Ekerete Udoh

The shock that attended the discovery that my husband had secretly married a second wife and the reason he treated our marriage so cavalierly was because his new wife demanded so, threw me off balance and led to the health crisis I had experienced.

sham marriages

How do you remotely accept or bear the pain of knowing that the man, whom you had borne four wonderful kids for; a man you had pledged your fidelity to, and had conducted yourself in the most respectful of manner; a man you had added verifiable value to his life, and had always held him aloft as the emotional loadstar, a rock of foundation, was capable of such evil and unbridled hatred.

The realization that my husband knew I was rushed to hospital, and made no efforts to call or visit me, was like a dagger tugged in my heart and I bled emotionally. What did I do to warrant such hatred? Why would a man I loved with all my heart and soul wish me dead? I longed for answers but what I got from my husband was more layers of abuse and emotional cruelties.  “I am glad you have recovered and are back to good health” was all my husband could volunteer as a way of welcoming me back from hospital. He didn’t ask what it was that had taken me  there, and his body language was that of a man who would rather you were dead than continue to pester his life with your presence.

My husband may not have known that I had already known he was with another woman, whom he had secretly married and had kept away from me. And I was determined to confront him and find out why he would treat a woman whom he married and exchanged marital vows with, to live together as husband and wife, till death do us apart, with such amount of wickedness. I remember going to meet him in the guest bedroom (he had since stopped sharing our bedroom ) and my heart beating hard but calm at the same time not knowing if he would launch into his usual tantrums and he did not disappoint.

“ I don’t owe you any explanation and why are you disturbing my peace?’ my husband had snarled. “Henry, we need to talk this over. What have I done to you to warrant this despicable behavior from you? Did I fail in any of the marital departments? Did I not honor you, love you, bear you wonderful kids, cook for you and be there for you as you built your life in the Lord’s vineyard? If I had failed in any of these departments, wouldn’t it be proper and necessary to talk to me about such concerns?

What is marriage without the ability to communicate issues and concerns? Why would you treat your family this way? Your kids are worried and terrified by your behavior, you have denied them love and fatherly support; you have reduced me to a mere piece of furniture in the house, and yet you go out there every day to preach to your congregation about the need to live a Christ-like life, while you do the exact opposition of those exhortations. Henry, please tell me: am I no longer good enough for you? Why would you sneak behind me and, marry a second wife and throw me a dangerous emotional curve?”

As I made this revelation known, the next reaction from my husband was a hard slap across my face and I remember falling down and hurting my leg on the sofa, and this alerted my kids who all rushed to the room to help me. “Please Chika, don’t do it, drop the phone, this minute”, I recall telling my daughter as she tried calling 911. I didn’t wish to involve the police in what was truly a case of domestic abuse.

I didn’t want the community to know that their ‘revered’ pastor was a wife batterer; I didn’t want his life destroyed because once the law enforcement agents are involved in your marriage, it’s a never ending cycle of legal problems. “The next time you raised that issue with me, I will teach you a lesson you won’t forget. If you were that good, would I have married a second wife? Search yourself and provide the answer.

You want to know this: I have truly married a second wife and that’s the way it is. You caused this, and you alone should bear the burden. When you make a home inhospitable and unloved, someone else would provide the platform of happiness, and I am happy and excited that I found love elsewhere”, my husband had told me as he stormed out of the room, his kids looking at him in shock and awe. “Mummy, what happened to daddy? Who did this to our daddy, Lord Jesus help us”, was what Chika could mutter, tears sliding down her cheeks.

As I collapsed under the heap of stress and disbelief, shock and anger, I began to ask myself where I   may have remotely made our home inhospitable for my husband or any area of my responsibilities that I had not fulfilled, but could not find any. Was this a clever way to rationalize his action? I had been a model wife, proving love and succor, helping him in all ways, stabilizing him, providing for the family while he worked to grow his ministry. ]\

I worked two full-time jobs to pay our mortgage and provide  for the kids and I never for once complained neither did I put him under any form of stress. Why would my husband lie and manufacture an issue that existed only in his fertile mind? And it all came together! The trip to Nigeria that I objected to, which was the genesis of the disruption of peace and matrimonial concord that had once defined our union , but sadly today had been had blown to smithereens.

*To be continued.

Adieu Chief Onwuka Kalu, the Okpozu Abiriba

I remember it vividly as if it were yesterday. Those days, before today’s  telecommunications or technology revolution where information is processed and consumed within minutes, if you wanted to pass  on information, you would have to physically visit the individual- how times flies!

The bearer of the message came to see me at Hints magazine’s Opebi office and the message was simple: Chief Onwuka Kalu would love to meet with you at your earliest convenience at his 15 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi office.”

I was manifestly intrigued about Chief Kalu, the story of his rags to riches, millionaire at 19, having learned the ropes of trading from his master in Cotonou, Benin Republic and becoming a major figure in corporate Nigeria. His Onwuka Interbiz Group and the High-Tech industry in Aba that produced nails was quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. An invitation for a meeting thus was not an opportunity not to be lost or treated cavalierly.

He had told me when I eventually met him: “I have been your fan for a long time. I love your writing style, the great interviews you have been notching up, especially your recent   exclusive interview with Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odunegwu-Ojukwu, and I want you to be a part of   an event I am putting together, which would be unveiled soon. I want you to be the Director of Media and Publicity for the event. It is going to be the biggest and most ambitious entertainment /political event that Africa has ever seen. The Federal Government is a partner and it would be an interesting time, and I want you to be a part of it.”

The 1991 Children of Africa Concert (COA) and seminar was indeed the biggest entertainment event in Africa and it brought the best musicians from the United States, Great Britain, the Caribbean and Africa together to raise awareness on the plight of African children who were dying of easily treatable or preventable diseases. Many top elected officials, Congressmen, senators and business moguls from the United States were in attendance.

I ran the media and publicity aspect for the event and almost everyone who is somebody in today’s entertainment and corporate Nigeria was involved in that event and the then Babangida administration was actively involved as well. Even when intrigues and politics almost derailed the show, Chief Kalu forgave all those who had attempted to kill the dream.

Chief Kalu, who died of cancer penultimate week, at the age of 60, was a man ahead of his time. Until last year, we were in close contact and when he was diagnosed with cancer, four years ago, he told me he will fight it, and fight he did, until the last day. May his soul rest in peace.

 

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