By Nnaemeka Nnopuechi
Christmas season is always very remarkable in the South East region of Nigeria. Last year, many surmised that the worsening downturn in the nation’s economy and insecurity would rein in the normal celebrations accompanying it. But the doomsayer forecasters were disappointed as most communities, especially in Anambra State, witnessed an unprecedented influx of indigenes.
In Umuchu, a town in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, it was very memorable. The bustling town bubbled with activities from Christmas to New Year and beyond. They ranged from religious festivals to the traditional, with sundry masqueraders of the male and female genre that paraded the streets of the town in style.
The season also had plenty of social events to celebrate, from marriages and their anniversaries to other sundry festivities. There were also family reunions, village get-togethers and ofala celebration by the traditional ruler.
Top of the list were personal celebrations by the nouveau riche, either as house warming, birthday celebrations for self, spouse or parents or just anniversaries. But the Christmas and New Year celebrations in Umuchu would be incomplete in 2021 without mention of the house that Chief Abraham ‘Afônu’ Otti, aka Mighty Mighty, the town’s latest sensation, ‘opened.’
Though there was no formal opening ceremony, it was the major attraction all though the entire season as convoys of vehicles, mainly of his business or friends coming to see for themselves, So much were its attractions that the routes to the house were lined by children spotting cars from daybreak to sundown. It was more so because through Chief Otti, a 1.6 kilometre road network with accompanying drainage system had just been tarred and connected to the Umunze-Umuchu-Uga, Igboukwu major highway.
.In Umuchu, it is normal for the elites to rehabilitate the perennially-government-forsaken road into the hamlet. But the already-asphalted Mighty Mighty Avenue was great to behold and ride on. You just roll down your ride on the ultra-smooth road surface, and you arrive your destination, in a jiffy.
From the entrance, you veer into the intimidating demesne at its end, the first attraction were the expensive rides displayed in front of the main edifice. Though the Rolls-Royce was the cynosure, a Mercedes Benz and other luxury brands were easily decipherable in the assemblage.
It became trendy to visit Umuchu’s newest sensation furnished to the latest interior and exterior standards. In fact, it’s exquisite potentials are better beheld than retold. It even trended on Social Media that even Obi Cubana himself visited with his friends, calling the house and its interior decorations, “A Heaven on Earth.” The accompanying tales all over was that a live band was on ground supplying an endless medley of tunes, to whomever made it to the venue.
The inside of Chief Abraham’s house speaks with the loudest decibel. First the visitor passes through the threshold of the ornate double door that welcomes one as though with an open grin. The first thing of note once inside is the fact that one is still confronted by the same colour combination of the exterior: white and gold.
Moving on in one is stuck by the reality that though the ambience glitters like a mirror from floor to roof, there is nothing garish in the combination.
This holds forth even as one ascends the spiral stairwell leading from the main living room to the more private areas. This also holds true with the seats, drapes and walls. The seats, as ornate as can be, are the sharpest eyecatchers. They are so inviting that visitors are scarcely restrained from depositing their bums on them.
Adding to the allure are majestically framed artworks mounted at specific locations in the living room and on the stairwell. Most astounding is the realisation as one descends to the two ‘underground’ living rooms that this sense of colour chemistry persists.
From the inextinguishable bar flowed drinks from the rarest to the most expensive brews. Talk of decades-old bourbons, whiskeys and brandys; let alone other liqueurs a la Champagnes, tequilas and assorted wines of whatever hue.
The menu? Like rumoured, it included the best of haute cuisine from the local, continental to the international. There were even specials for veggies, white meat for those cutting down on its red variety as well as smoothies for those allergic to alcohol.
The compound housing the splendour within the complex is built in about 3,000 square metres and consists of four duplexes and one twin-bungalow. By the left as you enter the compound is the five-bedroom flat duplex. The one by the right is a four-bedroom flat duplex. The fourth duplex is the former family building. There is also the twin 3-bedroom flat bungalow for the parents.
Then, there is the main attraction of the compound. This is the house where Chief Abraham Otti, Mighty Mighty lives. The first floor hosts the ante room, one guest room and two other rooms, one large kitchen, dining and sitting room. As you walk down the golden decorated interior, downstairs, you behold one big banquet hall with another hall/sitting rooms connected to it. At the upper living quarters, you have one family sitting room and four big living rooms. And at the four sides, on each of the upper floor rooms are large balconies.
There has been tales on the edifice Chief Abraham Otti built, on Social Media, with each visitor being conducted ‘ward-round’ of the compound. But on seeing it all, you can attest that the stories are very far from the magnificent reality on ground.
A realization that served as mnemonic to other such edifices in history. Well, if the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Taj Mahal are too far to fling, many local equivalents abound. Since Nigeria’s independence, for instance, many notable private residential houses have been constructed by the high and mighty in the country.
A ready example remains the one built by the loquacious politician, Chief K. O. Mbadiwe in his hometown Arondizuogu in Ideato LGA, Imo State in the First Republic. The house was reputedly so magnificent that the onus fell on none other than the then Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to ‘open’ it.
Fast-forward to a later date and the memory easily recalls the one deposited by the late Chief Sonny Ogogwu in Asaba. Also of the stuff of legends, it was well advertised in the earlier Nollywood film The Violated, most of whose scenes were acted out in its bowels.
Even most recently, Chief Tony Ezenna, the MD of Orange Drugs Ltd built a postcard-fit modern edifice to cap his success story. He subsequently hosted his friends and associates to a befitting house-warming party. Stories that escaped from the gathering to the social media spoke volumes.
Of course, like these predecessors to it, this house that Mighty Mighty built has only but joined an elongating queue. There’s no doubting the truism that by the next Christmas many more would have arisen in Umuchu and it’s environs. As well, these will become talking points in the season and, like the present subject, turn into the past in due course.
*Nnopuechi, who visited Umuchu over Christmas, wrote in Enugu