Posted by By Ogbonna Amadi and Anayo Okoli, Awka on
To many the name Nelly Uchendu may not ring a bell, but hum the song Love Nwantiti and smiles would spread on the faces of your listeners.
To many the name Nelly Uchenna may not ring a bell, but hum the song Love Nwantiti and smiles would spread on the faces of your listeners.
Love Nwantiti was that hit song that brought prominence to Nelly Uchendu, the Ogidi Anambra State born indigene.
Born 55 years ago, Nelly who lived all her life in Enugu would also be remembered for waka about another hit song that clearly established her as the Golden Voice of the Nigerian music industry.
Honoured with the National Honour Member of the Order of the Niger MON, Nelly Uchendu whose last moment on earth was spent battling the Anambra State govern-ment for gratuity joined her ancestors after a brief illness.
The news of her death like a wild fire sent shock waves across the land.
King Sunny Ade who spoke to Showtime expressed shock at the news but prayed that her soul be granted eternal rest in the bossom of the Lord.
Madam Onyeka Onwenu who would eventually lead members of the Association of Female Musicains to her burial recalled with nostalgia the golden moments she spent with Nelly.
Last Friday was blackout for the music industry as friends, relations and colleagues gathered in Ogidi for the final burial rites.
It was tears galore. Emotions were high. Sadness and agony were in the faces of the people around. That was at Ogidi, Anambra State, at the burial of Mrs. Nelly Uzonna Ikpeze (Nee Uchendu) MON, the popular actress and musician who died and was buried last weekend in her husband’s place. Nelly died at the age of 55 after a brief illness. It was a very solemn ceremony as her family, colleagues, friends and well-wishers assembled to pay her last respects, and it was tribute galore, as well.
Nelly’s last journey commenced on Thursday, May 19, 2005, when a wake-keep was held for her in her husband’s house, in Ogidi, which was marked with Christian songs and rendition.
Then came Friday, May 20, 2005, her final journey with a church service at Ebenezer Anglican Church, Ogidi. First the body of Nelly was received into the churchyard by the officiating priests. Sentences interspersed with Abu 142 and Abu 218. Prayers were said for the repose to her soul. Psalm 90 was read to console the bereaved, while the lesson for the service was taken from Revelation 7 verse 9 to the end.
After this, the grave was consecrated for the final committal of her body. As her body was being lowered into her final resting place, her relations, friends, colleagues and well-wishers could no longer control themselves. They allowed their tears to flow freely. Some of her close friends including Senator Joy Emordi and Onyeka Onwenu cried like little babies.
To show their cherished love for Nelly, encomiums in form of tributes were given in abundance. From her husband, children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, colleagues and well-wishers came tributes.
Her husband, Chief Obika Ikpeze, based in United States of America described the death of Nelly as "still being like a dream to me". He said the "vacuum you created in my heart and our children’s can never be filled by any man nor woman but God alone".
Nelly’s two little children, Chidimma and Kenechukwu, in their tribute were too emotional. They asked death, "did you realize that I am just 8 years old (Chidimma, the daughter), and my little brother, Kene Amaechi is less than a year old. And still you took our mother. How do we go from here?
Her bosom friend Senator Joy Emordi, in her tribute described Nelly’s death as "very sad". She said death was "so unfair to a loving gentle lady" like Nelly. She however promised to ensure that her two children are well taken care of.
Her colleagues, members of Association of Female Musicians (in Nigeria), led by their president Onyeka Onwenu were fully represented and in their tribute they lamented how sad it would be for them to miss Nelly’s company. Also in attendance was PMAN President, Charlie Boy.