His Royal Highness, Eze Dominic Ibor Aloh, the Erimogwudu 111 of Amagu Ikwo Autonomous Community, Ikwo Local Government Area, is the former Deputy Chairman, Ebonyi State Traditional Rulers Council. In this interview with CHIJIOKE AGWU, in Abakaliki, he and his wife, Ugoeze Anna Aloh, share with him experiences from their 50 years of marital bliss as husband and wife. Excerpt:
While we thank God for keeping both of you together all these years, Your Highness, could you, please, tell us how you met your dear wife?
Husband: I met her in 1968. By then I was a soldier in the Biafran Army, in Okigwe, now under Imo State. And her brother was my batman. Batman in the army is just like an orderly. So, she came to see her brother. When I asked his brother who the girl was to him, he said she is his sister. Right then, I told him that I would like to marry the girl. He smiled and said no problem, sir. The second day the girl came I told her that I would like to marry her. She also said no problem. You know at that time marriage was not what it is today. Today, marriage starts with sex play, but for us, from that 1968 to 1970 when we got married according to traditions we never knew each other in terms of sex. When the war ended, I returned home. I told my parents that I have someone in Okigwe I want to marry .We went and paid her bride price and brought her home. It was after marriage that we first knew each other in terms of sex. But today it is not like that. Today, you have sex and get tired of it, before you talk of marriage.
Can you remember your first encounter with your husband?
Wife: Yes, I went to see my brother in their camp and he saw me and told me that he would like to marry me. I said, ok, no problem. Then later he started coming to see us, me and my parents inside the bush where we ran to hide from attacks during the civil war.
Did you encounter any opposition from family members or friends when you told them that you want to marry the girl you saw at Okigwe?
Husband: I love my family. My mother and my father were all alive then and my two elder brothers. When I returned after the civil war and told them that I had seen a woman at Okigwe that I want to marry, it was not like opposition per se. I think it was more of fears if it was going to work out. Some agreed with me while some said no. They said in fact, I was not going back to Okigwe again. Some said: how can you marry a woman from Okigwe? You know, that area, as at that time, was seen as very civilized and developed. So my people were afraid that she might not turn out to be a good and submissive wife. But I insisted that she was my choice and finally they all supported me. I remember one of my elder brothers who was a bit educated then joined me to Okigwe to marry her and bring her to Ikwo.
Did you meet with any opposition when you finally made up your mind to marry him?
Wife: Yes, some of my family members were opposed to it. They said that I would not marry the man because he came from Abakaliki and people from Abakaliki were known then for marrying many wives. So, they said my husband would most likely marry other wives, and so would not take care of me.
In spite of these pieces of advice and opposition, how did you manage to later convince them or you simply disobeyed them?
Wife: I talked with my husband about the issue of marrying another wife and he promised me that he would never marry another woman after marrying me. So, I told my parents and they accepted and we got married. And I am very happy to say that he kept his word even after becoming Ezeogo. Most people expected him to marry another wife but he did not. So he fulfilled his promise to me.
You said you proposed to her even before you got to know her closely, what really attracted her to you?
Husband: She was very humble, dutiful and respectful. You needed to see how she used to run errands for her brother who was my batman. She was always there to attend to her brother any time. So, I concluded that she must be a very good lady to be doing all that with humility and happiness. Again, she was very beautiful. You needed to see her then. Now, you cannot see her beauty because age has taken a toll on her. So her beauty and simplicity also added to the attraction.
How did you finally convince the family to allow you to marry her?
Husband: There was one Sergeant Edeh who was working with me in 7 Battalion. I told her that there was a girl I wanted to marry. He said, ok if you love the girl. He then asked me if I had known her (sexually). I said no, that I would not like to know her until after marriage. He said ok no problem. He was the one who escorted me to see her parents. We went there, first time, second time and third time before the family started accepting me. I bought wine and other things needed for asking for a lady’s hand in marriage and her family accepted everything.
What were the things you found in your husband that attracted you to him and made you accept to marry him even though he is not from your area, which was very rare at that time?
Wife: I was young at that time. But I remember that I found him very handsome, and above all, he was very caring. He used to bring food to me and my parents inside the forest where we ran to hide for safety during the war. He was always bringing food to us all the time. So, by the time, the war ended, I was already used to him as a friend of our family. So, it was not all that difficult for me to accept him because I believed that he could take care of me as a wife.
Your Highness, I can see that your relationship with your wife has been one of love but you know certainly there is bound to be misunderstanding along the line. Can you remember your first ever quarrel with her and how you handled them?
Husband: I cannot remember my first misunderstanding with her. But I agree that misunderstanding is part of relationship because even two good friends at times also have misunderstanding. All I can say is that sometimes we disagreed on issues but after explanations we would discover who was right and then act accordingly and come back to our senses. But we’d never had any serious problem that involved an outsider since we got married.
How will like to describe your experience with your wife all these years that both of you have been together?
Husband: We have been together for about 50 years now. We should be celebrating our golden jubilee. Although I have not celebrated our marriage anniversary before, I think we should do that after our next Ofala festival. Our 50 years together have been wonderful and I give God all the glory. She has been very supportive and dutiful and submissive woman. I am saying this not because she is here, but everybody that knows us know what I am saying and can attest to this. She is very good in taking important decisions. I resort to her most times for advice and guidance because I trust her judgment on any issue. People did believe not at that time that a woman from Okigwe could marry a man from a ‘primitive’ place like Ikwo and accept to stay in Ikwo all these years without making trouble. Okigwe then was seen as a very civilized place and women from there were feared as wayward and spoilt. But she proved them all wrong. We have been enjoying each other all these years. Truly, God has been with us.
Ugoeze, how many children did God blessed your union with?
Wife: God blessed us with seven children: four males and three females, and, to the glory of God they are all graduates and working. We have a midwife, a political scientist, a medical doctor, public administrator, accountant, computer scientist and a lawyer in the house. My daughters are all married .I have about 15 grandchildren and 1 great grand-child. God has been good to us. We have never lost any one of them to death. And they are all practising Christians. I made them to know God and serve Him, not just going to church but to know Him and Him as the only true God.
What advice do you have for young couples on how to have a long-lasting marriage?
Husband: My advice is simple. You know when there is a good thing, the devil always run around to scuttle it. I advise anybody going into marriage to develop the spirit of accommodation. If you don’t have spirit of accommodation, you will not have the heart to tolerate certain things. Tolerance is very important .And again don’t bring the third party into your family affairs. That is my advice.
What is your advice for young women going into marriage?
Wife: My advice is that they should submit themselves to their husbands. That is what the Bible says. And they should also respect their husband and his family members. If not, there will not be peace. They should also see marriage as a responsibility in which they have a part to play for its survival. That is my advice.
What is her favourite food?
Husband: She likes rice and stew very much. I can say that any day. She can eat other food but rice and stew are her favourite any day, any time.
What is your husband’s favourite food
Wife: He likes eating akpu, that is fufu with local soups.