A True and Inspirational Love Story OF THE YEAR 1969
1. How did you meet each other?
Segun and I met at West African Book Publishers Limited (WABP Ltd.), in 1967. Through a very caring, humorous neighbor of mine, Mr Rasheed Onikoyi, who was also a colleague of Mr Segun Sofowote, I secured employment as Editor’s Assistant with the company. At that time, Segun Sofowote was the Editor of a couple of uniquely innovative magazines in the country, published by WABP Ltd.
Mrs Sofowote: “At this point, I need to add a flash of background to the awesomeness of that meeting. From the beginning of the ‘60s, ‘Segun Sofowote’ had become a household name in Nigeria, an identifiable brand. All these rushed at me at incredible speed.
It was all of these that were parcelled in the person before me that I was meeting, without prior warning that he was the Editor! Outwardly, there was nothing spectacular or extraordinary, by way of excitement, about the meeting; but, there it was, our paths crossed and geared, unconsciously evoking destiny!”
2. Your wedding which was widely reported in the media and adjudged in 1969 as the “Wedding of the Year” due to its uniqueness and also seen as unconventional, what inspired you to have that type of wedding?
Up till today, our wedding remains unparalleled and un-inimitable, an individualistic mode, with a stamp of non-conforming uniqueness, indescribable equilibrium and joy in the moment!
Our inspiration? Discovering that we were throbbing in rhythm; 2 unique, non-ordinary souls! We needed no reason, no known format, no crowd, nor definition!
We were clearly in love; nothing else mattered! He led; I followed; we levelled up and moved forward affectionately side-by-side! It was just ‘us; complete; and we were beautiful; a heart-throbbing whole in a cosy combo!
3. Lots of marriages today are failing, and it inspires us to see long term couples still holding hands after so 50+ years?
Naturalness is our vehicle here. Neighbourliness is our knight too. My husband and I have become each other’s ‘habit’. Indeed, right from the moment, we declared to the world that two hearts were beating as one, we most naturally just reached out for each other’s hands and walked along unperturbed.
Even when serious quarrel was seething, we just found our hands gravitating towards each other, and that was it. Almost Fifty years along the avenue of life, we still walk beside each other hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder, and as tenderly as ever.
Our right-from-inception whistle signal has remained constant and ever so endearing each time we call out to one another in the whistle fashion. I assure you that, unrelentingly, we have been tried and tested by the vagaries of love, fate and life; but here we still are: the undecorated lovebirds!
“Many relationships, to my way of thinking, suffer disharmony and un-mend-able setbacks because their vehicle is too choked up with mammoth expectations! Both outlandish and subtle destruction-camouflages in the form of expectations bedevil them, and they suspect not! And these come in various hooded guises.”
If, and only if, the commencement and foundation of the union are true, selfless love, with its attributes of peace, neighbourliness, sympathetic consideration, self-respect, self-control and exhilarating joy in each moment, then the structure of the union will be weatherproof.
No matter what obstacles, the seeds planted by the couple through their thoughts, words, deeds and volitions will only bring them bliss and laughter. Laughter, even at the most horrendous caricatures thrown up by events! Why? Because nothing matters in the final analysis! Everything, except the Love and Grace of God, will pass away!
So, forgive each other. Learn to smile at each other’s mindless or mindboggling faux pas! “Become like children!” Little children are 45-years guileless. They can quarrel umpteen times a day; they still will share biscuits! Couples should stop carrying cemeteries in their bosoms! Stop being blame-collectors and pain-annotators! Life is kaleidoscopic, vast and ever enabling. Goodness should be the overriding principle; after that, live and let the other person experience life too.
Misconceptions of union, marriage, relationships on earth can dribble the joy out of reach. Couples should pause to rethink their constricting habits and expectations. Happiness, joy, amusement is just a thought and a decision away!
With all our shortcomings, weaknesses, imperfections, we the SOFOWOTES live in the moment; we thus live a life of relative bliss in time, of encouraging opportunities and beckoning possibilities. Each one of us is free to choose; to move; and surprisingly, we have chosen to continue to tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies.
We have learnt to laugh at ourselves just as we laugh with ourselves. With seven years’ gap between us: he will clock 74 in September while I will make 67 in October if we are still around hereabouts! We are forever grateful to the Lord-of-All for all our experiences. We count our sparkling blessings and keep hope alive.
4. What has helped you stay together after so many years?
Love, simplicity, communication skills, perseverance and joy in the right moment are some basic things we need to keep the trust and attachments going. Adding spices to the love life is very easy. We tend to play with each other, muck around sometimes, mess up the house and clean it together, and go for a picnic more often. There are plenty of things you could do to hold up with your partner and love will keep on flowing in the air around you.
5. What would you say are those attributes that have endeared you to him?
His discipline and gentlemanliness. His patent pride incorrectness! His courage and forthrightness! And, never once in all our forty-five years so far together had he raised either hand or voice at me, no matter how provoking the issue or challenge.
His self-control is worth emulating. His uncanny sense of humor! His mastery of languages and language usage skill maintaining purity all the way! His multifarious talents in music, theatre, dance, broadcasting, graphics! Artistic to the core!
6. What would be the most romantic gesture your husband has done for you?
Way back in 1968, I decided to pursue a two-year secretarial course at the Technical College. Ibadan (now known as The Polytechnic, Ibadan, I required a sponsor to foot a heavy chunk of fees and cost of living, as I had to relocate to Ibadan from Lagos.
Also, as I was at huge loggerheads with my mother, she, most ordinarily, would have paid my course fees.
Promptly, without a second thought, Segun picked up the bills and had me comfortably accommodated in his friend’s residence, close-by to the College.
Not long after starting the course of studies, I received notice that I had been awarded two scholarships for the programme, purely on merit; one by the Western Region Ministry of Education and the other by U.S.A.I.D. I accepted the U.S.A.I.D. award that had no strings attached and declined the other. Therefore, in effect, I had enough funds to cater for my needs for the two-year course. I had expected him to withdraw the various allowances he was giving me then, but he did not!
“Also, for six-and-a-half years after our wedding, we were childless”. He was an only son in a family of 3; and one of two sons in the larger, extended family. So, you can imagine the pressure that would have been making the rounds, in an African backdrop setting, concerning the expectations and urgency for child-complementing.
But, resolutely, my husband preserved the focus and harmony of our relationship. He left no room for teleguiding or nauseous mischief from any quarters, whether from my side or his side of our extended family or friends. He shielded me, and I shielded him from unworthy suggestions and corrupt solutions.
His faithfulness is dependable and very assuring.
7. Any advice for couples in marriages to help them sustain their marriages?
Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.
Love thy neighbor as thyself. Be true. Be considerate. Be childlike. Settle issues per-second-per-second. No bosom should become a cemetery. Stop being blame-collectors or pain-annotators.
Maintain a clean, positive attitude. Let Goodness and good manners guide you. Be simple and natural. Don’t drive your partner nuts because of expectations. Laugh at and with yourselves. Smile always. Celebrate each other’s achievements. Cooperate, collaborate; do not enter into fierce competition leading on to confusion.
Count your blessings and be grateful to God. Stay in love and maintain a sparkling friendship.
These will spill over to your offspring and descendants. You will then live in harmony and be peaceful. Resolutely, you then participate in the upbuilding of love and humanity for heavenly co-existence.
You become perpetually happy; the world becomes finer and better, and it will appreciate your radiance, your simplicity, and humility. Through you, around you and within you, peace of mind will reign everywhere. And, your eyes will twinkle in sparkling joy in all eternity.