CORONAVIRUS HITS WEDDINGS, OWAMBE PARTIES

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted not only economic activities and dislocated supply chains, social events such as weddings and burials have also been affected, SAMUEL AWOYINFA reports

When coronavirus hit Wuhan in mainland China on December 31, 2019, not anyone had expected that it would cause a global shutdown.

Apart from the thousands of lives that had been lost and being lost through the pandemic, world leaders had come to their wits’ end. They kept deploying resources to build health facilities, acquire personal protective equipment for medical workers and provide stimulus packages to help their citizens and businesses cope with the coronavirus scourge.

The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic has not only led to dislocation of economic activities and disruption of supply chain, it has also led to cancellation of social and other important corporate events.

Social events such as wedding and burial of departed aged parents, which had been fixed for the months of March and April, 2020, before the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), announced lockdown in Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states have been hurriedly postponed.

The announcement of a 14-day lockdown was made on Sunday, March 29, 2020 and since that announcement many social and other events earlier scheduled to hold that weekend and subsequent weekends in the following month, had automatically been disrupted.

Among the classes affected were scheduled weddings and burial programmes for the departed aged parents.

Some of those affected by these spoke to our correspondent, expressing how they felt about the lockdown and the adjustments they had made concerning those events.

A bachelor, Goke Abolade, who had earlier fixed his wedding for Saturday, April 11, billed to hold in Ifo, Ogun State, said the event had been postponed indefinitely because the date for the event had been fixed long before the announcement of the lockdown.

He said the announcement of the 14-day lockdown came suddenly and there was nothing he and his wife-to-be could do, having incurred expenses in paying for event hall, caterers and other miscellaneous expenses.

Abolade said, “My wife-to-be and I had fixed our wedding for Saturday, April 11, 2020, many months before the announcement of lockdown was made concerning FCT, Lagos and Ogun states.

“I live in Lagos but our wedding would hold in Ifo, Ogun State. I cannot even move in Lagos, let alone move to Ogun State.

“Myself, my wife-to-be and family members had incurred some expenses. We have paid for the event hall, and even paid the caterers that would prepare food, and other miscellaneous spending had been made.

“There is nothing we can do about it, we have had to postpone the wedding indefinitely. I mean until the coronavirus had been dealt with.”

In the same vein, another bachelor, Jeremiah, who had scheduled his wedding to hold between 24 and 25 of April in Warri, Delta State, has a similar story to tell after Buhari on Monday extended the lockdown by another 14 days.

Jeremiah, who resides in Lagos but refused to give his full name, said he and the wife-to-be  had paid for the hall for reception, the cake, decorations and the caterers but all these had been put on hold for now.

But he was, however, hopeful that since the 14-day lockdown ordered by the Federal Government and the one ordered by the state would soon lapse, this would decide his next move.

“My wife-to-be and I had fixed our wedding for Saturday, April 25; we picked the date before the coronavirus scourge surfaced in Nigeria. We had sent out invites, paid for a hall as the reception venue, paid for cake, paid for decorations and even paid caterers that would provide food for our family members, friends and other guests.

“With the announcement of the lockdown in Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states by the Federal Government, I cannot go anywhere, because I live in Lagos. Again, the Delta State Government had also announced a lockdown, after three cases of COVID-19 hit the state and that is where we are going to have the wedding. That is another challenge.

“So, presently I am waiting for the extended lockdown deadline to lapse in both Lagos and Delta states,  that will inform my next line of action.”

Jeremiah, who said his wife-to-be was currently confused and restless, said he had been appealing to her that the worst would soon be over and she would have the opportunity to flaunt her wedding gown.

Also, anAbuja- based teacher, Miss Blessing Uchegbu, seemed to be in the same shoes with Jeremiah’s wife to -be, she is equally not happy with the total lockdown, which disrupted her wedding which was supposed to hold on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

She and her husband-to-be, had put off the wedding indefinitely, perhaps until after the coronavirus had been dealt with.

“I am not happy at all with the development. Our wedding was to hold on Saturday April 4, at Abuja, before the Federal Government announced a total lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.

“I felt very bad over the whole thing, because the government came up with the idea of not having more than 50 people gathering at a point, later they reduced this to 20. We were good to go with any of these two options before the Federal Government announced total lockdown.

“If the government had allowed 20 people to gather, we should have gone for blessing in church with our immediate family members and few friends in attendance. We could have put the wedding behind us. But now we have had to postpone the wedding until hopefully, after the expiration of the fresh 14-day extension.

Apart from wedding, there are families who had also put off the burial of their aged parents and relations amid the lockdown.

On her own part, Mrs Esther Aiyegbokiki, according to the invite sighted by our correspondent, the family ought to have commenced the final burial rites for her late mother, Mrs Abeke Kareem, on April 3, 2020, with the Christian wake.

The internment followed the  next day, April 4. But these also could not hold, based on the lockdown both in Lagos where she lives and Osogbo, Osun State where the burial rites should have taken place on the dates scheduled.

Aiyegbokiki said the whole family members had looked forward to giving their departed mother, who had died at the age of 86 on February 23, 2020, a befitting burial but that date had to be postponed indefinitely.

She told our correspondent that though there were inconveniences the lockdown had caused the family, there was nothing they could do about it, because the laws of the land must be obeyed.

She said, “When the announcement was made by the Federal Government for a lockdown and the same thing happened in Osun State, there was nothing we could do. We have to obey the directives of the federal and the state governments by postponing it indefinitely for now, because we don’t know when the virus will fizzle out.

“We have shifted it till everything is over. Though a lot has gone into the preparations for the final burial rites for our departed mother, we had to postpone it for now until the scourge of the coronavirus disappears from our country.”

Aiyegbokiki said she had to send text messages and made phone calls telling guests and family friends who had been invited of the postponement.

“No hard feelings for the directives, it is for the good of every one of us,” she consoled herself.

Another case in this category was that of a Lagos-based integrated marketing communication expert, Mr Tayo Olatoye, who said the family had fixed the final burial rites of a departed aged aunt, Mama Olorunfemi Adeoye, for Saturday, April 18th in Okemesi Ekiti in Ekiti State.

However, he said the family had met and postponed the ‘celebration of life’ of the departed aunt tentatively till a yet-to-be announced date in August.

Olatoye noted that the family would only fix a specific date within that month depending on when the war against the coronavirus had been won.

He said, “We had sold and bought ‘aso ebi’, bought some things and made some other commitments here and there to make April 18 grand for our departed grandmother and aunt but that had to be postponed due to the fresh lockdown order.

“We have met as a family and postponed it to August later this year, but we are yet to put any date to it. Putting a date would depend on when the battle against the raging coronavirus had been effectively won.

“We did not want to put anybody’s life in danger,” Olatoye added.

The Lagos, Ogun and FCT ‘s wedding and burial victims will, however, have to hopefully wait for another two weeks since the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.), on Monday extended the lockdown in these states for another 14 days. Health experts led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control have urged Nigerians to obey the Federal Government’s directives aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus that has claimed 123, 436 lives globally and 10 so far in Nigeria as of April 14, this year.

Copyright PUNCH.