Bid Late Chief Ezinne Virginia Unoma Arinze Farewell in Ebenebe
By Daruwana Daku and Ebube Edieh
The community of Ebenebe in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State was last Tuesday greeted with flair as Ezinne Virginia Unoma Arinze’s remains were laid to rest in her country home, Ebenebe.
The Burial Ceremony which began with a Holy Mass by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish, had in attendance, priests and religious, politicians, the academia, businessmen, and women.
While delivering his homily, Bishop Ezeokafor reflected on the life and times of Late Chief Ezinne Virginia Unoma Arinze (Nee Anaegbune) who, according to him, traversed many paths of life, including religion, politics, and education.
Commending her for being a strong woman who stood by her children and raised them well, Bishop Ezeokafor exhorted the congregation to always live by making a positive impact wherever they found themselves.
While thanking the bishop and other dignitaries who came to mourn them in their trying times, one of the sons of the deceased, Rev. Fr Paul Ugochukwu Arinze, also thanked God for giving their mother a strong life, noting that she was the last of her siblings laid to rest.
In line with her late mother’s charitable act to the Church and the community, Fr Ugochukwu, on behalf of the family, presented some altar clothes and sacred vessels to the parish; even as he donated cash for the renovation of the Parish nursery and primary school in honour of their late mother.
Fides recalls that Late Chief Virginia Unoma Arinze was born to Ozo and Afulichi Anaegbune of Okpuno village Ebenebe, Awka North L.G.A Anambra State on May 5, 1943. She was raised with traditional values and began her education with enthusiasm. Her academic journey was however, curtailed by her marriage to Late Chief Sir Michael N. Arinze.
Late Chief Unoma Arinze lived an impactful life as the pioneer first Lady of Awka North Local Government Area upon the emergence of her husband as the first Executive Chairman of the local government. As the First Lady, she used her office to empower the people and championed the girl child education in Ebenebe and the entire local government.
She and her husband were also the first family to join to coveted Knights of St. John International (KSJI) where, in that capacity, she contributed religiously to the growth of the Church.
Known for her all-embracing heart, Late Chief Unoma Arinze, as she was fondly called, held positions also in the Church. One of such position was the president of the Catholic Women’s Organization (CWO), a position she held for many years.
Her maternal instinct extended beyond her biological children, earning her the affectionate nickname “Ara na Azunwa,” (the breast that succors Children). She was a disciplinarian, affectionately known as the ‘Mama General’, especially adept at guiding stubborn children within her extended family.
She is survived by seven children which includes her five sons: Charles-Amobi, Kenneth-Anayochukwu, Martin-Okechukwu, George-Ifeanyichukwu and Paul Ugochukwu who is now Rev. Fr Paul Ugochukwu Arinze; and two daughters: Angela-Ngozikachukwu and Claire Uzoamaka Arinze; 25 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren and numerous adopted children who passed through her nurturing home.
The late Chief Mrs Ezinne Virginia Unoma Arinze took her final bow on August 15, 2023, at the age of 80, and was laid to on December 19, 2023.
At her funeral were politicians, businessmen, the academia, priests, and religious, among whom were the presidential candidate of Labour Party in the just concluded 2023 general elections, Mr. Peter Obi; former gubernatorial aspirant in Anambra State, Mr Valentine Ozigbo; and a host of captains of industries.
noting that togetherness remained the only reason the party would succeed in taking over power from APGA.
Addressing the gathering, the state chairman of the party, Chief Basil Ejidike, appealed to other wealthy members of APC in the state to emulate Chukwuma, saying that such gesture had never been done in the state. He noted that the gesture would strengthen peace and unity among members in Anambra and beyond.
The party during the event received the former elected and appointed Chairman of Anambra East Local Government Area and the man behind the formation of Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra State (OCHA Brigade), an APGA chieftain, Hon Hillary Onyekwelu Udano, to the APC.
Receiving the decampee, the Deputy National Organizing Secretary, Nze Chidi Duru assured him of level playing ground and urged him to feel free to contribute his quota towards the development of the party.
In her address of welcome, the Awka Diocesan President of Life Members, Lady Oby Onyenwe, thanked the priests for availing themselves. She also added that one of the major reasons for the visit was to celebrate the Christmas season with them.
In response, the priests appreciated their efforts and gift items presented to them and also prayed for each of them.
The event featured presentations of gift items, worship songs and Individual blessings from the Priests.