PARIS–There were stares, audible gasps and neck cranings from the normally reserved and very French residents of the 7th arrondissement on a recent Saturday, as throngs of nattily dressed Black people trooped into the Eglise Sainte-Clotilde.
On this hot, sunny day, the murmuring grew as the Black men in bespoke suits and top hats, accompanied by ladies in floor-length emerald gowns with towering high heels, hovered outside the Roman Catholic basilica.
Then the white Rolls- Royce, ferrying a radiant bride clad in an intricate, beaded Monique Lhuillier gown, pulled up. It became clear to the curious passersby that the City of Lights was playing host to an African “royal” wedding.
Makeshe Olivia Ibru–the stunning businesswoman and daughter of Oskar C.J. Ibru, the prominent Nigerian industrialist, and Wanda Elaine Oskar-Ibru, a philanthropist–had arrived to marry her beloved, Kayode Fredriek Awogboro.
Awogboro, a hunky risk-management expert, is the son of Prince Francis Awogboro and his wife Adetokunbo Awogboro.
Throngs of family, friends and other well-wishers flew in from Nigeria, the United States and Europe to attend.
Paris holds a special place for the bride, who went to school here and decided to have her church wedding here after a traditional African ceremony in Nigeria weeks earlier.
More than 600 guests later retreated to an exquisite, flower-filled pavilion inside the Bois de Boulogne, Paris’ gigantic park, for cocktails. Cuban cigars, champagne and many varieties of hors d’oeuvres flowed.
The beaming parents had an opportunity to catch up with every guest as a string quartet provided the music before dinner.
For dinner, it was lobster, foie gras, beef filet, truffles and every top-shelf drink imaginable. Cake and a dessert buffet followed.
“This is simply fabulous and very well done,” said Tyrone Malloy, an Atlanta physician. It was he who delivered the bride 26 years ago and has remained close to the Ibru family.
The doctor was one of many who made the trip from the United States, where the bride’s American mother, Wanda Ibru, has deep family ties. (Also among the guests were Amsterdam News Publisher Elinor Tatum and her family.)
Nenesi Ibru, the bride’s sister, recounted to guests how one night outside a club in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, she urged the groom to go talk to her sister.
“And one way or another, he had to be a part of this family.”
Dancing capped off the celebrations, with guests leaving the venue at 1:30 a.m. to head back to their hotels.
The DJ, who was flown in, thrilled the crowd, but the bridesmaids also moved many by approximating the Spice Girls and becoming “African Spice” as they sang a tribute to Kayode and Makeshe.
The irony of a predominantly European staff waiting on, feeding and driving around Africans was not lost on many of the guests. Indeed, it was the night before, at a lavish soiree hosted by the parents at the Shangri-La Hotel, across from the Eiffel Tower, that folks beamed at the sight of one African employee.
Throughout the festivities, proud father Oskar Ibru, who runs one of Nigeria’s largest conglomerates, frequently told his guests how overjoyed he was at his daughter’s choice.
Yet at times he waxed nostalgic. His baby was all grown up and leaving his home to start hers. The couple will make their home in Lagos.