest of her life to taking care of orphans and abandoned children.
'Ekundayo', a song by TY Bello in honour of Mama
For over 50 years, Mama Janet Ekundayo ran the Ekundayo Orphanage Home in Isanlu Makutu, Kogi state. She has been described as one of the most influential Kogi Women of all time.

Many never heard of Mama until Nigerian singer-songwriter, TY Bello made a video in her honor and even produced a song titled Ekundayo in celebration of Mama's noble deeds in 2008. It was part of her popular album, Greenland.

Sadly, Mama passed away in 2009. She was believed to be in her 80's or 90's. One of her daughters, Grace, has graciously taken upon this task started by her Mama.