I WAS CHRISTIAN, THEN MUSLIM AND BACK TO CHRISTIANITY
At 19, Stella Busari was just like any other young girl of her age whose interest was to pass out of college and move on to the next stage of life. She was a student of continuing education in Benin City. But all that would change and another chapter of her life would open.
Although, she wasn't ready for what was about to happen, the other party was dead ready and knew exactly what he wanted. Alhaji Busari, a widower and much older had offered her marriage with a promise to give her whatever she desired. Innocently, young Stella accepted and got married to him
Theirs is a unique union. Apart from the fact the man is far older than her, he is a Moslem while she is of the Christian background and they bonded well
For the young bride, there was no challenge in switching over from her Christian faith to being a Moslem. She embraced the new found religion with naivety and sheer innocence. She learnt to be a Moslem.
She practised the Islamic doctrine and covered her hair with a veil for some years. She went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in the company of Alhaji Busari. However, all these would soon stop. After the death of her mother in law, Mrs. Busari stopped covering her hair and went back to the Christian doctrine.
Today, she is a Pentecostal Christian. She worships at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles. Mrs. Stella Busari, a mother of four sits atop a business concern including Stellabus Business College, Festac Town, turned 50 years recently.
A native of Onicha Ugbo in Aniocha Local Government, Delta State and a past President, Ikoyi Lions's Club went down memory lane with Saturday Sun in her Festac office
She recalled her marriage at 19, her first trip to Mecca as a Moslem and how she went back to her first religion. She also reminisced on life at 50 and spoke on other issues concerning marriage
How did you come to be married off at the tender age of 19?
What could I do? I met my husband in Benin.
I did not even know what I was doing. I must confess. That was why I said I did that innocently. It was later in life I realized I was being tied forever.
Does it mean that none of your friends ever told you that?
Nobody ever told me anything. And because my husband was so much in love with me and was far older than me. He was 13 years older. He really knew what he wanted but I didn't know what I was going into.
When you came in, did you at any time think that you shouldn't have done that?
The man was madly in love with me. Anything I wanted I got. All my children were born abroad. So, until I came of age, say in my 30s that I really knew that this was marriage but so far, it has been so good. Now, I am 50 years old, I thank God.
Being a christian, how did you get married to a muslim?
I was a christian and I ignorantly got married to a moslem. I have also ignorantly gone to Mecca with him twice.
I said I ignorantly travelled to Mecca because I didn't know exactly what I was going for but because he knows that I love travelling, he gave me the opportunity of going all over the world. So, when he asked me to accompany him, I gladly accepted.
They even made me a moslem unknowingly to me. They just came and prayed with me and washed my feet to perform the Islamic marriage rites. I complied so innocently because I was too young and naÃ¯ve to understand what I was doing
What were your people's reaction when he approached you for marriage?
When I say that he is a moslem, you would not know or believe if you see him. He dosen't dress in anything that depict his Islamic religion. You can't ever make out that he is a moslem unless he tells you. He is a shirt and trouser type of person.
Do you worship in the mosque?
When I was younger and new in the marriage, we used to go together to the mosque. They used to come and pray in our house. But about 13 or 14 years ago, I got back to my christian life.
What was his reaction?
He is a very liberal human being. When I started attending Mountain of Fire, he would give me a huge amount for my offereing in the church. So one day, I asked him why he was giving me such huge amount and he said that my attitude has changed and that everything about me has changed for the better.
He said that I give him his due respect and that he had seen a total transformation in my life so he was very pleased with me.
However, the only thing he begged of me was that on no account should I organise house fellowship in his house. Apart from that, whatever or wherever I am going, even if it is Jerusalem, he gives his full support. If I go for vigils, he does not oppose it.
What was it like going to the mosque that first time?
The first time I went to the mosque, they bought books for me because I was a young girl. So, I started learning their prayers but I still remember one thing. When I went to Saudi Arabia with him. He got a Limousine to take his beautiful wife to all the important spots in Mecca. We got to a particular place, it was a stone and there was a kind of prayer that we were supposed to offer but I didn't know how to pray the prayer. I didn't know it because what I learnt was just how to pray the moslem prayer five times a day. It was in the book and that was all I knew. The driver that took me on the ride was so angry. He was so angry that I could not recite the prayer but my husband could recite it and I was so afraid that they may arrest me. I was so nervous. That is one incident that I will never forget.
But I have never seen you with a veil, why?
When I came back from Mecca and even when my mother in-law was still alive, I used to tie my hair all the time for about four years of my marriage. All these I did even after going to Mecca in 1991.
Although, they were complaining initially that I was not covering my hair so I started but immediately my mother in-law died, I stopped. Moreover, my husband is a very liberal person who never bothered.
Does his people not bother, too?
No, I think what they actually like about me is my inner person. So, because of that I get away with so many things. They are so much in love with me that they didn't want anything to hurt me and they just allowed me to be.
Are you the first wife?
Well, he had a first wife who died in 1968. So I married a widower.
At 50 what does life mean to you?
Life is interesting, if you are rich. If you are self sufficient, life is good. That is if you don't have cause to go begging and asking people for favour that you will never get from them.
As a grand mother, what has life taught you?
Life has taught me so many things as a grown up. I have learnt that life is about give and take. I have learnt that what you put in is what you get in life. You are bound to see the good, the bad and the ugly, whether you like it or not.
I don't think everything is all rosy. If you do business and you fail, you stand up again. If you are in marriage and you have disagreements, you settle and life continues. It is all about life moving on and the way you take it.
I thank God for arresting me because in the past 13 or 14 years, life has been so easy for me. Even when things are dificult, all I do is to put my trust in God because we cannot do anything on our own or force anything to be done. I see that life is in phases and whether we like it or not, we must pass through these phases. As an individual, the way you take it tells who you are. It makes you feel so young or old, angry or happy about life.
What was it like when you were giving birth?
My husband is a very simple person. Whenever I had my kids, and I always had my kids abroad; he is the type that would not even carry the baby until the baby is big enough that is as from one or two months. Having babies for me has always been very interesting except for the last one.
When I first got pregnant, I saw a lady whose tummy was so big and bent, my heart skipped a bit. I wondered if this was how my tummy would be? Throughout that day, I recoiled so much not knowing however, that it is different strokes for different folks.
They also told me that it was so painful, so during labour, I was waiting for the bigger pain to come, until I delivered the baby.
It was so for my three children but when I had my son, the only boy in the family, it was hell because he came in the eleventh month. He just wouldn't come so they had to force him out and forcing him was another thing. Though, I bore the pains for three days, I did not have saliva in my throat. That would give you a sense of the kind of trouble I went through
Do you have any regret in this marriage?
My only regret is that I could not have up to eight children. I wanted to have up to eight because I love children so much but God said that four is good enough for me. I am indirectly happy because over time, life has become tougher. I can understand what women now go through giving birth. It is no longer easy for them so I am happy that I got out before trouble would come
Do you have step children and what is your relationship with them?
Yes, I have and my relationship with them is very wonderful. They are wonderful children, too
What is your advice to young girls?
The younger ones are losing it and they have lost so many things. In those days, we respected our parents and elders but today, things have gone wrong, especially in the way and manner women now dress. I think Nigerian women are becoming more Catholic than the Pope. It is obvious that we are dressing more provocatively than the women abroad whom we are coping
Advice to ladies that are facing crises in marriage
Marrriage is not a bed of roses. There are ups and downs so they should try to endure. Mine wasn't all roses but my mother taught me that in marriage, a patient dog eats the fattest bone and it really helped me. I advice them to be patient, pray and look up to God who will make all things beautiful in His own time.