When I left Nigeria for Zimbabwe about 12 years ago, I did not know that I would have to stay for so long there. I had gone for a four-week international training programme, which I was nominated to participate in by my office (a federal government agency), and I was supposed to come back immediately after the programme. But, somehow, I found myself staying for more than one year after a friend introduced me to another lucrative programme that could earn me a long leave of absence from work.
I was still young then, so apart from my parents, I did not have any emotional ties in Nigeria. I was not in any relationship. I had always been afraid of marriage because all the people that surrounded me were, unfortunately, in one stressful marriage or the other. Though my friends kept on telling me that it was just a coincidence that many of the people I was close to did not have good tales to tell about marriage; that there were still many good marriages around, I did not believe them.
I had heard and witnessed all sorts of diabolical influences on marriages, which had even led to the death of one of the couples, and I had vowed never to marry anyone from Nigeria so I would not have to be running from pillar to post, trying to ward off evil.
However, this was not what was on my mind when I decided to toe my friend’s path and stay for another one year. I just wanted an enhanced pay package for myself, and I was lucky to have been considered. Two months into my stay, I met this man from Zimbabwe. He was a medical doctor practising in South Africa, who visited Zimbabwe once every month to see his family members.
On one of his visits, he was a regular face at my office. One thing led to the other, and we became very close. He said immediately he saw me, he knew he had met his wife. He was an accomplished man, and good looking by my standards, so I did not have any issues accepting his friendship offer first before thinking of marriage. As months went by, our love grew stronger. I always enjoyed his everyday calls from South Africa and the way I looked forward to his monthly visits to Zimbabwe. I told my mother about him, and she said probably God had answered my prayers of not wanting to get married to a Yoruba man or any Nigerian for that matter.
We got married in Zimbabwe after about one year, and he took me with him to South Africa. Before we left for SA, I had become one of them in their family. They treated me like an egg, especially because he was like the king of the family, and I thought I could never have made a better choice. I did not have to put a prefix before the names of people I was older than in the family because they were my in-laws; and no one gossiped about me for spending their brother’s money or not greeting elders well – the kind of stories one hears in
On getting to South Africa, however, I found that a woman already had a child for him, though they were not married. I was bitter at first, but he managed to convince me that the pregnancy was never meant to be, and that the lady only wanted to trap him, which did not work. He preferred to have the boy live with his mother because he would not have the time to take proper care of him, and also decided to break the news to me when we finally arrived SA. I was not ready to lose my caring husband, so I forgave him, but the other woman turned out to be a very troublesome lady.
Immediately she found out that he was married at last, she started doing all sorts to ensure that I was aware of the child outside. When all her efforts failed, particularly because my husband had told me everything I needed to know, she resorted to physical attack on my husband. She also took him to court for negligence and my
I got pregnant three months after our wedding, and gave birth to twins, two beautiful girls. After their birth, we all went to Zimbabwe to spend one full month. From what my husband told me, it was the first time he would be staying that long, at a stretch, in his country, since he started working in South Africa. His family members were all over us. I did not even have the sad feeling of not having my own people around to help me with the twins. They hardly allowed me to lift a hand.
I was in touch with my people in Nigeria, but was not sure when we (my husband and I, and of course, the kids) would be able to visit, especially because of my husband’s job. But my mother was happy that I found happiness in
The other woman, who had a child for my husband, did not, however, give up. She also came to Zimbabwe at about the time we were there, after being tipped by one of the family members. We started meeting at functions, though my husband never talked to her. But, on two occasions, I told my husband that we needed to bring the boy home to his father’s house, at least in Zimbabwe, so that people would not see me like a bad woman. He said he wanted to do that, on the condition that his mother would not also move in with him. He said he loved his son, which was the reason he resolved that he would never lack, but that his mother had been a pain in the neck for him, right from the word go.
My mother-in-law tried to talk to her, pointing out that she was soiling their son’s name by parading the boy outside his father’s house, when everyone knew that my husband was his father. But she would not agree to let go of her son, so she returned to South
Shortly after, we also returned to South Africa. This was in 2008. But we met, on the ground, chaos, resulting from xenophobic attacks. Some close friends died in the violence and my husband had to take us back to Zimbabwe for good. But he had to go back to SA because of his job.
When he was leaving, I tried to stop him; I asked if he could not just set up a private practice in Zimbabwe and also try to secure a job in the teaching hospital. He said even if he had to do that, he must disengage properly from work. So I allowed him go, reluctantly. That was the last time I saw my loving husband…
To be continued