By Izunna Okafor, Awka
As part of the activities to herald his 60th birthday celebration, the Archbishop, Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger and Bishop, Anglican Diocese Awka, His Grace, Most Rev’d Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, has performed the turning of sod and consecration of land for the construction of a Multi-purpose Hall at the St. Paul’s University Secondary School, Nibo-Nise in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Speaking at the ceremony, Archbishop Ibezim, who noted that the school was his place of birth, told a story of how he nearly died there as a child after swallowing a cover of feeding bottle, but was saved by the grace of God, as he was bicycle-ridden to Adazi-Nnukwu where he was miraculously rescued amidst heavy bleeding. He further testified of other great things God did for him from childhood to adulthood, which he said are also parts of the reasons for the proposed construction of the Multi-Purpose Hall, to the glory of God and in recognition of his place of birth.
Earlier in his homily, Bishop Joseph Musa of the Anglican Diocese of Idah (Kogi State), who described the event as significant, said place of birth and place where one is buried are the two most special and memorial places in one’s life, reminded the Christians of the importance of identifying why they were born, and remembering where they started from.
Congratulating the Archbishop on his birthday, the Principal of the school, Rev’d. Joseph Onyibor who was preferred a Canon at the event, expressed his gladness and gratefulness for the new promotion; even as he thanked God for the life of the Archbishop, and prayed for greater success and exploit in his ministry.
Shortly after kicking off and watching a football match between clergymen and between students of Agulu Grammar School and Comprehensive School, Nawfia at the school, Archbishop Ibezim, who commended and greatly rewarded the players and the sports officials, also declared the establishment of Awka Football Academy by the diocese and also declared that the football competition would henceforth hold annually.
The Archbishop and his entourage thereafter headed tripped down to Mbaukwu in Awka South Local Government Area, where he unveiled and watched the exhibitions of students’ artworks (including a portrait of former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige), displays, and confectioneries at the Renaissance Modern Polytechnic, Mbaukwu (owned by the diocese); visited his parents’ grave in his family house; and also paid a courtesy visit to the Traditional Ruler of Mbaukwu, H.R.M. Igwe Peter Anagwu (Eze Ukwu of Mbaukwu) in his palace, amidst fanfare and funfair.
Speaking at the palace of the Igwe Mbaukwu, Archbishop Ibezim enumerated some of the numerous supports the traditional ruler had offered him in the past, beginning from when he was just a clergy to now that he is an Archbishop, including buying clerical vests for him; adding that those things propelled him to come and pay him an appreciative homage.
While donating a cow to the monarch in appreciation, Archbishop Ibezim further prayed for good health and God’s continuous blessing upon him, his subjects and the entire land.
Responding, Igwe Anagwu, who is is the second longest serving traditional ruler in Anambra State after Igwe Kenneth Orizu of Nnewi, testified that Mbaukwu has produced many notable personalities, among whom include Archbishop Ibezim; the current Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, K.O. Mbadiwe; among others.
While explaining that his activities, support and reign in the community do not know any religious or church denominational boundary; the Monarch also prayed for continuous peace and progress of the community, and showered royal blessings upon Archbishop Ibezim, his family and his ministry.
Contributing, the traditional ruler of Awka, Igwe Gibson Nwosu, who was invited to the event by Igwe Anagwu, also recounted how Archbishop Ibezim graced his Ofala celebration in December last year, despite being an Anglican prelate while he himself is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He, therefore, in appreciation, donated a cow to Archbishop Ibezim as a birthday gift, right there at Mbaukwu.
The well-attended event was graced by the wife of the Archbishop, Mrs. Martha Chioma Ibezim; the National Vice President of Ọhaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene; members of the royal cabinets, the church leaders in the diocese and their wives, among other great personalities.
Chanting of Happy Birthday song to Archbishop Ibezim, and the conviviality that followed, marked the highpoints of the event.