THEY met while she was a professional dancer, and before she knew it, they had tied the knot. However, the romance ended 10 years later on June 4, 2016 when her music producer husband, OJB Jezreel, died as a result of kidney failure, to the shock of the entertainment industry. In this chat with TONY OGAGA OJB’s third wife, Korede Okungbuwa opens up on life with the legendary hit maker.
OJB was buried last Friday. How are you coping with the aftermath?
I am still in shock. People already know him so I don’t need to sing his praises. Going by the kind of family we had, he was a man who managed his family, career, and friends seamlessly. I respect him a lot. He took care of all of us and struck a fantastic balance. I have a lot of respect for him. The way he coped with his family and still balanced it with his work was amazing.
A week before he died, he called to inform you that he might not make it. What was your reaction?
The actual words were ‘it is not well baby.’ I saw him (at the hospital) on Sunday before returning to Magodo, Lagos where I stay. We spoke on phone shortly after, and judging from the way he was speaking, I felt something was not right. So, I asked if he was okay and he said he was. A short while later, I received a SMS message from him, saying ‘it is not well baby’. I was in shock and I called him immediately, but he did not pick so I prayed for him. I was like ‘baby, please don’t give up’.
Some people say if OJB had taken his case to the media, he would have been saved. Was the decision to stay silent deliberate?
Let me thank all those who stood by us when he had his surgery. Nigerians showed us so much love. After we came back from India he was doing perfectly well, but after a while the relapse happened and we sat together as a family and decided that we should take care of it ourselves. It was OJB’s decision though. He was like if Nigerians helped him once he should be able to help himself the second time. He was not ready to go the whole hug again and that was what led to stories that we were selling property.
How did the romance begin for you and OJB?
(Laughter) I used to be a professional dancer back in the day and OJB’s studio, Sliverpoint, was like our home. His studio was like a home to all of us, as OJB took all of us under his umbrella. We had artistes like Ruggedman, Nomoreloss, Tuface Idibia, Jazzman Olofin, Abounce and De Simeon among a host of others. Jigga and I got very close and before you knew it, we got very intimate. God has plans for everyone. I did not marry OJB blindly. He was such a loving guy. I cherish every moment I spent with him. I have no regrets marrying him.
What was your happiest moment with Jigga?
Wow! We had a lot of happy moments. With Jigga, there were never dull moments. I was never bored; we could gist forever. He talked a lot. I remember after the surgery in India, there was a day we all went out, Mama J, Jigga and I. We were like let’s take a walk and get some fresh air. So, we were talking about Nigeria and stuff like that. That was so special for me. I realised that, as a family, we really had a beautiful thing going and I wanted to protect it.
You spent the last 10 years with OJB, what kind of man was he?
He was a loving husband and selfless lover who was always reaching out and helping. He gave and gave until everything was finished. He could sign off anything just to make you happy, and a lot of people took advantage of him, but guess what, they owe him even in death. He was emotionally connected to a lot of people whom he helped financially and otherwise. Even, some of the musicians he did stuff for, took away everything including the songs he co-wrote.
Would you say the entertainment industry gave him a befitting burial?
The entertainment industry and the Lagos State government did help him when he was sick. We are not Jesus Christ so when we die we should not expect the whole world to come visit. As far as I am concerned, the whole world visited, but I must confess we were so overwhelmed with visits and calls we didn’t notice everybody that came around. To say that the industry did not help is not right. You don’t judge people like that. You just let them be and let their conscience do the rest.
Are you still crying?
To God be the glory. He will always wipe away our tears. There is nothing you can’t overcome with Him by your side.
How are you coping having to raise two kids?
If there is anything God has taught me from childhood, it is to be strong. I have a very strong mother, God bless her. She let me realise that this world is not a bed of roses. When Jigga fell sick, he wasn’t coming around like he used to, so I had to play both mum and dad for our kids. I think he reared me for this day. It is not easy but I think it’s a phase and we will triumph.
