Mr. Napoleon Isah Adamu, a fine artist, and his wife, Margaret, had been married for 25 years. In this interview with ROSE EJEMBI, in Makurdi, the reminisced on how they met and later got married. The couple believes that a home can only be sweet if it is built on God. Excerpts:
Could you tell us a little about yourselves?
Husband: I read Fine Arts in school. I taught for just one year and was laid off on political grounds. Thereafter, I came to Makurdi and started a little arts shop. That’s what I’m doing till date. I only added printing to it.
Wife: I was formerly Margaret Sule. I am from the family of late WO2 Pius Sule and I am the first of 10 children. I am happily married to Elder Napoleon Adamu and our marriage is blessed with five children.
How did you meet before you eventually decided to get married?
Husband: I met her in the village during one of the Christmas celebrations. Ironically, I had told my elder brother with whom I was staying at that time that I won’t travel. I said I would look after the house while they were away. But when father hinted me that the lady I spoke about that I wanted to marry came home on a Christmas holiday and was in the village, I decided to go. It was an opportunity for me to meet her for the first time. When I got there, my cousin living in Kaduna, an evangelist told me that he was going to visit her at home that evening. I went and saw her and we exchanged pleasantries. That Sunday, I saw her walk out of the church. I saw her height and everything and I said this is my wife. I invited her to the house and she came with her friends. I told her my mind that I wanted to marry her. But she said no. Before then, I had told my Rev. and an elder in the church about her. So I told them that I was going to see the lady at home, they prayed with me. And when I came back after speaking to her, the elder asked how it went. I said I proposed to her but she refused. He held my hand and laughed but encouraged me. I kept writing her despite her initial refusal. I was convinced in my spirit that she is my wife. One day, I visited her in school with one of my friends who is now late. When my friend saw her, he too became convinced that she was my wife. She actually received us well and when we came back, I kept following up through letters. The day I visited her in Lagos, somebody came out from the church and said he was traveling to Lagos the following day. That was how I entered his vehicle and went to see her in Lagos. We continued until it got to a point when she gave me the go-ahead to see her parents who were then living in Akure. I waited until she accepted my proposal before I went. That was how God started with us.
At what point exactly did he propose to you?
Wife: That was sometime in 1991, after my National Diploma. But then, we didn’t get married immediately and I wouldn’t say it was really like we were in courtship because I didn’t say yes until 1995. We got married that same year.
What attracted you to your wife?
Husband: Before I met her, I had met other girls. But I didn’t see any of them as wife material for me. But when I started praying for God’s will in marriage, at a point one of my cousins visited us while I was staying with my elder brother in Makurdi. When he came, I was congratulating him for the choice of his wife when I said something about still waiting for God to show me who to marry. He told me that he met one very respectful lady wherever he served. I was sceptical because I hadn’t met the lady in question before. When he told me that, I didn’t take it seriously. But when he left, the thought of what he told me kept ringing in my mind and I started looking for ways to contact her. When I later found a way to ask him about her, he said I should ask another of my cousins who knows her more than he did. I said waoh! The cousin in question happened to be staying in Kaduna. So I had to look for a way to write him. When he got my letter, he confirmed that he knows her and that she’s a very respectful and tall lady. He said I would like her when I see her. He promised that if God is leading me, he would stand by me. That was how I started praying for her before ever meeting her. We were later to meet about one year after. When she was schooling at Idah, I couldn’t go to see her because anytime I wrote her, she would be very nasty in her reply. But I kept on believing that she was going to be my wife.
What really attracted you to him?
Wife: The very first time I met him, I could recall that it was during one of the Christmas celebrations in the village. Actually, the moment I sighted him, I just loved him for his height but then because I was still in school. I never wanted anything to do with marriage. So, like I said, I didn’t say yes to him when he proposed because I really had the desire to go to school and I didn’t want anything to truncate my education. And I had this mentality then that the Idoma people (Agatu people to be precise) are not people that would support their wives to go to school. And so, I felt I should get educated to some level before I can consider the issue of marriage. That was one of the things that caused the delay. But then, how did I know that he was the will of God for me? After I met him and had taken him to my parents, there was a time I was doing my IT in Lagos after my OND. Another man who was relatively more educated and had a very good job also came to propose to me. The man was working with one very big company in Lagos at that time. He also said he wanted me to be his wife. I was very confused because I had already introduced my present husband to my parents. But left to me as a human being, I would have chosen the other man. I was so worried. In fact, my worry became so obvious that one of the staff of Lever Brothers where I was doing my IT began to notice that, most of the times I would be absent-minded, lost in thought. He asked what the problem was. I told him and added that but for my dad, I would have preferred to marry the other man. He encouraged me to go into three days fasting and prayer and said that if I did it sincerely, God would show me who among the two men would be my husband. I did but I didn’t hear anything. So, I continued. On the fourth day, I had a dream and it was my wedding. But in the dream, it was my present husband that I got married to. And, people were so many at the wedding ceremony. In that dream also, I noticed it was a very big bed that was set for us as a chair. I served everybody and our own food was in a calabash and we ate together. When I woke up, I was very happy and that changed everything. I told my husband yes to his proposal and it was that year that we got married in December.
