Photo L-R: Charly Boy Oputa & Lady D
It is not often that you see Charly Boy Oputa in the serene mood in which he was enveloped on the 15th of December, 2018. What was so special about that day? He took the love of his life, Dianne, with whom he had lived for the past 40 years to the altar, finally! I was at the event. But the invitation earlier in the day was informal, via a phone call to a friend of mine, and I was present. The phone invitation went thus:
Charly Boy: Please come to the house at 4pm today!
Friend: What's happening in the house today?
Charly Boy: Oooh, you too like story, just come to the house. No African time, you dey hear me so?
The implication of the above was that we did not know why Charly Boy had invited us to the house, but as faithful friends, we obliged him, and went all the same since he is full of surprises. But we never saw the shocker we got coming. I thought it was another protest about something he was averse to in the society. I did not know that radical Charly Boy was formally getting married again at 65! The first marriage, which he contracted before he left for the USA below the age of 25 years had to be annulled for another wedding to be contracted in the Catholic Church. Charly Boy had been pursuing the required annulment for the past few years. The letter of annulment for the first marriage was presented to the couple alongside their marriage certificate.
Guess who officiated at the wedding, which true to the groom's style, was held in the evening at about 5pm at Christ the Redeemer Chapel/Coventry located at 8/14, 4th Avenue, Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja. This was the very first time in my life that I would be attending a wedding in the Catholic church in the evening! Trust Charly Boy to be different, always. When we arrived his house, a few minutes before the church service for the wedding ceremony was supposed to begin, Charly Boy was still in a track suit with loafers adorning his feet! When we asked him why he invited us home, he said: 'they say they are getting married...' We then asked him to be specific. This inquiry elicited his volunteering the information that he was the one getting married! He now asked us if the track suit was appropriate for him to wear to the wedding. He resoundingly got 'no' for an answer.
It was then Charly B went to change into a three-piece suit without a tie! By the time he got to the Chapel, he had only his waist coat on him! Pretty Lady Dianne was wearing a champagne/gold wedding gown and was carrying fresh red roses! She looked stunning! She could beat any young bride hands down! The next shocker was that everyone accompanying Charly B to the Chapel should leave his/her car in his house and go in the pre-arranged 'Kekes' (chain saws) to the chapel, which was a few metres away. Lady Dianne rode in one of their posh sports cars to the church, with one of her sons driving her, while Charly B rode solo in a Keke. I was in a Keke close to Charly B's, so I could view all his stunts, and I was not in short supply of same. First, he lay in the back of the Keke with his foot in his shoes sticking out. The next stunt was when we were near the church. He got up in the Keke and began waving to an admiring crowd via the open roof like many Presidents are wont to do.
Mainly family members were invited. There were only a few us who were not family members. There was no force, unlike many other weddings. The church service which lasted less than an hour, was with Mama Oputa, Charly B's mother in attendance. Tears of joy were rolling down her face throughout the church service because the wedding made her nostalgic about her late husband, Justice Oputa (Charly B's father) who wished the wedding took place in his lifetime. Guess who conducted the service? Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, radical Catholic Priest who stood firm during the protest against the proposed draconian Bill to regulate NGOs in Nigeria. Kukah fought on the side of the masses to ensure that the Bill did not see the light of day! The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Onayeikan was also present to add positive flavour to the ceremony. The Sponsors of the wedding were Mr. & Mrs. Pius Akhaaz who presented a lovely copy of the Bible to the newly weds.
Bishop Kukah was quite hilarious in his sermon, where he traced his relationship with Charles & Dianne Oputa to the 1990's. Kukah said 'Charles & Dianne say our Mumu Don Do, let's bless our union after 40 years'. Kukah referred to when Charles & Dianne visited him in Lagos and their power bike packed up when they were about to leave the former's house. Charles simply said to Lady D: 'Start pushing'. What saved the day was the fact that Kukah could locate a slope on which the bike
could slide. Then Charly B joked about the incident, saying that it was Kukah that saved Lady D from unnecessary stress.
Kukah said: 'I am here because Papa is smiling in heaven and Mama is alive to see this day. Let us approach the throne of Almighty Father with grace and confidence. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of fortitude. The grace of God is available to us in our time of need. Look up to Jesus Christ, the throne of grace'. Charly B said Dianne proposed to him in 1980, and they met two years earlier, in 1978. Kukah continued that Dianne has kept faith and happy is the husband who has a good wife. A silent wife is a gift from God. According to Kukah, the enemies don't believe that Charly B can keep a woman for any length of time, least of all, 40 years while admonishing the newly weds to be reconciled to Jesus Christ.
Archbishop Onaiyekan said 'it is one thing to marry, but another to marry according to the sacred sacrament. Whenever you can convert your marriage into a sacred one, please do so and we thank God for your life'. After the exchange of vows between the couple, Charly B did a bit of marriage counselling viz; 'Marriage is about coping with a couple's incompatibility and it requires openness, respect and friendship'. Charly B then turned to Lady D, saying: 'You are my new bride and I'm applying to remain your new groom for at least the next 40 years'. Lady D's response was a warm embrace for her loving husband. Charly B promised to be useful to the parish not only as a parishioner, but a willing mentor for younger couples and individuals.
There are a number of takeaways from this short, but unique wedding ceremony:
*It is a form of conflict resolution between the Catholic Church and more radical elements on the fringes like Charly Boy. Although the church insisted that Charly B annul his former marriage before a new one could be contracted, the groom's non-conventional mode of dressing, wearing only a waistcoat on his wedding day, was overlooked. His 'crowded' fingers, with a big silver ring on each finger and 'shouting' silver jewelry adorning his neck on his wedding day were also overlooked! In times past, the conservative Catholic church would have frowned at the groom's rings, etc. This is progress that could keep some 'borderline' Christian youths within the Catholic fold, an advantage of liberalism which makes the Pentecostal churches more appealing to the youth!
*Charly Boy is a unique brand that speaks the language of the youth. The fact that their idol has finally married the same woman he has been with for 40 years could make church marriage 'fashionable' once again among the youth.
*In spite of his tough, 'bad boy' public image, Charly Boy does not take hard drugs or drink alcohol. He's in fact a good role model for the youth. Besides, he has volunteered to mentor the younger ones during his speech at his wedding. The Catholic Church and indeed the society should leverage on this unique offer. Individuals and groups should offer the wherewithal to enable him actualise the positive mentoring.
*Charly Boy is by no means a straggler. He is by any means a comfortable man who has made his mark. All his struggles are to make the society better. See for example his 'Struggles' reflected through paintings in my Blog Post - https://dayokusa.blogspot.com/2018/12/a-tale-of-two-artistes-tola-wewe-charly.html
*I have said so much about Charly Boy. But what about Lady Dianne who has stood by him these odd 40+ years? Without Lady D, Charly Boy might not have been this successful. Dianne has taken care of the home front all these years efficiently and effectively. She is the 'silent wife' that is a gift from Almighty Father to 'hurricane' Charles Oputa. She has raised successful children and is no pushover as a businesswoman. Kudos to you, Lady D!
*Charly Boy and Lady D have shown that you don't need to rob a bank in order to have a nice wedding ceremony. Charly Boy rode to his wedding in 'Keke NAPEP' and had a modest reception in his sitting room! He is a man of means who could pull an uncontrollable crowd if he announced the event, but he chose not to, restricting same to some family members and a few friends. Empty vessels make the most noise!
On the whole, I say hearty congratulations to Charly Boy & Lady D. May you continue to see more of your children's children in good health and prosperity...