if I were looking for Men with Big Cars – Francisca Anaebo
The young parish of St. Gregory Akwaeze witnessed the first celebration of fifty years of christian marriage, penultimate Saturday. Nze Leonard and Mrs Francisca Anaebo renewed the marital vows they first made to each other on June 13, 1970 then at St. Paul’s Parish Obeledu. After re-enacting the marriage rite on Saturday, they were joined by family, friends and others parishioners in thanksgiving on Sunday followed by a reception.
Beside herself with joy, Francisca told Fides that the major criterion a girl looked for in a prospective suitor in her days was good character. “This marriage would not have taken place at all were I looking for big cars. I met my husband as a hardworking and well-behaved young man. That was the attraction. Remember, we just came out from the Nigeria civil war then”, she said.
For her husband Leonard, he was already very familiar with Francisca’s family under the tutelage of Ichie Fred Ezepue (Ugogbuzuo) where he was accepted as a member. He was attracted by her cheerful and respectful disposition especially the way she treated him like one of their own. Fifty years down the line, both of them are still love-birds.
The colourful gathering of members of both Anaebo and Ezeanolue families, children, grandchildren, in-laws, kindred, neighbours and fellow parishioners made it a joyful moment for the couple as they cut the golden jubilee cake in their Umutu village, Akwaeze home. The parish choir of St. Gregory Akwaeze among whom Francisca sings, also presented a beautiful anthem. Life however, has not always been rosy for the couple who has five surviving children out of seven. There were moments of hardship and misunderstanding as well but, they both agree that forgiveness is the secret bond holding them together. “The grace of God keeps sustaining us, no matter the odds”, according to Leonard whose title name is Ezeani Nnaneme.
Prominent in the audience were Fr Aloysius Ezeanolue, who led in the thanksgiving Mass with Fr Ignatius Ezeakacha, the parish priest concelebrating; Prof Basil Ezeanolue of UNTH Enugu; members of Umuoma kindred and in-laws from Ukpor, Nnokwa and Mbano.
Their children, Ifeanyi, Obianuju and Patrick spared no effort in celebrating their parents. Ifeanyi, a catechist in the parish said the peace and tolerance he learnt from his parent’s union were of immense help in his own marriage. “I thank God this occasion became a reality.
Due to travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, two of my siblings couldn’t attend the event in person. To the glory of God, our dear parents have celebrated their golden jubilee,” he said.
Leonard, 76 retired in 2000 from the News Directorate of Nigeria Television Authority Abuja while Francisca, 74 is a farmer and community leader in Akwaeze.