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‘One of the first things that connected us was that we were both orphans’


By Benjamin Njoku

They were band mates back in their undergraduate days at University of Lagos, and, later, business partners and friends before becoming husband and wife. Renowned showbiz couple, Tunde and Wunmi Obe, T.W.O, did not actually set out to become life partners.

But destiny brought them together and, today, they are a shining example of what a perfect couple should be. Few months back, they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary and 30 years of being musical duo.

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The celebration was the talk of the town. In this engaging encounter, the pair shared the exciting journey of their marital life and music career, with Tunde revealing that their union wasn’t the case of ‘giving her an engagement ring and asking if she will marry me.’ Just as Wunmi also revealed that she predicted their marriage back in their undergraduate days. Their marriage is blessed with three kids.

How journey started

We met as undergraduates at University of Lagos, about 30 years ago. We started out as colleagues in the music industry and quickly graduated to becoming friends. Later, we discovered that we had so much in common and we took the friendship to the next level over the years. I think that same friendship is what has kept us going in the past 30 years as a showbiz couple. Somewhere along the journey, precisely in 1998, we got married and the rest is history.

Mystery solved

Marrying my friend

Definitely, I married my best friend. I think the friendship part of the marriage is more important than any other thing. You find out that any time something happens, who’s the first person that comes to your mind to discuss it with?

That’s how you know how close you and your wife are. If there’s another sister, brother, cousin or a friend that you will call before calling your wife to break the news to her, then it means that there are people that are more important than her. But for me, I look forward to always sharing things as they are unfolding with her. She’s the first person I will share the news with before breaking it to another person. We were friends first and foremost, before we became business partners; husband and wife, father and mother to our children. That friendship we had is what has kept the relationship working.

Any chemistry

There was no chemistry. If you had told me she’s the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with, I probably would have started laughing and I think she would have also laughed. In our band back in our undergraduate days, we used to play other people’s songs. And she has been in the studio to do a particular song. She knows the lyrics of the song, while I was busy trying to put down the lyrics. Our bass guitarist said to her, “Wunmi, why don’t you put him through on the lyrics?” And she replied arrogantly: “Let him listen, it is part of the work.”

At that point, I said in my mind, “Who does she thinks she is!” But later, I discovered that probably, she thought I’m the kind of person that would be pompous. The next thing, she was going to ask me was if I was related to one Emmanuel Obe who was then a student at King’s College. I replied: “Yes, he’s my brother”.

She said “Okay, I know him”, and she stormed out. I said “Why all these?” My wife carried herself very well. And when you meet people with that kind of attitude, the first thing that comes to your mind is “what does she thinks she is?” But none of such thoughts crossed my mind and, from there, we struck an instant rapport. We belonged to the same band and, after a while, we realized that we were meant for each other.

When I realized she was going to be my wife           

You know we met in 1988 and married after 10 years in 1998. In our case, there was no proposal. A lot of people expected it to be something romantic, but we are both practical people. So, what happened was that we started planning our future together. I think what made it an unorthodox for us was because we were both orphans. She had lost her parents while I had also lost mine. Though I was fortunate enough to meet her mum, while she was fortunate to meet my mum too, by the time we met, both our fathers had passed on.

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That was one of the first things that connected us. Being that we had lost both our patriarchs in the families, we had a lot to discuss about the tragedy of losing a father and living with the vacuum that was created by his exit. We had that in common and, from there, we started planning together. It wasn’t a case of “will you marry me?” Rather, it was a case of “if we get married, we will do this or that”. It was natural. Then it was clear that we were going to end up as life partners. It wasn’t a case of giving her an engagement ring and asking if she will marry me. We just kept on planning for our future together.

Public reaction to marriage

We actually didn’t plan our marriage to be elaborate. Our white wedding, during which I had Charlie Boy as my Best Man, while his wife was my wife’s Chief Maid of Honour, was actually the one that was publicized. But when we actually got married on June 26, 1998, we did a registry thing, which was supposed to be an affair between us, her siblings and my siblings as witnesses at the registry. Eventually, the media got to know about it and it made headlines. And many people who didn’t know we were not married before now got to know the truth about us.

