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Early marriage, my only regret in life

Source: OBARO ITEWO - Nigeriafilms.com
Iyabo Ojo is, without any iota of doubt, one of the reigning queens in the Yoruba movie industry today. As one of the prominent Yoruba actresses on the block, she was introduced to acting by the Odunfa caucus of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP). Since then, so much has happened in the life of this talented actress.
Following the release of her ground-breaking movie, Agogo Ide, in 1998, her ability to interprete roles has thrown her into the seat of reverence as colleagues and fans marvel at her immense talent.
Till date, she has a number of movies to her credit. Some of the popular ones are, Jenifa, Adakeja, Bi Esu, Igbako Esan, Agogo Ide, Odun Baku, Asa and Ale Apon, among others.
However, despite the massive success she has achieved as an actress, she has also had her fair share of unhappy moments and has often made the headlines in this regard.
For instance, it is no secret that her marriage to her estranged sweetheart, Tunde, which produced two lovely kids, Festus and Priscilla, broke down irretrievably some years ago. Since then, there have been unconfirmed reports and stories about her alleged romantic affiliation with several men. Some of the men she was reported to have spun a cocoon of love with include Fuji star, Pasuma and Hip Hop singer, Danny Young, both of whom flatly denied having any intimate strings with her.
She was also romantically linked to actor-cum-producer, Muka Ray Eyiwunmi at a time, which she has always denied. Though she claims to have a man in her life, the 33-year-old actress and mother of two has always made it clear that marriage is not on her cards at the moment. In a chat with National LIFE at her Omole Phase 1 residence, the tattoo-loving actress and OND holder in Estate Management opened up on her glamorous life and revealed her regret about her decision to venture into early marriage.
Excerpts:
Background
I was born in 1977, on 21st December, to the Ojo family in Abeokuta. I have two elder brothers. I am the only girl and the last child of the family. My elder brothers are in London. I am the only one here. My father is late but my mum is alive. I have been married, but I am separated. I have two kids, Festus and Priscilla.
You were married but separated, what happened?
It could have been divorce, but it's mere separation. We are still good friends. We have two kids and he comes to visit them any time he likes.
But what could have been responsible for the early breakup?
I can't talk about it. If you have been reading my interviews, you would know I don't talk about my relationships.
There have been different stories about what led to the separation. Can you just give us the true picture and lay to rest the speculations?
I don't talk about my relationships and I don't celebrate it because I respect my kids. I have two wonderful kids who are products of the relationship. I don't think my kids will be happy to read about their mum talking about what went wrong in her marriage with their father.
But there have been lots of stories about how you were caught cheating on him and all that?
We never had a problem to that extent.
So what was the actual problem all about?
Like I told you, I will not talk about my relationship with the father of my kids.
What about the different stories about the separation?
Oh, yes. That is the beauty of it. Immediately people cannot figure out what is going on, they begin to speculate. That is it! When people know too much about you, they begin to feel very uncomfortable. In fact, I like it when people speculate. They have said different things about me like: 'Iyabo Ojo is very harsh, very rude, very wicked and temperamental…' and all that. But it has never moved me an inch. I have developed a thick skin to those speculations. They should say what they want. I like it and I don't give a damn about whatever people are saying about my relationship or my kids' father. The most important thing is what my kids think about me and their father. So, I am not affected in any way by people's comments because their father comes to take them out for fun when he is less busy. He has a good relationship with them. He calls them on phone and they talk. That is the beauty of everything. Whether he cheated on me or I cheated on him or whatever, I don't owe anybody any explanation.
You are a role model. Don't you think your teeming fans deserve some insight into what led to the separation to put an end to all these speculations?
Thank you. It can never die. The speculations will never end. Iyabo Ojo was married and is no longer married and if Iyabo Ojo remarries, that issue will never die because people will like to know what is happening in the life of Iyabo Ojo. They should leave me alone. I am a celebrity, thank you. I accept that fact. If they want to know about my career as an actress, no problem. But my private life, it's impossible! I believe every person or human being on earth deserves to have his/her private life and I will not talk about my relationship.
What if he decides to reconcile with you…
(Cuts-in) He is not coming back. He is not going to reconcile it. If he wanted to reconcile, that would have been a long time ago. This year makes it seven years apart. If he wanted to, he would have done that a long time ago.
But you should know it takes men a longer time to realise their mistakes…
(Cuts-in) My kids' father and I are two different people from two different worlds and we are living in our different worlds now. I need to respect his world and I expect that he will respect mine as well. He has his own beliefs and I have mine. We can't come together again. He is enjoying himself and so am I.
So, how have you been able to cope without a man in your life because there are times you may have sexual urge?
Oooh! Look at me very well (laughs). You think I don't have a man in my life? I have a boyfriend, ok? Or do I look like somebody who doesn't have a boyfriend? He is a nice person and very romantic. He has everything that I need in a man. I am in a relationship with somebody so dear to my heart and I love him. He loves my kids and my kids love him, too. We are getting on well. Right now, my kids are my life and my husband.

Is he in the industry?
