Some weddings are classy. Some are merry. Some are exclusive. Some are emotional. The wedding of Nigerian-American celebrity artist, Mekka Don and his sweetheart, Ms. Stephanie Jna Baez was all of the above, and more. The 2-day out-of-this-world private destination wedding in gorgeous Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, was no surprise to all those who knows the groom as a man of eclectic style.
Mekka Don, born Chukuemeka (Emeka) Nnamdi Onyejekwe, is the son of Professor Okey Onyejekwe, PhD, and United Nations diplomat, and Professor Egondu Onyejekwe nee Ezirim, PhD, Systems Engineer and Professor of Health Informatics.
Born in the early 1980s as the youngest of four children, Mekka Don grew up with his parents; his older brother, L. Okey Onyejekwe, Jr., MD, Esq, a family Physician and Attorney who is the CEO of Zobreus, a tech start-up in Silicon Valley; his older sister, Professor Jacqueline Nwando Olayiwola nee Onyejekwe, MD, MPH, also a family physician, the Director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care, Associate Professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and World Renowned Primary Care leader; his immediate older sister, Ms. Sylvia Ifeyinwa Onyejekwe, Esq, an Attorney with her own law firm that specializes in family law.
Emeka, very much a fan of his older siblings, was always determined to find his own path and become his own person. At a young age, he took an interest in music and learned to play the drums, which he ultimately played in a band with his older brother and fellow Nigerian-American friend.
Graduating at the top of his St. Francis DeSales high school class with a perfect 4.0 GPA, Emeka was a state Champion in both American football and soccer and then went to the Ohio State University as both a scholar and an athlete, joining the Ohio State University football team. Graduating from college in only 3 years, Emeka took a year off to study and acquaint himself with the music and entertainment scene in New York. And it was in that year, full of high profile TV appearances, modeling bookings and music appearances, that Mekka Don was born.
Before he started Law school at New York University the following year, Mekka Don had already splashed onto the scene with a vigor that everyone knew would take him places…like Cabo San Lucas.
But before Cabo, Mekka Don has become a household name in many states in the USA, either for his anthems that have energized sports fan bases across the country like “Juice,” and “Let’s Go,” his more ubiquitous songs about forward and upward mobility like “Pilot Boys” and “Here We Go,”, or his critically acclaimed album released in 2014, “The Dream Goes On,” which has a short interlude that any child of Nigerian heritage can relate to. Mekka Don has performed his music across the United States often in sell out crowds, as well as Nigeria and Dubai. While completing his law degree and becoming an Attorney in the State of New York, Mekka Don continued to build his brand and portfolio. His youtube docudrama, “Legal Hustler,” chronicles his story as a young entertainer and 6-figure salaried lawyer, who despite working at one of the top law firms in the United States, was looking for something more.
Many wondered who would steal this young man’s heart and 10 years ago, he began a journey with the lovely Jna Baez, which ended, or truly now began, in Cabo San Lucas in April 2016.
Ms. Baez, now Mrs. Onyejekwe, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and is the pride and joy of her late father and her mother, Pamela Robinson. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) and currently works in management hospitality for one of the most exquisite boutique hotels in New York.
She has joined Mekka Don and his family on two trips to Nigeria, to better understand his heritage as well as what would soon be hers. Given the names “Ajoke,” “Ndidi” and “Adamma” by various elders in Mekka Don’s family and extended family, Jna immersed herself into Nigerian culture and traditions, so much that the wedding experience in Cabo was greatly infused with Nigerian customs and details.
This wedding was everything one would have expected from a celebrity like Mekka Don, and his lovely bride. The couple has traveled all across the United States and to Dubai, where they were engaged, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Nigeria , but it was in Mexico that they chose to celebrate their love for each other and say “I do”. And truly, the weekend of events brought together so many of their shared experiences.
The weekend began with a Friday evening traditional ceremony at the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Spa and Resort in Cabo San Lucas, with perfect weather and a private beach setting where guests could enjoy, kick their shoes off, and dance on the dance floor or in the sand. It was fun all the way.
