Act 1: The Introduction

Act 1: The Introduction

So, you want to get married? Left to me, I would have preferred a quiet, very quiet wedding. Fortunately, we live in a social society, so my wishes could not fly. After asking Anu to marry me, it was time to involve the families. This was going to be a marriage between a fish-eating Okrika guy and an amala-downloading Yoruba lady.

My dad called her dad to fix a date. Before then, I took her on a tour of Okrika for her to see my interesting hometown. 11 August 2018 was selected as the date for the families to be officially “introduced”. From my end, I needed to get a traditional attire sewn. The consensus from my research was that I had to wear a Yoruba-looking outfit. For my cap, Anu and I selected a blue “aso oke” to make the cap and a cape to match her own outfit. We felt a need to appear a bit uniform without being in uniform.

Getting the gifts for the introduction was a hassle. In Okrika culture, the introduction is termed “knocking on the door” and basically involves the groom’s family bringing some drinks to the bride’s family to announce their intention to marry their daughter. For the Yorubas, I was informed my family had to bring baskets in multiples of two. For some undeclared reason, odd-numbered baskets were outlawed. Being in Lagos while Anu and her family stayed in Abuja, I needed someone in Abuja to arrange the baskets. My godmother volunteered to get this arranged. One basket contained an assortment of fruits—oranges, apples, pineapples, bananas and a massive watermelon—while the second basket contained an assortment of wines, biscuits, chocolates and anything attractive enough to make a gift pack. We stuck with fruit wines because Anu’s dad and teetotalism are close pals.

On the D-Day, my family’s contingent got to the Longes ten minutes before the scheduled 12noon start time. One of Anu’s brothers came out to welcome us, and then led us inside after a round of photographs. The previous night, my godparents had “forced” me to practise full prostration with my body getting acquainted with the floor, and I was set to re-enact that scene for Anu’s parents. However, on attempting to locate the floor’s spatial coordinates, her dad stopped me, stretching his hands to pull me up. We were then offered seats after everyone had been greeted.

To demonstrate the pastoral nature of Anu’s family, her brother cum family spokesman got the event to a start with a short prayer (thankfully!) and then a session of praise-worship. Then the drama began. He asked who the visitors were and their mission. My godfather cum family spokesman took over at this point, bringing his legal experience to spin a flattering tale around our presence. Apparently, having “come all the way from the Atlantic, we had come to seek a flower our son found when he was sent to school in the West”. The gift baskets and some standalone wine bottles were then presented at this point. Before now, Anu’s dad had spoken and assured us that all protocol had been bent as this would not be a conventional introduction.

I was asked to look around if the “flower” we came for was there or whether we came to the wrong location. As this was drama, I had to play along though I had to communicate via my family spokesman. When the lovely Anuoluwapo was brought in, she was asked to kneel in the middle and I was asked to join her. As a friend commented, her wife material was so much it was literally dragging on the floor. Then we had someone from each side describe their own relative. My aunt talked about me while Anu’s brother spoke for her. Thereafter, we had prayers from my dad and then her dad. After this we had our seats, my mom wrapped up with a heartfelt closing prayer, and then the “engagement list” was presented to my family spokesman. We had already separately got our families to agree on 2 February 2019 for our engagement ceremony (traditional marriage) and white wedding.

Next was pictures and then refreshments. The introduction had ended successfully.

Once Upon a Time in Ife

Once Upon a Time in Ife

“When I found you, I found somebody who cares”

Bebe Winans (I Found Love)

Where do we start from to tell the story of two persons who would have never imagined they’ll end up together? The story begins with a certain Jonah delivered from the fishes of the Atlantic Ocean and sent five hundred kilometres away to a land warmly called Great Ife. Two years later, a certain Anuoluwapo made a similar journey howbeit from a bubbling convergence point north of the Niger. These two persons would go on existing in the land of Oduduwa blissfully unaware of each other.

At this point, the only connection between these two were their commitment to activities within their respective campus fellowships. Then in 2013, Anuoluwapo was nominated by the Redeemed Christian Fellowship (RCF) to serve as Media Head of the University Joint Christian Mission (UJCM), plunging her into public viewership. Jonah, as former Technical Director of the Anglican Students’ Fellowship (ASF), was tasked by the UJCM Organising Secretary to head the power team while also liaising with the media unit. Before your mind goes on a misdirected journey, be assured both of them did not notice each other beyond collaborating on UJCM services. In retrospect, one picture they took together at this time seems to suggest that the future was pregnant with smiles.

2014: A veil?

Thanks to WhatsApp, they remained in touch, intermittently checking on each other after Jonah graduated in 2014. Then in 2015, Anu bowed out of the Obafemi Awolowo University. One day in August 2015, Jonah decided to check up on Anu via WhatsApp—a purely innocuous move. Her first reply was “How is your girlfriend?” This showed the kind of person Anu is—a lady respecting boundaries, who was unwillingly to come in-between others. Jonah then told her about his recent breakup and they just asked about each other and that was it. This day marked the start of what has metamorphosed into a wedding.

