For more than 45 years, Sir Olufemi Kaiyewu, a retired public servant, has been married to his wife, Dame Ayo Kaiyewu, in a union blessed with children and grandchildren. Both leading members of Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN), Agbeni Circuit in Ibadan Diocese, the wife, owner of Aunty Ayo Textile Store at the Bola Ige International Market, New Gbagi, Ibadan, has been the Iya Ijo (patroness) of MCN, Bashorun, Ibadan, since 2013. The man is a Knight of John Wesley of the denomination. In this interview with OLUSEYE OJO in Ibadan, they share with him their marital experiences. Excerpt:
How did you meet your spouse?
Husband: It was very accidental in 1972. Then she was working with I-Mudah and Co, at Gbagi (now Old Gbagi), Ibadan, and she was the supervisor for the provision department. Then, I was working with the G.B. Ollivant, a division of United African Company (UAC), at Gbagi. On that day, we met at an enclosed place. I was coming out from my office and she came to buy goods in our provision department. She headed for the office of the head of our provision department, Mr. Akintokun, of blessed memory, and I followed her into the office. But Mr. Akintokun was not in the office. In that man’s office, there were sweets. I asked her to unwrap a sweet and put in my mouth. Then, I was not ready for marriage because I lived at Idi-Ikan in Ibadan with my parents. She was surprised and said: “What was that supposed to mean?” I insisted that she should unwrap one sweet and put in my mouth. We both laughed. That was how we started. But I observed that she liked me with the way she responded. I asked for her details and she told me that she was working with I-Mudah at Gbagi. Along the line, we broke up in 1972. But we came back and had our engagement on December 25, 1974, at Oro in Kwara State and got married on May 1, 1975, at the Marriage Registry, Dick Road, Aleshinloye, Ibadan.
Wife: I met him on a particular day. He approached me and said I should unwrap a sweet and put it in his mouth. I was shocked and said: “When did we start an association that has become a company?” We started dating and a time came when he started misbehaving; he would style his beard as if he was from Saudi Arabia. I started having a change of mind. Eventually, we broke up and after many months, he came to look for me. I told him that he should not look for me again because I had somebody I wanted to get married to, who also bears the same name Ayo like I do. My new suitor was overseas then, but we started dating before he travelled. We loved each other so much. When Ayo came back, I would have taken a wrong step if I was not patient enough because I was not aware that he had gotten married to a white woman abroad. I told my sister that I lived with then and she said she knew all along that Ayo would not marry me because he was more educated than I was. And that he would want to marry somebody at equal level of educational qualification like him. She said she learnt that he had married a white woman while abroad. I knew that he was more educated than I was. But he assured me that he loved me and he would marry me because, according to him, love was all that mattered. Then my sister warned me against marrying a married man and that if I did so, it would be as if I scattered a happy home. I broke up with Ayo immediately. About three married men approached me and I turned them down.
Then, my husband, Femi, showed up again. I asked him what he wanted from me. He said he wanted me as his wife. And I said I would marry him if he would drop frivolities. He said he was no longer a baby and that he was not living with his father any longer. He was over-pampered by his parents as if they never had any child. I knew he had become serious by living alone, though the house also belonged to his parents. But I found out that his friends would bring ladies to his house to have sexual intercourse with them. I said I did not want that in the house where I would live with him. He stopped all his friends from doing so because of me. By this action some of his friends hated me and found other places to carry out such activities but some of them still maintained their friendship with my husband. There were not many hotels then the way we have them today. Boys of those days habitually used houses of single boys to sleep with their girlfriends.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: I did not formally propose to her. Both of us knew that we love each other. She knew what I wanted from her and I also knew what she wanted from me. What we wanted from each other is marriage. I did not say, please marry me. But the day I said she should put sweet in my mouth, I told her that I wanted her in my life. The rest is history.
What actually attracted you to your spouse?
Husband: On that day in 1972, immediately I saw her coming, I was attracted to her. Then, I was looking for girlfriend. I was just 25 years then. But I felt a strike in my heart immediately I saw her, which prompted me to follow her.
Wife: I was attracted to him on the first day that I set my eyes on him. He was neat, handsome and presentable. I asked him some questions. I asked if he was a drunkard. His response was no. I continued by saying “and you said I should put sweet in your mouth when you are not drunk?” Then, he asked for where I worked and some other details about me and we started talking. I discovered that I liked him at first sight. I took him to meet my parents and he also took me to meet his parents and other family members before we got married. The day we did our engagement, the elders in my family said to me: ‘This man, did we force him on you or you willingly brought him to us that you wanted to marry him?’ Then, I said I brought him, and they prayed for us. But they warned me that since they did not force me to marry him, no matter what happened in my husband’s house, there’s no room for divorce. They said the conditions that could make me come home were that if I came to greet my parents or visit them during festivals. I can never forget that warning, which has been guiding me for more than 45 years of our marriage. After the engagement, we got married in the marriage registry on Dick Road, very close to the Railway Quarters at Aleshinloye in Ibadan on May 1, 1975. We went for the thanksgiving of our wedding at the Cathedral of Methodist Church, Agbeni, Ibadan, on Sunday. Rev. Elegbede was around then, and Pa Makinde, who was the catechist. We were not rich when we got married, but we were hardworking and optimistic of a better future. Also, we believe so much in God and did not overstep our boundaries. I was contented with whatever my husband gave me. We have been operating a joint account since we got married. Whatever money he made, he would bring home and he would disclose all. Later, he went to the university to study, and I was at home as a married woman, taking care of the two children we had then. We lived together in peace and joy.
