Abia State-born Queen Ure Okezie, who came under the media’s searchlight following her brief and controversial romance with Delta State-born lover boy musician, Emmanuel Okosa a.k.a. Soul E, marked her 38th birthday last Sunday. The event took place at her Christ Villa Ministry, the church she jointly founded with her ex-lover, and which is housed at her residence. It was a moments of nostalgic stock-taking for the lady, who recalled journey of vicissitudes through a chequered love affair to a life of single minister of the gospel. chinyere amaechi-musa was there and reports.
From more than 50 metres distance, the exhilarating rendition by her disciples in her Christ Villa Church/residence at Omole Estate, Lagos, could be heard. The joyful noise enveloped the vicinity, to the extent of swallowing up the one coming from a mammoth Catholic congregation at another church building next door.
It was Maama’s birthday thanksgiving.
Know who Maama is? She is former "wife" of popular music star, Soul E, and she goes by the name Queen Ure Okezie; a beautiful Abia State-born banker, now also a pastor and overseer of Christ Villa Ministry.
Do you need to be reminded about her love affair with the music talent, which recently turned sour? The former love birds had over a year ago, turned their backs at each other, and so far, no reasons have been offered by either of the parties, although certain rumours have been making the rounds.
Interestingly, the relationship had, from the very outset, courted controversies and its abrupt end may indeed not have been unexpected to many.
But with or without the other, life must go on.
Inside her sitting room, which also serves as the church auditorium, one could behold the pastor mounted on her throne with all the trappings of a queen. She was clad in a gaily red outfit, specially designed for the occasion of the day. Beside her was a seat, strangely reserved for nobody in particular and conspicuously begging for an occupant.
It was however, reliably gathered that the empty seat used to be Soul E’s.
Clearly, well wishers and friends outnumbered the congregation of the celebrant’s church. This year’s gathering, incidentally, hosted more than its usual number, as guests continued to pour in until compound became filled beyond capacity.
Thanksgiving melodies, said to have been specially selected in line with the church’s tradition, kept the spirit of the visitors lifted.
When the singing came to a stop, a pastor had a brief time on the pulpit before inviting ‘Maama,’ who was ushered to the pulpit with a standing ovation.
Having gripped her audience with her charming but confident look, she began to make her speech. The topic of the day, she disclosed, was "Manifesting your inner being through the knowledge of the sovereignty of God."
Though the preacher had started on an awkward note, having misquoted a Bible verse, her notable gift of intelligence and brilliance, which came to light throughout the speech, was too clear to be neglected.
She spoke in a manner that might have satisfied the curiosity of the various manners of persons among the visitors.
On her botched relationship with Soul E, the woman of God, to the consternation and admiration of all, was quite blunt. Hear her: "Let me use myself to demonstrate God’s expansion plan as the sovereign God. There is nobody here who does not know Soul E and my relationship with him until recently. If Soul E did not come into my life, we may not have gathered here today.
"I’m going to tell you the story straight. We were all in Household of God Church together. While there, I was hoping and believing that one day, Pastor Chris Okotie (the general overseer) will marry me.
"I know that some people here may be wondering why I have to go into this story on a day like this or even at all. But the truth is that I just want to set the records straight to demonstrate the sovereignty of God. Another factor is that there are others here, males and females hoping as I did. It is normal and natural to desire or hope for a thing.
"While I was still hoping, and this young guy (Soul E) came and said ‘wetin fine babe,’ and took me away. Are you seeing God in His majesty? Together, we began this experience. It’s our church indeed, though as the church began to grow, he left but he had accomplished his divine mission, which is the most important thing."
It would be recalled Ure, in an earlier interview with Saturday Champion when her honeymoon with her ex-lover was still alive, had related this same experience.
She said then, "Some time in 2005, I had a very special experience that made me desire a church of my own. I had begun working on it when Pastor Chris Okotie stopped me, saying that it was not yet time for me to do so.
"This ministry actually began like a big joke. We were telling stories one Saturday evening with a close pal of ours - Soul E’s brother and our house help, when suddenly, Soul E began singing gospel songs as we backed him up.
"He also began preaching and we were just entertaining ourselves. Soon, we discovered that the joke had become serious and we flowed along with it. At the end of it all, we prayed and went to bed. While in bed, I pondered over the incident and an idea struck me since as at then we were not attached to any church or even serious with God.
"In the morning being Sunday, I proposed to Soul E the idea of doing a repeat of the previous day’s experience. He accepted and it was marvelous.
"The following Sunday, we made some contacts and sent invitations to some of our friends to join us. Gradually, the population began to grow, not really because they believed in what we were doing, but they came to see the ‘big joke.’"
As Ure marked her 38th birthday, her church, a legacy of the ill-fated love affair between her and Soul E, is little above one year.
Apparently, the congregation of Christ Villa, originally called Love Villa, is expanding, a development, which in her words, is "according to divine plan".
But curiously, the same fortune appeared not to have followed the Queen and Maama of the Villa, who has visibly lost part of her outward beauty. She has lost so much weight. Possibly, this condition may be attributable to the probably lingering trauma of the break-up with ex-lover, or perhaps, the stress of her banking job, which she had to go back to after the breakup. But who can tell for certain, if not only Ure herself?
Nonetheless, no matter what one may think of Ure and her current life, she is strongly convinced in what she is presently doing, believing it to be merely a response to the plans of God for her.
Thus, apart from her personal testimony via her message of the day, a childhood friend of hers and staff member of one of the oil sector-based companies in the country simply identified as Sister Ngozi, testified that Ure’s spiritual calling is real, adding that she began manifesting her spiritual inclination as a student of a secondary school where she was once a chapel prefect.
Interestingly, the atmosphere in her church appears fun-filled and has become a grooming ground for up-coming musical artistes, who jostle to perform during her services five of who performed during the birthday thanksgiving.
There are lots of unique features borne by Christ Villa. It is a church where cash is shared in what is termed ‘Grace Dip,’ just like the normal lucky dip. The availability of so much food and drink at the end of the birthday service, we learnt, is a regular experience at the church as a way of practical demonstration of the love that flows from its pulpit and permeating its faithful.
Among the guests at the thanksgiving were Ure’s colleagues at Centage Savings and Loans Limited, who came in good number, including the company’s executive director, Ayinde Bakare.
Personalities from the entertainment industry, including the music maestro, Orits Wiliki, were equally around.