For the family of Chief Henry and Lady Chika Njoku, Saturday, January 4, 2020, would ever remain fresh in their memory as it came with pomp. And for the hundreds of prominent Nigerians and families who thronged the venue in Imo State, it was a perfect setting to embrace and to say, ‘Happy New Year’ to one another.
The occasion was the traditional marriage ceremony of Mr. Chukwuemeka Njoku, first son of Sir Henry Njoku, KSM, and his wife Lady Chika Njoku.
Chuks, as Chukwuemeka is fondly called by many, recently married his heartthrob, Miss Uzoaku Amadi, a pretty girl who, accordingly to the bridegroom, “has kept him restless for two years” since he discovered her.
At the Central School, Iho-Dimeze, in Ikeduru LGA of Imo State, the traditional marriage ceremony took place where the son of one of Nigeria’s biggest shipping magnates, Chuks, married Uzoaku, daughter of Sir Emmanuel and Lady Cynthia Amadi of Amaeke village, Iho-Dimeze. In attendance were the crème de la crème of Nigerian society. Among them were shipping moguls, national executive of the Association of the Nigeria Customs Licensed Agents (ANCLA), members of the Council For the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria, captains of industry, members of the diplomatic corps, political bigwigs, Port Harcourt (GRA) Polo Club members, two former governors of Imo State, some South-East traditional rulers, and some traditional rulers from the northern part of the country, the Elite Circle of Ulakwo, the academia, and members of the Nigerian bar and the judiciary.
Some of the most prominent guests were Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, who is also a worthy son of Ikeduruland; former Imo State Governors Chief Ikedi Ohakim and Chief Emeka Ihedioha. The paramount ruler of Ulakwo Community, Eze Nnanna Oparaocha-ekwe, Eze C. I. Ilomuanya, the traditional ruler of Obinugwu Community in Orlu, Imo State, as well as the chairman of the South-East Traditional Rulers Council, were all in attendance.
Indeed, the list of dignitaries at the event seemed endless. Also in attendance were former Minister for Aviation and Transport, Chief Kema Chikwe, and her husband, Chief Herbert Chikwe; Senator Osita Izunaso, former senator representing Owerri Senatorial Zone; Chief Ezenwa Onyewuchi; former Attorney-General of Imo State, Chief Ken Njemanze (SAN); and Chief Willie Amadi.
The mother of the groom, Lady Kate Chika Njoku, who could hardly contain her joy, was full of praises to God for keeping her alive to witness the day.
She said: “Can I thank God enough, and where do I begin from? Indeed, I am grateful to God Almighty for keeping me alive till this very day, to witness my son’s wedding.”
In the same vein, Lady Cynthia Amadi, mother of Uzoaku, the bride, said: “My joy knows no bounds today. It is my happiest moment in life as I watch and join my husband to give our daughter out in marriage to the delight of thousands of guests who watched this happen. May God take all the glory.”
Before the couple took to the field to dance, to the appreciation of their guests, they knelt in front of the paramount ruler of Ulakwo Community, Eze Nnanna Oparaocha-Ekwe, an uncle to the groom. The monarch advised the new couple on how to live as husband and wife, and reminded them of what they now owe the society in terms of family, good conduct and exemplary living.
The Eze also made the couple understand that there would always be ups and downs in the lives of new couples, but assured them that, with understanding and love, all would be well.
The monarch told the newlyweds that there were hundreds of prominent Nigerians who had come from various parts of the country to share the day with them and to support them with gifts and cash to enable them start their marital life. Eze Oparaocha-Ekwe did not mince words to let them know that many other youths, their peers and friends out there might not be as lucky. He, therefore, counselled them to continue to remember the day in their lives. He urged them not to disappoint their families, parents, and the hundreds of guests, invitees and family friends at the ceremony. The monarch thereafter blessed Chuks and Uzoaku as husband and wife.
The occasion provided people, especially retired public servants, politicians, traditional rulers, members of the academia and friends a great opportunity at the start of the year to share pleasantries and also to commiserate with those who had experienced some form of misfortune or ugly incidents in the previous year.
By 7pm the entire arena was lit with colourful lights and the event was turned to a carnival. There were several masquerades showcasing cultural displays, just as native trumpeters brought life to the arena.
For many, that date indeed marked the end of the New Year celebrations for them and their families.