By Vera Wisdom-Bassey
Rt. Rev. Henry Olumakaiye, the Anglican Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos passed on last Sunday, October 30, 2022, at the age of 53. Born on January 28, 1969, he was elected for translation into the Diocese of Lagos on February 6, 2018, and enthroned as the eighth Bishop of Lagos on Monday, July 30, 2018, at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos. On September 25, 2021, he became the Archbishop of the Province of Lagos and was officially enthroned on November 7, 2021, at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Gwarimpa. But before his death, he had what was perhaps his last newspaper interview, with Saturday Sun. In it, the Archbishop and his wife, Prof. Monturayo Funke Olumakaiye of the Department of Nutrition and Consumer Sciences at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, talked about how they met and married in 1997.
Rev. Olumakaiye, who met Funke while he was a seminarian at the Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, believed that their meeting was not just by happenstance but God-ordained. “I met her in the church. Then she was a chorister there. I visited their church to hold a revival programme. Then I was a student in the theological college. By divine arrangement, we connected as friends but with no strings attached initially. What I can say is that it was the Lord who led me to her at All Saints Anglican Church, Ondo Diocese.”
Made for each other
His wife thinks the same. so too. She said: “I strongly believe that the two of us were meant for each other as ordained by God. There had not been any moment of regret since we got married, 25 years ago. I got married on my 25th birthday. I was born on January 18 and got married on January 18. So, I thank God I did not miss the will of God for my life.”
But in believing so, she did not forget the part her dad played in making that divine arrangement possible. She recalled: “That day we met for the first time, I did not want to attend the church programme. But my dad encouraged me to go as a chorister. As an obedient child, I obeyed and we met. What this means is that, if I did not obey my dad that day, maybe I would have missed my husband. So, God used my dad.”
God also used Rev. Olumakaiye’s generous spirit, she said. “He was a very quiet person, humble, committed, selfless and generous. He really lavished me with gifts while I was in the university. That was before making his intention known. He bought me a fan, radio and shoe rack. He would buy something for me every year. He bought the shoe rack I used throughout my university days. He bought bags and purses for me. So he was very generous. Honestly, the most memorable day of my life was the day I got married to him.”
Rev. Olumakaiye felt the same way too about his wife who he regarded as his own “jewel of inestimable value.” Asked what he liked about her, he said: “She is my angel, a woman of great substance. I draw my spiritual strength from her. She is humble and generous. She is a Bible-believing Christian, a woman of all parts. She is a divine gift to me and our ministry. She is also beautiful to a fault.”
For those who might want to nurse some untrue suppositions in their minds by facts revealed so far about their relationship, his wife clarified: “We connected as friends, no strings attached. The friendship later metamorphosed into marriage. When we met, I already had friends because I grew up among boys. Most of my friends were decent boys. So, I just saw him as one of those male friends I had. It was in my third year at the university that he came out to say he was interested in taking the relationship from friendship to another level. At that time, he was already praying for the will of God and we were already close, so I had no option but to say yes.”
Points of attraction
This fact was confirmed by her husband, the late Archbishop Olumakaiye: “In her university days then whenever I visited her, I would tell her that I wanted to take our relationship to another level. By then I was praying for a life partner, while she was still in the university and about to round off.” But Prof, Olumakaiye insisted that the God-ordained meeting and her husband’s generosity were not the only things that won her heart but the conviction that it was the will of God for them to marry. “As a child of God, I knew Christ very early in life, at age 16. I gave my life to Him as I was leaving secondary school. So, I have always known that the best path to tread in life is the will of God. So, growing up and while in the university, praying, he came along. I prayed about it and God gave me the go-ahead that he is the man for my life.”
Asked what attracted her to him, she mentioned his humble carriage, among other virtues. The proof of love in marriage does not lie in that initial glow when the going is good and life is wrapped in emotions, but what that love becomes as life goes through challenges, lacks, sicknesses and misunderstandings. Prof. Olumakaiye said her husband seemed to have it all.