From that day in August 2015, during Jonah’s service year, the frequency of their chats began increasing. By 2016, they had started chatting almost every other day. In June 2016, Jonah worried they were getting too close. He had begun developing feelings for Anu but was not sure he was ready for a relationship, especially “so soon” after his 2015 breakup. Being a very unserious guy, he tried clarifying his stance by asking Anu what was going on. Her puzzled reply made him sense the feelings were one-sided. To avoid any citations of deception, he clarified the status of their friendship (aka “ordinary friends”). Since he was planning to travel to the UK for his master’s degree, he ran away from any visions or allusions to anything resembling a relationship.

Can a man run away from his shadow?

Unknown Wise Man

In September 2016, Jonah headed to the UK for his master’s programme. Anu had helped with some visa processing in Abuja, and he felt he had to take her out on her birthday. Was his intention innocuous? Only God can tell. On a visit to Anu’s office in Abuja, one of her colleagues asked her if Jonah was “her guy”. Her reply seemed to make any future together a forever impossibility. Her birthday outing turned out to be quite awkward. On one hand was a guy unsure of his feelings and maintaining a veneer of robotic masculinity. On the other hand was a lady totally sure of her lack of feelings but willing to spend time with a good friend about to leave the country.

2016: First date?

All through Jonah’s stay in the UK, both of them stayed in close communication and the lady’s mind began to reconsider its hitherto absolutism. When he showed her two results in which he scored 82%, she asked him to score 100% for her. He was shocked at her impossible request and protested at the impracticability of having a perfect score in any of his exams. However, something within him wanted to impress her, so he did it, attaining a perfect score in his last exam.

On 31 May 2017, he finally realised he had been foolish all along and summoned the courage to ask Anuoluwapo, five thousand kilometres away, to be his girlfriend. For a guy seemingly predisposed to needless displays of masculinity, asking Anu to date him seemed more difficult than punching a big bully. Two days later, on 2 June 2017, Anu gave him the response he feared he would never get. It was official. Anu gladly accepted Jonah’s request. However, it would take him another three months to finally open his mouth to tell his lady how much he loved her. That was part of her birthday gifts.

Like the biblical Zechariah, the day he attested his love for her unlocked the gates to a season of proclaimed love. Both of them could not wait for him to return to Nigeria. The night he returned, she stayed awake tracking his flight, unwilling to sleep while her man returned to a land without constant light. His return powered a series of dates in Abuja. After attending their first wedding event together in February 2018, Jonah had to leave for Lagos where he was to resume at a new job. Their next date would be in June, after four months that seemed too long. They just couldn’t wait for time to fly away.

On 2 June 2018, the anniversary of their kick-off, they went to Silverbird Cinemas in Abuja to mark the day. Whereas Anu was blissfully enjoying the movie, Jonah’s mind wondered how he would deliver the ring in his pocket. By a stroke of luck, or maybe celestial setup, they were alone in that cinema hall on that Saturday afternoon. Anu had always hinted she wanted a private but classy proposal and was lost for words when Jonah went down, not on a knee, but on both knees, to present a ring to his lady.

2 June 2018 | The Proposal
Still Washing Pigs

Still Washing Pigs

After reading my last article on issues affecting Port Harcourt, a certain friend of mine called me to discuss the main ideas in the article. In a one hour-plus WhatsApp call, this Nigerian “externally displaced” in the United States, made the point that my article was trying to solve a problem by complaining about the symptoms. Whereas I did not necessarily agree with his entire viewpoint, a key idea stood out—his application of Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son to events in Nigeria and Africa. Continue reading “Still Washing Pigs”

Cry, My Beloved Port Harcourt

Cry, My Beloved Port Harcourt

There is a popular proverb in Nigeria which states, “The person who has never left his father’s farm thinks the farm is the biggest in the village”. If the meaning has not jumped at you, here’s another version: “Until you leave your father’s house, you will think your mother is the best cook on earth”. There’s some kind of epiphany that happens when you go outside your conventional zone and get to experience life in other areas. This has been my experience with Port Harcourt.  Continue reading “Cry, My Beloved Port Harcourt”

One Emergency Away from Doom

One Emergency Away from Doom

On Friday, 23 November 2018, a seven-storey building under construction in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, collapsed. With conflicting figures being bandied about, one sure point is that there were a lot of persons in that building when it collapsed because that day was a payday for workers and suppliers. As at the time of writing this article, ten days later, many persons, dead or alive are still trapped underneath the rubble.  Continue reading “One Emergency Away from Doom”

Metele: A Fork in History?

Metele: A Fork in History?

It is no longer news that Nigeria got screwed in the week of 18 November 2018. This article was triggered by a grievous tweet. My country just lost over 100 trained soldiers in one week. That’s enough to upset me.

Continue reading “Metele: A Fork in History?”