Rev. Dawuda Leng Jakawa, Chairman, Reginal Church Council (RCC) under Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) faced great challenge in marriage when his wife, Dr. Rehila, tried to opt out of the relationship after payment of dowry. But despite that initial hiccup, the couple was able to marry and has been living together as husband and wife till date. Jakawa born in 1965 in Gashish District of Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State that made headlines, sometime ago, when about 230 persons were wiped out by herdsmen, was raised in K/Vom and did his secondary school education at Government Secondary School, Vwang. In this interview with GYANG BERE, the man of God who had his first degree in Theology from the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) and who is, at the moment, reading for his Master’s degree in the same institute, and his amiable wife, reveal the secret of their long-lasting marriage. Except:
Could you tell us how you met?
Husband: We were all born in Gashish District of Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State but I lived most of my life in Kaduna Vom (K/Vom). There was a time I went for Christmas holiday in the village and we met in the church; she was the leader of youth fellowship which she founded in the local church. They were rehearsing a drama to be presented on Christmas Eve and because I was a member of Youth Fellowship in K/Vom, when I got home I automatically joined the fellowship there. It was there that I met her for the first time in 1984. She was looking very beautiful I was attracted by her smile. We participated in the drama and I started desiring to have her as a friend. Towards Christmas, I shared it with a friend and I was encouraged to talk to her for friendship. I told her that I needed her to be my girlfriend. We spoke in the morning and in the evening when we went for Boxing Day dance in their village, she answered and said we could try. That was how we began the friendship.
Wife: That was the story. When I saw him first, I didn’t think of a boyfriend even from the drama and other activities. But when he asked, within me I had interest but as a lady, you don’t cheapen yourself by answering immediately. I just told him I would think about it even when my heart was there. I had to play hard-to-get because that was what spices the whole thing.
Was there any opposition from anywhere, relatives, friends, concerning your marriage?
Husband: I don’t think l had that challenge when we started because she was a Christian and I was a Christian. We didn’t want anything to be hidden. I spoke to her and she agreed. After sometime, I asked my parents if there was any close relationship between us. My mother told me there was no blood relationship between me and her, but that our fathers were just friends because they were Mai Bishara (pastors). That’s how we began our relationship. Except for friends who tried their luck to snatch her from me simply because I came from the city, there was no opposition. But every one of them met a brick wall because she was a kind of person that didn’t flow with anybody except in things that pertained to the youth fellowship and choir which she founded. I told my parents that I had started a relationship with her and she also told her parents. On their part, there was no obstruction.
Wife: I think there wasn’t opposition. But as a young woman, there were also young men who were interested in me. One thing I knew was that any man who was interested in me was interested in marrying me. But I was very selective. I wasn’t just moved by any man. I had about two or three people who were actually interested in marrying me. I was very reserved; you couldn’t just see me anyhow. There was no stiff opposition except for those who would come and say, ‘You are from a poor family, why would you want to marry someone from a poor family?’.
What was the attraction?
Husband: It was because of the fact that she was a Christian. She was committed; she was not the type that was moving here and there. Again, the conviction that I had in my heart that she would be the kind of person I would want to spend the rest of my life with. These were some of the things that attracted me.
Wife: To me, the primary thing was that he was a Christian. There were other people around in the fellowship, you know it was a village but I had never thought about them or gotten attracted to anybody. It was a church thing throughout. And then coming from the city, he was much more exposed to youth activities within the church and I saw a potential that I couldn’t see in anybody in the village and he was a very fine, handsome, young man.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: Before I spoke to her, I had never spoken to any girl about relationship. And during our time, there was a book that every young man had on how to talk to girls and win their love. And I had memorised almost everything inside the book that when the right times comes, I could apply it. But when I decided I would propose to her, all the things I had in mind got lost, the only thing I remembered I told her was: ‘are you hooked?’ And she said what do I mean and I tried to explain “hook” by saying, has somebody got you as his girlfriend? And she said no and I said, “Can I be the one that would hook you now?. And she said she would tell me later. That is what I can recall now.
What was your reaction when he proposed?
Wife: There was nothing like kneeling down during our time; all you needed to do was just start a relationship and it grows and you start talking about getting married. You talk to your parents; there was no ceremony about proposing for marriage. He talked about “hook” and I didn’t understand what he meant. But when he tried to find out whether I was in a relationship, I said no. I promised to get back to him but when I was to give him a reply, I told him I would try. I later told my mother that I was into a relationship with Dawuda. And he usually came to my house and gist with my parents. The only proposal was to allow your guy to come and see your parents; that’s all. But there was this young man who was a teacher. He kept disturbing and trying his luck but I turned down his request.
