MADELE had never been lazy. She was well known for her industry and commitment to everything she laid her hands on. Her parents were poor,
and they barely managed to support her education up to
her O’ Levels. She did not do well in her high school leaving examination and so could not get admission for further stud- ies. Her mother fried akara, yam and plantain by the roadside near their house. She also fried buns, which Madele would hawk when she got back from school. Madele decided to focus on helping her mother with the roadside food business and, that way, she saved enough money to retake her school-leaving certificate examination and this time she passed. She attended a local polytechnic and received an Ordinary National Diploma (OND). Shortly after, she was employed as a catering officer in the civil service in Menge State. Madele’s first marriage was
to a colleague she met when she was on a catering training programme. He too was a civil servant, working in another state. They got married and they were happy at first, until pres- sure started mounting on them to have children. Five years and one pregnant mistress later, Madele found herself without a husband or roof over her head.
Madele moved in with a relative of hers while she tried to put her life back together again. Fortunately, she had never stopped working in the civil service, and because she was good at her job and quite pleasant to work with, she did well. She teamed up with other caterers and took on catering jobs on the side over the week- end. The extra work brought in surplus income, which Madele invested in catering equip- ment of her own, and she also started travelling to places like Dubai and China to buy and sell items, ranging from clothing to catering goods. Madele was so successful, she wanted to start building her own house, but
her relatives advised her not to because she had no husband
or children and she would
not find another husband, if
she appeared too prosperous. Madele met Simon, a local secondary school teacher, at the church she attended. Simon had never been married. He told her that a woman he dated for six years jilted him a few weeks to their wedding and left the country with another man to live in the United States. Since then, Simon had been wary of women and was not very trust- ing. Madele felt she had met
a kindred spirit who had also known pain, so she opened her heart to him. Two years after they were married, Madele and Simon had a daughter, Patience. As can be imagined, they were both over the moon. As the years went by, they tried to have more children, but when this did not happen, they decided to be grateful for the blessing they had received in Patience.
Madele was by now a senior catering officer in the state
civil service, and she was one of those responsible for running the kitchens in the Govern- ment House. Working for the First Family of the state was considered to be the crème de la crème of government post- ings. Civil servants schemed, lobbied, and visited pastors and the likes to secure such coveted postings. Madele did not have to do any of those things, her work spoke for her and, over time, she served three First Families. Simon decided to leave his teaching job because of the low pay and went into farming. When that did not go well, he started a printing busi- ness with a friend. Soon, that business started going south too, so Simon decided to focus on pastoral work and became one of the pastors in his church. Madele was always willing to help Simon out with capital for his ventures when he needed
it. They also started building a house together. When Madele paid for the land they used, she did not think twice before put- ting Simon’s name on the docu- ments. Whenever Simon had money, he would contribute to the construction costs, but Mad- ele paid at least 70 per cent of the cost for their house. Most of Madele’s income went towards either supporting Simon’s busi- ness ideas, running their home, or building their house.
Madele started noticing changes in Simon’s attitude towards her once their house was completed. Madele spent most nights during the week in her official quarters in Govern- ment House, which was the usual practice, to have oversight of all the kitchen and domestic staff. She would go home for weekends to spend time with her family. Simon also visited her in Government House, oc- casionally. It was Patience who dropped a hint that another woman was visiting their home during the week. Madele did not confront her husband at first. She made enquiries and found the information to be true. When she spoke to Simon about her findings, he became violent and asked her not to come back home.
By now, Madele was fed
up with Simon’s belligerent behaviour and his never-ending business failures.
(Continued on www.sunnewsonline.com)
•Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a gender specialist, social entrepreneur and writer. She is the founder of Above- whispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at [email protected] whispers.com