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« No Power can Break Nigeria but Contentious Issues within in Collaboration with Foreign Corporate Interests, Part II | Main | Africans should Pay Reparations to African Americans, Part 1 »

July 30, 2005

Home for the Holidays: Uche Nworah gets Hitched

by Uche Nworah --- I try to visit Nigeria at least once every year, and so it was with great excitement that I made my way to Heathrow airport on the Friday afternoon, 2 days after the London bombings to catch my Virgin Atlantic flight to Lagos.

Just as I had expected, Heathrow airport was literally on a roll, there were passengers everywhere, and security officers as well, the long queues at the security screening points stretched over a mile long. You could feel a sense of heightened danger, no thanks to the terrorists but like they say, the music must play on and life must go on. When I finally completed the screening process, I still had time on my hands and so I decided to raid the duty free shops for some last minute bargains. This is how I came to meet Claudio, who turned out to be the best perfume salesman I have ever met. If you ever have to travel through Heathrow terminal 3, I suggest that you check Claudio out, especially if you fancy a laugh. You may be wondering what is so special about him, well, I still find it hard to explain but when you consider that his fellow sales assistants (the women in particular) stand in awe and listen to his antics anytime he is charming a customer, you will get the flow of the type of sales person that he is.

Claudio is Italian, and handsome and speaks English with an accent, he is the type of person that can sell ice to an Eskimo, or even charm the birds off the trees, in the course of our banter, I told him that I was going to Nigeria to get married, he later spoke to my fiancée on the phone and convinced her that the Chic perfume by Carolina Herrera was more sensual than Sexy, which she originally wanted. I could then see why Italian men have such a great reputation, as great studs and lovers hence their Italian stallion image. In addition to the perfumes I bought, I left the duty free shop with a beautiful hand woven Victoria Secrets ladies’ handbag, Claudio’s wedding gift to my fiancée.

I slept all through the flight, I had planned to catch a movie or two on the flight but my body just wouldn’t play ball, probably as a result of the sleepless nights I had had to endure in the days leading to my travel, a period that it seemed as if I was doing a million things at the same time. Thank God for his mercies, our flight was quite uneventful, we arrived Lagos on schedule but a little incident at the airport almost deflated our excitement.

The pilot had taxied down to the gangway for passengers to disembark, only to be told that we couldn’t use that particular gangway as it was broken, this was after we had waited a few minutes, and so the pilot announced that he was waiting for a tow truck to tow the plane to another gangway, this was when the mild drama started, the tow truck took ages in coming and by time the pilot’s voice came on again over the PA system, our nerves were already on edge, the pilot announced that the tow truck was in place alright but then had broken down while already latched unto the aircraft, and that he was waiting for another tow truck to come and tow the tow truck that had come to tow the aircraft.

Trust Nigerians, mobile phones started going on and off, and people were almost screaming, memories of the recent Air France cow incident at the Port Harcourt airport were still very fresh on our minds. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the tow truck was towed away making way for another tow truck to tow us to our final disembarking point. You could see that this incident was not Obasanjo’s fault; somebody had failed to do his or her job properly, all I could do was feel sorry for the president and his economic team, whose economic and social reforms programmes are being easily thwarted and undermined by sloppy and mediocre civil servants who are all over the place. This is no best way to say welcome to Nigeria to potential foreign investors, assuming we were.

I spent a couple of hours in Lagos before flying out to Abuja in the afternoon to put finishing touches to my coming wedding. It was in Abuja that I ‘died’ and ‘resurrected’ many times over, if there was anything such as a heart somersault, I experienced it in great measure. As is now required by most churches, couples are now expected to present a HIV/AIDS status certificate, obtained from their own recommended hospitals before they can be wed at the church.

HIV/AIDS is something I read about or thought happened to other people, I have never had to confront the issue in any kind of capacity, but from the moment I submitted a blood sample at the hospital in Abuja for HIV screening, I knew that my life will never be the same again. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life; I felt I was standing on the threshold of life and death, pain and suffering. Several images of the folly of youth rolled past me; I saw faces and heard voices from the past, finally, the chickens were coming home to roost I thought. I recalled my days of living dangerously, and recounted a million names ranging from Ekaette, Ngozi to Bunmi. God, please spare me, I prayed.

