On June 2, the world stood still to celebrate the wedding ceremony between Chidiogo Akunyili, one of the daughters of the late NAFDAC boss, Dora Akinyuli and her love, Andrew Parr who had their white wedding ceremony in a beautiful and unconventional way in Anambra state.
In an interview with BN Weddings, the beautiful bride share all about their love journey with and in her words, she was the one who proposed to her white beau.
Enjoy the interview below…
”Leading up to our white and traditional wedding ceremonies, my father hired rainmakers who, contrary to their name, were to keep the rain away. On the Friday before the big day, in a pre-celebration filled with culture and dance, I had a chance to experience these mysterious spirits that can hold and unleash the rain.
The masquerade in question was small and unassuming, but powerful. Saturday, in stark contrast to its neighboring Friday and Sunday, was dry without a drop of rain in sight.
This magic was just one example of how the day was infused with the mystical protection of spirits. We felt guided every step of the way as potential dramas were averted, dress came together, a men’s tailoring disaster was saved at the final moment, all while well-wishers were holding our hands every step of the way.
Notable amongst these saints was the first lady of Anambra State, Her Excellency, Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme). She went above and beyond, consciously stepping in like a mother would, and all for the love she had for my mother Dora.
On Saturday, as Andrew and I walked down the aisle, I was transported to our first walk together. It was a hot September Saturday afternoon in the desert of Nevada at the event of the festival known as Burning Man. That I was at the festival in itself is another testament.
I was, as with so many miracles of my life, following an intuition. The message had been clear and came via many voices to ‘go to Burning Man’. Little did I know that it was to meet him. The one I prayed for with these very words, just a few months before:
“Monday, 8 Feb 2016. Geneva – I seek a partnership with a strong man, mind, body and spirit. I seek a partnership with a man who will cherish, love and honour me and the life we build together, supporting each other through the journey with kindness, love, a smile and words that put difficulties in perspective.
He will not be away from home all the time but have a career that allows for him to assist strongly and sometimes wholly in building a home for us and for the children. He will be conscious and inspire us to grow in consciousness.
He will be full of kindness and have a depth of love that leaves us inspired by what two people can achieve together. He will hold me and we will give gratitude. He will be flexible. He is adventurous/open to new experiences. He is happy in himself and together we share happiness in God and Love.”
And true to the magic of manifestation, he appeared before me with these words,
“Hi, My name is Andrew, I would like to get to know you, how would it feel to get to know me?”
We loved each other from the moment we met. It was as if we had known one another in another realm. Having spent the week of the festival prior to our meeting in intentional spaces of exploration, meditation and expansion, it was much easier to see this connection for the true love that it was. We embraced the beginning of a destiny that is still revealing itself.
When we are in flow, magical things begin to happen. Take for example, the gentleman who happened to have a powerful camera that captured our first moments of love in the desert. Or the woman who walked up to us on the night of the ‘temple burn’, just a day after we met.
She took my hands and painted around my gold ring. She then took Andrew’s hands in turn and painted on his ring finger, looked us both in the eye and said, “Now you are married”. Neither of us laughed it off, nor denied the truth of her words. Somehow, we knew it to be true.
I was living in Geneva at the point in my life working at the World Economic Forum leading the Global Shapers Community across Africa and the Middle East. Andrew was based out of Canada, supporting professional athletes. We shuttled between our two countries as we built on our bond and with it, the consciousness of the future we wanted to create.
The intentionality of our relationship has been our greatest strength. It has helped us navigate misunderstandings, pain-points, triggers, anxieties, fears, hopes, dreams and everything in between. The foundation of this work for me was the knowing that I had a man who is “not afraid of [my] darkness”.
I didn’t have to be afraid of not being enough, of being too much, too little, and instead could focus on being and becoming. The certainty of being on the journey together gave me and us wings.
Easter 2017, and I was visiting Canada for the first time. It was a full-moon and we stood in the evening chill holding hands in a silent meditation contemplating the beauty of the moon. I was bathed in the magic of the moment including that of sharing so much in common with my soul’s companion, even in silence.