After the wedding, what were the initial hiccups that both of you had as a couple and how were you able to overcome them?
Wife: One challenge we had was misunderstanding each other. For instance, when I say something he doesn’t understand that this is what I meant and he’s responding in the way he understands and that would further bring about more misunderstanding. For instance, when we started the marital journey, there was a particular day in a week that we usually fix as a day of family prayers. When we got married, I discovered that on that very day, there would be misunderstanding. This continued until one day the Lord opened my eyes to this and I told my husband about it. I asked if he noticed that every Tuesday when we are to pray, that we would always have misunderstanding before the prayers. We must settle scores first and ask God for forgiveness. That was when we realized that the devil was interested in this. If the prayer was not working, he would not choose to attack us on this day.
What were your initial challenges after wedding?
Husband: The only challenge that we had arose out of sheer misunderstanding of each other. There were things she didn’t like and I liked and vice visa. Particularly, I am somebody who was easily given to anger and I could answer you as it is, without thinking twice. She too had some kind of emotional challenge and when she talks, I would respond. But it got to a point that when we started praying and fasting every Tuesday, we would quarrel before we pray. I, being a very practical person, she would say, ‘let’s pray’ and, I would say, ‘pray to who? After, we had exchanged hot words with each other?’ Then, we would sit down and settle our differences first before praying. We also made sure we prayed every night so that if there’s any misunderstanding during the day, we would have to settle that first. And that actually helped us. So, the misunderstanding and challenges were not coming out of hatred for each other. As for me, I made up my mind that no matter how we disagree on a matter, it would not affect anything that I do for my wife. Anything coming out of hatred, it’s the devil at work and so, we have to settle it.
Would you say in-laws are necessary evil like the adage goes?
Wife: My husband and I accepted ourselves as one to the point that even my own parents came to know and accept. There were instances where may be something happens and some of my relatives like my aunties and uncles would say I shouldn’t let my husband know. But the first person I would tell is my husband and when I do so they would feel disappointed. When we newly got married, anytime my dad wanted to write us letters, he would address them to me. But when he eventually realized that both of us are one, whenever he wanted to write, he would address it to Mr. and Mrs. Adamu. From my husband’s side, when his younger relatives visit us, he doesn’t allow them to treat me with disrespect. Even he himself helps out with house chores. He’s not that kind of man that would sit down and cross his legs waiting for food to be served to him on bended knees. He helps out in the kitchen and with the work in the house. So, by the time anybody comes to our house, when they see him working, there is no way they would sit down and not do something.
One reason some wives pick quarrels with some in-laws is when they come and want to lord it over them. Some in-laws don’t want to see their son’s wife as part of the family especially ones from the husband’s side. They’re always the ones fomenting troubles. They would come expecting you to serve them the way you serve your husband and for that they would not want to do anything in the house or help out with house chores. Like I told you, I’m from a family of ten children and I’m the first child. But when my younger ones come to the house, no matter their status, they help in cleaning everywhere. For such, you would not want to be angry with, but any in-law that comes to the house and wants to sit down and lord it over you, expecting you to cook for him or her, wash their plates, their clothes and the rest of them, there’s no way any woman would be happy with that. My husband would always tell them that his wife is also a human being who would need some help. He would tell them that my younger ones are bigger, richer, higher in social status, than I am, yet they assist with house chores.
So, he encourages them. I took my mother-in-law as my own mother even though she was very old at the time we got married. When she had cause to visit us, we accommodated her like my own mother. The thing is that, as a child of God, what I would not want to do to my mother, I wouldn’t do to my husband’s mother. After all, he’s my husband and he loves me. She loves her son and her son loves her. In fact, I was telling someone recently that the way my mother-in-law blessed me, even my own mother had not blessed me that way. She would say, ‘bring your hand’ and she would spit into my palms and bless me. She would say: ‘you will build house, you will buy cars’ and so on. I was telling my children that when I had my first car as a local government secretary, when they gave me a brand new car, I told my husband that the first person I would show the car to is my mother-in-law. And, when I did, she blessed me. I don’t have any issue with any in-law because I don’t have issues with my husband.