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The Zashas Tell The Story Of Their 44-Years Marital Journey As They Advise On Domestic Violence

The Zashas Tell The Story Of Their 44-Years Marital Journey As They Advise On Domestic Violence

Dr. James Zasha and his wife, Dorcas, have been married for 44 years. In a recent chat with DailySun, in Makurdi, the couple who have become well-known in Benue State and environs, for mentoring young couples, told the story of their marriage journey.

Despite its many attendant challenges, they were able to weather the storms and stand firm till today. They attribute this to mutual love, respect and understanding, and insist that where these abound, there is no room for domestic violence.  

Tell us about yourselves

Dr. James: I got married to my wife during my NYSC year in Kano. After that, I worked in a number of places. Now, I am retired but doing consultancy work. I told myself that by my mid-50s, I would retire not just from work but from the 8 am-5 pm schedule kind of work that takes place five times a week, 4 weeks a month, and 12 months a year, minus 30 days of leave.

So now, I have greater control over my time. I have been married for the greater part of my life. I am 68-years-old but 44 years in marriage. If you subtract 44 from 68, that will give you an idea of how old I was when I got married. We raised our children and they are all doing well. But now, we are alone in the house. We have gone back to where we started. 

Ma Dorcas: I went to school in Kaduna State. That was where I gave my life to Christ. I was baptized in the Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, and up till now, I am committed to the Word of God by His grace. When we got married, God gave us children. Both of us schooled at the same University in Canada.

I wanted to be the best psychologist in Nigeria. And we came to Makurdi. I asked God to show me something that I would be doing to help my husband take care of our children. He opened doors. That was how I started doing my business at Benue Cement and in many other places.

What actually attracted you to each other in the first place?

Dr. James: I met her after I came out of a relationship that didn’t work. Initially, I had a fair picture of the kind of woman I wanted to get married to she must be slim, fair, tall and all that. But later I said that I shouldn’t be the one detecting for God who to give me.

So, I dropped all the criteria and just trusted Him. When we met in Gboko, at a youth gathering known as Christian Holidaymakers, I got attracted to her because of her physical appearance and manners. She comported and carried herself very well. I liked the dimple on her cheeks and her simple way of life.

It’s interesting to know that she too was coming out of a relationship that couldn’t work. But I was not responsible for that. We were active in the youth fellowship. We started dating. I kept asking God whether she was the one meant for me.

Then one Christmas, God made it clear to me through the place I read in the scriptures that she was the one. I read in Genesis about how Isaac found his wife. I wrote a letter of proposal and posted it to her because we lived in different cities. I can’t remember how long it took her to reply but I waited.

Ma Dorcas: When it was time for me to marry, I prayed a lot because some people disturbed me too much about marriage. There was a time I was fasting and praying earnestly as I learnt from my Dad. It was during that period that I met my husband in Gboko when he came for holidays.

When I went back to Kaduna, I got a letter from him that I would soon be known as Mrs. Zasha. When I kept praying, God revealed to me that he was the right person.

When you got the letter of proposal, how long did it take you to respond?

Ma Dorcas: I have forgotten the exact time. But it was about a month or more because I needed to get clearance from God. One day, I told a brother in the church what I was facing and he said he was the right person, I should go ahead. So, I wrote him to say yes.

What was your courtship like? Was it a time of eating ‘Shawarma,’ even though there was nothing like that in your time, and drinking?

Ma Dorcas: We didn’t have money, so we did not go for ‘Shawarma’ and all that.

Dr. James: We did not stay together; we only met during the holiday period. It was a time in Nigeria when all schools had their holiday at the same time. So, we would gather and when we gathered, we got involved in evangelism and drama staging. That’s how we spent our courtship.

I remember that she was in Yandev, near Gboko. We used to sit near a forest around Yandev to chat, not to eat anything. So we were praying, going out for evangelism, drama, and street walk. There was discipline and proper upbringing during our time. We came from different backgrounds.

Her father married one wife while my father married 24 wives and my mother was number 18. But we were bound by one thing; knowing Christ and trying to please Him. I set a date. I met her parents who were very understanding. But I didn’t have a father. And, I didn’t have money. When we went to her village, it was another drama.

There was tension as she refused to introduce me to her parents. When I told her to do so, she initially said I should go and talk to them.

In the end, she introduced me and they accepted me. Her father’s primary concern was about me being a Christian. He studied my background and found out that my father had many wives. But what impressed me was that he saw me as a different individual that may not follow my father’s footsteps and accepted me on that basis.

What was your wedding like, simple or expensive?

Dr. James: When we came for the wedding interview like I said, my wife was in Gboko while I was in Kano. When we came for the interview, I was thinking about what kind of questions the church elders would ask me. But when we came, the interview lasted only 12 minutes.

