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Joe Town: Crowds storm Nigeria-Sierra Leone wedding

By  | 19 January 2011 at 03:25 | 2467 views

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Wedding ceremonies are characterizations of social life in
Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone but one wedding that drew crowds to the streets and has remained a a topic of household discussions is the one between Hassanatu Kanu, a popular Sierra
Leonean star in the Nigerian film industry and Hycinth Idibia, younger brother of Two Face Idibia, international musical maestro.

The wedding attracted top placed personalities in Sierra Leone and people from all strata of society. The presence of the highest placed citizen in Sierra
Leone His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, who initiated the traditional tying of
the nuptial knot, broadened the impressions of the public. It is difficult for
any wedding to get such a blessing especially with his numberless state
commitments.

On December 17 all roads led to Joe Town, a village near Newton, 24 miles from the capital, Freetown. I could not resist the temptation of joining the
throng that went there on that day for two reasons:
firstly, to witness the wedding, secondly, to set eyes on popular international
musical maestro Two Face Idibia, whose “My African Queen” is a household song in Sierra Leone. Two Face was there to witness the tying of the nuptial knot of his younger brother Hycinth. And of course the Idibia family was there to fulfill traditional obligations and help Hycinth fulfill his wishes for his new found love.

On arrival at Waterloo, I had to hire an Okada (commercial bike rider) to go to
Joe Town. There were numberless vehicles and Okadas wheezing past on the
dusty road. The dust would rise and disappear with silent valediction. The
the news on the lips of most Freetonians was that Two Face, the MTV award winner was in town. I quickly hired an Okada to take me to this wedding.

The bride, Hassanatu Kanu, whose movie name is Sana Kanu, is the
daughter of Hassan Gbessay Kanu, who held several ministerial positions in
Sierra Leone in the 80s. He had been Minister of Mines,
Works, Energy and Power, and Finance, the most senior ministry in the country. He represented Koya Rural District Constituency for a period of fifteen years.

Today, he seems to be taking a rest from politics and now concentrates on
agriculture and managing Trans-world Insurance Company, one of the leading
insurance companies in Sierra Leone. But he could not hide his joy in seeing his daughter’s mind being won at a time when many are peering in the dark to look out for a partner. “Besides, Hassanatu has been doing well in the United States. I am impressed with her progress”, he said in his office after the wedding. Hassanatu Kanu on the other hand has carved a niche for herself in the Diaspora Nigeria film industry. She has taken part in several movies, including “Virginia Lovers”, which made a tremendous hit in the African film market.

Back to the wedding scene: On December 17, I arrived at Joe Town to find the
people in frenzied jubilation. I met with some familiar faces from the Diaspora
who could not resist buying tickets and go to witness the wedding and also for
a break from the monotony of American life. The beaming faces tell you that they had been suffering from nostalgia, while far away from home.

“Welcome home”, I would say whenever I met one. To me, they were now strangers. I, who had been at home all the while had to welcome them. There were groups of local traditional dancers and singers whose shrill voices drowned the traditional ceremony that was going on to make Hycinth Idibia and Hassanatu Kanu as one, who hoped to be fruitful and multiply the Idibia family in the future.

After their traditional covenant, the couple on December 18 went to Sacred Heart Cathedral in the capital Freetown to solemnize their vow the Christian way.

There, they also vowed to be together for better or for worse till death do part
them. After the ceremony, crowds thronged the streets to set eyes on the
bridegroom, whose marriage had the blessing of no less a person than His
Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma (see top photo), and apparently to set eyes on Two Face Idibia.
News of his arrival had spread like a bush fire after a Hamatan spell. His “My
African Queen” has made him a favourite musical star in Sierra Leone and is
capable of moving youths to exhibit wriggling patterns..

Music creates a great impact on the lives of the youths, who constitute 60% of the country’s five million population. Therefore events linked to music or musical stars invoke some passion from the youth population and sometimes even from the adults.

The wedding ceremonies were subsequently followed by festivities that lasted
for days. It was viewed by the village residents that the success of Hassanatu is success for the whole community. Because of the communalistic characterization of the Sierra Leonean society, individual achievements are sometimes interpreted as community achievements. This apparently evoked some passion in the people of Newton, Hassanatu’s hometown.

The union between Hassanatu a Sierra Leonean and Hycinth a Nigerian, was
jokingly referred to by some people as a “union of Sierra Leone and Nigeria”.

Hassanatu’s intelligence, beauty and performance in movies that sometimes evoke emotive dispositions may have apparently magnetized Hycinth towards her. The two met in Virginia, USA, and after a while, Hycinth decided to have Hassanatu, his new found love, in his home. Like one of the lines in the lyrics of his brother, “My African Queen” which goes thus: “You are the only one…”.

Hassanatu is the only one who could drag Hycinth, his brother Two Face and the whole Idibia family to Sierra Leone without any negotiation. The union in December 17 was an indication that Two Face’s “My African Queen” could have been a prediction for Hycinth. He has found his African Queen.

Here is a video clip of African Queen, by the bridegroom’s brother, Two Face Idibia:

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