I turned to him and with no premeditation asked, “Will you marry me?” I was only half serious, but then I watched his eyes light up as he responded, “Do you know what you are asking?” A voice in my head whispered, “Does this mean you could have asked all this time? Can you actually be the one that asks?”
I stood straighter in new acceptance of a power I had unknowingly abdicated myself of and said, “Yes, I do. I know what I am asking. Andrew. Will you marry me?” His eyes narrowed with emotion and this time he responded saying, “I cannot imagine anything I would rather do.”
I slipped off my finger my favorite silver bound round shaped jade ring which I bought in Mexico having been deeply inspired by the Chinese and Mayan reverence to Jade. I had worn it for 4 years prior without ever taking it off.
The stone felt like a part of me. But, a voice in my head reminded me that, ‘he is a part of us’ and that it is his, meant that the mystical connection with the jade continues to be ours.
I slipped the ring on his finger as we smiled and laughed and hugged and laughed some more. And so it was that we were engaged just a few months after we met.
We returned to Black Rock City September of 2017, exactly one year since we met in the same desert space where the Burning Man festival is held every year.
This time I was not alone as with the first year but surrounded by new friends and my love. It was in this time and space we came up with a mantra — a sentence that inspires us mind, body, spirit — of ‘sacred flow’.
With this mantra in mind, we had an anniversary ceremony under a man-made tree of Ténéré. It was there he gave me my ring. He had cut the jade in half, using the cherished stone to design the ring that is now my most prized possession. The second half he keeps with him at all times.
During the magical ceremony that marked a year since we met, we stood in the center of a circle of friends under the tree. He cried, I cried, we promised to always love and hold each other up knowing that to go far is to go together.
I felt like I did the Saturday of our recent wedding, the forces of my ancestors with me. Sacred flow activated. It was a blessed day beyond our wildest imagination. We had spent the last months together thinking of the future. I knew it was time to make a professional change.
Tuning in deeply to intuition of inner guidance and in the full trust of flow, I left my job at the World Economic Forum to explore a life of my own creation, anchored in writing a book about the woman and the legend that is and was my mother with a vision of the power of stories to inspire and propel.
I have found guidance by living life in dialogue with my spirit. I find that all key moments of deep connection to myself start with space. Space to be in balance — mind, body, spirit — to listen, and to hear. In hearing, I seek strength to turn my knowing into action.
A sentence that encapsulates my internal fears and the courage of the time came from a guide who shared saying, “you keep getting that same message… What are you afraid of giving up my sister? The fear will always come in.
When you see it, walk through it, so that you may be free, so that you might know what it feels like to be free falling from a cliff. Can we feel that alive in every moment? Only then can we be free and inspire others to be free.”
Since then, we have been on a journey of connecting to our passions and calling. Highly recommended! I wrote about it in a blog posy titled My Truths. This path has led me to start a movement and organization called She ROARS – Reimagining Our Africa Rising dedicated to empowering women to connect with and unleash their full potential.
Moreover, it has led me on an incredible journey of discovering myself in telling my mother’s story and the richness of all that had to happen that she be Dora. This same calling has led Andrew to explore hidden talents as a Naija Rap Star. It has taken us on incredible journeys.
Through it all, our mantra remains ‘sacred flow’. We are rooted in a trust in this flow and our branches are daily strengthened to reach towards our greatest purpose.
None of this would be possible without the patient guidance of my now husband, my best-friend, my greatest guide. I remember the first day he said “Ahuru m gi n’anya”. We were standing in front of the temple at Burning Man, it was our one-year anniversary.
I felt my entire being expand to hear these sentiments of love spoken in a tongue familiar to my ancestors. All of me bloomed in love, in healing, in oneness of the blessing was. The blessing that is. I am reminded that ‘A hurry m gi n’anya’, the Igbo expression for ‘I love you’ literally translates into ‘I see you in the eyes’.
We are so happy to celebrate our love with you with the knowing that it is the seeds of our healing and strength. We rejoice that you see us in the eye and we you.”