When did you get married?
Wife: We got married in 1966. Three to four months into the Nigerian civil war. We had to go home. We lived in Lagos at 57 Martins Street, Mushin. I was pregnant with my first child when I travelled. From there we went to Port Harcourt, Rivers State. When the war became fiercer we left for the village till the war ended. I was in the village with my husband’s mother and his other siblings till he got a job again then we returned to Lagos. Till now, we have no problem. We’ve been managing this world and moving forward.
How did you meet?
Wife: Someone saw me going to church at St Theresa, Abba in Nwangele Local Government area of Imo State, and she followed me home. It’s a woman related to him. Then the following day she brought them to the house and I ran as I recognised her as the woman I saw in the church the previous day. I was 16 or 17 then. I and my mum’s elder sister stayed in Lagos then, but as I was in school, my brother told her to bring me back. I was in elementary 6. It was in that process that I went to church and they saw me and came home with me. They started asking questions, my brother happened to be somebody that he knew from Port Harcourt.
Why did you run home?
Wife: My brother didn’t allow me to go to the market because if I did, someone must come back home with me, indicating interest in marrying me. They didn’t let me rest at all. If I went to church it’s still the same thing. So that day, I was sent to market, called Nkwo Ebu at Abba, they followed me home and I recognised her from the church. They asked about my mum. She met her, and she told them that she didn’t have the authority to give her consent except my elder brother. Then they went to him to make enquiries.
When you saw him, did you like him?
Wife: I didn’t see him at all. It’s his siblings that came. He was in Lagos and it’s his brother that did everything until he started his annual leave and came over and I saw him for the first time.
When you saw him, what did you like about him?
Wife: It’s not like now. In those days, your opinion didn’t count. If your mother says you should go, you go. I saw him as a mature man, I had no other thoughts as I was underage then, I was just 20.
When you saw her, what did you like about her?
Husband: When I went on leave, I carried my white bicycle home. I was told that they found a woman for me that we were going to see her. That day I was hoping that she won’t want to marry me because I wasn’t ready as I didn’t have enough money. When I got there, I parked the bicycle and sounded the bell, immediately she saw me, she jumped out and ran, I told my brothers I liked her. Then I went back to Lagos and started looking for money as I didn’t expect that I would get married at that time. My brother was helping a lot and completed the whole thing. When they finished it, then I was living in one bedroom. I wanted to get ready before they brought her. There was no telephone, no message, unless you saw someone who was going to the village you could not send messages. So my thought was that she’s coming. I had only one chair. So one day when I came home from work she was there with my brother, I was happy as my brother said I should see my wife. I cooked something because I knew how to cook, no woman cooks better than me, I had already got together soup condiments waiting for them. I prepared it, gave them water to have their bath then I dished my sweet soup for them and they ate. That’s how we started living together as husband and wife.
It’s about 51 years now, how has this union been?
Husband: It’s been smooth, I feel that she is from a good family and I’m also from a good family, things are moving well with us.
What do you really like about her?
Husband: What I like about her is that she’s obedient, she doesn’t criticise me on any issue at all. We live peacefully and she’s sweet.
Was there any challenge you had as a young married man?
Husband: There wasn’t any challenge as at that time. When my siblings told me that I was going to get married, I had made up my mind. I started to save. It wasn’t bad at all, I didn’t have challenges at all.
As a young lady who was not expecting to get married but things turned out the way they did, what were the early challenges you had?
Wife: When my brother said that I’d go to school and I came, I didn’t see school, I assumed it had to be about getting married. My mum already told me. So my husband married me the way he said. If good things happen to him it does for me too, if things become hard for him it becomes hard for me too, that’s how it is. I don’t talk much and same with him, I stay on my own. The only reason I talk is because of my children, I can stay till night and you won’t hear my voice but when I gave birth then I started talking.
What do you really like about him?
Wife: I like his patience. Someone who doesn’t have patience can’t live in marriage. My mum told me that it’s patience that you need to stay in your husband’s house. Even if the money he gives you isn’t enough, just manage it. My late sister too told me that I shouldn’t look elsewhere, that I’d definitely have temptations, the same advice my mum gave to me was what she gave me too. She told me whatever I know that would cause quarrel, that I should not do it, if he annoys me I should tell him, so that there won’t be tension.
How do you know when he is angry?
Wife: If I do something that makes him angry and I come back home, he won’t welcome me. After some time when he comes to terms, he waves off the anger and greets me. We’re all humans and we get angry, but the idea is not to let that anger cause trouble.
Did anybody oppose your marriage?
Wife: No, nobody. I didn’t really have friends. I didn’t usually go out unless I went to church. I was a chorister at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Abba. That was all I went out to do as I was the last born.
