The biggest Catholic Church in the Upper East region is heading for an unusual shock as a disappointed wife has vowed to disrupt a wedding ceremony the church is going to hold between her husband and another woman.
How the furious woman, Olivia Ayinpoka Anaba, intends to disrupt the upcoming bridal mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in the regional capital, Bolgatanga, is yet to be disclosed.
But some of her relations already have descended heavily on the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Samuel Atinga, saying he has taken sides with the man, Donatus Dery, to abandon a wife he has been with for nine years for a woman he found just this year.
“There was confusion between us on 3rd February, 2018. He went to my father and told him he should let me pack my things back to my father’s house so that after his temper had gone down we would be together again. I packed my things. I was there for nine months. Donatus did not come to see how the child and I were doing. Later, I heard the church announce on a Sunday that Donatus and a woman were going to wed. I complained to the Cathedral Administrator.
“The priest told me my husband had informed the church that he did not love me anymore and that he had sent me back to my father’s house. Later, the Cathedral Administrator came to my parents and said he could not force the two of us to stay together; so, I should allow my husband to go for another woman. Every Sunday, I hear an announcement about the wedding. I will go to the church on the wedding day with this child I’m holding and spoil the wedding. That wedding will not take place. I still love my husband,” she told Starr News, fighting back tears.
Heartbroken wife rushed to Hospital
Whilst on her way from work in the evening of Monday October 29, this year, the dejected wife collapsed at a junction close to the Bolgatanga Preparatory Model School, a famous basic school in the regional capital, with a 16-month-old girl strapped to her back.
“These days, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. My heart is heavy with sorrow. That is why I fainted. I did not eat the whole of yesterday because of this problem. Whenever I go to the church and hear the wedding announcement, everything goes dark.
“You can imagine the agony of sitting down in a church and they are announcing that your husband is going to wed another woman. Everything goes dark where you sit. I don’t know what this man, a man I gave all my heart and bore two children for, is trying to do to me. It’s always painful whenever I hear the announcement,” she told Starr News at the Amiah Hospital in Bolgatanga shortly after recovery.
A number of sad-looking relatives were by her side as she sobbed in the open, holding her sleeping child to her chest. The little one was crying that night at the hospital. But when her mother began to sob in the busy hospital yard, she took the sobbing for a lullaby and slept on her mother’s chest.
“Is that what we do in the Catholic Church?” a relative questioned as tempers flared when they were about to leave the hospital. “We don’t conduct a wedding for a married man in the church. Besides, there is normally a counselling committee when a wedding is about to take place. But the Parish Priest is doing it all alone, holding counselling meetings with Donatus and his newfound wife alone without the involvement of a counselling committee.”
Nothing is going to stop the Wedding— Priest
The flames on the faces that stood by the grieving woman at the hospital that night suggested that church chairs and canopies would go upside down at the wedding.
The pitch that came with the voice when she announced the coming chaos indicated that well-seated and well-dressed guests at the wedding would crisscross one another on the premises in a desperate search for cover.
The sighs they all heaved as they took leave of the hospital gave a strong hint that the officiating priests would hurry out of the scene in cassocks in the middle of the wedding ceremony. And the pace at which they went back home Monday night, with their faces as hot as fire, could be a warning sign that those who would fly and forget there was a wedding cake inside the church would not be small in number.
But whilst giving his side of the story to Starr News, Rev. Fr. Atinga (the Cathedral Administrator) said nothing would stop the wedding from taking place as planned.
“I have followed due process. They came to me. I said I would investigate. I heard from her. I heard from her husband. I went to the family and met with the elders of the family. We talked and the issue was that, the way it is, they could never live together. And I said, ‘Okay, if you have come to that point that you can never live together, there is a traditional way of disengaging the marriage’.
“The poksigra (mediator) told me yesterday that her family had accepted to disengage the marriage and they have done that. So, I don’t see why the wedding cannot go on. Once they have done that, the man is free to marry. And she is free to marry. The issue they had was with the child and I said that’s not within my jurisdiction; there are institutions in the country that deal with that. There is no obstacle to the man marrying as far as the church is concerned. We have followed due process and we are not stopping the marriage,” Rev. Fr. Atinga told Starr News Wednesday.
Marriage not disengaged yet — Relations
The Cathedral Administrator also brushed aside the counselling-related allegations directed at him, saying the case was not the responsibility of the church’s counselling team but his duty as the priest in charge of the sanctuary.
“Once I have established the fact that they can no longer live together and once they were not even married in church and we have followed due process, nothing is going to stop the wedding. If they were married in church, that would have been a different story altogether.
“They were married traditionally; so, you followed through a traditional process for divorce,” the priest added about an hour after Donatus Dery had failed to show up for a meeting he (Donatus) scheduled with Starr News on the matter.
To disengage a marriage traditionally in the Frafra-land, the uninterested party (the man’s side in this case) goes to the woman’s family to inform them they are no longer interested in the marriage. When the two sides agree to go their separate ways, the woman’s side returns a cock (the main symbol of marriage) to the man’s side which also would give a calabash (symbol of divorce) in return to the woman’s side.
The cock is sacrificed. The calabash is broken. That way, the marriage is dissolved, traditionally. This, according to the woman’s family and contrary to what the priest said, has not been done yet. Traditional divorce is very rare in the Frafra-land and beyond. A man can only break up with his wife on three grounds— if she is a witch, a thief or a flirt— and he must put his proof (if he has any) beyond all reasonable doubt. A woman, too, can press for divorce based on life-threatening domestic violence, which also is rare in the region.
As if by design, the Catholic Bishop of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese, Most. Rev. Alfred Agyenta, climaxed the Maria October Devotion Wednesday evening at the church’s grotto with a solemn sermon against domestic violence.
And when the cathedral’s giant bells tolled at dawn Thursday (today) for the All Saints Day mass, priests told worshippers to remember the honour they owed the dead by gathering at the church’s graveyard early Friday (tomorrow) to observe All Souls Day. The grieving wife will join them at the cemetery Friday with her little daughter to honour the departed soul of the boy-firstborn she bore for the husband who is about to say “Yes, I do” to another woman. And she will grieve all the more at her son’s grave, perhaps with one word for those anxious about the fate of the upcoming controversial wedding— to tune their ears to the wind.