The sleepy town of Umuchioma Umuduru, Isiala Mbano local government of Imo State was agog Saturday, May 22, 2010 when Nollywood star actor, Mike Ezuruonye tied the knots the traditional way with his long-time lover Nkechi Nnorom.
Obviously, the biggest Nollywood wedding in recent time, his colleagues stormed the place in a show of solidarity. He had earlier staged a Bachelor’s Eve at 40-40, Donald Nsonwu’s new club in Owerri, Imo State. An after party followed at the same venue that same Saturday evening. ENCOMIUM Weekly was in Isiala Mbano and Owerri for the traditional marriage ceremony and returned with all the gists…
THE AUTHENTIC GUEST LIST
Nollywood turned out in their great numbers to support one of their own. Here is a peep into the roll call: Patience Ozokwor, Rita Edochie, Uche Jumbo, Chioma Chukwuka Akpota, Ini Edo, Mercy Johnson, Tonto Dike, Halima Abubakar, Jacqie Appiah, Rukky Sanda, Chinyere Nwabueze, Queen Nwokoye, Chika Ike, Joy Agbor, Uche Nancy, Mary Chukwuemeka, Lintex Eneh Okiri, Emeka Ani, Desmond Elliot, Mr. Ibu, Dauda, Chigozie Atuanya, Chinedu Ikedieze, Andy Amanechi, among others.
ABOUT THE EZURUONYES
From Uzuakoli, Bende, Abia State, the Ezuruonye family is very popular and well-educated. Though the head (that’s Mike’s dad) is dead, his mum, Lolo has four other children other than Mike, her first son. The one that follows him is Chima. There is also Chika who works with a major oil company.
THE BRIDES FAMILY
Mike Ezuruonye’s in-laws are from Umuchioma, Umuduru in Isiala Mbana local government of Imo State. A devout Catholic family, the bride’s father, Nze Ambrose Nnnorom is a knight of St. John. He was working with Town Planning office, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing before he retired. His beautiful wife, Lady (Lolo) Beatrice runs a boutique, Betty Fashion in Calabar, Cross River State. She is also a make-up artist.
Fondly called Keke, Nkechi Nnorom is a deliciously beautiful lady. She trained as a Psychologist. But she’s currently in Canada managing brain-injury patients. Nkechi is the only daughter of the Nnoroms.
He is a Nollywood superstar and Glo ambassador. A reference point in playing romance (lover boy) character, Mike is arguably the most used by Nollywood film producers in this respect. The handsome actor is adored by millions of fans in and outside of our shores. He hails from Ezuakoli, Bende, Abia State.
THEIR LOVE STORY
Unknown to many, the newly married couple have been dating for six solid years. According to the bride’s father, Nze Nnorom, the relationship grew from strength to strength prompting them to give their consent for them to tie the knots. And very much alike, those close to them attest to the depth of their love and affection for each other.
THE OWERRI PHOTO SHOOT
The groom and his guests lodged in Owerri, the Imo State capital. From there, they moved in convoy to Isiala Mbano for the traditional wedding. Before then, Mike stepped out in complete Igbo traditional attire. He wore ‘Isi Agu’, Ohafia war dance cap, clutching a walking stick. He also went for traditional wrapper, complementing it with beads and ‘aka’. And looking great in it, the paparazzi feasted on him, recording the lovely shots for posterity. He was quickly joined by his blood brother, Chima who also went traditional and his other look alike (Sunny C. Chiadi), others followed in a series of photo shoot that lasted for about ten minutes.
HOW THE CONVOY MOVED TO NKECHI NNOROM’S ANCESTRAL TOWN
Osuachara College of Commerce/Technical and Computer Studies (OCC) Ugwuala Umuohiri, Isiala Mbano is about an hour’s drive from the Owerri take off point. But the convoy made up of two police patrol vans and about 20 vehicles made it in less than 60 minutes, with more than 15 Anti-Terrorism Squared men, Mike opted for his brother’s small car which Nonso Diobi’s white Honda Accord followed “bumper to bumper”.
It wasn’t once, twice or thrice that the actor alighted from his car to make sure there was no hitch.
The OCC Secondary School is along Okwele Road, Isiala Mbano. The event planners made an L-shaped canopy in the field. Creatively designed to depict traditional setting, all elements of Igbo culture were there for all to see. There was an elevated platform with the native “Akwa George” forming the background. That was actually where the couple danced.
The cynosure of all eyes was the bicycle positioned at the centre of the field. According to the event planner, Jennifer Nwaji, a bicycle gift always accompanies bride price in traditional Igbo society. And this particular one was customized in a unique way. On the carrier is a local basket (aro) containing yam, fan, farm implements, calabash of wine and okpu (hat). What was at play is essentially themes of productivity and leisure. Even where the couple retired after the traditional marriage had these cultural trappings.
ASO EBI OF MANY COLOURS
This is the best way to describe the shades of colours that ruled the traditional marriage. Coming in different cuts and shape, beautiful ladies wore them all. Blue and gold, however, dominated the scene in their amazing variants.