20 years in marriage and 30 years as musical duo

Definitely, there will always be challenges in marriage from personal ones to the ones involving the children. We have had our own challenges. But what is uppermost in marriage is mutual respect. If you respect your partner, you will find out that even in disagreement situation, you will not be disagreeable. You can communicate with your partner in such a way that the respect will always be intact. Even if there is an issue, you tackle it together. We never abused each other when trashing out marital issues.

We talk like adults and we always place embargo on the use of negative words at each other. Our children have imbibed that kind of orientation. I have never seen them used foul language because they never got it from their parents. So, with those rules and regulations, I think our marriage is built on friendship and the love we have for each other. We have managed to overcome the few challenges that have come our way.

Any change from the woman you married 20 years ago?

Not at all. I think my wife has this bubbling, child-like attitude. When I first married her, I tried, in my own way, to modify her behaviour a little bit. But after a while, I realized that this is just her person. She’s a jeans and T-shirt wearing person. No matter how old she gets, she will still have that girlish spirit inside of her. So, I had to allow her to be who she is.

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My friend, my wife

Our society is money-driven, it is all about what car he is driving; mundane things like that. They are not asking what kind of ideas does he has in his head? Your people will be pushing you to marry the man that is driving the latest car in town, while ignoring the man that is riding Keke Marwa. After few years into the marriage, it dawns on you that you married the wrong man because of money. I wasn’t in this position when I met my wife back in our school days. But you have to see something greater in people than just their present circumstances. What drives this person? What kind of person is he or she? When you see a goal-getter, you will know. After all, marriage is about supporting each other, not entering somebody’s house who has made it already. But rather, strive to be part of the building process. This is because if you are part of the building process of a man, that means the man will not disrespect you.

I predicted our marriage – Wunmi

Our story

It happened exactly as my husband narrated it. The truth is that I was very indifferent then. When I said all the things I said to him, I didn’t even think about it. I was just being myself. It was business as usual, so ‘let’s get on with our work’. I didn’t think anything of it.

When we started developing likeness for each other 

It took about two years. We had a show at a time, and it was my mum’s birthday, which held on September 11, 1990. We performed together and my mum jokingly said “both of you looked good on stage”. And we laughed over it. After the show, we got talking for the first time. I think it was a psychological thing.

Normally, it was business and, after each show, we departed separately. But this time, we got talking intimately, sharing experiences together. Later, we realized that we have so much more in common than just music. With the passage of time, we got closer and closer to each other. By the time we graduated from the university, instead of going our separate ways, we stuck together because we knew we wanted to get seriously with music. That was it.

Someone told me he was going to be my husband?

At that time? No. I was discussing with one of my friends back then on campus that a lot of people always end up with partners they least expect they would end up with. I remember telling her that “I’m sure, as I speak now, I have met my husband and I didn’t know it”. I didn’t have anybody in mind. But I had a feeling that all these people I was relating with now, I was probably going to end up marrying one of them. Meanwhile, I had no feelings towards anybody and I had nobody in mind. But now, when I look back I have every reason to say, it actually happened as I predicted it. It doesn’t happen like that with many people.

Only man in my life

At the time I met him, we were not dating then. We were only band mates. We hadn’t even started talking to each other; it was purely a business relationship without emotional attachment.

Marrying a friend

I don’t think it’s rare for people to marry their friends. In fact, it’s advisable for people to marry their friends because, at the end of the day, after so many years of being in marriage, you will have somebody, a friend, a confidant to lean on, somebody you can pour out your heart to; somebody that will always be there for you. That’s what marriage is all about. You can’t even imagine life without that person.

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Soft spot

If you need a favour from him, just murder him with affection. And you will definitely win his heart. He’s very a soft-hearted person.

Being romantic

Everybody has his or her own interpretation of romance. What that woman might consider as being romantic might not be what another will consider as romantic. Some people see romance as a box of chocolate, flowers and putting rose flower on their bed. As far as I’m concerned, that would amount to giving me an extra work.

For me, romance is when a man is considerate; when a man knows that his partner has been working all day long and, now, she’s tired and he accepts to help her out. That’s romance for me. I can speak for a lot of woman who have been married as long as I have been; this is what endears us most to our spouses.

This is what turns us on or puts us in the mood as wives. When you are trying to ease my stress, taking my stress into consideration, that is romance for me.

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