From the table settings to the full spread of Nigerian food, which Mekka Don’s mother assisted the resort staff in cooking, the event was a taste of Nigeria for the Nigerian and American families alike.
As the Master of Ceremonies, Emmanuel Ezirim, RpH, also known as E-doggy Dogg welcomed guests with “Igbo kwenu” and other greetings, the guests were all mesmerized by the aroma of jolloff rice, stewed meat, okra soup, fried dodo and pounded yam. The Chairman gave his opening remarks and the event kicked off with prayer. The bride, chose a beautiful handmade Nigerian lace and organza gown, strapped with embedded coral jewelry and coral headgear fit for a queen, made her first appearance and greeted her guests and well wishers. The bride was then escorted out by her aso-ebi women as a medley music flowed.
Later, the groom’s Uncle Emma explained the tradition of Igba Nkwu, wine carrying, to the bride’s Uncle who served as the bride’s father figure. He now sipped the palm wine from the wooden cup and asked his niece to carry the wine to the man she wants to spend the rest of her time with. And the festivities began! Jna, with her aso-ebi accompaniments complete with coral beads, searched the crowd for her beau, while getting cat-calls from some of Mekka Don’s friends, former football players, musicians and other professionals, all to the popular “My Darling” by Tiwa Savage. But fortunately, Jna found her man, Mekka Don, in the crowd, so when she handed him the palm wine and he sipped it in acceptance, the crowd roared with excitement and Mekka Don and Jna headed onto the dance floor in great spirit.
The rest of the night featured dancing and spraying of the bride and groom, toasts to the parents of the bride and groom, eating and other festivities. Mekka Don’s nephew, Mr. Darius Arinze Olayiwola, read a heartfelt prayer and toast to the couple. His Uncle Emma, accompanied by Mekka Don’s Uncle, Chudi Omameh, led the “league of nephews” for a traditional War dance, including his own sons, Nnamdi Ezirim, Kamsi Ezirim, and Arinze Ezirim, and Mekka Don’s nephews – Demetrius Emeka Akpan, Darius Arinze Olayiwola, & Tres Onyejekwe.
Later, Mekka Don’s mother, Dr. Ego Onyejekwe, joined by Mekka Don’s Aunt, Mrs. Ego Omameh, RN, did a traditional Igbo mpete dance to acknowledge the bride and groom, after which the floor was opened again for some more dancing. At the end of the night, a special fireworks show capped off what was a spectacular evening.
The next morning, the sun was shining bright in Cabo, and the wedding party assembled for a run through of the white wedding at the Pueblo Bonito Sunset resort.
The children laughed and played, and some of the young boys and girls were hesitant to link up their arms for fear it would indicate they would get married soon. It was an enjoyable rehearsal, and the couple, along with their attendants and families, were in bright spirits. The wedding organizers ensured that every detail was reviewed, and practiced, and that there was plenty of room for the bridal and groom parties to put their own swag on it! The church wedding rehearsal finished with plenty of time for participants and guests to enjoy the sand and blue water beaches of Cabo before the evening event.
That evening, everything was perfect for D-Day!. The guests arrived to a splendid cocktail reception in the foyer of the Pueblo Bonito Chapel, with bubbly champagne, delicious canapes, and a smooth jazz and mariachi band. Though the bride was yet to be seen, as she was prepared and pampered for her special day, the groom and his men were busy posing for photos, entertaining guests and soaking in the sounds and the scene.
After an hour of socializing, the wedding processional started in complete elegance. The groom was accompanied into the Chapel, followed by the mother of the bride and the parents of the groom who all turned out in lovely outfits.
They were followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen who entered the chapel with joy. Other members of the party included the Junior Brides – Zuri and Jasmine, Angel Ezirim, Junior Grooms – Demetrius Emeka Akpan, Darius Arinze Olayiwola; the ring bearers – Mr. L. Okey Onyejekwe, III (Tres) and Ms. Sage Onyejekwe, and finally, the flower girl Ms. Nissi Amara Olayiwola who ensured that the “red carpet” was fully adorned with lovely flowers in preparation for the bride.