She said: “I thank God that I did not make a mistake. Marriage is like a black market that you go into with so many uncertainties. But marrying my husband was a blessing. Anytime I looked back and remember the day that I said ‘I do’, signed away my maiden name and picked his name, I always gave thanks to God. My husband had been so supportive. He believed in me. He gave me the platform to leverage and discover my talents, potential, ability, and capability. There is nothing I wanted that he did not support. He was the force behind what I have achieved in life. If you marry the man ordained by God, you would have things very easy. He was not contentious. The way he related with people outside was the way he related with people at home.”
Virtues that cemented their relationship
His wife said of Rev. Olumakaiye who bagged his first degree in Religious Studies from the University of Ibadan and a Master’s degree in Religious Studies in 2001, before going further to obtain a doctorate degree in Church History and Doctrine from the same university: “He was the one that went to get my Master’s degree form for me at the University of Ibadan as a gift because I got married to him as a youth corps member. He travelled one day and came back with an envelope and gave it to me as a gift. I told you he is used to giving gifts. When I opened the envelope, I discovered it was an application form for a postgraduate programme and he insisted I should fill it. In fact, he went to submit it. Throughout my stay, he would always drive me to school, play with me and support me. When I completed my Master’s degree, he was still the same person that went to collect the form for my Ph.D., even though I did not want to do it. So, he saw me through. On every of my trip abroad, he supported me. There was no conference I wanted to attend that he did not support. There was never a dissenting voice when it comes to my career. In 2008, I won a prestigious award from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was a career development programme specifically for women in academia. The award took me to about five continents. So, those two years of the award were very demanding because every other month, I would have reasons to travel abroad leaving the home front in pursuit of the golden fleece. He really filled that gap. You know we have some husbands that would have said ‘this one you are flying about, why not stay back at home?’ But, he supported me all way.
“Humphrey is the love of my life, very charismatic, humble, patience, God-fearing, very prayerful, energetic, very resourceful. He is a different package. But a good package made specially for me.”
The late Archbishop, a native of Idanre, Ondo State, started his education at St. Michael’s primary school, Esie in 1975. Born at Okene into the family of the Venerable and Mrs. T.A. Olumakaiye, he started his secondary school education at Government Secondary School, Omu-Aran, Kwara State in 1982. In 1983, he left Omu-Aran to conclude his education at Cherubim Seraphim Secondary School, Ilorin in 1986. He became a deacon in June 1993 and was ordained a priest in December same year by E.A. Ademowo, Bishop of Ilesha Diocese. This was after his training and graduation from Immanuel College of Theology. He started his ministry at Christ the Saviour Anglican Church, Cappa, Ilesa, Osun State in June 1993. At the age of 40, he was elected Bishop on May 22, 2009 and consecrated as one on Sunday, July 12, 2009 in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. He was enthroned on Thursday, July 16, 2009 at Cathedral Church of St. Philip’s, Otan Ayegbaju, as the first Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Osun North-East.
His wife noted: “When I married my husband, he was a young Reverend. I never knew we would come this far. But I supported him. It is not all that glitters that is gold. Money can finish, and when it finishes you would see some women running out of wedlock. When there is love, it lasts. But when you put your journey in prayer God will guide you. If spinsters could pray, God will give them the right man.”
She hinged the success of their marriage on love, endurance, prayers, love, faith and patience. “All is not a bed of roses, but when there is a problem you go to God in prayers and He will grant you a solution.”
And from these come from her a bouquet of advice for spinsters praying to get their own husbands: “Most ladies marry for money. Others are afraid of going into marriage for obvious reasons such as domestic violence, divorce, infidelity, side chicks and all of that. But I believe that when you are in the will of God and you marry the right person, not for money but for love, you would be able to stand even when a storm comes. Spinsters should not allow the news making the rounds to discourage them. If you will invite Jesus into the business, you will sail through.”