Veteran Nollywood actor and former president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Ejike Asiegbu and his wife, Ogechi, narrate their love story and successful marriage in this interview.
How long have you been married?
Ejike: 15 going on to 16 years.
How did you meet your wife?
Ejike: I met her in Port Harcourt where I went to shoot a movie, ‘Pregnant Virgin’. It was a point in my life when I wanted to settle down and I had asked God to show me my wife. I remember vividly I was even fasting.I just finished my meal and she crossed to my side of the road. I spoke to her and realised that she was part of the cast.
So you went after her?
Ejike: I did and it was not easy. I tried to get through other people but it did not work until I took the bull by the horns. To cut the long story short, we became friends and started talking.
What were those things you saw in her that pushed to grab her?
Ejike: I told God that as an entertainer, he should give me a woman that would love me, tolerate me as a man, understand and persevere with me in my growth in life. Also, there was one significant thing that happened. It was going to be my birthday and I had to travel back to be with my sisters, who had made plans to host a party for me. I was to fly ADC. As my fiancée then, she had insisted that if I loved her, I should cancel my trip and celebrate my birthday with her. Reluctantly, I did. But you won’t believe that the plane I was supposed to have flown crashed. That was the ADC plane that crashed in Ejirin on November 7, 1996. That was how she saved my life. I did not need to be convinced any further that she was for me. At that point I did not waste any more time. I went straight to my father and told him I had found a wife.
Did you entertain any fears about getting married to someone in the movie industry?
Ogechi: Definitely I did. With what I saw on the screen then, I had serious fears but all that became history. For the one year we dated, I used to go on location with him and that way I was able to familiarise myself with how things work on set. Obviously, I have outgrown whatever fears I had.
Was there a formal proposal?
Ogechi: There was nothing like that. From the moment we met and became friends, he had always talked about marriage. Also, meeting his family hastened a lot of things because they all fell in love with me.
Fifteen years of marriage, how has the journey been?
Ejike: It has been wonderful. I must say that I am a lucky man in the sense that everything I wanted in a woman, my wife possesses it and more, she is a good manager of resources. I can trust her to pull off anything even if I were not there. I can leave the running of the home to her and go to sleep. If you notice, I go everywhere with my wife because I am proud of her.
There must have been some challenges…
Ejike: When we decided to get married, we promised to make it work at all cost. I think one of the challenges we have is that she tells me certain things and I don’t listen because I want to do it my way. Sometimes, I just do things without telling her and when per chance it boomerangs, I now go back to her. The good thing is, she does not turn me back. I get a very warm embrace and a listening ear. We have our little arguments here and there, but you don’t read about them on the pages of newspapers because we are a mature couple.
So, who is the first to apologise when you quarrels?
Ogechi: It’s my husband; you know how we women like to pose. Sometimes, when we have not argued for a long time, I just look for a way to bring up an argument so that he can beg me. He just laughs over it because he understands me very well.
What do you do when it’s just the two of you?
Ogechi: We have four children and and with my niece make five. So we are busy with them all through the week. We do not joke with our weekends. Even when he can’t come along, I hang out with my friends and he comes to pick me wherever I am.
Ejike: We got married on February 13. It is a must that we spend Valentine’s Day together because it’s a day after our wedding anniversary. We deliberately chose that day because we wanted to celebrate love.
Is she also in charge of your wardrobe?
Ejike: Oh yes, she is. She shops for me and chooses what I wear daily. When I am stubborn sometimes, she refrains from choosing my clothes. She knows that I like to dress simple.
Are there times you wished he were not a public figure?
Ogechi: Maybe in the early days of our marriage when I had to do certain things alone because of his very tight schedule. Now, my children are grown up and they are a handful, so I don’t feel it again.
Is there anything you would like to change about your husband?
Ogechi: He is too trusting and people exploit that aspect of him. He easily believes people and when I try to dissuade him, he does not listen until everything falls apart.
Do you have pet names for each other?
Ogechi: He has always called me mummy because of my organisational skills and I call him honey.
What are the secrets of a successful union?
Ejike: Trust is very essential. You have to learn to be tolerant because marriage is about tolerance. You must humble yourself before your wife and believe in the adage, do unto others as you want others to do unto you. Marriage is beyond ego keeping or chauvinism, your wife is your better half. So, whatever you do, put her in mind, most especially because you are from two different backgrounds. A man must learn to forgive. It is not everything a woman says that you give respond to. My wife is hot-tempered and there are times she would bombard me with text messages. In those days, I would get mad and would reply her, she would text back again and the circle will continue like that. Later, I learnt to just ignore her. When she sends any nasty text message, I just pretend like nothing happened. When I get home, she would ask if I got her texts, then I would ask her, ‘which text? and just wave it off. She just gets perplexed.
Are you from the same state?
Ejike: Yes. We are both from Umuahia, Abia State, ibut before marriage, she was from Nkwerre in Imo State.