No! He is not in the industry.
He is outside the country?
He is in the country, but he is not an actor.
Maybe he is into showbiz?
He is not into showbiz at all. He is not doing anything connected with showbiz.
So, what does he do?
Oh, my God! You are too curious about my private life. He's into legitimate business. He is a businessman. He is not in the industry. He doesn't even like the publicity associated with it.
What's his name?
No! I won't tell you that because I am not yet engaged. Don't worry, when I am engaged, I will call you. I would gladly announce his name. You never can tell. If I tell you his name and tomorrow he walks up to me and says: “Iyabo, you know what? I don't want the relationship anymore,” and I have already celebrated it, at the end of the day, what would happen? When the time comes and I know I have known this man enough and I get engaged to him, then I can call you to inform you.
What is your view about Nigerian men?
There are some men, before marriage, they flash everything before you. After the marriage, you begin to see their true colours. I always tell my friends not to rush into marriage. I rushed into it and rushed out because I never knew the man I got married to. Six months before we got married, I never knew him. We never lived together. I tell people that if you want to know a man, live with him. Live like a couple, get to know each other. Maybe in the morning, you come to my house and leave in the afternoon. I don't know what you do out there. Ladies should try to know their men. Let your family know him. I want to be married to my friend and my brother.
So, when do you hope to remarry?
You take time to know what is happening in my private life. In fact, you too, are you married?
No, I will do that when I am ready but am in a relationship?
How will you feel discussing your relationship on the pages of newspapers? If you are in a relationship and you discuss your partner on the pages of newspapers, then you have no respect for her as a person. If you respect her, you will give the relationship some privacy.
But you have not answered my question?
I cannot and I will not. I am repeating it; I will not talk about my relationship. Any further question about me and my babies' father, I will not talk about it. I still respect him as my kids' father. He may not be the perfect husband, but he may be a perfect father to my kids. If you come tomorrow and you want to find out what happened because Iyabo Ojo was in a relationship and she is no more in the relationship, I am not going to talk about it. I owe it to that man to respect him in whatever way he got it wrong. I need to remember the first time that we both were in the house. If we even fight because of our kids, there's no problem about that. I am not going to talk about anything. I am not stupid. I am not going to wash my dirty linen in public. Any sensible woman who bears a child for a man should respect the man for the sake of that child. If I start telling you the things that he has done wrong and my kids read about it in a paper, how would they feel? 'Oh! So this is what our dad did to our mum? Or this is what our mum did to our dad?'
I come from a family where my father was married to my mother and they divorced for a very long time. My father later remarried, so did my mum. But until my father died, he used to come to visit my mother. In fact, I never knew what they talked about. The respect my mum gave to my father made me love her more and the respect my dad gave to my mum made me love him more as well. I can talk about my career, but not about my relationship. When we came together and got married, we didn't involve the world. So, why must we involve the world when we choose to stay apart? Is it because I am a celebrity that everybody wants to peep? I am not a perfect human being. I am like every other human. I eat, use the toilet and make mistakes as well. The most important thing is for me to learn from those mistakes.
So how has it been as a single parent?
In the beginning, it was tough. There is no woman who gets married and prays for the marriage to break up. I left my babies' father on my own. He didn't say: 'Iyabo, I don't want you anymore.' I walked out of the marriage on my own accord. Being a single parent is not easy. Initially, it was hard. The load that two persons are supposed to carry was suddenly left for one, but I thank God who blessed and favoured me. I don't know how I fed those children and clothed them. I don't know how, but I did it and it's the Lord's mercy and now, I am so happy. Some of my friends don't even have kids now. This is my 33rd year on earth.
Do you have any regret that the marriage is no more?
I walked out of the marriage. So, why should I have any regret? I can't. If I want the marriage back, I could go back to him, but I wouldn't like to go back to him because we do not have an understanding when it comes to our way of life. His life is very different from mine. That is all I can say.
Do you have any regret so far?
The only regret I have is the fact that I married very early. I rushed in. If I hadn't rushed into the marriage, maybe I wouldn't have married him. I would have found out the kind of person he is.
Has love been fair to you?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I have two kids and no, in the sense that my marriage did not work.
So, why do you think celebrities' marriages are breaking down?
The number one reason is infatuation. They easily get carried away by men's antics. You know men can easily fall for you; maybe because of a particular role you played in a certain movie. The next time they begin to call you and impress you with all kinds of gifts and most actresses are blinded by that. They get so carried away that they don't even take time to know anything about the man. Do you know the number of calls and text messages I get from men all the time telling me they love me? But how can you love me when you don't know me? Even on my facebook account, I receive lots of messages, propositions and all kinds of promises from men. And they just expect me to fall for those? You know, infatuation is a feeling that can take over you for a moment, giving you the false impression that you are in love. But if you give yourself some time, it dies in no distant future. Moreover, marriage break-up is not limited to actresses alone. If you go to the magistrate courts today, out of the marriages that get dissolved everyday, you will even find out that at times, it's only one out of every five. So, it shouldn't be limited to actresses alone.