What do you remember most about your wedding?
Husband: Before the marriage proper, there was a serious challenge between the two of us. This was when I opted to go to a missionary school and she wasn’t interested in it. It’s all about hearing the call and then answering the call. She had not understood her own call then but I had understood mine. When I told her I was going to mission, all of a sudden, the relationship crumbled. Everybody was like, ‘to your tent oh Israel’. That was the challenge but when we came back together everybody understood his or her calling.
Wife: Coming from a pastor’s family, my problem was not financial issue but the challenges of the missionary work. I saw the role my father played. Being a pastor in the village, he was respected even more than the village head but the challenges were so much that he was so busy with other people’s problems, so he didn’t have enough time for himself. Also, you would see that your father was sacrificing so much but he was not getting the kind of appreciation that he should in return, and I was afraid of going into such kind of life. It wasn’t poverty that I was running away from because we were very hard working in our family. My greatest challenge was how I would start telling people that I was no longer interested in the relationship because he was going to be a Pastor and I was a Pastor’s daughter? I looked for some flimsy excuses to stop the marriage. We would have actually gotten married around 1986 because the dowry had been paid, but I kept dragging it until 1993. Every other thing was already paid in 1986. Everybody was asking what the real problem was, and I couldn’t come out to tell anybody. We later came together and got married in 1993. I was very happy and I later realised that I was going to make a mistake if I had refused the marriage on that ground. We did not just go into the marriage, I believed God had his own plan for us. I had a passion for my call. I know that I am into ministry today not because I am married to a Pastor, but I had my own call.
How did you get back into the relationship?
Husband: She was in Miango and I was coming for my Diploma in TCNN. And a friend decided that I should marry because I was in a Bible School. He felt graduating from school without a wife would not be good for me. He had tried other ladies to see if I could marry any of them but I told him I had a girlfriend and the reason why we broke up was my going into missions. He said that in that case we must come back together. He called us together and we sat down and agreed to give it a trial. When TCNN was looking for teachers, that same friend of mine asked me to go and tell her to apply for the work and when I told her she turned down the offer. I said that’s her choice. But later I noticed that she brought the application. That was how God worked out things for us. She was called for interview and the Deputy Provost asked me that she told him that I was her boyfriend and if it would be possible for them to give her appointment in the institution. And I said yes, that would help us to come back together. They employed her. They gave me the appointment letter and I took it to her. That was how we reconciled. I didn’t want to have another problem. So we hurried up with the preparations and got married in 1993. On the eve of the wedding when my friends went to bring her, I couldn’t sleep. I was just praying that nothing should stop the marriage. She was released in good time but unfortunately, the car broke down in Barkin-Ladi. They had to look for another car. It was only when they came that my mind was at rest. The following morning we went to church and I was filled with joy. Even on the wedding day, I forgot to eat.
Could you remember your first misunderstanding in marriage and how did you handle it?
Husband: Yes, a lot of them except that we have learned how to resolve them. The first misunderstanding we had was concerning food. In their home, they prepare very soft ‘swallow’, but in my father’s house we eat very hard swallow. So when we got married even if it was rice she was cooking, it would be too soft. When I eat it whether it was ‘swallow’ or rice, before we finish watching television to go and sleep, I would be feeling hungry and I felt I was sleeping with hunger, and I said to her that if the food is hard she will not be able to eat and we resolved the issue by her keeping extra food for me to eat when I was going to bed. The second misunderstanding was that I love football. When I go out to play football, I would come back with smelling shoes and I would just remove it in the room and the whole place would be smelling. And she didn’t like it. Each time I came home, she would complain that I should have removed them outside, but I was feeling that I am the one in charge of the house. The next day, when she hears me coming, she would wait for me with slippers at the door. That was how we resolve it.
Wife: What he said is true. We sought for the way out without necessarily going into fighting.
What’s your spouse’s favourite food?
Husband: She loves gotai, a Berom local dish, with passion.
Wife: He is a bundle of problem when it comes to food. But I can tell you that he loves ogbono soup. And, if we classify tea under food, then that is another thing he likes. Generally, he likes eating good food.