Bianca Ojukwu, is the widow of the late former Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, and Nigeria Ambassador to Spain. In this interview, she reveals why she would not remarry.
Given that you are still very young, beautiful and as the famed American poet-Robert Frost said, you still have a long road to travel. Do you plan to remarry?
People marry I think not just because they need to come together, live together, raise family together, it is a rite of passage and I think I have fulfilled my part. Why I said that, is, I have gone through marriage, lived with what I consider a wonderful man who gave me 23 years of happiness, of fulfillment, I literally felt I was the luckiest woman to have had a man who gave me utter dedication and, above all, wonderful children. So my pledge to him is that I will devote my life to taking care of our children, raising them properly, teaching them those ideals that he cherished and held very dear and trying to carry on his legacy. So I don’t have any compelling need to remarry and, in any case, my time is very limited; so I am trying to channel it properly towards raising my children.
How do you contain advances from men, who may nurse some romantic thoughts about you?
Nigerian men are not aggressive; they may be aggressive in business, in their career pursuits, but in that particular area of aggressively pursuing a romantic interest, I have been very impressed by the level of decency and decorum they project. I mean, it might be just my own experience. They have treated me with a lot of respect, deference-they have been protective in a way as if to say this is a treasure that we must protect. I get on flights, and I see people stand up, take my luggage to my car, they have been amazing. I haven’t encountered that sort of pursuit and I have been very touched and humbled by the way they have treated me.
My husband’s friends call me regularly to see how I am doing- I mean a lot of widows complain that that they have issues with people proposing to them. But in my own case, I must say that I have been lucky to have wonderful support system based on respect and a sense of protection. If that is a function of the respect they had for my husband, I don’t know.
When I travel abroad, I also meet Nigerian men who are respectful. I also believe that it also depends on the woman’s attitude-sometimes we lay blame at the doorstep of the men— but the fact is that if you are engaged in your work, if you are a woman who have a sense of purpose, regardless of the fact that you operate in a terrain that is dominated by men, once you can hold your own, it will be difficult to fall into that quagmire where you feel you are being propositioned or your gender is playing a derogatory role.
Once you are not making excuses for bad performance, or once you are not looking for a man to cover for you, for your inadequacies, once you are able to let you work speak for you, it’s a lot easier to survive and live a life of dignity, and once you don’t present yourself as a weak and defenseless woman- one to be pitied and really cuddled by a man just by a virtue of being of a weaker sex – then it’s much easier to live a life that is not being truncated by those pressures.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ON SUNDAY VANGUARD