As told by a retired Director, Office of the Governor,
Osun State, and wife
Could you tell us how you met before your marriage?
Pa Johnson: I met my wife in 1957, during my first year in the civil service. It was also her first year as a pupil-teacher. She was a teacher with a secondary modern three certificate. I met her partly at Ilesha and partly in Ibadan. Both of us are Ijesha by nativity.
Ma Felicia: I met him during a holiday time with my uncle in Ibadan. He had just started working as a civil servant then and I was already a teacher.
What actually attracted you to each other, in other words, what made you choose each other above other qualified spinsters/bachelors in your own day?
Pa Johnson: One, she is related to one of my closest schoolmates. Then, the way God made her pleased me. She is a Muslim convert. By birth, she was a Muslim. But she converted to Christianity during our schooldays in Anglican Secondary Modern School, Ilesha. Her body shape attracted me. Parental background attracted me. Finally, being related to one of my closest grammar school friends played an important role. Her academic performance also impressed me.
Ma Felicia: He was very much loveable to me and up till now he is still much very loveable to me. I was attracted to him because he loves God and up till now, he still loves God. Also, the fear of God has been ruling his life right from his childhood days till date.
Was there any opposition from friends,relatives or anyone concerning your marriage?
Pa Johnson: There was mild opposition from one of her elderly uncles. But the parents were in full support. So, the opposition from the mother’s uncle did not last. It had no effect.
Ma Felicia: There was no serious opposition to our marriage. There was initial opposition from one of my u ncles. But it held no water. I love him and my biological parents also accepted him. What caused the opposition is immaterial now. It does not deserve to be mentioned.
How did you propose? What exactly did you say to her?
Pa Johnson: In those days, you would tell a lady: ‘I love you to be my future partner.’ That is all. The lady would reply: ‘Is that so?’ You would say: ‘yes.’ The lady would ask further: ‘Are you serious?’ You would also answer: ‘Yes, I am serious.’ No more, no less. This was the way I proposed to her. I made the proposal to her, partly in Ilesha, when she was about to leave the secondary modern school, and partly in Ibadan during the holiday. She had an elderly uncle, with whom she spent part of her time. During holidays, we met and courtship started.
What did you say when he proposed to you? What was your response?
Ma Felicia: I told him that I could not reply to him immediately; he should give me time. I eventually gave him a yes-answer after two years. During the period between the time he proposed to me and the time I replied to him, I waited on my uncles, who were also his friends. The time I gave him the yes-answer, I told him: ‘I have accepted your proposal.’ Then, we started our courtship. We were godly in our courtship.
What was your first misunderstanding in marriage, and how did you resolve it?
Pa Johnson: There was no serious misunderstanding that deserves recognition till now.
Ma Felicia: At times, we had misunderstandings. But I would report to his friends, who are my uncles. One of my uncles is dead now. Then, my uncles would come in and settle the quarrel. My uncles were my husband’s classmates in grammar school.
What do you like most about each other?
Pa Johnson: What I like most in her is whenever I said this thing is against the wish of God, she would also see it like that, and she would say, ‘If this thing is according to the word of God, well it is okay.
Ma Felicia: I like his simplicity and truthfulness.
Can you mention the areas you would like to see her/him improve?
Pa Johnson: Both of us are now aged in the vineyard. So, we are pursuing eternal life together. She has held many positions in the church – church associations and so on. In brigade, she rose to the rank of a captain or whatever. She served in Agbeni Cathedral of Methodist Church as an usher in the company of a friend. It was she who established the brigade in Agbeni Cathedral. I too served in the youth department. I was Secretary Youth Club of the cathedral at Agbeni from 1958 to 1972 when I proceeded to Makerere University, Kampala in Uganda. I did a degree course in statistics in the university. Then, it was Mathematical Economics. I graduated in Economics and Statistics, under the sponsorship of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). I joined civil service straight from secondary school. When I came back from Uganda I returned to the civil service in Oyo State. When Osun State was carved out of the old Oyo State, my service was transferred to Osun State. So, my wife and I are marching on, expecting God’s wish at any time. She is now over 78 years old and I am now over 85.
Ma Felicia: He has been a Christian. He has been towing the Christian line satisfactorily. I continue to pray for him and for both of us to make eternal life.
Could tell us about your children and how you have impacted on them for the good of the society?
Pa Johnson: God blessed us with two biological children. But we have so many adopted children that have passed through us and they are in responsible positions today. I sponsored at least eight among them through different universities. We have among them mechanical engineers, teachers, senior pastors, senior civil servants, and so on. Some of them are older than our own biological children. My first child, Olumuyiwa Olaiya Opeseitan, was born in December 1973. He is an engineer with Total Oil. My second child is a female: Elizabeth Olufunmilayo Olowu (nee Opeseitan). She studied Medical Laboratory and she is married. Her family settled down in Lagos.
What would you say are the good qualities a good husband should have?
Pa Johnson: The fear of God.You cannot be a good husband outside God. With God in you and around you, you are good.
What advice do you have for bachelors and spinsters that intend to get married?
Pa Johnson: Godliness is the answer. If you are godly, you will be faithful, and faithfulness is loyalty. When your boyfriend or girlfriend is not around, and you are godly, you cannot be attracted by any other person because God is overlooking you. He is seeing you. You must put yourself under the fear of God at all times. This is the key. There is no other thing.
Ma Felicia: Spinsters should ensure that the person asking for their hands in marriage has the fear of God. This is very important. Anything you can think of as determinants such as educational qualifications, wealth, and social status, should be subjected to the fear of God. Without God, he or she is nothing. With God, he or she is something.
The rate of divorce in the contemporary world is alarming. In a bid to guard against the menace, what advice would you give to newly married couples on how to make their marriages work for as long as yours has?
Pa Johnson: There so many things they can do. But the most important of it is godliness. The Bible says Jesus Christ is the only way, the truth, and life. If you follow Jesus Christ, you cannot miss your steps. No hurricane can sweep you off of the love of your wife, when you talk of vicissitudes of life and so on; you will remain rigid.
Ma Felicia: They should be God-fearing.