THE BRIDAL DANCE
Nkechi is better called Vivacious as there was never a dull moment for her. She displayed this much when she stepped out to greet guests. From canopy to canopy, table to table, the fair-skinned beauty did not forget anybody as she danced round the arena, accompanied by her friends and well wishers.
THE BRIDE’S MUM ALSO DANCED
Yes, Nkechi’s mum, Lolo Beatrice Nnorom was also in a joyous mood. Attired elegantly and properly for the day, she copied her daughter’s dance steps, winning applaud from appreciative hands.
THE EZURUONYES CELEBRATE THEIR MUM
As if it was time for thank-you-mum, all the members of Ezuruonye family rallied round their sweet mother to appreciate her place in their family. And paying her back in cash and kind, the naira rain that followed convinced her she is well-loved by her children and other family members.
NKECHI’S LONG SEARCH FOR HER BETTER HALF
The traditional stage where the bride searches for her would-be husband was not missed. Nkechi did just that, though it took her pretty long to find Mike. And by the time she did, she was greeted with a thunderous ovation.
THE TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE PROPER
The traditional marriage rites, as it is done these days had already been completed before the reception. In fact, the Ezuruonyes had completed all their traditional obligations to Nze Nnorom and family before the elaborate ceremonies that beautiful Saturday evening.
This notwithstanding, the public was at hand to witness the official handover of the bride to Ezuruonye family according to the Igbo marriage tradition.
That quickly done, made room for the couples’ first dance.
STILL ON THE COUPLE’S FIRST DANCE
This was the highlight of the occasion. It was as if nothing was happening before. Guests irrespective of their status, trooped out en masse to ‘spray’ the couple.
A mega naira and dollar rain, the police had a hectic time in ensuring there was orderliness. But the surging crowd appeared uncontrollable.
HOW THE SENGEMENGE FAMILY STOLE THE SHOW
They knew when to make it to the venue. And that was when the couple were at the arena. That the guys are well known was not the issue, it was rather the unique way they turned out. Dressed in a sparkling white ensemble, Emeka Okonkwo (E-Money), KC Presh, Chinedu Atuanya and two others caused a stir in Isiala Mbano as eyes feasted on them. Star comedian, Julius Agwu was also in their entourage though he was not in white. And trust the Sengemenge guys when they took their turn to appreciate Mike and Keke, everybody knew they were in town.
- IBU, DAUDA DO IT ALL
Popular comic actors, John Okafor (Mr. Ibu) and Kingsley Ogbonna (Dauda) were the anchors. At a time however, Julius Agwu and Okey Bakassi supported them. The duo were also in town days back for KC Presh-Ijeoma Oduah traditional wedding. It was even where Mike Ezuruonye saw they were really good, and contracted them to assist him. It is likely the duo would not ask for a dime from their colleague. Over all, the pair did their best, though they didn’t manage the rowdy crowd perfectly.
THE CUTTING OF CAKE
The simple cake Synfro did for the couple was also made to reflect cultural motifs. The cutting was co-ordinated by star actresses, Patience Ozokwor and Rita Edochie. Julius and Okey led them all. And with this over, dancing time continued.
HOTELS GUESTS LODGED
Mike Ezuruonye settled for Mike Ikoku’s All Seasons Hotel and the neighbouring Legend Hotel. Some of his guests were virtually in some other hotels in Owerri. Some lodged at Owerri Hotel Plaza and Links Hotel amongst others.
WITH LOVE FROM FUN RIDERS
Bike riders came all the way from Port Harcourt, Rivers State to add fun to the wedding. The Hard Riders as they are properly called were about ten in number. They came with intimidating power bikes which many admired.
TOO SHORT FOR COMFORT!
That was how critics described what Tonto Dike, Rukky Sanda and Jackie Appiah wore to Mike’s traditional wedding. Tonto Dike’s purple dress was too short that she couldn’t sit without crossing her legs. Rukky and Appiah’s also came too short for comfort.
CHIOMA CHUKWUKA-AKPOTHA AND HER MAKE-UP
Touching and retouching her make-up every other minute, Chioma Chukwuka-Akpotha was all too conscious of her look. She came along with her make-up bag which she consulted occasionally.
INI EDO WAS ON HER OWN
She sat by herself quiet, exchanging pleasantries with just a few. Ini Edo, however, danced her heart out when she got her groove back.
UCHE JOMBO’S NEW LOOK
Uche Jombo should now be happy with her desired figure. Yes, she has got that near-pencil slim shape. But almost all her fans had to come closer to be sure she was their ‘idol’.
THE FANS’ FAVOURITES
It was obvious that fans knew their stars well. Patience Ozokwor caused a stir when she entered the arena. Mr. Ibu was well appreciated too. The natives nearly mobbed Aki (Chinedu Ikedieze). They never wanted Mercy Johnson to rest as she ‘sweated’ to death. The trio of Ini Edo, Uche Jombo and Chioma Chukwuka were also the toast of fans. Oh, how did we forget to tell you that Ghanaian born Jackie Appiah and co-winner of AMAA Best Actress 2010 and rising star, Tonto Dike also have lots of admirers.
