Ibim Semenitari: 23 years of my marriage, lessons from the outset

Ibim Semenitari: 23 years of my marriage, lessons from the outset

Saturday, December 12, 2015 1:48 pm

Ibim and Semenitari on their wedding day, 23 years ago

Ibim and Semenitari on their wedding day, 23 years ago

By Ibim Semenitari

December 12, 1992. The Rt. Rev. Sammuel Elenwo, turning to the man I had adored all my life asked, who gives this woman to be married to this man?

Clad in a cream and brown doni made out of Feni (our traditional attire) and spotting a dark brown top hat, my father looked at me, and said, I do.

Then it dawned on me. This was real. I was leaving the comfort of the known for a new adventure into the unknown. The tears began to roll. I couldn’t stop them. I was terrified. I was also worried about leaving my parents. My best friends, my doting and loving parents, my home as I had known it for almost a quarter of a century. I couldn’t stop crying. Those who knew understood.

Ibim Semenitari's current look

Ibim Semenitari’s current look

Bishop Elenwo understood. He let me be while calmly reassuring me. And so we said our vows. My husband bellowed in the all too familiar baritone, that still has me turning my head his direction. My voice much softer, as I looked into his eyes trying to extract the promises he was not voicing. It was the beginning of an interesting journey.

To send us on our way, the Rt Rev. Yibo Fubara, a genteel old man who I was always very fond of, Retired Bishop of the Niger Delta Diocese, Anglican Communion, mounted the pulpit in St Cyprian”s church, Port Harcourt to give us what he called little nuggets we needed to make it all work.

The sermon is still fresh in my memory. It was the often told story of the wedding in Cana of Galilee and the wine that finished. He told us with a freshness that I hadn’t heard before.

The couple now

The couple now

The wine finished till Jesus came into the picture. He asked them to fill empty jars with ordinary water and voila! water became wine. Sweeter than whatever the host had served before. Empty pots, ordinary element of water but the Jesus touch made it the sweetest wine ever. It was a short sermon. Days like that are not usually days for long sermons, especially in the Anglican church.

And so the Bishop concluded. The wine will finish. Make no mistake about it. So invite Jesus to the marriage. The romance, the eros, all of that will fade. And when it does, he said, remember to go to Jesus for more wine.

It seemed like such an ordinary sermon. Twenty three years later, it still rings in my ears. It’s been quite a journey. Blessed with amazing children. God has been our strength and our shield. He has held us and taken us through the many changing scenes of life. And as we turn each page. God, our God has given us victory and grace. It was our 23rd wedding anniversary today and all I can say is that it has been God all the way.

And so today, I am asking again as the Bishop told us to, here we are Jesus, two very ordinary folks. Take us and make something amazing as never before out of us.

And to my husband of 23 years, happy wedding anniversary Mr. Sem.

Ibim Semenitari is a former Commissioner for Information, Rivers State

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