Nothing on this earth remains the same forever, change is bound to happen someday. It doesn’t matter how strong and rigid it is, there is a breaking point lurking around somewhere; only the bold and determined usually get to bring about this kind of change. Such was the case with my Ijebu wife.
As I prepared to leave Abuja for my Youth Service in Lagos, Mum made certain the most frequent advice I got was ”if you must get involved with a lady, it should not be one from Ijebu. I don’t want an Ijebu wife”. Dad didn’t have to say much. He would only say ”listen to your mother, it is for your good and the rest of us”. When I pressed him, he took me into a terrible history of his grand parents and uncles who had married women from the Ijebu tribe. Most recent was his own brother who went against the advice not to marry an Ijebu woman; he had being enslaved by the woman and made to forget every family member and friends. He didn’t even show up for his mum’s burial!
My family is Yoruba, from Iragbiji town in Osun State. So, this was not a case of tribalism but a serious case of paranoia from previous experiences. My parents believed people from the Ijebu tribe can be really fetish, hence they should be totally avoided.
I wanted to accept the advice, but I soon waved it away without much thought, first because my service year was not for wife-hunting, and secondly because ‘there are a lot of fishes in the ocean…’. That was my favourite line for dismissing any choice forced upon me.
6 months into my service year, I broke up with my girlfriend of two years for trust reasons. My parents didn’t know about her, hence it was easy to let go. She was from my state, but we didn’t work out. So I decided to patiently search for another lady…after all, ‘there are many fishes in the ocean’.
I however didn’t find any new date till I finished service and returned to Abuja, but my search didn’t stop; I had flings with a few ladies but they didn’t materialize to anything serious.
I attended a Business Training a few weeks after I resumed work, and that was where my real journey began.
It all began when I received a call to attend a Business Training that would enhance my career. I liked the course, but I was enthralled by the voice of Atinuke, the lady who marketed the course to me over the phone. So I was a little curious to find out who was the angel behind the sweet voice.
I got my form early and even though I understood how to fill it, I would always call Atinuke to direct me, all in a bid to hear her speak over the phone.
We later met at the training and got close. She was one of the most amazing ladies I had met at that time; a passionate go-getter; she had co-founded two startups already, courteous, cultured and spiritual…need I say she was beautiful too? And yea, we clicked instantly! It was like we had been friends for years.
“Your surname tells me you are from Ekiti” she commented on one of our dates, a few weeks after we met.
I smiled and answered, “almost right…only that you will get to my state before getting to Ekiti. But we have certain similarities. I am from Iragbiji in Osun State.”
She flashed the cute diastema which adorned her face with an extra beauty when she smiled.
“That’s fine. I am from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun state” she announced without looking in my direction. If it was intended, I couldn’t tell.
The news hit me like a bombshell. It felt like one of those things you thought you could easily avoid but it was there with you all along.
I was already head over heels for Atinuke, she was my first real female friend since I broke up. Although our friendship was still young and I could easily end it at that time, but I was willing to give her a chance.
In all fairness, I was scared of her. Imageries of what my parents had painted about Ijebu people lingered in my memory, but something stronger kept urging me on. I had to pray.
I got convinced in my spirit to move on with Atinuke and thus, asked God for wisdom in convincing my parents to accept her.
After three months of dating, I began to tell my mum about Atinuke. I created an exciting impression about her to my mum and she was eager to meet my damsel – actually, the first lady I ever introduced to her as my date. I however kept one information away…I believe you know already.
I made two false arrangements for my parents to meet Atinuke, just so the anticipation would be really high. I had won my parents over with every description of her. They were always asking when she would visit. My father already told his best friend about the Tinuke he hadn’t met and there was so much delirium in the house about her.
I took time to also visit and spend time with Atinuke’s family to know them and have wonderful things to say about them to my parents. I told her parents about mine as well and that worked! A union was sealed already without both parents meeting each other. More importantly, my parents had accepted Atinuke wholeheartedly…even though they remained in the dark about her roots. I also didn’t tell Atinuke and her parents about my parent’s aversion towards their tribe.
It was dangerous and I knew it, but I carried on with it believing God would lead me and fill me with wisdom to steer the ship to a comfortable island.
Her first visit finally happened. I had it all planned out. I made sure the visit was a short one, making an excuse that we were off for an event. But I allowed her show flashes of her qualities to my parents. Dad loved her manners, mum was enraptured by her diastema, I could go on and on, but that is enough to capture how happy they were to receive Atinuke.
They wanted more of her…
So I planned a second visit. It was longer than the first but was still short in the general scheme of things. This time, momma wanted to speak with her but I made sure I was there to moderate the discourse. I didn’t allow them have any private moment that would lead to asking about Atinuke’s tribe; it wasn’t time for that yet.
By the next visit. I made Atinuke come with her cute younger brother, Subomi. The young man, full of life and fun to be with; I used him as a necessary distraction for my parents. And yea, they liked Subomi too!
I was making headway and smiling to myself…but the snag remained to be scaled; the big announcement.
I couldn’t propose to Atinuke since I hadn’t made the big announcement to my parents. It was a big torment for me and I had to get rid of it.
“Is it possible to see one Ijebu lady that will be different from what we have always known about them?” I asked my parents when I visited and called them to a meeting that fateful Sunday afternoon.
There was silence…
“I don’t know. I haven’t met too many except the ones our family has had to deal with” my father answered eventually.
“Why are you asking? Is Tinuke not fit to be your wife?” Mum retorted, apparently wondering why the topic came up and believing I am breaking up with Atinuke for an Ijebu lady.
“Tinuke is absolutely going to be my wife. I love her so much and I know you do, but she is from Ijebu-Ode”
There was tranquility in the whole house for hours, if not the rest of the day. Everyone spoke only when it was necessary. I was agitated, regretful that I told them…but I prayed and asked God’s will to be done.
I returned to my place the next morning with a heavy heart but trusted God. I didn’t tell Atinuke anything about the meeting.
The following week, my dad invited me over for a meeting. I wanted to call Atinuke and tell her everything before going for the meeting. I believed I knew the outcome of the meeting and would be better off telling her before my parents announced their decision. But her number was atypically out of reach that morning so I headed for the meeting nonetheless.
“…it’s a tough one for us. But what we have seen so far suggests you both deserve a chance. We want you to be happy and happily married. So, we give you our blessings” my dad submitted finally.
It was like a cold shower on a hot afternoon, I felt relief all over me and had my joy filled to the brim.
I proposed to Atinuke a few weeks later and we got married eventually. I didn’t have to tell her anything about the episode…until now.
Three years down the line, my Ijebu wife has turned out to be the best thing I have ever had…most probably will ever have. I am happy I didn’t fall for the dogma against Ijebu people.
– Bolarinwa A.
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