What was the greatest advice OJB gave you?
It is to be strong. He always said to me ‘baby, be strong’.
When both of you met 10 years ago, what was the attraction for you?
He was kind hearted and he was a very beautiful man. We dated for like two years and then he proposed to me. He went down on a knee and asked me to marry him. I did not hesitate; it was a ‘yes’. I am a very straightforward girl and I knew what I wanted, so I just said yes.
Was there any time you felt like quitting the marriage?
If I say in 10 years there were no issues, I would be lying, because no relationship is perfect. But there was never a time we decided to just walk away. We never had a major issue that could have triggered that. We could really have tense situations but we never got that far?
What was the most amazing gift your late husband gave you?
My precious and amazing beautiful kids, Oluwadamilaji, my daughter and Ifebiyi Anthony (laughter).
Jigga was married to three beautiful women and we never heard that there was any quarrel. How did you all pull it off?
You know, to be honest I don’t know. I can’t say this and that were the things he did to hold everybody together. But what I can say is that if you are close to Jigga, you will know that he is a man you should respect; you will not want to cross boundaries, so we all respect each other and lived peacefully.
Could you recount your experience in India during the surgery?
Initially when we went for tests, we were all fit to donate, but then, I had just given birth to my baby girl through CS, so the doctors ruled me out. Eventually it was Mama J (first wife) that was the donor and I was asked to come and take care of them. In retrospect, I feel good about that opportunity; it bonded the family in a very unique way. It was an emotional time for me. That Jigga had to go through that process was heart breaking and seeing Mama Jay having to go through all that was hurting. There were nights she couldn’t sleep and she cried, and at such times, I couldn’t hold back the pain. So, we cried all through the night together and that kind of drew everybody closer. And all the while, June was taking care of the kids back here in Nigeria.
At the wake keep there was a strong bond among the children. Now that OJB is no more, how do you hope to sustain it?
Again, to be honest, I don’t know but if there is anything I believe, it is God; and I believe in peace and love. Mama Jay is like my big sister, June is my aunty and I am like t he baby of the family. We relate to each other with respect and we know we have kids involved, so we treat each other with love. We share the same vision.
Is any of his children taking after him?
Wow! OJB is such a blessed man. The first son, Ayokunle sings beautifully. In fact, the kids are a bunch of talent. I don’t want to talk about my son because I won’t shut up once I open my mouth. He is so brilliant. Whenever I see him I am like ‘thank God, you have your dad’s brains’. We are praying to God to take them to the next level.
Talking about immortalizing Jigga, do you have any plans?
We are not going to let his legacy die. We have plans to continue to promote his music. His management is working on it and we are giving them all the support we can.
OJB’s children speak
He put other people first before himself
-Gloria Okungbuwa, 20, UNILAG student
I feel sad. Obviously, nobody will be happy about it. He was not sick, he was just going through dialysis and I hoped that one day he would be okay. I saw him every day. He stayed in the house with us. I don’t stay on campus. My mum is the first wife and he stays with us. My dad was a very good man. He cared about other people. In fact, he put other people first before himself. He was very nice and very friendly. My dad was a very good person. The day he died I was at home. He was supposed to go for his dialysis that morning but he was too tired. That was the day he died.
I miss his charisma
-Tolani Okungbuwa, 17, Olabisi Onabanjo University student
I miss his charisma. He was always very free with everybody. He is the kind of person that loves to joke and make everybody laugh. He doesn’t like dull moments. I miss his shouting. When he is angry with you he tells you immediately. He is just a very wonderful person. In one word, he was very amazing father and I feel so bad that we lost him at this point in time. I even dreamt that when I want to marry my dad will be there but now what can I say? God knows best.
He’s gone too soon
-Denzel Okungbuwa, 12,
My dad was a good man and he is gone too soon. I am just happy that I went to visit him before he passed away. He told me that I should be strong and take care of my brothers. That was two days before it happened.