JOY AGBOR’S ‘SURPRISE-SURPRISE’
On her own these days, big and beautiful actress, Joy Agbor, surprisingly made it to Owerri and later, Mbano. Joy who turned out in a floor-sweeping red gown was actually brought to Owerri with her girl, Mary Chukwuemeka, by Mr. Ibu. She returned to Asaba on Sunday, May 23, to conclude her shooting in the Delta State capital.
BETWEEN 2SHOTZ AND UD
Up and coming hip-hop artist, UD and 2Shot came together, and never left each other all through the marriage ceremonies. They would have joined the Sengemenge team if they had dressed in their uniform colour. They were later reunited at the after party in Owerri.
A popular artist in the South East, Onye Nze headlined the traditional marriage. The live band was supported by other local dance groups and performers.
MULTITUDE OF USHERS
We counted and noted more than fifty ushers in aso ebi. Though many of them didn’t have any serious job, their shades of colours and well-tailored trendy dresses added glitz and glamour to the wedding.
THE LADY BEHIND IT ALL
The lady behind the success of Mike Ezuruonye’s wedding was the events manager, Jennifer Nwaji. From what we gathered, she designed and interpreted the concept of the event. There were even occasions we met her in a shouting match with some of the girls she was co-ordinating, all to ensure that everything went well. And it really did. Jennifer runs Synfro, the Owerri-based event packaging company that specializes in cakes, small chops, catering and decoration.
To demonstrate their love for the couple, Mercy Johnson, Ini Edo, Nonso Diobu, Tonto Dike and one Uche Umenyi came with souvenirs on behalf of the newly married couple. The packs and writing pads, wall clocks, calendars, mugs, amongst other gift items. The signature tag is ‘Celebration of love: Keke & Mike’.
GOING BACK TO OWERRI
Sensing that the huge crowd might delay his exit from the venue, the couple quietly sneaked into a waiting DX-V6 Maxd with registration number BW 536 AGL back to Owerri for the rest of activities lined up for the post traditional wedding ceremony. The two police escort vans followed. One, two, three cars joined until the OCC field and adjoining roads emptied of all the vehicles that graced the occasion.
Though he was busy all through the traditional wedding, the groom spared few minutes to comment on his new status as a happily married man.
Congratulations on getting married to Nkechi Nnorom.
How does it feel to be married?
Cool and great, I will say.
A lot of Nollywood stars were here and many are already saying it is the biggest wedding in the industry in recent times?
I really appreciate the show of love.
How would you then describe your wife?
She is my best friend.
‘I’m the happiest woman on earth’ – Bride, Nkechi
We also had a chat with Mike Ezuruonye’s wife, Nkechi. Shy of words to express how it feels to be married to the star actor, she simply said she’s happy and thanks God for everything…
How does it feel to be married to Mike?
It’s great. I am elated.
We are listening?
I am the happiest woman on earth.
Did you know at the outset you guys are going to get married?
No. I never knew we will get married.
Now, you are married, what is your prayer as regards this everlasting union?
Everything is in God’s hand. He knows what is good for us.
How would you describe your husband?
He is a good man. And I love him.
The groom’s mum, Lolo, also praised her daughter-in-law to high heavens. Describing her as a humble and jovial person, Mike’s mother prayed God to bless their marriage…
Your son just got married and a lot of Nollywood stars and celebrities were here. What’s your reaction to this?
I am very happy about that. And I thank God for everything.
How would you describe Mike?
He is my first child. Mike is caring, he takes care of all of us in the house.
How did your family receive your daughter-in-law?
She is our daughter. Don’t you see she’s like one of my daughters?
What is your prayer for the couple?
May God bless and multiply them. Let Him open doors of honour for them. I pray God should bless them.
‘My prayer for the couple’ – Lady Beatrice Nnorom
Lady Beatrice Nnorom also prayed for the new couple. She had earlier given us an insight into the personality of her only daughter, Nkechi…
How does it feel to see the mammoth crowd all for your daughter’s wedding?
I feel happy about that. I also thank God for His grace.
How would you describe Nkechi?
She’s calm, intelligent and hard working.
What’s her position in the family?
She’s our only daughter.
What do you cherish most about her?
Nkechi is humble, jovial and friendly.
What was her growing up like?
She likes friends. She is always out to please you if that would make you happy.
There is this wrong impression about actors and musicians being wayward, did you express any reservation the first day you met your in-law?
Initially, it was a secret affair, after they started courting. I got to know more about him. From there, I like him instantly. And here we are today.
‘I know he is not a play boy’ – Bride’s dad, Nze Ambrose Nnorom
Your daughter just wedded Nollywood star actor?
I am happy and give God all the glory because without Him, we wouldn’t have gone this far.
Were you worried initially considering the face he is an actor?
No, because he proved he is responsible and not a play boy. It was not as if they just met each other and fell in love. They have been dating for six years.
What’s your prayer for the new couple?
I pray that God should continue to bless them, if possible greater than us.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, May 25, 2010