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It's not African for a man to wash the dishes, I can''t allow that - Gospel Singer Funmi Aragbaiye

Veteran gospel singer, Funmi Aragbaiye, has made it known she never allows her husband wash the dishes as it is not African.

Speaking with Sunday Scoop, Bola Aragbaiye, and husband of 40-years opened up on what has kept them going on for this long.

You have been married for 40 years. What is the secret?

Funmi: I would say the grace of God. We got married in 1977. If God is the foundation of one’s marriage, that marriage is bound to succeed. Then one’s upbringing also matters. If one grew up with disciplinarians, that character would reflect in one’s marriage. One would be disciplined in one’s marriage. My mother is a disciplinarian. She doesn’t appreciate quarrels. Whenever I have disagreements with my husband, my mother is always on my husband’s side. She does that even up till today. And when I question her decision about supporting my husband during our disagreements, she says that is the way in-laws should be treated.

How did you meet?

Funmi: We met at the Nigerian Herald, Ilorin. I was in the commercial department working as a commercial representatives. I was in charge of advertising. Chief Segun Osoba was my boss at Herald. My husband was the features editor at Daily Sketch but he later became Chief Press Secretary to the late Chief Adekunle Ajasin, a former Governor of Ondo State. He used to visit the late Chief Peter Ajayi who was the editor daily at Herald. One day, he was in his office when I walked in holding a file. He then told Chief Ajayi that he likes me. Later that day, he came to my office to chat with me. Before he approached me, some young men at Herald had one time or the other approached me and asked for my hand in marriage. After that day, he kept travelling from Ibadan to Ilorin to see me. Whenever he came, I would leave the office because I wasn’t interested in him.

How did the relationship progress?

Funmi: After some time, I let down my guards and accepted him. It took me sometime though because I was deeply rooted in religious activities.

At what point in the relationship did you realise you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her?

Bola: It was the period she moved from Ilorin to Ibadan to join me at Sketch. I was convinced that it was time for us to get married.

Since you had many male admirers, what made you accept your husband’s proposal?

Funmi: I had prayed about it. And he also appeared to be the most responsible of them all. His quiet and caring nature made me appreciate him. After my pastors had prayed about him, they gave me their approval.

How long was your courtship?

Funmi: We courted for three years.

How did he propose to you?

Funmi: Right from when he set his eyes on me, he said God told him I was his wife. He made his intentions known to me but I wasn’t interested in him until after some time. It took me about two years before I accepted him.

You must have faced challenges in your marriage. How did you overcome those challenges?

Funmi: One faces a lot of challenges in life but one overcomes challenges with the help of God.
What went through your mind when you met her for the first time?

Bola: When I saw her, I pictured her as someone who would be a good wife to me. My instincts were correct.

What qualities in him attracted you?

Funmi: My husband is a gentle man. He is caring, loving, simple and honest. One can describe him as an introvert, and I love that about him. He is different, and he is more mature than I am. He would be 76 in November. I turned 63 on July 5.

Bola: Her caring nature; she has a big heart. Every day, I bless God for bringing her into my life

The age gap between you and your husband is quite pronounced. Wasn’t that an issue for both of you at the beginning of your relationship?

Funmi: Not at all. Moreover, he doesn’t look his age. He looks like someone who is in his 60s. But when you talk about his years in journalism which is over 50 years, his colleagues and biography, you would know he is an elderly man.

Bola: Age has never been an issue for us.

Is she the first lady you proposed to?

Bola: I was in a relationship with another lady before I met my wife. The relationship was called off because she was dishonest.

Did your family welcome him with open arms?

Funmi: Yes they did. My parents were at the time looking forward to meeting someone I would call my husband-to-be.

Back then, journalists were poorly paid. How did you both manage financially?

Funmi: My husband and I lived a life that depicts the adage that says ‘cut your cut according to your cloth.’ Moreover, I wasn’t attracted to lavish things. Coincidentally, my last born studied mass communication. He had his first degree at Covenant University. He was admitted into the university to study another course but later changed to mass communication. When I learnt about it, I was angry. It wasn’t until people told me to let him follow his heart that I calmed down. Today, among other courses, he has an MBA in Business Administration.

What is the most memorable moment of your union?

Bola: It was when we had our first child. I was excited to be called a father. I kept breaking the news to everyone I met on the way from the hospital.

Funmi: We share many memorable moments, but the one that stands out is our wedding day. It was a glorious celebration. Many people came to grace the event. It made me realise that my husband is loved by many. Whenever we go for programmes, people come to greet him. During his career days, he served in many positions. That actually helped my music career.

How do you handle the attention your wife draws because of her popularity?

Bola: Our marriage is based on trust. I have never for once doubted what she tells me. She is honest.

Whenever you have misunderstandings, who is the first to apologise?

Funmi: Sometimes he does, other times I do. But he apologises more than I do.

What are your pet names?

Funmi: I call him ‘my dear.’ Times when I want to joke with him I call him ‘baba peeping tom.’ The name was spurred by his article in the newspaper.

Bola: I call her ‘my dear.’

What is the most memorable gift he gave you?

Funmi: While in Sierra Leone, he bought me a lovely gown. Whenever he travels abroad, he buys me lovely gifts. He could spend his last dime on me.

Bola: She buys me suits and undies whenever she travels abroad.

In the early years of your marriage, did your husband help you with house chores?

Funmi: No, he didn’t. I wouldn’t even have allowed him. I don’t like the idea of men doing house chores. That is a modern-day mentality. My husband doesn’t belong to that category. I celebrate my husband. He is a big personality, a top journalist in this country. I can’t do that to him. I believe such a thing is dirty. Why would I allow him wash plates and do other house chores? My upbringing wouldn’t allow him do such (house chores). I believe it is ‘unafrican’ for men to do house chores. As a mother, you need to put your house in the right order.

If you could change some things about your husband, what would they be?

Funmi: I would want to change the fact that sometimes, he is relaxed about things he should fight for. For example, if he is entitled to something, he wouldn’t fight for that thing. My husband doesn’t believe in fighting for one’s right.

Bola: She is a perfectionist.

What is his best food?

Bola: She likes Iyan with efo riro.

Funmi: He likes Ila asepo — okra soup with dried fish.

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