In those days, it is very hard to find a woman willing to try their luck again after their first marriage had packed up and with children. Also, it is not every time that you find the right one after you have been greatly disappointed by your first love.
But in the case of Ganiyat, married to Alhaji Rasak Adisa Fakunle, a PDP chieftain in Lagos, she did.
The story of how the new husband and wife were able to cope with the ensuing challenges, after their marriage in 1975, will surely present a marital road map for couples who just found themselves in similar situations. Or, who may do so in future.
This was part of the disclosures that the couple shared with Daily Sun.
How was your childhood like?
Rasaki: I was born on June 15, 1940 to a father who was from Itafaji in Lagos Island, and a mother from Olowora, Ikeja, both in Lagos State. So, I am a complete Lagosian. I attended Christ the King School, Ajegunle, Apapa, Lagos. After Infant 3, I moved to Isoko Primary School, Marine Beach, Apapa where I did Standards 1-6.
Thereafter, I got admission into the National College of Commerce, Idioro, Mushin Lagos, where I got a Royal Society of Arts (RSA) certificate after five years of studies. I did some correspondence courses, after which I took some courses at the University of Ibadan. I graduated from the Department of Political Science.
In the course of my education, I also read Psychology. I retired as a Stevedoring contractor and went into private contract business. I am also a politician. I was the Lagos West Senatorial Chairman of PDP in 2015, and it was the time the party had the best outing in the state, in terms of electoral success. At present, I am the apex leader of PDP in Lagos West.
Ganiyat: I was born in 1947 at Aga in Ikorodu, Lagos. I was brought up at Adams Street in Lagos Island. I attended St. Stephen’s School, Adeniji. I also attended another school after that. I stopped at Standard Six because there was no money to further my education. Shortly afterward, I got married to my first husband who hailed from Owo in Ondo State. We lived at Ikate in Surulere, Lagos. I left the marriage after having three male children for him.
Why did you leave?
Ganiyat: I ran away to save my life because he used to beat me regularly. At times, he would go out to parties, and return the following day. If I asked him what happened, he would beat me. Sometimes, I used to beg for food to take care of my children.
In fact, he maltreated me so much that I could no longer bear it. At one point, neighbours were asking whether I did not have parents to go back to. But I continued to stay owing to my three little children.
But the incident that made me leave him was the day he chased me with an iron rod. If I had not escaped he would have killed me. So, I ran to my mother at Ebute, Ikorodu with my children.
How was your life after that?
Ganiyat: Life was difficult. I became confused and frustrated to the extent that I began to think of committing suicide by jumping into the Ebute River. I spent three months there before my mother decided to bring me to Lagos.
While I was with my first husband, I used the opportunity to learn tailoring. So, when I returned to Lagos with my mother, we settled in the Alayabiagba area of Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government. From there, we started a little business at Ajegunle Boundary market to sustain ourselves.
But ordinarily, when did two of you start work life?
Rasaki: After my education, one of my uncles who worked with Palmline Agency fixed me up as Stevedoring contractor. I worked there till 1977 when I left to put up my own business.
Ganiyat: When I raised little money, I bought a sewing machine, and opened a shop, while my mother was into the business of selling akara egusi (melon cake). When I close from work in the evening, I would go and assist her in the market. I used to carry the akara egusi, and sell at the garage.
We would sell till 1am. And, whenever we felt sleepy, we would spread clothes in the open place in the market, and sleep – all of us, including my three children. We were heavily bitten by mosquitoes, cockroaches and ants.
After looking at my condition, a man told me about a plot of land for sale in the Okokomaiko area at the rate of N800. Though I had the money, I could not buy it because I was interested in training my children. That was how I continued to struggle to succeed in life.
At what point did you marry?
Rasaki: I got married to my first wife at the age of 22, and had my first son.
Ganiyat: As I said, I was married before. But I married Rasaki while I was with my mother, and three children.
How did you meet each other before marriage?
Rasaki: While I was working at Apapa then, I walked through Boundary Ajegunle where she used to assist her mother to sell melon cake, ‘akara egusi’ which I always bought to eat garri with.
On many occasions, she was the one I met, and she would attend to me very well. At a point, I began to see her beauty and became interested in her. So, each time I got to their shop to buy something, her beauty would attract me, and I would be looking at her.
Did she notice your attention?
Rasaki: Well, she might have noticed that I admired her. But you know women; she would pretend not to see me. Rather, she would like to do more to attract me. Sometimes, I used to go to their shop to buy something, even though I didn’t need it, just to see her face. And, after that, I would be satisfied. Then she started becoming familiar with me.
We used to crack jokes sometimes. Unlike nowadays when women approach men for either friendship or marriage, it used to be difficult to get the consent of a young lady then. But one fateful day, I summoned up the courage and told her what I had in mind.
When I told her about the relationship, she did not take it seriously initially. But when I persisted, she began to show interest. That was how we later got married. She was not bothered that I had a wife and children because I promised to secure an accommodation for her, so that there would be no issues.
