By AIC Akwarandu
Christmas all over is celebrated as the period heralding the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. According to Matthew 2:10, “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed”. indeed, there was a joy as the Star signalled the arrival of Baby Jesus at Bethlehem, who the world believes came to save mankind.
Expectedly, Christmas in actual sense is a period of love. A period God sent his son to wipe away our tears and renew our spirit, body and soul. Christmas is a moment to share the love with one another no matter how little it may seem. It is a period of thanksgiving to our marker who sent his only begotten Son to come and salvage humanity.
For Rt. Emeka Ihedioha, Christmas has remained the same over the years. The same spirit of oneness, love, happiness, joy, etc. Like the Son of God, Ihedioha radiates joy from one place to the other across the state and beyond where he spends his Christmas.
For the past nine years, Ihedioha has methodologically maintained a well-structured standard of celebrating Christmas. Kicking off every December 24, with a very dignified as well organized Christmas Cantata and Festival of Songs, Ihedioha opens his gate for visitors, among whom are youth bodies, support groups, women, political elite, clergy, artisans, and many others. It is usually a carnival of sorts but Ihedioha, displaying a high degree of decency and humility, normally welcomes all with joy and frank enthusiasm associated with the season. However, due to the covid -19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the Cantata was hugely played in line with coronavirus protocols. Yet, the essence was not lost!
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The foregoing practically explains that the 2020 Christmas Cantata will, certainly, remain remarkable in the annals of history, as it took a different dimension from the usual norm. While the world battled with Covid 19 pandemic and its attendant effects, Ihedioha, always deliberate in his actions also adapted to the changes in time and announced a virtual Christmas Cantata celebration for all lovers of Christ and sweet melodies of Christmas.
Undoubtedly, the 2020 version is the most attended Christmas Cantata ever held, it recorded over 200 thousand people who joined via zoom platform and Facebook Live stream to participate in the event. The Cantata, for Emeka Ihedioha, is always a take-off point for the rest of the Christmas and New Year celebration. Of course, Ihedioha believes that in all you do, God must be placed first.
After the annual Cantata begins the real thing. Those who have visited Ihedioha’s home during Christmas, either when he was the deputy speaker of the federal house of representatives, governor or even now, will agree that as early as 6 am on each day, the compound is already filled. Practically, Ihedioha wakes up every day to the greeting of people who have come to share the Christmas season with him. He spends the morning hours on daily basis receiving and meeting with guests, while some will come as groups, some others will come in their individual capacities, while others may come as delegations.
After the morning rituals, the man sets out to meet and celebrate the season with the people. Ihedioha takes his time to visit people, friends, relatives, political associates, traditional leaders, elder statesmen, among others. For Ihedioha, the real essence of Christmas is celebrating with one another.
Another important side of Ihedioha’s Christmas festivities is that for the past 20 years, He has continually dolled out Christmas gifts, unannounced, to the less privileged ones, groups, individuals, and all those who came to see him during the period.
For him, Christmas is also a period of sharing love with one another. It is a period of supporting each other with the little you have in other to radiate joy which the birth of Christ simplifies. Little wounded he takes out time to attend various events, ranging from Weddings to child dedications, festivals, burials, football competitions and many other events held within the period.
Conclusively, it is right to say that Ihedioha’s far-reaching acceptability is premised on the fact that he is among the very few leaders in the state who feels the pulse of the ordinary people. He understands the plights, challenges, happiness and the general attitude of the people and that was achieved through constant engagement and consultation with the people.
No doubt, Ihedioha stands out as the leader of the people.
Aic Akwarandu writes from Imo State, South East, Nigeria.