Why I'm Giving Marriage A Second Try, By Barbara Odoh
Barbara Odoh is one of the three ladies who starred in hit movie 'Glamour Girls' in the '90s, but years after, she still looks every inch a glamour girl. Odoh, who also made a name in modelling is now a motivational speaker and activist. Now based in Abuja, Odoh got wedded weeks back. The ceremony attracted the young and upwardly mobile crowd in the capital city. CORRESPONDENT, Kemi Yesufu spoke with her on her love story, her wedding and her red bridal dress. Excerpts:
Your wedding came as a surprise to many. People are asking how you got hooked.
Could it mean that those asking have not been praying for me like I have been praying for them? I pray in my heart and though I may not know their problems, I pray that God grants them their heart desires. Some times I even pray, saying, "father grant my friends their secret desires before they say it out" because the Bible says our father in heavens knows our heart desires and he will bless us accordingly. So why would anyone wonder about my getting married. Well, I understand when you say that my wedding may have come to people as a surprise. A lot of people actually called to tell me that they heard that I would be having a secret wedding but I told them that there was nothing to hide. For my husband and I to go through the court, the traditional and the church wedding it showed that we were for real. What I have to do now is to wait and see what God has in stock for me. I know that a good package from God comes with marriage. The Bible says that only a house built on solid foundation can stand. So, for us, we have built our love on marriage, a solid foundation. I can only hope for the best because we are only humans and that therefore makes us prone to mistakes.
You seem to getting into your marriage with plenty of caution?
I don't think it's wrong to go into marriage knowing that you should gauge your optimism with a little bit of caution. It is good early in marriage to note that you are married to a human being and that human beings are not perfect. We can only pray that things work, because there will always be human error. Fine, I know some people may have said this woman is giving marriage a try again but who are they to judge?
In an earlier interview we had years back you were evasive about being married, now, you are admitting it. Why is this so?
I had my reasons then for being evasive as you put it. Yes, I was once married, according to our custom and tradition, and when we parted ways my family did the right thing by returning the bride price. By this act I became a single woman and a single parent again. People may have their opinion about my giving marriage a second try but what matters is how I feel. Right now my goal is to make my marriage a happy one. What people should do is pray for me that everything works out fine.
I get the impression that you're going into your marriage with a mindset that you will only succeed if you work at it.
Of course yes, everyday in marriage you have to work on your relationship. Each day you have to make a conscious effort to do things as expected of you. Marriage comes with huge responsibilities. That is why I mentioned this in my book (titled M) in the last page. I wrote that we have to make a conscious effort to succeed in all our endeavours. As it is, I know that a married woman needs to come home at a certain time. I know that as a married woman I don't have any business being in a compromising situation with another man. I no longer have the latitude to do what I like. I have to do what is right at all times. It is not that I am being negative about marriage or that I am afraid. I am only being realistic of what is expected of me as a married woman. When you are dating if something goes wrong you can opt out of the relationship but marriage is not that way.
From what you have said so far we now have a new look Barbara the married woman.
In a sense yes, but that does not mean that I will stop being myself. Because we all have our personalities that we built over the years, I am sure that my personality is one of the things my husband saw and he chose me amongst all the women in the world as his wife. My husband may have loved my vivacious nature and said to himself I must have this woman. Your personality is what stands you out from the next person. Your personality is the means through which you communicate your worldview. So, your personality is something that can't be taken away from you.
Are you saying that your free spirited outlook attracted your husband?
Remember you asked if people should expect a new look me because I have changed my marital status and I tried to explain that my husband must have liked my personality for him to choose me amongst women. Having said this I would add that my getting married doesn't mean that I will stop doing the things that make me happy.
Having talked about what attracted your husband to you, let's talk about what made you love him.
I can't lay a finger on what I love about him. I can only say that I love him.
What made your husband the one for you?
He has asked me a similar question a few times and like I have just told you I can't place a finger on it. I love him just because I love him.
How did you meet?
We met and he told me alongside friends that I am his wife. His prediction came to pass.
Your husband predicted that you would be his wife the day he met you, was it love at first sight for you too?
Not really. Though in my deepest thoughts I wanted a man like my husband when he said I was his wife, I took my time before saying anything. You know what looks wise in the eyes of man could be foolish to God. The important thing is that when we got talking we fasted and prayed for God's direction. God's ways are mysterious. There are couples that separated for years and when they got back together their union became an example to the people around them. Testimonies come in different shapes and colours.
How long did you two court?
We courted for a few months. We had a Christian courtship though we belong to different denominations.
Does this mean that you guys never got intimate before marriage?
(Laughing) No, we did not.
So you mean you did not test what you were buying?
What am I testing? What am I buying? Have you read my book? There is no need for testing anything. When you buy fish from the market what you examine is the head. If the head is fresh that means the fish is good and you buy it. Even as a Christian you must talk about everything and we had our own way about discovering each other.
Are you saying that you and your husband discovered yourselves sexually through talking?
What is about sex that you are hammering on? If sex is so important why didn't people marry their first boyfriend or girlfriend? Or is that those who are single are not good sexually?
So how did you convince your family members to support your marriage having courted for a few months?
It wasn't easy. We are Nigerians and you know that in our culture, marriage is also about two families coming together. But after all is said and done marriage is about two people. I believe that we made a good choice and we have the discipline to access the grace of God to make our marriage a success.
This is your second attempt at marriage. Is this the same thing for your husband?
Yes. I have my kids, he has kids and together we are one big family. We hope to have our own children.
One thing that made your wedding unique was your red wedding dress. Why a red wedding gown?
I actually had this lovely cream gown I got from the United Kingdom in mind. I wanted to use the traditional colours for a wedding gown. But you know that nothing is greater than the blood of Jesus, nothing is closer to you as the blood running through your veins and red is the colour of blood. Aside from this my husband all of a sudden told me he wanted to dance to the song lady in red at our wedding reception. I sat with my pastor and he wasn't too sure about my idea to wear a red wedding dress. But I knew I was going to wear the red gown because my wedding day is the day I will be professing my love publicly to my husband. So in the end love carried the day and my husband danced with his lady in red on his wedding day.
Recently, Africans, Nigerians inclusive in attempt to get into Italy lost their lives at the sea after the boat ferrying capsised. We did not hear anything from you as the founder of Society for Care and Value Reorientation (SCAVRO).
Their death is indeed unfortunate. But it goes to show what we in SCAVRO have been talking about, that it is too risky to travel to advanced countries illegally. You were part of the visit of the top labour leaders from Italy. You witnessed them saying that with the right information Nigerians and Africans can migrate to Europe legally. There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of enlightenment. Our youths need to know that going into countries illegally often leads to a life of misery. And no matter the threats that come our way we will continue to tell the young ones that going to Europe to prostitute or live a life of crime do not pay. Do you know that some parents actually sponsor their children abroad to prostitute? The issue of travelling out at all costs has eaten deep into our society.
How do you handle those calling to threaten you?
Many times people have called threatening me to mind my business. Even some close friends have called advising that issue of human trafficking is deeper than I can see so I should stay off. But I will fight because human trafficking is a menace to the country.
How does the threat call sound like?
I won't say more than what I have told you. The threats are real and I have to be careful.