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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

He charmed me into 44 successful years of marriage by cooking for me — Chief (Mrs.) Emily Sakpere

Few weeks back, international business woman and socialite Chief (Mrs.) Emily Sakpere, had cause to celebrate and give thanks to God: The ever-cheerful wife of Engineer Isaac Sakpere, an ex-Director of Engineering at the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), had a baby’ christening ceremony, for her new set of grandchildren.
The babies, who arrived as twins, were born to one of Emily Sakpere’s sons; London based Engineer Patrick Brume Sakpere and his wife Milva Sakpere, a British Ugandan.

A socialite to the core, Chief Emily Sakpere and her husband, invited friends and well-wishers to their Lagos home, to rejoice with them. Weeks later, she shared her joy in this interview with Paul Ukpabio, and the secret of her forty-four year old marriage, which has been blessed with eight successful children, all based abroad.

You must be a happy grandma

Yes, I am a grand ma, a happy one. I have had grandchildren, and just recently, one of my sons gave us twins. And both are boys! To us the family, it is a thing of joy. Personally, I love twins though I didn’t give birth to twins. I gave birth to five boys and 3 girls. All of them are grown up now and doing well. As far as I am concerned, it is another sign that shows that God is with us.  

Now that you are a grandma, how do you relate with your children?

I give them advice. For instance, at this time, I advise my son’s wife to have patience. It is an advice that I would also give to all young wives. The man should in turn love his wife, because if you don’t love your wife, even if you give your wife money, the money is nothing. However, the wife must be tolerant because men will always offend their wives. They offend their wives all through the day and even night. 

They tell their wives all sorts of things including lies and if the woman is not tolerant, she will run away. That is why you see so many families having problems. Now we have single mothers and many frustrated partners, because we don’t have patience. But if you have patience, you won’t lose your marriage, you won’t become a divorcee. Patience allows you to see things differently and tackle them differently. With patience, any marriage will last forever. 

So, tell us the secret of your 44 years old marriage

The secret of my marriage is patience which I have just told you about. Marriage is not just about love, because when you marry your husband in the first two, three to four years, it is love. But after love, patience is the next tool because the man may do some certain things you may not like and if you don’t have patience you will just quit the marriage but because I have patience, that is why you still see me today, with ‘Daddy’ who is, my husband. I also always advise my children, to study me and also study their father’s lifestyle. Without Patience, Daddy and I would have long separated and gone our separate ways. And we would have become single parents.

Between love and patience in marriages, which do you think is more important?

Of course, patience is vital. I will repeatedly advice new couple who are just getting into marriage to employ the tenet of patience. I will say to the man ‘please, love your wife’ but try to make your wife happy. At times, your wife would do some certain things; overlook those things because there is no person that is perfect except God. If your wife offends you, don’t take it too far. You can be angry for an hour or two but try as much as possible to caution yourself and don’t take it too far. Always be tolerant, if you can exercise an act of forgiveness and allow her mistakes be easily forgiven by you, a responsible wife will come back and apologize to you. That is why you see me and Daddy stay till date, the secret of our 44 years marriage is tolerance.

But your husband is far older than you. What encouraged you to marry him at the time?

Yes, we were very young at the time and men had their ways of getting ladies at the time, they will say, ‘Oh, if you marry me you will enjoy and I will do everything for you’. In his own case, he used to cook for me. Before I returned he would have made food for me. We were married quite early because he was just leaving high school when we rolled the tape. He was a young engineer and all eyes were on him. But he decided to choose Emily (Laughs). 

He was on scholarship to New Foundland, in Canada and even in Canada he baby-seated and took care of the baby whenever I went out shopping. When I return he will say ‘Emily, I have bathed for the baby already. I have showered for the baby. I have fed the baby.” The feeding bottle and other utensils are usually there and my husband would prepare the baby’s food and feed the baby. I think he has been an all-round man. He has dealt with me compassionately and that has been why I have loved him. 

You have eight grown children, how was it like raising them?

Raising kids was fun but challenging. The difference was that he assisted me religiously. He loves his children passionately. I was into business while he has been an aviation engineer. If he returns home before me he would help the children to prepare their food. In fact, at times, he was the one to go and pick them at school. That was when he had not taken higher responsibilities. In the early period of our marriage he was doing that before we became bigger and engaged house helps. I think the secret was that we rationed our activities. He who returns first cooks the meal. It was fun then because a lot of people used to wonder how a man will go to that extent to show his love to his family. But to us, it was normal and I can say that is one of the secrets of our 44 years marriage. He loves his children just the way I love them and he does not boss me around. He appreciated the fact that raising a home is a joint effort. That really helped me.

When he was Director of Engineering at Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria, how were you able to handle the issue of lady admirers?

That is why I told you initially that patience is the bedrock of any lasting marriage. Let me give you an example, when you see a car now and you are admiring the car. You love the car, you desire to have that car, let’s say a Rolls Royce or Lincoln Navigator or any of those cars that glides, you put in the pressure to work for the money and you now buy the car. The moment you acquire that car, that old flame, that old passion, disappears! That is how a woman is with her husband. 

I said in the first four years of marriage you might still be in a honeymoon atmosphere but immediately the kids starts coming and reality starts to hit you, tolerance will be the next object that will keep the marriage going. Love has taken you guys from the campus or street or work place into your respective homes but tolerance will be the next thing that will keep you going for the rest of the journey. I am not saying don’t love, please, love because even without love you cannot tolerate. Tolerance takes you miles away noticing each others short comings. 

