Popular Nollywood icon, Chief Francis Duru has laid his beloved mother, Ezinne Comfort Nnenna Duru to rest, in a massively attended funeral ceremony that attracted the presence of the high and mighty from all walks of life.
The ceremony, which held on November 12, 13 and 15, 2020 is regarded as one of the most significant and memorable events in Imo State, for which the ancient town of Isiala Mbano stood still.
It commenced with a service of songs and wake keep on Thursday November 12, leading to the Requiem Mass at St. Maryâ€™s Catholic Church, Eziama Oboh, Osuama, Isiala Mbano on Friday November 13, followed by interment shortly after, and a special thanksgiving service on Sunday November 15, 2020.
Ezinne Comfort Nnenna Duru (1944-2020) was born to late Joseph and Cyriana Ekpemadu in Umulolo, Oboh, in Isiala Mbano, Imo State. The first of five children, she was one of the few to have acquired the highly rated Standard Six Certificate with distinction during her time. She later got married to Chief T.O.S. Duru in the mid-1960s and they moved to the Cameroons where their marriage was consummated between 1967 and 1968 at St. Josephâ€™s Catholic Church, Big Mankon. God blessed their union with 9 children, among whom is Francis Ogide Duru.
In a spirit-lifting and conscience-pricking homily delivered by Rev. Fr. Henry Obi, following the Requiem Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Dan Ukaegbu, the homilist described Ezinne Comfort Nnenna Duru as a paragon of virtue whose footprints should be emulated by all, especially women. Re-echoing the Igbo adage that says â€˜echeta onwu, emezie nduâ€™ (when you remember death, you take good care of life), Fr. Obi challenged everyone to strive to live for God and humanity above all considerations, knowing that someday, death would come calling.
Several tributes from her husband, children, grand-children, friends and associates further underscored the fact that Ezinne Comfort Nnenna Duru was indeed a pacesetter of humanism. Many of the family members and friends who spoke during the funeral ceremony emphasized that the ceremony was more of a celebration of life than a harvest of tears because Ezinne was an accomplished woman who lived a fulfilled life.
Among those who graced the ceremony were A-list Nollywood celebrities including former Presidents of the Actorsâ€™ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Ejike Asiegbu and Segun Arinze, Chief Bob-Manuel Udokwu (Nze Ana-agbankili na Ogidi), Basorge Tariah, Julius â€˜D-Geniusâ€™ Agwu, Monalisa Chinda Coker, Harry B. Anyanwu, Chief (Sir) Victor Osuagwu; Special Adviser on Arts, Culture and Tourism to the Governor of Abia State, Hon. Kingsley Ogbonna (Dauda); Member of the Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Uche Ogbuagu and Prince Maduka Uwadi (aka Royal Prince).
Others are the Director, Institute of Arts and Culture, University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Friday Nwafor; Rev. Don-Kester Oshioreame, Dr. Ovunda Ihunwo, Princess Beauty Emerald, Ms. Ibe Goodseed (Omalicha); Ihuoma Grace Jonah (Ada Ndi Igbo 2020); MD/CEO of Goodman Concepts Intâ€™l Limited, Mr. Richard Nkem Ogbonna; MD/CEO of Amob Energy Services Limited, Mr. Osondu Anyado; Emeka Dele Naze, Chuks Oparaocha; ace broadcaster, Mrs. Uchenna Obaseki, Mr. C.C. Ekpe and his wife, Ogechi; Amb. Millicent Jack, immediate past president of Rotary Club, Port Harcourt, Rtn. Adaure Odu; Austin Okeze, Iyowuna Obumanu, Ameobi Ekuye and filmmaker, Azubuike Erinugha of the Institute Strategic Development Communications, Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
Leader of the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazurike and his entourage surprisingly honoured the event, to admiration of a cheering crowd. Other Igbo leaders present at the event include Chief Anthony Maduako, Chief Iwaji, Chief Longinus Ezurum and Chief Odoh Maduako.
It was delightful, also, to see Francis Duruâ€™s secondary school mates (Sacred Heart College, Mankon, Bamenda, Cameroon) represented by Dr. Young Marinos and Dr. Francis Ahaneku. From Rivers State, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Iwori Cordelia Koko and a large delegation of other in-laws and Chiefs from the Ekpemadu family added colour to the event.
The Parish Priest of St. Maryâ€™s Catholic Church, Eziama Oboh, Isiala Mbano, Reverend Father Valentine Ezisi; his Assistant; Reverend Father Samuel Okereke and Reverend Father Godwin Oba were among the officiating priests during the Requiem Mass and interment.
In a chat with African Heritage Times shortly after the ceremony, Chief Francis Duru expressed the deepest appreciation of his entire family to everyone, especially the Ekpendu family (his maternal home), his in-laws and particularly his â€˜blood brothers and sistersâ€™ from the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Port Harcourt, better known as the CRABITES. He prayed that God would continue to bless and protect everyone.