TAIWO &NNEKA AWOSIKA: Lessons in cross cultural marriage

 

 

SHE ONCE PAID OFF MY CATALOGUE OF DEBTS-TAIWO

HE CHANGED ME FROM INTROVERT TO MIXER-NNEKA

 

They stand proudly as a beacon of the unity that Nigeria is struggling to attain. They flaunt a robust proof that intercultural marriage could be a great fun where there is a mix of deep love, mutual respect and understanding.  Taiwo and Nneka Awosika, Presiding pastors of the high flying Army Of David Ministry , met and instantly hit  it off 25 years ago. This was in spite of some peculiarities sensitive enough to create a wide gulf of irreconcilable differences.

 

To start with, Taiwo is a Yoruba man from Ondo State, South West Nigeria while Nneka is of the Igbo extraction. Taiwo is dark skinned and imposingly tall but Nneka is fair in complexion with an average height. Nneka in those days was an introvert who would rather prefer to coil up in her cocoon. But Taiwo was and is still a warm, adventurous mixer ever ready to make new friends any day and everywhere.

 

So how were they able to harmonise these differences and work out a relationship that now drips with increasingly sizzling romance? Taiwo and Nneka revealed it all to our man, Debo Akinyemi who  visited them in the week of their 19th wedding anniversary .

 

PLEASE DEFINE MARRIAGE FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE

 

He; For me, marriage is a journey of two friends who do things with unity of God’s purpose and ensure no challenge gives their love life any dull moment. This is so because they joyfully handle challenges together, complementing each other in all areas.

She; I will like to say marriage is about two adults looking out for the good of each other.

 

SO YOURE INTO AN INTERCULTURAL MARRIAGE.HOW DID IT BEGIN?

He; We met in our former church way back then. We were both working in the children department. She was tending the children while I was looking after the teenagers.

 

SO WHAT WERE THE ATTRACTIONS ?

He;  I loved her fair complexion and good looks. But beyond that I saw in her  traits of a good wife. She was handling the children in such an admirable way. This  convinced me she would be a good home maker.

 

She; I loved the fact that he is humorous and committed to things of God.

 

ANY OPPOSITION?

 

He;   Yes, there was some opposition. We were in to a relationship for three years and kept it just between us. But when we sought her parents’ approval there were some problems. But for her insistence we would not  have been able to marry. The problem got to a point that she had to be asking herself if it was wise to go on with me. The parents even had to stop her from attending that same church where we met. But She listened to a message of pastor Bakare  one day and that helped her to firm up her decision to stand her ground.

 

WHAT ABOUT THE BRIDE PRICE

He; It was not very easy but I have a capable mother-in-law. The moment she declared her support for the marriage she stood solidly by me. She just took charge of the situation. She was very helpful but not to the extent of getting me embarrassed. Whatever I needed to do she made me to do it so that I would not appear like someone not ready for responsibilities of marriage.

But instead of four visits to the family, my mother-in-law helped me to cut it down to just two. She also helped in buying all the things. We just sent the money to her. But I must say it here that I was not ready to take any chance . So I was prepared to do anything  required of me. The marriage plan was delayed for three years so I did not want to allow anything to go wrong. I readily agreed to the proposed date before informing my family. I just called to say ‘’this is the date so you people should go and look for money’’

 

She; One more thing to add is that those things on the list were very reasonable. My parents ensured that they did not ask him to do what was beyond his capacity.

 

IN NIGERIA OF TODAY THERE IS MISTRUST AMONG THE TRIBES. SO WHAT DOES IT PORTEND FOR YOUR OWN INTERCULTURAL MARRIAGE.?

 

She;  I  believe in one Nigeria. I believe we are just fine together the way we are. We just need to understand the peculiarities of each other’s culture and we would be able to co-exist. I  have never had fear  about my decision to marry a Yoruba man. I grew up in Lagos and speak Yoruba fluently. But then I took time to study and understand the Yoruba culture very well so I can be guided on how to relate to my husband’s people. And it works for me. I am very close to my relatives-in-law. They are such wonderful people. And most of the time they are on my side whenever there is a quarrel between me and my husband.

 

He; There is no room for any misgiving about marrying from another culture because we are Christians. As long as it was God leading me it did not matter what tribe my wife came from. Apart from that, I love the Igbo culture so much. I wear Igbo attires and they look good on me. So the best thing to do for anyone who wants to marry is to ensure that your partner is a Christian. And that settles it.

 

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO INTEGRATE THE CHILDREN IN TO THE TWO CULTURES.

 

He; our children bear both Yoruba and Igbo names so that they would understand they are products of two cultures. We have also taken them to the east in order to have first -hand experience of the Igbo culture. More of such visits are still being planned.

 

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE LOVED TO CHANGE ABOUT YOURSELVES.

He; I talk a lot and when I am convinced about something I  hold tight on to it even it causes a major quarrel between us. When I have something on my mind to do , I tend  to ignore others thing . I put the things of the church so much to heart to the extent that it is almost giving  me high blood pressure.

 

She; Thank God that I have changed now but I used to be an introvert. I loved to remain in my shell without relating to outsiders. But because of my husband’s warm nature, I have been able to adjust. So he brought me out of my shell and showed me how to relate warmly to everybody.

 

HOW DO YOU HANDLE SENSITIVE ISSUE OF MONEY.

She ; The Awosikas are famous and well to do. But money was never the attraction for me. We don’t run joint account but we both we look after the common good of the family with whatever resources we have. Any time any one of us has some money we discuss on the best way to make use of it for the benefit of the family.

He; Let me say this that when it comes to money issue my wife is a wonderful human being. She is an accountant but she is not stingy about her money towards me or our children. She did something for me when we just got married for which I am eternally grateful. Before we got married I was very loose with money. I did not know how to manage money  so I ended up owing a lot of people.

My wife did not like this at all. So one day she took a lot of money  in form of loan from her office and bought some envelopes. She then sat me down and asked me to list the names of all my creditors. She then enveloped what I owed everybody , addressed the envelopes and asked me to take it to them. Along the line, I had cause to open up some of the envelopes to take part of the money to meet some needs. She went and took some more  money but this time, she went with me with the envelopes to those I was still owing. She did this to be sure that all the debts were settled completely. So she helped to restore my dignity.

Now I have learnt from her out to be a good manager of funds. Any time I have money I put it on the table for us to decide to do with it. We place a lot of emphasis on projects . Whenever there is money  we put it on project because we know failure to do so  would amount to misplacement of priority .

About Gbenga Osinaike

Gbenga Osinaike is a 1992 graduate of Dramatic Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He specialised in Play-writing. He also holds a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Lagos. He was Assistant Editor in Punch Newspapers from where he resigned having worked for 13 years to start Church Times Nigeria in March 2007. He is currently the Nigeria representative of US based Institute of Global Church Studies and also the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos, Nigeria Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. He is married and blessed with two children.

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