Did you not find out her background?
Rasaki: I did. She told me about her background and former marriage where she had three children. And that even encouraged me more. Moreover, I could not resist her beauty and attraction.
Did anyone oppose your marriage?
Rasaki: Yes, my late elder sister did. Probably because she knew her. They both did business at the same market. In fact, I did not know why she insisted that I should not marry her.
But due to the love I have for her, I also insisted on getting married to her. Being the kind of person I am, I hardly change my stance whenever I make a decision. Thereafter, my sister had no option than to surrender.
Ganiyat: To be frank, I did not want to remarry because I did not want my children to suffer. So, I was not interested in men. But it happened that Rasaki used to be my mother’s regular customer.
Almost every evening, he would come and buy things from us. It was from there I knew him. But I did not know that he was interested in me on the day he approached me for marriage. I told him my life story and gave him conditions, yet he agreed to marry me.
What were the conditions?
Ganiyat: One of the conditions was that I would not abandon my three children; that I would carry them along. I also told him that he would rent a different apartment for me since he had another wife and he agreed.
Did anybody in your family oppose your marriage to Rasaki?
Ganiyat: No one did. My mother accepted him very well because she saw him as a responsible man who would take good care of a woman. Also, his cheerfulness endeared him to my mother.
You had a wife before proposing to her. Did she not oppose the second marriage?
Rasaki: She did not do so. The reason is because, as a young man then, I had money. Luckily, my first wife had four children. All were males, and I was satisfied. But along the line the first son died, the second followed, the third also died.
Later the fourth child died, and we were left without a child. That made me take the decision to marry another wife so that two of them would bear children. Eventually, no matter how many children die, I would get children. That was my mentality.
God is really wonderful. Could you believe that marrying the second wife, two of them were bearing children and none of the children died as they used to. My first wife had five male children while the second had four, two males and two females.
What challenges did you face as a second wife?
Ganiyat: It was not easy. I envisaged that I would have issues. Then, if I came to the house, his first wife would abuse me and called me names. But I did not bother because I did not come through the backdoor. All the marital rites were done, and my bride price was duly paid.
Having insisted on marrying her, are there regrets?
Rasaki: There is nothing to regret at all. She has been a good wife to me. She understands me very well and keeps to my lifestyle, though she is troublesome.
Rasaki: She is jealous and stubborn. But I do not care. I do whatever I want to do outside, and when I return home in the night, she would be shouting at me, calling me names. But I quietly go to my room, without responding to her words. Then, if she wanted to revisit the matter the next day, I would still not respond. That was how I continued managing the situation. It was not easy, only that God gave me the grace to do so.
Did you ever fight each other?
Rasaki: Ah, we fought! In fact, severally. There was a day she went out and I locked her outside, and she slept there till daybreak. Whenever she complained to her mother, she would tell her to go back and make peace with her husband. Otherwise, she made moves to go, but it did not work.
Ganiyat: Like he said, we fought. I advised him to stop drinking, but he never listened. He would go out and return late, sometimes drunk. I kept telling him to stop or minimize that lifestyle. But he refused to listen. But I thank God that everything was moving on well, despite challenges.
Each time we quarrelled, we would settle it without delay. You see, I respect him a lot because he has much regard for me. I had three children and he allowed me to take good care of them. My children later relocated to Kano State and he always allowed me to visit them. Some men would not tolerate that. They would suspect you to be a harlot.
How do you see your spouse’s lifestyle?
Rasaki: She likes social life, and goes to parties. She is ready to sew aso-ebi for a party every week. That is how she has been doing, even when she was younger. I learned that Ikorodu people are good at such lifestyles, but I am the opposite.
Ganiyat: He used to drink as a young man, but now, it is no more like that. Now, he is always going out for one meeting or the other as a politician and contractor. When he is not out, he would be indoors resting. Normally, he eats about two times a day.
Would you advise your daughter to be a second wife or your son to marry a second wife?
Ganiyat: I will never do that. My own case was due to the frustrations I went through as a young lady. Marrying two wives is a very big problem. From the experience I have, encouraging it is like recommending what is not good to my son.
Rasaki: On a normal ground, it is not advisable, unless situation warrants it. In my own case. I did not just marry a second wife for fun; it was due to circumstance I presented to you already.
What’s your advice for younger couples?
Rasaki: They should be contented with whatever they have, in order to get more in future. That is what I tell all my children, especially the female ones. Women do everything to be like others. That does not change anything. They should be themselves. In my own case, I do not copy people. I do things the way it pleases me.
Ganiyat: Younger couples should be committed in their marriages and shun greed and envy. It is only when a woman is greedy that she would force her husband to do more than what is within his power to do.
Marriage is all about understanding and tolerance. Obviously, there is no perfect marriage; so couples should be ready to love, forgive and tolerate each other.