Following this beautiful and classy procession, we finally caught a glimpse of the bride, who, accompanied by her two grandfathers, entered the chapel in full splendor, to the famous ballad Here and Now by Luther Vandross. Mekka Don’s jaw dropped when he saw his beautiful bride and the rest of the guests gasped in love. The ceremony, conducted both in Spanish and English, consisted of the usual exchange of vows and the rings, a symbolic pouring of sand by the bride and groom into a shared vessel, a metaphor for the new union that cannot be easily separated. Finally, the bride and groom shared their kiss, amidst the excitement of their guests, and the giggles of their little nieces and nephews. The cheers when they finally said “I do” was awesome.
After the couple signed the marriage register and were presented with their certificate, they exited the church in probably the most enjoyable chapel exit ever, dancing to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” reminiscent of President and Michelle Obama’s admiration for the famous tune. Though there were tears earlier in the ceremony, everyone was full of smiles and energy during the exit and the guests danced their way out after the bridal party.
As expected, the couple joined by family and friends spent time taking pictures for posterity ,later, an entourage of golf carts escorted guests from the chapel down to the reception hall, where they were seated in the beautiful dimly lit décor of the room. The ambience was heavenly.
As the Master of Ceremonies announced the arrival of the bride and groom, they entered the hall in grand style, waltzing lovingly to their well- choreographed first dance and the song of choice was “So amazing” by Luther Vandross. What a wonderful surprise for the guests-no one expected it and it was in perfect sync!
The reception ceremony continued smoothly with lovely fusion of Nigerian and American elements, including the breaking and sharing of the Kolanut, introduction and remarks of the Chairman, Dr. Julius Kpaduwa, MD, who then paved the way for Mekka Don’s oldest nephew, Mr. Demetrius Akpan, to deliver a heartfelt prayer.
Through dinner, guests were entertained by compelling toasts, first from Mekka Don’s best friend, Indian brother and long time business partner and manager, Mr. Viswant Korrapati, MBA, who spoke about their years growing up together and their pre Mekka Don days, plus the strength of the family that Mekka Don comes from, which has contributed to his success.
There was a lovely a moving toast by the maid of honor and cousin of the bride, Dr. who spoke about her years of fun with the bride. She shared fond childhood memories and expressed the fact that she was losing part of her soul.
In the final toast, Mekka Don’s older brother, Dr. L. Okey Onyejekwe, Jr. provided a funny yet sentimental glimpse into his relationship with his younger brother, asking the crowd-“how the ‘bleep’ did we end up in Cabo?”-to which, at the end of the toast, there was a simple answer. We ended up in Cabo at a lovely destination wedding because Mekka Don asked us, and we all know that this is the type of wedding he would have and very much deserves.
The remainder of the reception was formality free, with a special Ojojo dance by Mekka Don’s mother Dr. Ego Onyejekwe and other women supporters. A nice touch was added to the day’s excitement when professional singer and friend of the bride’s family, Mr. Darryl Phimesse serenaded guests by belting Luther Vandross’ Always and Forever-there was certainly no dull moment as the couple and guests later took to the floor to show their dancing skills.
Professor (Dr.) Okey Onyejekwe, Mekka Don’s father, who came to the wedding from Nigeria, was all smiles and shared a few special dances with his son and new bride.
When the night ended, Mekka Don and Jna gave warm thanks to their supporters and closed out the evening with another emotional dance.
According to his older sister, Dr. Olayiwola “For those of us who have known Mekka Don before he was Mekka Don, we’ve known him to be classy yet simple, confident yet humble, private yet social, funny yet serious, exclusive yet inclusive, and understated yet brilliant”
As one of his older brother’s college friends said when he first met Emeka in the mid-1990s, “Emeka brings sunshine to any room.” And it’s that same sunshine that has been part of Emeka as he became the famous Mekka Don, his stayed with him through all of his successes, and finally led him to sunny Cabo for one of the most memorable, beautiful and elegant wedding weekends ever.