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From hawking fruits, Oluamachi finds musical voice

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Until recently, the nine-year-old Catholic Church adoration singer, Joseph Oluomachi Opara, the third child of Mr. and Mrs. Berthram Opara, was only known within the narrow circle of his immediate family, school and the church choir. But today, the lad has become a household name, courtesy of his good voice.

Oluomachi’s fate could be said to be a repeat of what happened in March 2019, when four-year-old Success Adegor, a primary school pupil in Edo State, was chased away from school, because her parents could not pay her fees. She was so enraged that a good Nigerian put her on video, after narrating her plight. Not happy that the school sent her away, Success said she would have preferred flogging to being chased away.

“Every time, dey go pursue me from school. Make them flog me. Dem go tire. Dem go flog, flog, flog, their cane go tire them. I go tell them say I strong pass them,” Success had said in pidgin. The video attracted the attention of many, including the United States Embassy that offered her citizenship and Nigerians raised over N6m for her education.

In like manner, a concerned Nigerian, recently, videoed Oluomachi, a primary four pupil of Uzii Primary School, Owerri, Imo State, and it also went viral.
Fortunately for Oluomachi, who hails from Ogwuama, Ahiara, Ahiazu Mbaise Council of Imo State, his melodious voce caught the attention of Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma.

In the video, Oluomachi, who hawks fruits, had placed his basin of fruits on the ground and began to sing some good tunes. The Guardian gathered that aside from adoration songs, Oluomachi also loves singing generally. And on this particular day, he sang praises and worship songs of the Catholic Church.

Apparently impressed by the boy’s singing talent after watching the video, Uzodinma immediately nudged his Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, to go in search of the boy and his parents. He wanted to solicit their consent in his plan to adopt their son. This was to be the first step in many that were to change the young boy’s life. The governor wanted to also offer Oluomachi scholarship to study in the Catholic Seminary, until he is through as a Catholic priest, which had been his lifelong ambition.

When Emelumba arrived at their home at Nekede, Mechanic Village, on the outskirts of Owerri, the boy and his elated parents were on hand to receive him.
The commissioner, who delivered his boss’ message, said: “His Excellency Senator Hope Uzodinma was so excited after listening to the video of Master Opara, that he directed me to locate you and inform you that from today, Joseph is now his child, and that since he wants to become a Catholic priest, he will take up the responsibility of training him from his present primary four until he is ordained a priest.”

After the speech, the entire family went into jubilation. But before the commissioner left, he requested for a repeat of the song, which the young singer obliged him.

However, in almost a cruel twist, enemies of the Oparas started posting on social media that the boy’s father, Berthram, had rejected the offer. This he quickly debunked, while speaking with The Guardian. He said: “There is nothing like that. I don’t know where I got the settlement. They have also posted on social media that I rejected the offer. Again, it is false. I have not heard from the government officials since the last time they came here.”

Berthram, 44, an automobile panel-beater and painter, told The Guardian that he was the acting Assistant Youth Leader of the Imo State chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2011. However, he does not belong to any party again. Rather, he identifies with anyone or individual that isready to offer good governance to the people.

He said: “I got married to my wife, Kelechi, about 14 years ago, and we have five children — four boys and a girl. All of them have started displaying their talents and what they want to be in future.

“The first child, Charles, wants to be a military man. The second boy, Chibuike, wants to attend technical school, majoring in technical works, while Chukwuemeka, the fourth son wants to be an international footballer. He started playing football at the age of four. Adanna, the last girl, is still in nursery school.

“Oluomachi, the singer, started exhibiting his talent between the ages of two and three. We just noticed then that each time we went to Church at St. Joseph’s Worker Catholic Church, Nekede, Owerri West Local Government Area, Imo State, Oluomachi would leave his seat and go towards the choir’s side. Efforts to bring him out would yield no result. So, what we did was to guide him.

“Every Sunday, he did the same thing. So, we decided to allow him stay around the choir area. We later guided him there. When he grew older, he joined the choir. That was it. He has joined them and he sings very well. He wants to be a priest.”

The proud father explained that Oluomachi is doing very well in school and is responsible.“He always comes fourth in class. We want his ambition fulfilled. He helps his mother to hawk fruits. But since the governor pronounced him adopted and offered him scholarship, he has stopped hawking fruits,” Berthram said.

Meanwhile, other people, such as former Governor of Anambra State and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Vice Presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Peter Obi and Superior General of Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy Congregation, Nigeria (SMMM), Very Rev Fr. Dr. George Maduakolam Okorie, have also expressed interest in helping Oluomachi fulfil his dream.

In his tweeter, Obi said: “I have followed with interest the reactions to the video of the singing Oluomachi. What a demonstration of God’s gift! I thank all those that have shown interest in helping him through various means. I thank in a special way, the Superior General of SMMM, Rev. Fr. George Okorie, for the scholarship given Oluomachi to study in their Seminary at Bende, to realise his noble ambition of being a priest. I shall make myself available to support any worthwhile effort to attaining his praise-worthy ambition.”

Very Rev Fr. Dr. George Maduakolam Okorie, who also announced his scholarship offer to Oluomachi in a social media, quoted Matthew 6:25, where he admonished Christians not to worry about life, but to believe in God as the Author of life. He said: “This Gospel passage is true and comes to fulfilment every day of our lives like it has happened in the life of the latest Nigerian star on Facebook, Oluomachi Joseph Opara, a nine-year-old boy, whose ambition in life, according to him, is to be a Reverend Father.

“The Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy Congregation has traced out the Little Angelic Star, who sang the Catholic hymns on Facebook with a very powerful voice. During the interaction with the boy’s father, who is a painter, our Superior General Very Rev. Fr. Dr. George Maduakolam Okorie, SMMM, gave the little boy a scholarship to study in our Minor Seminary, Mercy Seminary Bende Abia State. It was really a welcome development by the family.

“The insight from here is for everyone to go ahead and work, rather than worry. For it is in seeking that we find. It was on his way to hawk local pears for his family that Master Oluomachi from Ahaizu Mbaise, Imo State, met his destiny-helpers. Given his family’s financial background at the moment, he would have worried the most about how to actualise his dream of being a Catholic Priest. But now, Divine Providence has located him, where he was busy working his little trade to help in his family upkeep.”


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