AS HE TURNS 72, ALEX AKINYELE VOWS TO LOVE LIVING LADY ELLA MORE THAN DEAD LADY YVONNE
Former Information Minster, Chief Alex Akinyele, and his South African-born wife, Lady Yvonne, were inseparable. They added colour to any event they attended, and were apparently deeply in love.
Then Yvonne died, and Akinyele's world crumbled.
'Yvonne was the goddess I worshipped. With her, I could chase a lion, but after her death, even a rat would put me to flight,' the Ondo high chief had declared.
After Lady Yvonne, Akinyele has had two marriages. One to Lady Maria, an Indian, who left after she could no longer battle the ghost of her predecessor. Now, he's married to Lady Ella, his first Nigerian wife.
But all over Akinyele's Magodo, Lagos, home are pictures and memorabilia of Lady Yvonne. Won't Lady Ella be jealous?
'I won't be a slave of my conscience. Lady Ella knows I love her, but I love Yvonne more,' the public relations guru told Sunday Sun.
But as if seized by a pang of guilt, Akinyele then made a solemn vow: 'Henceforth, I'll make a deliberate effort to make the house more psychologically comfortable for Lady Ella. It's my 72nd birthday gift to her.'
You still have pictures of Lady Yvonne all over the house, almost 15 years after her death. You first married Lady Maria, now Lady Ella. Won't they be jealous?
I won't be a slave of my conscience. Lady Ella knows I love her, but she knows I love Yvonne more. No woman wants to hear that, but I can't pretend. I don't want to join the hypocrites. That will make me a slave to my conscience . I love Lady Ella, I'll do anything for her, but I also feel sorry for her. There are times I want to call her name, I'll call Yvonne. But she understands.
Lady Maria (the Indian wife who left) did not really get herself together. One day, at the Excellence Hotel, I was holding her hand after a programme, and women came around to celebrate me as usual. One of them said, 'Madam, hope you're not angry.' But she said, 'All of you were here before he came all the way to Bombay to marry me.'
I was very happy. And at another time, somebody saw a picture of Lady Yvonne in the house, and asked if she feels comfortable with it. She said when the living does not intimidate her, how can the dead? I was happy. But later, I knew it was not deep, and it was one of the causes of our separation. It was unfortunate, but we should learn to mean what we say.
But can't you help the women by celebrating Lady Yvonne less and less?
I'm making a deliberate effort to make the house more psychologically comfortable for Lady Ella now. It's my 72nd birthday gift to her. At times, I want to call her, I call Yvonne. It's not fair, but it's an involuntary action. I lived with Yvonne for over 30 years. Bimbo, her daughter, is happy that I celebrate her mother so passionately, but I will do so less and less now. I want Lady Ella to feel more ownership of the phenomenon called Alex Akinyele (laughs).
How about your daughter from Lady Maria. Won't she forget her Nigerian roots?
I'm making arrangements for her to return. I won't rest comfortably in my casket if I don't bring her back. She's 10 years old now, and very brilliant. We speak on phone frequently. But I've not seen her since she left seven years ago. Lady Maria's attachment to her is fanatical, but I have to bring her back, even if it means buying a house for them both to live in.