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I won't marry for money -Benita Nzeribe

By Franka Nwusulor
Benita Nzeribe
Benita Nzeribe

For over a decade now, Nollywood has grown into a huge international market and has fathered a lot of world acclaimed progenies. Today, the industry can boast of many beautiful A-list actresses such as Eucharia Anunobi, Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Joke Jacobs, Stella Damasus-Aboderin, Liz Benson, Stephanie Okereke and Shan George. The past years have also seen some of these actresses entering into marriage either for the first, second or even third time, while some have packed up! But for the likes of Benita Nzeribe, who has decided to remain single, her prolonged spinsterhood will always make the news.

Ten years ago, when she made her spontaneous entrant into the Nigerian movie industry as a teenager, one thing was to her advantage; her sexy dressing and unmistakable good looks. No wonder men fell and have continued to fall over each other to identify with her.

The issue is that Benita's repeated NO to suitors is generating great concern from her fans and her family as well.

When Klieglights raised that she said: "Walk down the isle? I will definitely walk down the Isle when the time is right.

"Before you know what is happening I'll walk down the Isle."

While we say amen to this, we still want to know what is delaying her. Is it that she is being selective or is it that men have gone blind?

"No, they are not blind and I am not being selective either. But you cannot expect me to jump at any guy that comes professing love for me just because he has a fat bank account. To me Marriage goes beyond material things. There should be an understanding, chemistry at its peak that must evolve on its own. In fact, I lack the exact words to fully explain what marriage should be and should not be, but it is not how most people take it. I would not jump into marriage with any man because he is rich."

What a romantic outburst. So what kind of a guy is Benita looking out for?

"I look at a man's heart. You can tell a man from his heart. If a man loves you, he will respect you. If a man loves you he will take care of you and he will not hurt you. So I look at the man's heart."

would she discern a man's heart to know the kind of person he is?

"You might be surprised but I am very prayerful and I love God passionately. That's me, no apologies. That is what works for me. God might take time to answer, but eventually he will answer. I am also a very patient person." But then what kind of man appeals to her?

"I don't look for looks, because looks are deceptive. Beauty is in the mind of the beholder. My feelings come from how you treat me. It does not just hit me once I see the man. Like people say, they see a man from a distance and they just love him. No, it does not work for Benita that way. What works for me is the way we relate. I do not believe in love at first sight. I know that when my man comes, I will know. These things you don't need to ask too many questions."

Would she give in to a foreign-based suitor as has been the case with some of her peers?

"I can marry someone who lives abroad and I do not see going abroad to live as strange or extraordinary. We travel all the time. It is no big deal. I would prefer if my husband lives in Nigeria with me though. But he living abroad should be no barrier at all, if we have love for each other. He can travel 500 times in a year I would not care."

Still on the man of her dreams she said:

"If a man finds the girl he should marry he knows. But it is wrong for him to introduce himself and make his intentions known immediately. He should keep his feelings to himself and try to find out the kind of person the girl is. The lady, on her part, needs to take more time to find out the kind of man proposing to her. Unfortunately, we womenfolk are very funny. We have this complex thing. In one moment, you could win a woman's heart and she would be so loving but in the next minute something goes wrong, she switches off. She would even wish you'd go to hell. The men have more strength to absorb pressure. That is why when relationships brake up; a man gets over it quicker than the women."

Benita said she is not just lazing around waiting for a Mr. Right she is schooling herself to be a Mrs Right too.

"On my own part, I have shelved a lot of things. The Benita you used to know then is not the same person now."

Despite her glamorous lifestyle and the controversies surrounding her, Benita still maintains that she is an African woman by heart who is meant to submit to her husband.

"The typical African housewife is a cultured person. When you think Africa you think tradition, you think culture and respect. We have rules and regulations to live by. About the modern African housewife, I look at it from biblical submission. She is her husband's helper. You don't just sit at home just to raise kids. She should help. But if the man says he doesn't want her to work, fine, as long as he provides adequately for her and their children. But if the man needs help, especially to cushion up expenses in the home, she needs to work. I also believe that the African housewife ought to listen and respect her husband, especially when he is making sense on issues." What would she do if her husband asks her to quit acting?

"I love what I do passionately, but if my man says he wants me to stop acting, if he gives me good reason for suggesting that. As an African housewife, it is my duty to listen to him first. Then we do the argument later. I will pamper him and try to get him to know that I love what I do. I will try and get him involved in my job. If he becomes unapproachable, I will find a way to approach him. A woman can always find a way to approach her man without tampering with his ego. You shouldn't tamper with a man's ego no matter how small a man is, he has his ego and you do not touch it. You have to find a way to get him to see your point whenever he proves to be unreachable."

In Peace of Mind, one of the movies she has featured in, she plays the role of a troubled and battered housewife who goes through much in her marriage at a very tender age. Her husband beats her at every opportunity. When asked if she can tolerate such a husband in real life she said.

"In real life, I pray to God not to give me the kind of husband that will turn me into a punching bag. He will surely give me the man that will love and pamper me, despite my short comings."

Ten years in the industry has seen Benita grow to be a full-fledged woman, who has been able to maintain her beauty with income from over 100 movies done. Explaining about her radiant beauty she said: "I am happy because I am alive. Things are going well with me. I am healthy, why would I not radiate beauty? Why would I not glow? I thank God Almighty who has given me life and good health. In my own way as a human being, I do things moderately in order to keep fit and look good." And where is she from?

"I hail from Ihiala in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State. I am from a family of four. I am a graduate of English language from the Abia State University."

She joined Nollywood, "officially in in 1998. However I hit limelight in 2000 in the movie Gold Diggers by Infinity Merchants. Before this time, I had played a lead role in an NTA drama series titled, Beyond Our Dreams. Most people think she is proud and pompous but to Benita "I am a very humble and simple person."