The NKST church elders told us that all they wanted from us was a live goat for entertainment. We couldn’t buy or rent a wedding gown. She borrowed one from her friend. For my wedding suit, somebody promised to buy it for me. But he never told me he wouldn’t be able to do so until the eve of the wedding.

Close to the wedding day, I went to Gboko and bought a fairly used suit with N25. The shoes, socks, and tie were all second-hand. The reception was at Bristol Secondary School. But there was no money to use in decorating the hall.

The car was not decorated. The programme was printed on one sheet of black-and-white paper. After the wedding, we were conveyed to the reception venue in that undecorated car. Worse still, the drinks finished. I felt ashamed. But her uncle went to town and brought more drinks.

SEE ALSO: Useful Advice From The Amaechis’ 60 Years Of Marriage On Keeping The Homefront

Ma Dorcas: After the wedding, we stayed in my husband’s uncle’s house before we left for Kano. I carried locust bean along with me so that we would not lack it there. But my husband did not like it because of the odour. He said that it would cause discomfort for other passengers in the bus. But I insisted and we went to Kano with it and he enjoyed it.

When we settled down, we contented ourselves with the little we had. I was teaching in one of the schools there while my husband was busy with his NYSC. We lived in one small room apartment. And, whenever we had visitors, we would borrow chairs to give them to sit. We even borrowed the bed we were sleeping on.

What was it like starting the marriage?

Dr. James: We lived on my NYSC allowances and her salary from teaching. This was N120. So taking off was very rough just as she described. But what helped us was contentment. If you want supplies to increase before you can be contented, then you will never be contented. Her first pregnancy was in Kano. Kano is a bad place for pregnancy because of its heat and all that.

I remember very well that we would be going on the road and she would start vomiting. Meanwhile, I don’t like to see someone vomit. This is because if you vomit, I must vomit too. In fact, there was a day she was vomiting and I was vomiting too, and people started asking whether the two of us were poisoned. But where poverty hit us harder was when I completed my NYSC and returned to Gboko.

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Pregnancy and hunger don’t go together. So, we started visiting people at the time we feel or suspect lunch would have been ready and God answered our prayers. Sometimes, we would arrive when food was almost ready. Even when our first child was born, it was really tough. But God helped us. When you marry the right person, you feel contented with everything.

ALSO SEE: Resolving Misunderstandings And Many More: The Akpabios Share Advice From Their 31-Year Marriage

What was your first quarrel after your wedding and how did you resolve it?

Dr. James: I think she had already told you. It was about taking nune (locust bean). I had my reason. And, she had hers too for disagreeing with me. When we were packing, she packed a number of things including Gbaaye or okpehe which has more offensive odour than nune.

I told her to be reasonable because we were going by public transport and the odour could discomfort some people. But in the end, she packaged them in a way that eliminated the odour and took it along with her. So, that was the first major disagreement we had after the wedding.

How were you able to raise your children given the tough condition you described?

Ma Dorcas: We set Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to have time with them and to teach them the Word of God. Sometimes when I am going out for business, I would carry them in the car. I would give them food and they would be eating. As soon as my husband closed from work, he would come. They would be happy to see him because he was like a friend to them.

How do you both relax now that your children are grown-up and away?

Ma Dorcas: Just as we started, we are still doing the same thing. He helps me with cooking and washing the dishes. That’s how we help each other and relax.

Dr. James: We spend time together either in the kitchen, bedroom, or upstairs parlour. We like to watch the news together and gist a lot, with much laughter.

What advice would you like to give to newly married couples in light of increasing cases of domestic violence nowadays?

Dr. James: To the man, I would say, hitting your wife is not a display of strength but weakness. Those who love to beat their wives ought to know that the strength needed to lower their hands after they’ve finished beating their wives is more than the strength needed to go ahead and hit them.

So, for me, I have never beaten my wife, no matter the provocation. The idea of hitting her is ruled out. Two things are not involved in our psychology: hitting her and,, in turn, asking for a divorce. So, my advice to young men is that they should not beat their wives because it’s weak and foolish men that do so.

Ma Dorcas: My advice to wives is that they should learn to build their homes by supporting their husbands in every way possible. But they should speak out so that something urgent can be done about their case when they are going through domestic violence at the hands of their husbands.

Like the Bible says in Proverbs 30, only a wise woman can build her home. They should understand that marriage is work. And they should work hard to support their husbands and their homes through prayers, resources, and otherwise.

They should make sure their homes are conducive enough for their husbands to always crave to return home at all times. That’s the true love that the Bible talks about. But at the same time, they should not keep quiet but confide in somebody when they are being turned into a punching bag.

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