Lagos — Children are the greatest gifts of all. They are the candle that gives light to our dark paths in life; give glow to the dark sky and wipe away the tears of a woman in her old age.
The wish of every couple on the day of their wedding is to be blessed with children. Once a couple stays the first year without having a child, pressures soon begin to pile on the woman who is instantly adjudged by the society to be the guilty one.
Not many men are able to cope with the loneliness or pressures that come with childlessness. Some simply capitulate to the temptation of trying outside their homes for a child.
It is very rare for a man to stay with his wife for 12 years without a child.
This is why friends and well-wishers of the family of Charles Okafor gathered at the City Club, Surelere, Lagos, to celebrate the special gift from God to the family on July 3, 2011, after 12 years of marriage.
Our Senior Reporter, Michael Jegede, was there to share in the joy and testimony of the couple. Here is his report.
Charles and his wife have been married for over 12 years without a child until God blessed them on March 23, 2011, with two bouncing baby girls to their utter astonishment.
Okafor, who had joy written all over him was short of words to express what God has done for him and his family.
When persuaded to speak, he said: "I feel great. I am fulfilled. That is it. We have been in this journey for the past twelve years begging God for the fruit of the womb. And finally He has done it for us. We consider it a thing of joy for us to call our friends, brothers and sisters to come and rejoice with us."
On how he and his wife coped all these years, he said: "It was a very rough road. It is not something one would wish one's enemy, because it got to a point I gave up. There is nowhere I and my wife didn't go to in our search for a child. I have been to several herbal homes. I have been to several hospitals. Wherever they say it is happening, I will enter there. But at a time I decided to give in to fate. But as God would have it, it happened, not just one but two. My prayer is for God to continue to bless me so that I will be able to put food on the table for the kids."
On how he felt when his wife told him she was pregnant, the 42-year-old business father said that they refused to go for a scan, as they found it difficult to believe it was real. Hear him: "When it happened, it was like is this real? Finally, we said okay; let us not even go for a scan so that they don't tell us that it is not real. We actually refused a scan because of fear of the unknown. We feel, let it happen. So, everyday, it was like is this thing going to be real. Is it going to come out? But it finally came out and it came out double."
Expectedly, many of his friends came to celebrate with him. Tony Obierike, a veterinary doctor and Sole Administrator of Anambra West Local Government was one of such friends.
According to him, "I have known Charles for almost 20 years. And I really glorify God for what has happened in the couple's life. I was in the same shoes with him, although mine didn't take this long. I was married for five years before my first child came. But do you know how the blessings of God come? That is what I am praying for him. When I got my first child after five years, I said this baby is going to stay three years without having any sibling because I want the baby to enjoy and enjoy and enjoy. But six months after, my wife was pregnant again. And I was surprised. We had the second issue and after six months after the second child, my wife took in again. So, we had the three kids in three years after waiting for five years. So, I think the blessings of God has come into this family and it has come to fruition as they will continue to have more and more blessings," Obierike prayed.
Emeka Dike, immediate past President General of Alaba International Market and a member of the board of Lagos State Sports Endowment Fund has also had a feel of the pain that goes with childlessness. Dike told Daily Independent that he has known Charles as a friend for over eleven years now.
His words: "I feel happy for the family. Charles Okafor and the wife and my family members have been friends for about eleven years now. His wife and my wife actually graduated from Lagos State University (LASU) together. I have known the family since 2000 when they entered university together. I met them as married couple. I experienced what they also experienced, but theirs was on a larger scale because I got married in 1996 when I was barely 26 years. And I stayed five years before I had my first kid. And when you see a family that persevere for a period of 12 to 13 years, waited upon the Lord, no mother-in-law interference, no father-in-law interference, no family member is interfering. And they waited for this long before the marriage is blessed. We are not surprised that today we are celebrating with them. What it means is that for those who are still waiting, they should look upon God. God can do anything. They are a testimony to so many other childless families. When you look upon God, God is able to do anything for you. Like Kanayo O. Kanayo said, 'we are celebrating patience and Good luck together.' And there is no other way to manifest the goodness of the Lord than when you give an open testimony like this."
On his part, Peter Anekwe, a leader in Anambra West Local Government Area said, "We want to thank God for this family, because it wasn't easy. It is a thing of joy. And we are here to celebrate with him, because God has done it for him. For him to be patient all these years, it shows that in anything one is doing, it pays to be patient and wait for God's time. So, that is why we are here to celebrate with him because what God did for him is for everyone of us."
On his part, Deputy Majority Leader of Anambra State House of Assembly, Anthony Collins Nwabunwanne, described the happy father as a very patient man. "He is a man that believes in God and I am very happy for him. And I keep telling people. It is all about patience. It is all about endurance. And it is about persistence. You know, it takes a lot to be a man. It is not just going to church or just praising God but to be committed and be down to earth from one's heart. I appreciate his confidence in God Almighty who created us. There is nothing God cannot do if one truly trusts in Him. Charles believed in God and committed himself and his family to God. And that is why today we are celebrating. So, it is a thing to be emulated."
Chris Nwokobia, the Presidential candidate of Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN) in the last general elections was also not left out of the epoch-making event. According to him, nothing could have stopped him from being part of the show because the business tycoon has been his friend for over six years and both of them have really come a long way.
He described Okafor as a great husband. "I want to say that Charles is a great guy to have been able to cope with the absence of kids in his matrimonial home for as long as twelve years. He is a great guy, great husband. Ordinarily, not too many men will be able to cope. So many men would have taken a second or even a third wife. But the thing to say here is that we have a few good men who believe in love, who believe in the nobility of a marriage as an institution, who believe that truly in the marriage is the creed: for better, for worse."
He said further, "Interestingly, the God, who rules the universe, who brought boisterous planet out of prima vapour, look down and saw how resilient, how dedicated and committed to his marriage he's been, and gave him two great kids in one swoop. And I do sincerely think that the twins are a bundle, not only of joy, but also of greatness. It is a reminder that God after all is watching over us. It is a reminder that God after all, cares about us. It is a reminder that God after all is not sleeping. It is a reminder that God after all listens to those who diligently seek Him. I want to say that I am proud of him and his wife. It is a reminder of the fact that those who truly believe in that which is right we will always get that which is right, because it does appear most times that right may not win, but ultimately right wins. And that is where we are. I have seen right won in the family of Charly and his wife. And I believe that by extension right will win in our great country Nigeria."