There are three common ways love happens and leads eventually to marriage in our society. They are love at first sight; friendship deepening into love, and the third is matchmaking, which is usually through a go-between who disappears once love begins to happen between the man and woman.
These three factors came into play in the marriage between Dr. Lilian Eguriase Bakare, an Urhobo woman from Delta State and Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare, a Yoruba man from Aramoko in Ekiti State.
Both are lecturers at the Department of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE). While Dr. Bakare specialises in Costume, her husband is a choreographer, play director and playwright.
In this chat with Daily Sun, Prof. Bakare, a renowned theatre practitioner and scholar, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Artistic Director, Abuja Carnival, a Fellow of Theatre Arts (NANTAP), Fellow, Society of Nigerian Theatre Artistes, Fellow, Dance Guild of Nigeria, and member, National Academy of Letters, pioneer Head, Department of Theatre and Media Arts, Dean Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dean, Faculty of Arts, and current Dean, School of Post Graduate Studies, FUOYE and his wife, Lilian, went down memory lane as they shared experiences in their over 26-year marital union.
How did you meet your wife?
Husband: In 1992, when I left University of Calabar as a Graduate Assistant after my first degree and Masters degree, I moved to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, as a lecturer in the Department of Drama. I arrived Zaria at a period the students were on holiday. One of my colleagues in the department then by the name Malam Rabiu Isa, spoke to me about a 300 level student by the name Lilian who he said he would introduce to me when students resume from holiday. I asked him why.
He said from my appearance and lifestyle that Lilian would like me because she is very sophisticated. And that she is a very responsible, hardworking and brilliant student in spite of her highly exposed background. I asked Malam Isa why he wouldn’t covet such a girl for himself. He said it is because he already had somebody he was going to marry, but that from our previous discussions I didn’t have a fiancee.
When students returned to school, Malam Rabiu Isa made good his promise by inviting me to his office one morning and formally introduced me to a girl who I later I discovered was going to be directly taught by me in one of the courses. I soon discovered that Malam Isa was correct about the girl’s high sense of responsibility, hard work and integrity.
So, one morning, after completing a practical dance class, I jocularly told her that from what I have seen about her she would make a good wife and therefore, I was going to marry her. We both joked about it and went our different ways. That was how the seed was planted and years later, that early morning joke became a reality.
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Did you hear about him before you physically met?
Wife: Yes. It was the same Rabiu Isa that spoke to me about him. I happen to understand Hausa language because I had lived in Yola before coming to Zaria as a student. This made me to be close to Malam Rabiu Isa. He was always telling me about one Mr. Bakare, the best Nigerian dance lecturer who would soon become a staff of the department.
In fact, all the students in the department were looking forward to the arrival of this new dance lecturer. Therefore, when we returned from the semester vacation, Malam Rabiu Isa quickly sent for me and told me about the arrival of Mr. Bakare and his desire that I should be close to this Mr. Bakare who is a highly brilliant and talented young man.
How did the chemistry work when you eventually met?
Wife: I resumed school very early and when I went to the drama village which is our rehearsal and performance facility in the university, l discovered that they had already started rehearsing the convocation play. As soon as I entered the theatre that day, I saw a light-complexioned young man with an afro hair wearing a rehearsal kit, giving instruction while directing the convocation play.
I just desired in my heart that this person would talk to me. Then, after the rehearsals, Malam Rabiu Isa introduced him to me as the new dance lecturer he spoke about. That was how it all started until I became convinced that I would be safe in his hands.
What got you to make up your mind about him?
Wife: The fact that he was my lecturer made it easy for me to assess him. You know students know their lecturers very well and therefore, it is easy for students to scrutinize their teachers if they want to. Students discuss their lecturers. As a student, you have information about your lecturers beyond even what your lecturers think you know. All these helped me to assess him before I made up my mind.
As his student, I knew he was a disciplinarian of the highest order. Also, he is extremely courageous and honest. His sense of integrity is second to none. As a teacher, all his students knew that his yes was yes and his no was no. We knew that he was not dating any student and he was also very intelligent and talented. Let me give you an example of something that transpired between us when he was my teacher.
I was already close to him and would go to his residence to help him prepare food and keep in the fridge and come back to my hostel. So, one morning, I went to his place to prepare breakfast for him, after putting the food on the table, I observed that he was busy marking examinations scripts in the bedroom.
I then spoke from the sitting room that his breakfast had been served and I was going back to my hostel. He just said see you later. Two weeks after that, the semester results were released and I got a shock of my life, when I discovered that that morning he was actually marking my class examination scripts and I scored 48% in that course.
I was busy in the kitchen preparing this man’s food and he was busy marking my script and he gave me 48%. That was the only D grade that I ever got as a student and it was given to me by a man I was going to marry. The fact of the matter is that I am not a good dancer and this was a dance course.
I had scored 29 over 50 in the theories and 19 over 50 in the practical because I am not a good dancer. When he added the two, I made 48% and he left it like that even when the head of department then asked him to upgrade it to 50, he refused and said it was against his principles.