With daughter
When my husband was the Director of Engineering, FAAN, he had women who admired him simply because he was a gentle man who was in the limelight. I understood that fact and I never let it get to me. Some of those ladies even phone me and say ‘hey, we are Daddy’s girl friend.’ And I will just reply, ‘Congratulations’. That is it. I can’t be bothered because I have no issues with her. I have the issue with my husband and he will always come back home to me. That is the patience I am talking about and when he returns home, he will say ‘When I leave home, you carry phone and be calling women all over the place, after that you call them my girlfriend.’ But it was the girl friend that called me to insult me not the other way round.

So, it is the same patience, not love, because if it is just love, one would have left. So, patience is very powerful. Early stage of your marriage has love doing the work but the later years will have patience to take it on if success must be achieved. Even if you live with your mother or your father in the house, you will still fight and quarrel. That is how the union between a man and a woman is.

Since your children are mostly based in the UK, how are you coping without them?

I cope because there are certain things I have put in place that is aiding living here. For instance, I have house helps here who do things for me. I have stewards, I have maiguard and I have a driver that drives me around. My children chose to live in that society. They chose to live in a society that works and I cannot blame them for it. From time to time, I do travel to help their wives take care of new babies. I just returned from one recently before this my son gave birth to twins. That keeps me busy. I don’t feel lonely. Anytime I feel lonely I just buy ticket and take the next available flight to London to see them. For my husband, he is an introvert. Since he retired he has been more of a home person except anytime his ideas are needed by any government parastatal. He is in his 70s and I am in my late 50s. Once in a while we do travel together to see our children and grandchildren. He does that once in a very long time but for me, I can’t afford to be too far from them. Not even now that they are bringing forth their children. I have to always be with them to render my service as a grandmother to the newly born kids.

Three of your kids married foreigners, how did you receive your foreign in-laws?

Yes, one of them married from Saudi Arabia, the other ones married British citizens. I will say it is a very interesting experience. It is called intra-cultural marriage. Whenever I go to see them, they are really, really happy. In fact my in-laws are very lovely people, those from Saudi Arabia and the British ones. They are very enlightened and universal in their nature. In fact, my daughter in-laws do tell me that they prefer Nigerians even more than Ghanians. So, I was surprised hearing that and I was happy. I have nine grandchildren from them. I am fulfilled. 

What do you have for friends and well-wishers home and abroad?

For people of my age, if your children live abroad and you live here, make sure you have somebody you trust around you, a steward, a driver or a nanny to keep you busy. With that, you won’t miss them. But if you don’t have anybody around you, and you are living alone, it is better you go and meet them, because, without that, I don’t think you will stay more than two or three more years before you die because you will feel lonely and you will feel left behind. 

You have really traveled wide, which country suits you most around the world?

London is my second home. I like the ambiance of London city, right from my youth when I started traveling, I have never found a place like London. If I am in London, it is like I am at home. In fact, I might stay two, three months in London maybe because all my kids are there. That could also be a factor. If I want to spend my annual holiday, I will be in London for two months. It is my favorite tourist destination. I have lived in Canada before and I have traveled to few other countries of the world but London is still like my second home. London is home away from home. In fact I live as if I am in Lagos in London. I eat whatever I eat in Lagos, in London and that is why I say it is home away from home.

How do you start your day? 

My day starts with God very early in the morning and because of my schedule, I am an early day riser. I rise early and sleep so early. After my prayers, the next thing is to make sure Daddy that is my husband takes his meal. He loves light meals early in the day, depending on his mood. But I think he still cherishes his Banga soup with Akpu. I still find the pleasure to be in the kitchen and monitor his meal. That I do so passionately and religiously and I also run few errands here and there for him. I used to sell cars before now (Tejbim Motors) but I sold off the franchise couple of years ago. I used to bring in cars from Germany, Holland and few other countries but now my schedule has changed. Every other month I must be in London to look after my children and grandchildren. So, my day starts with prayers. 

What about fashion, are you still stylish and fashionable?

I believe fashion should be comfort. I don’t join the band wagon, every Uhroho woman is a fashion statement. I am from Udu LGA in Aladja, Delta State. We love good fashion but we don’t do bandwagon trend. Our fashion is unique and distinct and you could always detect an Urhobo lady from mere appearance alone. My fashion is smart and simple. In London, my kids forces me to put on cardigan because of the weather over there but here, I am an Iro and Buba person except on weekends when I am at home. 

Do you party?

I choose my events. Normally we get all sorts of invites to one ceremony or the other but by and large I will define myself as a semi-introvert. I have friends I visit from time to time just to jist and know much about trend. But beyond that, I am a home bird. (Laughter) If you see me at an event, that person must be a very close relative or an in-law. Besides that, I chose my events carefully.

What about jewelries?

Jewelries are good but the best jewelry you can acquire is education for your children. If you can secure good education for your kids, you have acquired the best jewelry money cannot buy. The best jewelry robbers cannot steal. Yes, I love jewelries but I am not intoxicated by jewelries. My parent raised us to be very modest.

Lastly, advise Nigerian women and celebrity women?

Women should try to raise good children. No child will not want to be heady, especially when they gain admission to school and far away from parental care but you must continue to put them through. No child is too big to be scolded. Don’t pamper anyone. I still advise my children till date. I don’t see any child that is too big to be advised, teach your children so that you will have peace. When it is time to pamper, pamper them but when it is time to discipline, discipline them. No child is too big to put through rudiments of life. May God guide all our children and make them a success for all of us. Amen.

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