— We wedded in Biafra amid bombs and bullets
The Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri set Saturday December 1, 2018 aside to celebrate Golden Couples who married in 1968. A total of 17 couples participated in the Archdiocesan event held at Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri.
Archbishop Anthony Obinna, the chief host presided over the thanksgiving Mass. He was assisted by the Vicar- General, Rev. Fr. Patrick Ibole, the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Ijemaru and the Chancellor/Secretary, Rev. Fr. Alphonus Oha who organized the historic event.
In his homily, Archbishop Obinna congratulated the couples and commended them for their love for each other. “But God first loved you and it is this love that sustained your marriage for 50 years,” he said.
Describing Golden Jubilee as a milestone, Archbishop Obinna said not many can achieve this, as some have separated and re-married. “Love has rooted in you and at this moment, I don’t think you’ll be thinking of separation.”
Archbishop Obinna used the occasion to condemn the diala/osu/ohu segregation in Igboland, especially when it comes to chieftaincy conferment and marriage. He observed that even though we are Christians, many are still “arusi-driven and arusi-bonded”. He regretted that many of us are baptized but not yet converted.
“Diala, Osu, Ohu are idol worship and God has cancelled them. The enquires that families make before marriage have nothing to do with Diala/Osu/Ohu but the character of the intending couples.”
He commended the Jubilarians for their contribution to the growth of the church in their various parishes and for demonstrating in practical terms what marriage is all about.
During the reception, the couples recounted their experiences when they wedded at the heat of the Biafran War in 1968.
According to one of the couples: “After our wedding at St. Brendan Catholic Church Amakohia, I was cruising home with my wife in my bicycle when suddenly there was Nigerian air raid (an attack in which a place is bombed by military airplanes.)Everybody made a dart for the bush in panic. I abandoned my wife in the middle of the road and scurried for cover. We later reunited but unfortunately, I was conscripted into the Biafran army a few days later.
Another couple who wedded at the Ohaji area said they had to wed before 6am that day to escape air raid. We were only five at the wedding- the priest, the two of us (couple) and our sponsors. Not many people knew we wedded in the church.
One more couple said they were in the middle of the reception at St. Paul Owerri when bombs started raining. In the panic, some guests were pouring drinks in their pockets and running away with empty cups. The reception ended abruptly in confusion as everybody scampered for safety.
A groom from Orodo narrated how he was conscripted into Biafran army on his way to buy wedding ring. All pleas for mercy and a promise of submitting himself after the wedding fell on deaf ears. However, he escaped from the war front and eventually wedded.
Even those who wedded in Europe that year had stories to tell, a groom said they wedded on the ground floor of a seven- storey building. As was the custom in some cities in Germany, the groom has to carry the bride to the reception. “So I had to carry my wife to the 7th floor, venue of the reception. It was not an easy task.”
The couples are: Sir & Lady Simon Oguizu, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Ebere, Sir. & Lady Oliver Ibe, Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Uzoma, Mr. & Mrs. Felix Adizua, Sir & Lady Hyginus Orji, Chief & Lolo Patrick Emeakama, Mr. & Mrs. Festus Eze and Mr. & Mrs. Charles Ejiofor.
Others are: Ezinna & Eziada Longinus Obinna, Mr. & Mrs. Bartholomew Oguledo, Mr. & Mrs. Boniface Njoku, Sir & Lady Albert Oyiogu, Ezinna & Nneoma Vernatius Unaegbu, Mr. & Mrs. Felix Ibe, Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Amaugo and Sir & Lady Sebastian Okoro.
The highlights of the ceremony were renewal of marriage vows and cutting of the Golden Jubilee cake.