Husband: Nobody opposed us. They all supported the marriage. People were even surprised at how I got her. She’s a hardworking, and prudent woman. If there’s no money for food and we didn’t eat, nobody else would know. At a point ,we had to sell firewood. I’d use the car to fetch firewood and she would cut them and tie them up. Sometime we’d have to go to Agege to get them. She’d cut them all and sell, so it hasn’t been white collar jobs we have been doing to survive. She’s very hardworking. Everybody in my family knows she hasn’t had any quarrel with anybody.
Is there anything he does that you don’t like?
Wife: The thing is that if he does something and I tell him immediately that I don’t like that thing, he would apologise, so that’s how we’re living.
How many children do you have?
Wife: We have nine children. I had a set of twins. We have three boys and six girls.
When the children started growing, how were you able to handle the situation?
Wife: We were able to achieve that because at that time my husband was working. When month ends he would buy foodstuffs such as gari, rice and yam. The only issue is when there’s nothing in the house, whatever is available we’d all eat with joy. All my children can cook, wash and do things around the house. Most of the time when I shout, he’d calm me down so that I shouldn’t get sick as a result, and I’d tell him that if I leave them they’d grow without knowing these things. When I give birth and he comes back from work, he pounds yam, cook for me, washes my clothes, except now that he doesn’t see anymore. He lost his sight about four years ago. When I go to the market to get foodstuffs before I come back, he’d sweep everywhere and wash everything. What I like about him is that If he comes in to meet the house dirty, he won’t call anyone to sweep it, rather before you know it, he’d pick up the broom and sweep. If you’re doing something important and you’re running out of time he’d assist you. For instance, if I’m washing clothes, he’d join me to wash them.
What’s the secret of the success of this marriage?
Wife: It is the glory of God. My husband helps me when I’m in difficulty.
What advice would you give to young married women?
Wife: Children of these days grew up differently. I’d advise them to be smart, understand tomorrow. Some of them can’t cook. When there is no money, then, there will be problem. So they should take it easy. Good things will always come. Have a good mind and be patient, God will bless them all. If you stay calm and wait on the Lord, God will always bless you. If you’re asking God for a child, you should ask him to provide you with the necessary things you need to train them and also the strength to train them. Always pay attention to your children’s every move. If it’s wrong, you’d scold the child. It’s not everything you leave for a child so the child won’t be spoilt. That’s the way a child would become a good person. While doing that, you’d also be praying to God for insight. That’s all for them, they should take it easy.
What do you have to tell intending couples?
Wife: Marriage is as sweet as sugar, and as bitter as bitter-leaf, but it’s not everything you see you have to talk about. For men, sometimes you should overlook certain things because if you keep looking at these things you won’t get married. If you keep looking at the way women behave, you won’t get married. It’s just about patience because nobody is perfect. There are situations where you annoy each other, but it’ll take love to correct it. Some people find it extremely hard to apologise to their spouse. There’s one boy I met on a bus and he stepped on me and said the last thing he would do in this world is to tell someone sorry. And I told him that he’s very wicked. There are people who can’t say sorry even when they are wrong. It is not good. Sorry can calm explosive situations.
What’s your advice to men who want to go into marriage?
Husband: Everything comes from the family. The way my mother and father lived that’s the same way we’re living. If a person is from a good family, even if he’s surrounded by bad people, he’d be excellent in all his endeavours. So when you want to get married, you have to mellow, so that you people can live in peace.
Also, trust in God, because if you put your trust in Him, there’s nothing you ask for that He won’t do for you. I used myself as an example. Before I have children, my prayer every morning was that since I didn’t go to school, my children must go to school, they must be highly educated. So, that was my prayer everyday and God did it for me. As I was training them, we were struggling, she was struggling to get a shop to sell firewood like when we were in Mushin, Lagos and we were training them in school. My two children – son and daughter gained admission to the university at the same time. I suggested she withdrew but after much deliberation we decided to let her go. We advised that she shouldn’t look at other people because they’re not the same and she maintained it. The day we had anything even if it was gari, we’d take and see her in Ife where she was. The brother cooks food, in University of Lagos, Akoka (UNILAG), where he was. When he cooked, he would also give to others. So all my children I brought them up to be smart. I didn’t really make money, but my prayer to God was for Him to provide for me to be able to provide for my children to go to school and He did it. My son who went to Western Germany recently already sent me money. The one in Australia sends me money too. So they’re doing well. We’re all doing well because it’s how you ask of the Lord that. He does for you.
How many grandchildren do you have?
Husband: We have 15 grandchildren.
What’s his best food?
Wife: He loves eating morsel with pepper soup. He loves it a lot. Once there is no morsel, you’d have problems with him. He loves morsel whatever you give him, he will eat.