The traditional marriage of Ijeoma Ikoku and Chukwuemeke Okeke took place at the tail end of 2016 in the ancient kingdom of Archochukwu, a marriage that brought together two states, and attracted notable personalities from home and the Diaspora.
The marriage ceremony happened at ‘Ogo’ Amannagwu, village square of the ancestral home of the Ikokus, where the groom and his kinsmen had visited to complete the marriage traditions, according to the traditions and customs of of the Igbo people.
The colourful affair, saw Ije and the bridal train, known as ‘odu mgbede’ in Arochukwu adorned in Omu Aro dress, as well as George clothes. On the other hand, Meke wore a gorgeous agbada suit, and a befitting okpu mmee (red cap) to match, which aptly identified him as a true son of Enugu Agidi Royal community, Anambra State.
After the initial customs of marriage have been observed by elders from both families, the couple entertained guests by dancing around the arena.
Speaking to JUNGLE JOURNALIST NEWS CORPORATION, the couple revealed that the meeting that led to the 16th December ceremony was purely accidental. They both worked at the WorldBank and there was a function called together by the then finance Minister of Nigeria (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) that was meant to bring together Nigeria professionals working with international organizations like the IMF, World Bank, IFC to discuss to discuss the government’s vision and plans for the Nigerian economy. The bride and groom were both in attendance, and met over a seating mishap. The rest they say is history.
In his own addition to the remarkable tale, Meke told our correspondent, when asked what he thought of the moment he saw Ije; “nothing really yet, she was very engaging, so we engaged. It sounds crazy but I am a peoples’ person and I like to chat people up, but I had no grand design. When I was taking her out for lunch, I was possibly flirting but with no grand intension but the moment you get to know Ije, you just fall in love with Ije. So, it wasn’t planned at all. I went, I saw, and I was conquered!”
When confronted with why he married Ije, even though people believe Anambrariansp love to marry themselves; he says: “I am not from Anambra then”. Further, he says that places of origin cannot come before person; “People’s upbringing and where they grow up practically don’t count because when you marry a person, you marry her place. Again, he says what he fancies most about Ije is “she lets me play a fatherly role”.
“Ije is Ije, to know Ije is to love her and sometimes also she drives you crazy, but again that’s what love is all about, you don’t know why you do it , you just do it”.
The only daughter of Prof. Chinyere Ikoku and the granddaughter of Late Alvan Ikoku, Ije the bride is currently the Chief Financial Officer and founding team member of CEC Africa Investments – a multi-country infrastructure investment platform. Prior to this she worked with the IFC/WorldBank infrastructure and technology teams, covering Africa and Latin America. She holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, and an MBA in Finance & Entrepreneurial Management from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennysylvania.
On his side, Meke served as a Legal Officer with the United Nations from 1992 to 2001, moved to UNESCO same year and served till 2004 as a Legal Officer, before proceeding to World Bank, where he currently serves as a Senior Counsel in Washington DC, USA.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Meke had his early education in Eastern Nigeria, before moving back to Lagos for undergraduate studies. He later went to the United States to study law, and has worked most of his life in the international organisations.
Prominent among those who graced the occasion include former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank and APGA gubernatorial candidate for Abia 2015, Dr Alex Otti, former Minister for Power, Professor Barth Nnaji and his wife, Mazi Emma Nwokoro (HAPEL), Prof Nkanginieme, RTD Major General Emeka Onwuamaegbu, (Commandant, Nigeria Defence Academy and an intelligence chief), Rumundaka Wonodi, and many others.