By Bashorun J.K. Randle
ON Sunday December 27, 2020 when everything that could possibly go wrong; COVID-19 pandemic; Lekki Tollgate fiasco; crumbling economy; mounting domestic and foreign debts and worst of all insecurity evidenced by banditry, kidnapping, farmers versus headsmen etc. prompted the conclusion that 2020 was a failed year, the Almighty intervened mightily.
The invitation card was a summons to witness divine grace and abundant blessings at the sacred throne of God and the altar of the holiest of the Holy: “Chief Muraino Olujare & Alhaja Folakemi Yewande Obagun and late Chief Solomon & Madam Bolanle Owolabi respectfully request the honour of your presence at the wedding of their children Olayinka Zainab and Temitayo Olaolu at 3pm at the Church of Nativity, Nativity Close, Park View Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos. The event Dress Code is Black Tie.
From ancient times wedding ceremonies have been epochal even in the most rustic villages. It would have been preceded by frantic consultations with astrologers, soothsayers, “Griots”, rain doctors not excluding witches and wizards.
All the same, this was no ordinary wedding. A devout Muslim family occupied the front row of the church to hand over their beloved daughter to her husband –to love and to cherish in sickness and in health, poorer or richer.
The presiding Vicar delivered a superlative sermon followed by a musical interlude (classical and ethereal) which elevated not only the spirit but also the soul. It was confirmation that at the hour and date of his choice, the Almighty has his own way of intervening without dislocating beauty, or disrupting love. Indeed, He flavoured the solemn occasion with serenity and majestic ambiance.
The church took on the special after-glow of a palace that had been dipped in Christmas festivities but saved the best for the union of these two young people whose turn at the alter had emerged at a time when our nation was deeply troubled.
They were like a breath of fresh air –as reminder that the old fears and trenchant anxieties must give way to hope and rejuvenation. The Almighty Himself had marked out the escape hatch to a new dawn.
The bride was stunning and the groom rose to the occasion with commendable self-assured confidence that the prize for his ardent wooing was worth the challenge posed by COVID-19 and the attendant quarantine. He passed the test with flying colours.
This was the moment it would dawn on him that: “A good wife is someone who knows everything about you and still loves you.”
When it was time to proceed to the altar, there was no need to remind him that those steps he was climbing were symbolic –young passionate love would now commit (and mature) itself to adult partnership which would bear fruits to wit: loving children, success and fulfillment. The ecstasy would wax stronger with each step along the journey of adventure, challenges, obstacles, conquests and glory.
The rapid succession of events at the altar –the blessings, the signing of the register and the finale of pronouncement of Mr. and Mrs. Tayo Owolabi as the latest couple in town would not be sufficient to crowd out Roy T. Bennett who offered his counsel: “Don’t be pushed around by fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
In any case CNN has been repeating the dictum delivered by the Dalai Lama: “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” The Vicar handled the entire ceremony with consummate professionalism. It was magical but he gave nothing away –almost as if for him the Lord’s miracle was a weekly (if not daily) occurrence. For ordinary folks, it was time for photographs that would leave no room for doubt or denial. The presence of the Almighty was over powering.
According to the invitation card: “Reception to follow immediately at the Obagun Residence.”
There was no frantic searching for the address. We only needed to follow the Holy Spirit. At the gate were the enforcers of strict compliance with COVID-19 virus protocols. The only exemption was the Holy Spirit. Face masks, hand wash and sanitizers were available in generous quantities. Ensconced in the expansive courtyard was a state-of-the-art that one could not but marvel at.
Again, access was severely restricted and was preceded by cleansing and fumigation to get rid of germs, infections or whatever. This was followed by photographic/X-ray examination before you could proceed into the main arena which was heavily disinfected. It was like being in a sanitized bubble.
Now it was time for the socialising having fulfilled all righteousness at the Church. All the same, proceedings commenced with prayers. This time it was Moslem prayers and supplication to the same God we all worship:“May God the creator of all things bright and beautiful continue to smile on Olayinka Zainab and her heartthrob as well as soulmate Temitayo Olaolu.”
The amen was unanimous and heartfelt. Straightaway, you could feel that the spirit of the Lord was present. When the party commenced in earnest the bride and groom made their grand entrance to the tune of pulsating music which was obviously well known to the bridesmaids and groomsmen (they wore red ties instead of the prescribed black bow tie!!).
We were treated to terrific speeches by the Chief bridesmaid and the best man (who revealed that he introduced Tayo to Olayinka in Britain while they were studying economics/accountancy). As the Chairman of the glorious occasion, my role was limited to giving brief opening remarks and acknowledging the presence of Aare (Alhaji) Dr. Razak Okoya who was wrongly identified by the Master of Ceremony as Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas (now late); and Prince (Dr.) Samuel Adedoyin as well as the Royal Fathers.
There was just enough time to permit me to pay tribute to Chief Obagun and his friend, late Chief ……… Adebowale who had both played exemplary roles insetting up industries in Nigeria instead if relying on importation of foreign
goods. Regardless of the turbulence they went through following the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme, they never compromised their integrity and reputation.
Also, both Chief Obagun and Chief Adebowale ensured that all their children(both male and female) were given the best of education in any part of the world they chose.Something else that is remarkable about Chief Obagun, Aare Razak Okoya; and Prince (Dr.) Adedoyin is that they do not depend on government patronage. They stay well clear of politics.
Indeed, it did not go unnoticed that there was not even a single politician or government functionary at the wedding party.When it was time to cut the wedding cake, the proceedings were deftly handled by Chief (Dr.) Michael Olawale-Cole, CON who as the son-in-law of late Chief Adebowale rightly acknowledged the long-standing bond between the Obagun and Adebowale families. Then the Master of Ceremonies dropped a clanger!! He announced that the youngsters were anxious to get going with the real party that would commence after the departure of old folks.
Perhaps William Shakespeare was right:“Youth is wasted on the young.”Anyway, when I got married in 1979 for my N487 (four hundred and eighty-seven naira) I received U.S. $1,000 (one thousand dollars). Hence, paying for my honeymoon was a cake walk, dead easy.Now, the same N487 would fetch the brand-new groom Temitayo only one U.S. dollar!!I must place on record the care lavished on all guests by the ever radiant Alhaja Folakemi Obagun, the mother of the bride.
It was a day that reminded me of how much different weddings were in Lagos of yester years.
Then, the “Igbo” (notice) was a prerequisite. The bride and groom would visit all the leading families to receive their blessings and the groom was required to produce his “Savings Book” as evidence that he had the wherewithal to provide for his wife.
The invitation cards would state boldly:“Come one; come all.”The wedding would be held right in the middle of the road with “Atibaba” to black off traffic. Everyone was welcome to join the party.
For this wedding, the invitation card delivered a warning:“Strictly by invitation.”To God Almighty be the glory.
I got back home just in time for the CNN news. The main item was Bill Gates wondering how come the COVID-19casualties in Africa, particularly Nigeria were so low. Its not rocket science. We are the people of God and we love to party. Young or old makes no difference.
Dec. 31, 2020 @ 9:52 GMT /