Was there any opposition to your coming together as husband and wife?
Husband: There was no opposition from my family members. They accepted her when I took her home.
Wife: I asked him where he hails from and he said he is from Ijebu (in Ogun State). Immediately, I sensed a great impediment for us to come together as husband and wife because my parents did not want me to get married to a person, either from Ijebu or Egba. They wanted me to choose a husband from Oro (Kwara State), where I hail from. They believed that if I chose husband from outside Oro, the husband might maltreat me. They believed that Ijebu and Egba people were fetish. So I knew my parents would reject him if they knew he hails from Ijebu. Then, I asked him to tell my family that he hails from Onidundu Compound in Offa in the same Kwara State where his maternal grandmother hailed from. But they got to know the truth during our engagement, and at that time, there was no going back again.
What are the memorable things you will never forget about your spouse?
Husband: My wife has always been there for me. She has been the one buying clothes and shoes for me. If she travels abroad, she would buy things for me. But whatever money I have, I drop at home for our joint account. Up till now, I don’t know my tailor. She has been the one taking care of that. But you don’t know a man until he is making more money. When I began to have more money, I transgressed by following another woman. After the whole episode, I went to the Bible Study class in the church and confessed that I have offended my wife by following another woman. I was told to wake her up in the night and beg her on my knee, which I did and she forgave me.
Wife: When my husband started making more money, he started following a woman, and he was with that woman for a long time. We fought over it and I also fought the woman to the extent that we tore each other’s clothes. But my husband did not desist. However, I stood my ground that he must not bring the woman to live in our matrimonial home. He could rent an apartment for her outside. And, he did not bring her home. The woman had two children for my husband before she went to marry another man. I have been the one paying the schools fees of the two children, and one of them is now a graduate. My husband would do some things that would almost make me run mad. But I did not because of those things packed out of our house because it was one of the antics of the devil to scatter our home. But there is something he does that has always endeared him to me and that has made me resolve that if it were possible to come back to this world, I will still marry him. It is the fact that he has never been unhappy with my progress in life. If I wanted to go to Lagos to buy goods, if the driver did not come, he would jump into the car and drive me to Lagos to and fro. He has been very supportive of my business. Some men of nowadays are not supportive of their wives. If care is not taken, this may cause a serious problem at home. Some husbands believe that if their wives have more money than they do, they would not be submissive to them again. But some women are guilty of this. So, wives should learn to be submissive to their husbands, even if they are richer or more educated, or even when they earn higher than their husbands. Also, husbands should respect their wives. When my husband was working, God blessed him; we built a house, we bought cars. Everything we have, he would buy in my name up till today. If he bought a car, it had always been in my name. The house that we have, my name is on it. He did well for me. But he has bad mouth such that he can flog verbally; that could make wives of nowadays want to call it quits in their matrimonial homes. But he has never beaten me physically for once in the past 45 years.
There was a time I wanted to go for a business trip outside Nigeria and I had a dream earlier that I lost a huge amount while on the trip, which made me shed bitter tears. When I woke up, I told my husband, and we prayed together on it that it would never happen. Lo and behold, my flight was in the afternoon and I left Ibadan for Lagos very early in the morning. He also went to Bible class that morning. When he got back home, he found US$6,000 that I forgot on our bed. He called me and told me about it. I almost fainted. My son-in-law brought the money for me at the airport before our flight took off. Some husbands would have spent the money.
How do you resolve your differences?
Husband: Whenever we fight, we always resolve it within three days because I would always find means of resolving the matter as soon as possible. And, she has been very understanding.
Wife: If we quarrel, no matter how serious it is, before three days, we would resolve it. He would keep malice and when he could not continue, I would start my own. Whenever he wants settlement, he would deliberately walk into me in the house and I would ask if he was blind. He would respond by saying: “Be careful, I will hit you with my head, and your head will break into two.” And we would laugh together again. He has never rejected my food. Whenever we had misunderstanding, I would always cook for him. Right from the time we met, I told him that I did not want my husband to eat outside, and he agreed with me. Why would I deny him food at home and why would he reject my food? It has never happened. So, wives of nowadays should never deny their husbands food at home. In the past 45 years of our marriage, my husband and I have been sleeping in the same room. When our children were young, we would sleep on the same bed. But the children had their rooms when they grew up. We have also been eating together. Even if I returned late from work, he would wait for me. Also, I told him that I did not want a husband that would be a night crawler. The only time he stayed late out with his friends outside, we fought over it and he apologised.