In a moving tribute he published on his Facebook page Saturday, Nigerian journalist, Ahaoma Kanu, recalled the unusual, suspense-filled, romantic way he proposed to his wife of five years.
Mr. Kanu gave PREMIUM TIMES permission to republish the article.
Read full tribute below.
My Vanilla it has been five years of bliss with you.
In 1999 I met a girl with long hairs and a sing-song voice, she was my cousin’s friend and my cousin told me she was out of bounds.
I was in Lagos for my industrial work experience program and always met her at Surulere, Abiona Close to be precise. Whenever the tap doesn’t run (which was often) we had to walk from Falolu street to the close to use the well in front of the house where this long haired beauty lived.
As the young man in the house the job of getting water was my responsibility so you can imagine the torture I was going through having to go to Abiona every evening to keep staring at a beauty I was told was off limits.
Some years later, after my cousin had long gotten admission to a university I met this girl again only this time she was now a lady. She asked about her friend and I told her she was in the North. I systematically collected her phone number for onward transmission to her friend. She obliged.
I started calling the land line and kept getting a husky male voice or some other nice ladies explaining “Chimezie is not around, can you call back?”
I took to email to keep up at least it was more private and then came the replies and the preaching for me to give my life to Christ.
From my base then in Makurdi, Benue State and later Jos, Plateau State, I did not relent.
In January 2006, on getting back to Lagos, I was house hunting and got a call – It was her and she informed me she came around and was waiting for me. I immediately left the real estate agent helping me get an apartment and started navigating to Surulere.
Trust Lagos traffic, it seems to know when you are sure in a hurry and starts grinding in a slow wind. I had to be creative and sent sms messages that bought me some time to get out of the hellish traffic.
I made it finally and met the lady with long hairs and a sonorous voice.
Hello,” she said and I asked, “Do you like ice cream?”
We went to Quaterjack and when I asked her the flavour she prefers she responded, “Vanilla.”
From that moment I knew this lady was a flavour to my life and started calling her Vanilla.
“We started courting, getting to know ourselves and our families and Vanilla sure made me start looking forward to everyday.
“In my darkest moment in 2008 when I lost my father, she stood like a pillar of support and a cushion of comfort.
“In October 2010 at the Down Syndrome Foundation Awards dinner at Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, after we had given awards and honours to our members and patrons deserving of them, an award was announced for Vanilla.
Yaw, the famous OAP with the popular radio station, Wazobia, was the MC that evening and that special award was secretly planned so nobody except my two trusted friends, Amaka Awogu and Benny Chiedozie, knew. Our National President, Mrs. Rose Mordi, wasn’t aware and was gesticulating to Yaw that there wasn’t any award for her but Vanilla was already on the stage and to present the award was yours sincerely.
“Vanilla, we want to thank you for everything you have been doing for us, you are always there when we call you and have been helping in advocating for people with Down syndrome, ” I started.
“Unlike other awards which come in plaques and big sizes, this award comes in a small form and is a life time commitment.”
The suspense was intense and the audience which included my family, friends and advocates for people with Down syndrome still didn’t have a clue about the honour being bestowed on Vanilla.
As I gave the cue, David Akerele, my little friend with Down syndrome (he is a man now) stepped forward and brought out a box containing an engagement ring.
That was when the crowd which included Dr. Reuben Abati, Mr. Tonye Cole, Felix Awogu, HRH Jerry Ozor, Benny Chiedozie and Amaka Awogu ( the two people that was in the know) got a clue that a family was about to be born.
I went down on my knees and asked the question meant for men.
“Vanilla will you marry me?”
There were tears, there were cries, there were exclamations of surprise, intrigue and bewilderment and
Vanilla was in tears.
She took the microphone, looked me in the eyes and said YES.
Someone, I don’t know between Amaka and Benny whose idea it was, had arranged for Dr. Sid’s club banger, “Pour Champagne” to be played at that time and a champagne bottle appeared and we did pop it.
That day remains one of the most memorable days in my life.
Reuben Abati was so proud of me that he dedicated a whole page in his popular column in Nigeria’s flagship newspaper, The Guardian, to our proposal. In his article entitled,” At The Down Syndrome Dinner,” he started by saying, “Ahaoma Kanu stood up for all Nigerian men who are considered not romantic…”
And Yaw took to the airwaves the next day to broadcast the romantic proposal which many callers who called into the programme doubted a Nigerian man can be that romantic.
On December 10, 2011, we got married.
Today marks exactly five years since this union and family started and we are blessed with two beautiful daughters.
Vanilla, on this occassion of our fifth year wedding anniversary I want to say Thank You for being my wife, friend, mother, sister, colleague, confidante and above all, the one person who tolerates my every baggage. These five years you have given me reason to fall in love over and over again.
Everyday with you is special and the happiness you have brought into my life has no estimation neither is it measurable.
On this our special day togther I renew my vow with you today and promise you that I will always take care of you and certainly, you will always be begging me to stop making you laugh. There are still better years ahead.
Be rest assured that I will always keep loving you my Vanilla with a special flavour.