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”Immediately I saw her, I knew she was my wife” – Olu Jacobs Dishes on Marriage

”Immediately I saw her, I knew she was my wife” – Olu Jacobs Dishes on Marriage

One of Nollywood’s veteran actors, Olu Jacobs, 74, has revealed some facts about his 31-year marriage to stunning wife, Joke Silva.

In a recent chat with Punch, the veteran shares some of his life experiences, from how he met his wife, how their marital journey started, his career and how he had to bribe his dad to become an actor.

Read some excerpts from the interview:

How did you meet your wife?

We were having a management meeting for a play, Wole Soyinka’s Jero Metamorphosis, when a young lady walked in. Immediately she walked in, something inside me told me that she was going to be my wife and I told the people around me that I was going to marry her. That was in 1981. In 1986, we got married.

Were you not in a relationship before you met her?

I was not in a relationship. I had a disappointment that kept me away and I never wanted any serious commitment because the wound was still raw but when I met her, we talked and played a lot and it surprised people a lot. We travelled together a lot as well. When the time came, I did not hesitate and it was as if she was waiting for the question as well. I proposed to her in Tunisia because we were shooting a film, Ashanti. She came to join me there on her way to England and I asked her to marry me.

How was it building a home with a fellow actor amidst public scrutiny?

Sometimes when you have enemies outside, you become best of friends or it separates you. We were lucky that it brought us together because we were holding each other. When you hold each other, you become close because we were talking about problems, common enemies, suspected enemies, and even imagined enemies. You talk about all of them so that you must offload everything and let someone else be worrying about your problems. Once you begin to talk, you begin to like each other better. Your wife must be your best friend and if she is not your best friend, then you are in serious trouble. Don’t do things that you cannot tell her. The day you asked her to marry you is the day you should stop thinking about yourself alone. Begin to think for two. Friendship is the most important thing.

Was it only her beauty that was the basis of attraction?

No, I loved the whole package and immediately I saw her, I knew she was my wife. I said it but she ‘eyed’ me but I did not care. I looked at everybody and said that I was going to marry her but they laughed.

Was that the first time you would genuinely love someone?

It was not, I was with someone I thought we would be one but that did not happen till I met her. I was still nursing the wound until I met my wife.

How have you been coping with women and temptation?

The older you get, you learn that most of the people that come to you would be honoured to have friendship with you. But the way some people see things is that they assume that the women are throwing themselves at you. If a woman comes to visit you, some people believe that it must lead to sex or why else did she come over. It is not every woman that you see that you have. Some have been sent to you to be of help while some came to your life so you could help them. But when some men see skirts, they think sex. When we do such, we blur the inner sight that we pray for every day because we don’t have the courage to believe that it can be true and we cannot face it. For me, the experience of age has helped and I have always learnt to listen. I found it very easy to take a girl out and drop her at home. Once we leave the restaurant, we get a taxi and we drop her home.

How have you been able to resist cheating as a handsome actor?

When you stop thinking for one person in a relationship, the only person you can offend is yourself. You start to think about how such would affect your relationship.

How would you describe your early days in Kano?

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I was born in Kano but my parents were from Abeokuta. Kano was the most beautiful place anyone could live when I was growing up. Religion was not a problem but an advantage and the Christian children normally joined the Muslims when they were fasting and during lent they also joined us. It was beautiful and we shared everything. We inter-married then but all of a sudden, politics started and it was misinterpreted and misrepresented. When the leaders went for a conference and they came back, they started telling stories, wrong stories. They started telling lies and began to exaggerate things and people were made to misunderstand hence the riot in 1956 in Kano. Our parents got worried and they felt it was better to run without delay, so they sent us to the west and that was my first visit to Abeokuta. I got to know the homes of my grandparents and stayed with them for a while.

Is it true that your father did not want you to become an actor?

He was not pleased that I wanted to become an actor. Going to watch a play is not the same thing as being an actor. My father was a prolific dancer and drummer, so he understood what it meant to be an entertainer but instead of him to accept my wish, he was against it. He was a master drummer but it was a hobby for him. He did not understand that acting was what I really wanted to do. I went to meet my mother and told her to talk to him and I even threatened her that if he didn’t  concede to my request, I would run away. That was how we always threatened them.

I later got a passport form for England which he was to endorse and when I gave it to him, he tore it and said I would not go anywhere. I told my uncle who was his brother and he told me to get another passport form. It was my uncle who eventually endorsed it for me but none of us in our house told my father, if we did, he would deal with us. I got the passport and when I was applying for the visa, I went through a very rigorous interview but I felt good. This is somewhere I really wanted to go so I answered the questions with all pleasure. I answered the questions as if I had been told about it and the interviewer who was a white man had to ask me why I was giving him a ridiculous story. I simply answered that it was because I was telling the truth. He looked at me and offered me a drink. He asked the messenger to get me Fanta.

At what point did your father get to know that you had travelled to England for acting and how did he react?

Well, my mother told me that I should not worry, that he would give her hell and she was going to bear it but I should ensure that I kept in touch so that her mind would be at rest. You think I was the only child but I was the fifth out of eight children.

I was told that when my father eventually knew, he went berserk. When my letter arrived from England, he looked at it suspiciously and when he opened it and saw it was from me, he dropped it. Then he picked it up again, saw a packet in it and when he opened that, it was his favourite brand of tobacco, St. Bruno. A lot of people could not afford that. Before I travelled, he normally sent me to buy his tobacco which was always diluted. But what I sent to him was the real deal. It was not diluted. He then asked my mother if I was the one that sent it to him. He later sent for the person that brought the letter and asked after my well-being, he was very pleased with the tobacco that I sent to him, especially after he took a sniff.

Read more from the interview Here.

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