Seventy-year-old veteran journalist, Joseph Edegbo, fondly called “Digital Elder” and his 69-year-old soul mate, Janet Edegbo, recently celebrated their golden jubilee (50 years) wedding anniversary in Kaduna. The man hails from Abocho while the mother of his nine children, all graduates, hails from Iyale. The two close towns are located in Dekena Local Government Area of Kogi State. SOLA OJO visited the couple in their Kaduna home located around Television Garage area in Kaduna South Local Government Area of the state. And, during his visit, they both shared with him their 50 years experiences in marriage. Excerpts:
While we thank God for keeping you together as husband and wife all these years, could you tell us how you met before two of you got married?
Husband: Let’s begin by giving God the glory for all these years. After my secondary education in 1967, from Okene Secondary School, I decided to join the Army. After the then ongoing Civil War, I married at the age of 20. It was during the civil war that my parents advised me to marry because of uncertainties associated with wars where anything could happen. Traditionally, parents want one, especially male child, to have continuity in lineage and my case was not an exception at least, as obtainable then. I had to oblige and sent them my picture requesting them to look for a girl as I would not be chanced or allowed to leave the war front for such a purpose. That was the beginning. Fortunately, my parents found what would be suitable for their son after assessing her and her parental background. That process took place around 1969. Fortunately for us, the civil war ended in January, 1970. Few months after the civil war, I was deployed from the East to Jimeta, Yola, in the then North East and granted leave. It was during that period that I travelled home and met her. We were joined together in holy matrimony on the 16th of May, 1970.
Was it the same thing with you, or are there details you would like to add, at least on your own part?
Wife: Yes, the marriage to him then was perfected by our parents. It was not something difficult because the two families were able to do the background checks since our homes are not far from each other. That was how it went, and more importantly, my parents knew his parents, hence they gave their consent and blessing to the marriage.
Sir, you forgot to share with us your transition from a military man to a broadcaster with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria?
Husband: Oh that. In 1979, there was a decision by then military government to demobilise the Army. I was a trained man from Nigerian Army Signal and we offered supports to troops on the battle front. So, I applied to go since I was still young and fortunately, my name came out among those that wished to go. I later returned to Kaduna from Lagos. Someone called me from FRCN Kaduna to come and see whether I can manage their telephone for them because the media outfit was privileged to have telephone at that time. That was a simple thing for me as a trained signaler and that was how I was employed. A few months after, I was converted to reportorial staff and I served in different stations across the country. I retired about 10 years ago based on statutory age of retirement of 60 because I had spent some years in the military as a support staff.
So, was there a time in that process when an opposition rose from either side, giving contrary reason why you should not become husband and wife?
Husband: Going by the picture I painted, one should not expect any opposition.
Wife: There was no opposition from anywhere. As it was the tradition then, I was just a daughter to my parents. So, no opposition. Not at all. None from anywhere.
What made you decide to go for your wife out of the many ladies available for a pick within that period?
Husband: In those days, parents had a great role to play in one’s marriage. They didn’t count much on facial beauty, rather on the character and the parental background of the girl you intended to marry.
What qualities made you choose him above other eligible bachelors or suitors within that period?
Wife: Although I had not met him, the investigation I carried out about him after I was approached as well as his parental background and the consent of my own parents made me go for him.
How did you propose to her? What exactly did you say to her as to make her accept to marry you?
Husband: All that was needed to win a girl in marriage had been done by my parents.
What did you say when he proposed? What exactly did he say and what was your reply?
Wife: When one of his sisters approached me, I told her to let me think over it. I then informed my mother who later hinted my father and they both subsequently gave their consent before I got back to the sister. Then everything came into open.
What do you remember most about your wedding?
Husband: It was a large assemblage of church elders, members, relations and friends, especially from my wife’s side because she lived at home. I could remember one of her close friends who was also being dated by a soldier shedding tears openly as we were about to take off from the village.
Could you remember your first misunderstanding in marriage and how did you handle it?
Husband: I cannot remember vividly, our first misunderstanding. But there have been minor misunderstandings and we managed them without involving a third party. Apart from looking back at the advice given to us during our wedding which have been our watchwords, we did all we could to imbibe the spirit of patience. She remained submissive while I maintained my obligations as the husband – to respect and love her. Luckily for me too, she was brought up in a Christian family and she is a strong member of her church choir.
Wife: You know, it is said that a soldier is always a soldier. My husband sometimes gives orders or directives on top of his voice. But, I always respond with calmness or jokingly asked whether he is still a soldier, or whether the effect of that injection they said they always give them is still remaining in his body? And, we laugh over it and it ends there.
Was there a time either of you was not readily available due to one engagement or the other?
Husband: I served outside Kaduna for 15 years and my wife was in charge of the home as at that time. She got used to it and God intervened in the upbringing of our nine children and all of them are graduates.
What’s your spouse’s favourite food?
Husband: Her favourite food are rice and beans, jollof, pounded yam with beans soup or draw soup.
Wife: He enjoys white rice, porridge beans, pounded yam with draw or egusi soup.
And, what do you like most about your spouse?
Wife: My husband cares for the family and outsiders too. This is a man who likes to give out, even to deny himself or the family some things in order to make others happy.
Husband: My wife always advises me on certain issues leading to positive results. She is hard-working and toilsome to make ends meet, a situation that made us train and bring up our children. God blessed us with nine children and all of them are graduates. To the glory of God, three of them are architects.
What areas would you like to see your spouse improve?
Husband: At this our aging period, what we have been doing to sustain ourselves so far, would be maintained. Having put God first in all we do, He will continue to lead us to perfection in all we do.
Wife: Like what my husband said, we would like to get committed to remembering God in all we do before death does us part.
What advice do you have for a young bachelor who intends to marry?
Husband: My advice is, he would need to get matured, plan well and be self-sustained before going into marriage.
What advice do you have for a spinster who intends to marry?
Wife: The spinster should not act like ostrich that hides its head in the sand, thinking that nobody sees it, whereas, the whole body remains outside for all to see and even decide what to do with it.
As a spinster, many eyes are on you. You may not know where a suitor could come from, hence, the need to be mannerly, respectful, dress moderately and avoid materialistic tendencies.
In the light of rampant divorce cases these days, from your own personal experiences, what pieces of advice would you want to give to newly married couples on how to make their marriage last as long as your own has lasted?
Husband: The advice that would guide couples to sustain marriage is for them to imbibe the spirit of patience and tolerance. The wife should be submissive to the husband, while the husband respects and loves the wife. Once you allow these attributes in a home, there is bound to be peace and togetherness. There is also the need to avoid bringing a third party into their affairs, even parents. Ultimately, they should fear God, respect man and remain prayerful.