How I managed to conceal my anxiety from my fiancée, who had driven me to the hospital, is still a miracle. I tried to be the man, be courageous under fire. We were asked to come the next day to collect the result, this next day turned out to be the longest day of my life; it was as if time had stood still. Finally it was verdict time. I made sure that we were at the hospital on time, as I stepped into the laboratory offices; I felt so frail; my head was bowed to the side. When I handed over my receipt of payment, and demanded for my result, The lab assistant said that there was a small problem, I almost fainted, beads of sweat gathered all over my face, my fiancée asked me if I was alright, and I said yes but she wondered aloud why I was sweating in the cool rainy weather.

What was the problem, then? I enquired, fully convinced that I had not made it, hence her reluctance not to give me my result. She asked us to wait outside for a few minutes, those few minutes wait were the most agonizing minutes of my entire life. I then saw her whispering to a male colleague who she had drafted in to deal with our situation. Finally she called us in, again and then apologized for asking us to come personally to collect the result, she said that the hospital normally sends the results directly to the church. I pleaded with her and told her that I couldn’t stand the agony of waiting anymore; she must have taken pity on me seeing my distraught state. When she handed over the test result, my fiancée was standing beside me, and we both quickly glanced at the paper, all I could see was the O positive sign, which on careful scrutiny was only an indication of my blood group. As we scanned the piece of document which at that time seemed to be holding my life, we quickly came to the section at the bottom where my HIV status was recorded as negative. Saying that I was relieved will be stating the obvious. I was alive again. I now have my second chance. As I looked at my beautiful bride, I wondered what might have been. Right now, I can only say Thank you Jesus.

Uche Nworah is a freelance writer and lives in London. He is now married to Uche Nworah.

Posted by Administrator at July 30, 2005 03:50 PM


I join you to say "Thank Jesus".

Posted by: Rickie at August 4, 2005 10:19 PM

hello Mr Uche
as a matter of fact i saw your scribture over your wedding and all your educational background, really it gives me joy to see a brother who is trying to accomplish life in a good way, your step is just an good one to follow, well let me not hesitet to introduse myself to you,like as i said above my name is godwin i live here in holland for very long time now with holland nationality, i studied as a marin(dekknet/stortwerk in het baggerbedrijf) being pas into a lot of things i mannage to make it to obtain my diploma and certificats neded for the job, and again i have apply to a job here also, but to my greatest suprice what i was offerd as my monthly paid was almost half of what the younger team was recieving which after paying all my house and other things would not have anything to leave with, so my point is that, i want to come over to UK to start my life over again plz if you can help or ask a friend who can aswel help me as to know were to start, like register in the townhall and all sort, pls do help and i i hope you can render help for me. do write me plz, ONYE IMO KA M BU. bye for now

Posted by: Godwin at August 18, 2005 01:32 PM


Please, did you had a chance to ask your wife if she could have still say I love you had you tested positive to HIV

Igbonnem Ndigbo

Posted by: igbonnem at August 25, 2005 07:15 PM

I also joined you in thanking GOD in this satuation, just like when i did my own HIV/AIDS test I died a little within the 24hours I have to wait for the result. Meanwhile every Guy and John Players will always die twice before their real death,when you come to thank HIV/AIDS test....
Anyway that's by the way,do You know that when you started this story I was thinking you're about telling us how you got your WIFE in heathow airport,only to land me in the story OLD TIME RELIGION.....anyway it is good for one to know where he was started beating rain so that he won't forget where he takes shelter/where the rain stop beating him.
Meanwhile you may be wondering the area am driving to....... I just want to remind you of your encounter on the bid to take woman as your wife back home in nigeria,after all the husseling and bougling in london,You still remember that no place like home and you still remember the beautiful thing you left back at home.
I mustn't fail to tell you this....just cherish HER the way you cherish your trip back home to marry HER....

Posted by: Ajala E. E at August 26, 2005 12:59 PM

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