The Bible says in Ephesians chapter 6: 1: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” That was exactly what Archbishop (Prof) Emma David Okafoagu did when his mother insisted that he should marry the wife she found for her. He obeyed and married the girl. For 50 years, the couple has lived together in peace and harmony, and the Archbishop is ever grateful to God and his mother for that. Okafoagu is the founder of New Covenant of God Mission, and National President, Mastered College Network. His wife, Bridget Eagle is also an ordained Bishop. They shared their marriage experiences with VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA.
Fifty years of marriage. How has it been?
Husband: We are still living together in peace. I was telling my children that since I had them they have not seen me quarrel with my wife.
Wife: I am still enjoying the marriage; it is like we started newly. It is what I had in mind that God gave to me. I have no problem with the marriage.
What were your early marriage challenges?
Wife: The challenges came from my mother in-law, but because of the love I have for my husband, I was able to overcome. My mother-in-law was a very tough woman. She had a huge physique (overbearing appearance) that people didn’t challenge her easily. In fact, I almost left the marriage after my first child because of her. But my husband handled the situation very well. I remember the day that someone came to marry me. It was their second time of visiting and my mother-in-law was passing by and saw them. When she inquired what was going on, she insisted that I would get married to no one else except his son and it happened like that. It was also that word that encouraged me to stay in the marriage.
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Ever thought of walking out of the marriage?
Husband: No. I have no reason to do that because when you have something that is comfortable for you, you should better hold on to it because you could walk out and enter into the den of lion. As a seasoned man of God who has dealt with the world and the church, it is better you hold on to that thing you cherish than to go and hold what you don’t know at all.
Did you make any promise to her when you were wooing her?
Husband: By then, I had nothing to offer and promise, and from the beginning of my life I don’t do promises. I was a palm wine tapper from a poor home. I didn’t want to make promises, but I worked to make my dreams come through. It is better than making promises I cannot fulfill.
When was it the last time you told your wife “I love you”?
Husband: I am not a very good husband in saying, “I love You”, but I am a very good husband in ‘doing’ love itself.
Husband: By caring, knowing that I know what she desires and I do my best to do it no matter how costly or painful it will be for me.
Do you still sleep together?
Husband: Yes but as a prophet I don’t have the custom to sleep with my wife every night. Some of the nights I separate myself and be able to pray and handle people’ problems. So as a prophet, I cannot be with the woman. Most nights I pray hourly and by morning I would get ready to go to the office to attend to people who had come for one thing or the other.
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Husband: No regrets, how can I? I married her when she was very young, she was a virgin when I married her. She gave me children. We have never settled any quarrel. People like her are very rare compared to what I see in the church. I am a church leader, I meet a lot of people and I know what is happening in some marriages. So I don’t have any regret at all.
Those qualities you saw in her when you married her, do you still find them?
Husband: Yes, they still remain. When I married her, she had a big breast and I was thinking that a woman with that kind of breast would be able to give me children because I love children and she did, and the children sucked the breast, and till today the breast is still what it was when I married her and I still enjoy it. It was 50 years ago.
What was the kind of woman you had in mind to marry before you met her?
Husband: My own marriage was a fortunate one because it was the product of my mother. My mother insisted that I must marry the daughter of her friend, instead of the one I wanted to marry, not knowing that it was God’s wish because I am not too good at certain things. If I had married these modern days women, I would have died.
What was the type of man did you intend to marry before you met him?
Wife: The thing is that, I don’t know how God knew what I had in mind. I like the name Emmanuel. When I was in secondary school, there was a boy that used to write a letter to me and each time he did that, he would put a ring inside, and his name was Emmanuel and I liked the name. The first time I saw this my husband, I was with my senior sister. He was riding a “monkey” bicycle. When he passed, my sister told me that it was Emmanuel, the son of our mother’s friend. I was angry that my sister did not tell me on time so I could look at him very well. But as God would have it, it happened that we got married. It is the will of God.
Did anyone oppose the marriage?
Wife: It was the time that people would like to block one’s marriage, so when they were coming, I didn’t tell my friend, a fellow member of the choir, until the day they came and I would go with them. So I thought it would not be nice not to tell her; she would not be happy to hear that I left without letting her know. So, I stopped by her place on my way to the market to get some of the things I would need. The only thing is that my brother brought a lamp and showed it on his face and told me whether I saw his face very well. What he meant was that I should be sure of whom I wanted to marry so that I won’t come back to complain after the marriage. He also did same to him.
After 50 years of marriage and as a Bishop who is engaged in different church activities, do you still find time to cook for your husband?
Wife: After Jesus, it is my husband. He does not eat out, so I can’t stop cooking for him. I don’t go out when he is out, so I can stay and prepare his food so he would find food to eat when he comes back.
What’s his best food?
Wife: He likes swallow, fufu or pounded yam, or Semovita with bitter leaf soup.
What do you like about your husband?
Wife: He is hardworking, handsome, organised, and he makes sacrifices for others especially his family and my family too. I like him mostly because he pampers me. He has never raised his voice on me. That is why I miss him greatly anytime he travels.
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What do you like about her?
Husband: She is humble, submissive, loyal, and she cooks delicious food. She takes good care of the children. My wife is peaceful and secretive. She does not tell anyone her secrets. She loves all our children, and she always accepts my weaknesses. She is so nice.
How many children do you have?
Wife: God blessed us with 10 children and they are doing well in their different endeavours.
What’s your advice to women?
Wife: To married women, I want to tell them that as far as both of you agreed to get married, remain there. No marriage is a bed of roses. Some women complain that their husbands are unfaithful, that is not the reason why you should also become wayward. Be reserved. It is not always bad, sometimes it could be better. I have no friend. I am not wayward, so why won’t my husband love me. At more than 60 years, I am like a 16 years old girl because I live a good life. It is bad to have extramarital affairs. Women should concentrate on training their children because at last they would reap the benefits if they train them very well. My husband was a palm wine tapper when we got married. There was a lady my husband went to tap palmwine. On our way home, flies were following us because flies like palm wine. Two ladies saw us and were making jest of us but I never cared. Today, my husband is not a palm wine tapper, we now live in splendour. Women should be patience. Also, it is good for a woman to take care of herself because of her future. Be good example to your children. Young girls should take care of themselves. Pray to God for a good husband.
What is your advice to men?
Husband: As it stands now, the men are fooling 70% of the women they want to marry, cheating them, duping them in the name of marriage and dumping them without marrying them. It is an abomination before God and the land. Some men say that the cheap way to have easy and cheap sex with a woman is to tell her that you would marry her, and the woman would surrender herself, money, car, property, etc. This act is also an abomination before God and the land. The worst is that some of the men that do that are married men with children. They just deceive them because they know what they are going to get. This thing happens most often in the cities.
Some girls visit their boyfriends and leave their pants, bra, and clothes there. Is it a law that you must leave your pants and bra in a man’s bedroom before he marries you? Believe in God. I don’t advise them to go to prayer houses where they would ask them to bring money and other things to use in praying for them to get married. They should be patient. God is everywhere. They should stop going to prophets that would dupe them. Before they were born, God has assigned men to them. God knows the weaknesses of everybody. Their husbands will locate them when time comes.