So, when the results were released, some of my classmates and some of his colleagues asked me to stop seeing him because of the incidence. They said he didn’t love me, that if he loved me, he wouldn’t give me 48% in his course. But my interpretation was different; I told myself, if this guy had the gut to be honest and frank with me in this manner, then he is mature enough to be my father and brother as a husband. That day, I made up my mind that I would marry him.
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When did you eventually get married?
Husband: We started seeing each other in 1993 and we got married in 1996. I am one of those people that believe there is a man and a woman for everybody. When that man or woman comes, you would know. I believe in the Christian philosophy of marriage which says that there is a God’s will for everyone.
If you marry out of God’s will, you will not regret it. There is no perfect man or woman but someone has been made to complement you specially. If you are too much in a hurry or distracted or there are other selfish preferences you are looking for, you will lose the person that has been planned for you.
The beginning matters. You need to marry your own friend; someone that accepts you the way you are. If someone accepts you, he or she would not dwell on your weaknesses. If someone accepts you, you will be willing to do things that please the person. The two of you will want to make the relationship work.
I don’t believe that love is blind. Sustained love is actually between two people whose eyes are wide open but have taken the decision to make their relationship work. Finally, there must be the God factor in your marriage. The way I put it is this: the woman is on the left, the man is on the right and God at the centre.
The closer they move towards God, the closer they get to each other. Because you have the fear of God you don’t want to do evil, and the more you shun evil as husband and wife, the more you are satisfied with each other.
What got you convinced about her?
Husband: Because the lecturer that first spoke about her to me is a no-nonsense person. He is not flippant. So I was a bit convinced. Then testimonies from other people who knew her more than I did, got me more convinced about her. Later, when I related with her, I found out that she listens. Though very confident she is not cocky. She came across like somebody who is domesticated, natural, and honest. I am not easy to please.
I am a conservative man when it comes to marriage, a typical Yoruba man. I believe that one’s wife should respect him, and that one’s wife should respect his family and vice versa. I know nobody is infallible. We do make mistakes but when you make a mistake and you are corrected, you learn and adjust. She does that easily and I saw that as a strong point. I also discovered that she is truthful and not greedy.
For instance, a sachet of milk was N5 then. I would invite her to breakfast and give her N10 to buy milk and she would give me my N5 change when she returns without being prompted. I also found out that she was not faking it. She was genuine about the things she was doing. One of my gifts is that I am very discerning. For you to deceive me, you must be a genius.
I would do some things and look for her reaction and I would be watching to see whether she was reacting to please me or she was reacting genuinely. Later, what really got me was that I found out that we shared a lot of things in common and that is the spiritual aspect. Her father and mine were policemen, she was born on November 6 and I was born on November 8, today is my birthday her’s was two days ago.
She is into theatre and I am also into it. She is a first child; I am a first child. These coincidences made meaning to me spiritually and I began to believe that this is the person that God has designed for me. Then when I began to meet her family, especially her younger sister, Obaro, I found out that she was also like her, very homely girl and well-behaved. This gave me an insight into their family background in the context of moral upbringing and discipline.
I felt we were perfectly made for each other. The only difference is that she is Urhobo, I am Yoruba. That was not a problem because my parents are as detribalized as I am. In fact, many years before I met her, I had taken an Igbo girl from Mbaise in Imo State to my parents and introduced her as my wife-to-be and she was well received.
Even though she later walked out of the relationship herself because she couldn’t understand why I would choose to become a dance lecturer and practitioner and reject an opportunity to go for a short service course at NDA and become a commissioned military officer. So, in my family, we are very detribalized. It does not matter to us where you come from, what matters to us is the quality you are made of.
It has been 26 years now, how would you assess the union so far?
Husband: First and foremost, the union has made me a man in the real sense of it. It has stabilized me and made me more focused, and successful. It has also deepened my level of maturity. Apart from my career success, we have three children who are doing very well.
We have our firstborn doing his MSC in Cinematography now. The second one, our daughter, took over our trade and she made First Class in her first degree. She is currently doing her youth service in a university. The last child is studying Law at the university. My wife has been a good person to my siblings and good daughter to my parents. What you see destroying marriages today are impatience, greed and arrogance. If these can be done away with, marriages won’t ever crash.
How would you advise the younger ladies on divorce and other issues on marriage in our society today?
Wife: What most of our girls these days are suffering from is unnecessary ego. The head and the neck must complement each other, not competing with each other. The woman should be patient. There is a way your patience as a woman stabilizes your man and your home. Even if your man is wayward, with patience, things would change including the man. You must also love your husband’s extended family.
You too have your own siblings that would get married and you don’t want them to abandon your parents after they are married. Don’t do to your parents-in-law what you won’t tolerate for your own parents. Although we have people who could be overbearing, but a woman should be patient. If a woman insists she doesn’t want family members around her husband, she would be the loser in the end.
Tags: Dr. Lilian Eguriase Bakare, marriage, Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare
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