My wife and I celebrate 20 years in marriage today. It’s been a journey of hope, faith, and love, as days have become decades.
The story of how we met is told here and here. There’s more to our story, that showcase the incredible battles Sola fought, that underscored her commitment to God’s word and her unalloyed love for me.
Here’s the missing piece of the story of how we met, from Sola’s narrative.
The Lord had told me Uche will be my husband long before he knew me. We were on campus together sharing a few things in common but radically different in many others, one of which stood like a Colossus, seemingly towering over everything near and dear to me.
The depth of our differences is not the focus of this piece, though they make for an intriguing collection, which Uche may narrate in time to come. The one giant that stood between Uche and I was tribal in form. Uche is Ibo and I am Yoruba.
On account of serious extended family squabbles, my father, as the Patriarch of our Clan, took an oath from me, my siblings, and others in our extended family that none of us will marry from the Ibo tribe. At the time of the events leading to the decision, it seemed right to us all. But little did I know that we’d taken a permanent decision because of a temporary problem. This pledge will be greatly challenged by God’s choice for me in marriage years later.
And so it was that as a student on campus, heartily chasing the Lord and seeking His will above all things; He whispered to me one cool evening in 1991, “Uche will be your husband.” My first reaction to this was a laugh laced with sarcasm. Has God forgotten my tribe and Uche’s tribe? Did He forget my father had us vow never to cross the Yoruba tribe boundaries? As the apple of my father’s eye, the first of his strength whom he doted on, such a matter was a taboo. So, it was like a joke, but alas my torturous journey had just begun.
Anyone that knew Uche those days will agree he was not a friendly brother. He was too serious all the time. He chased life as if each day would be his last. Unlike me, I was carefree with no worries in the world. How could God be telling me Uche will be my husband? We are too different to mix. We can never get along I thought. But these paled in context, to the issue of Uche’s tribe. He is Ibo! He cannot be accepted in my family. I can’t even get myself as the first child of my family to introduce Uche to my father.
God began to work His wonders in my heart as I prayed and fasted many months seeking help and sometimes, His deliverance. I wished so many times that God would change His mind. I felt trapped and unloved by God for bringing such an unromantic man my way. Uche hardly greeted me with a cheer of any color in his face those terrible days. Little did I know that God was also working on him.
How will I get him to even look my way? How and what could put us in the same corner, so I could tell him how his facial appearance was so off-putting? I could say these things in my heart but each time Uche showed up, I froze. Something in me loved him but I could not find a vent for its expression.
I began to notice over the semesters that he became more interested in me but for all the wrong reasons. For instance, he’d come to the Bible Study classes whenever I led and sit down, just to oppose me and ask questions to ridicule me. I couldn’t fathom such behavior. I hid my disgust. He was the President of the Fellowship so maybe he is right I would think. But why the anger? Why the gloomy face? Why the unfriendliness? What did I do wrong to this brother? God was at work but how could I understand?
Uche didn’t know me. I didn’t know him either. We both knew God’s voice and followed obediently. But Uche had no clue what it was going to cost me if he proposed and I agreed. He knew nothing of my life and family. Will he understand if I explained? Will he see the looming challenge as a perfect excuse to bail? While my love for Uche was seeking to bud, I labored greatly under the burden of my father’s resolve. The tension was too terrible for me. I had no one to share these matters with.
Then it happened.
One unforgettable night in August 1992, after a powerful 3-Day Fasting and Prayer End of Session Program, Uche sent a sister to ask me to see him in front of our Female Hostel. It was after midnight. He had at this time never spoken with me for more than 2mins on any matter. So, I was shocked that he was sending for me and at that hour of the night. Something was wrong, I thought. Nothing could have prepared me for that night.
I waited. When he eventually came, he greeted me well. In a bid to possibly break his fast for the day, he gave me money and asked me to help him buy a bottle of 7up and a loaf of bread at the little Kiosk inside our hostel. I promptly obliged and returned.
Then he said, “God told you I will be your husband. He has also told me you will be my wife, so let’s start” That was Uche’s proposal!!! I was stunned. Filled with fantasies of having a Cinderella type of proposal with my Knight in shining armor, I was devastated.
I didn’t know when I ran back into the hotel as fast as my legs would carry me. This couldn’t be happening. This must be a mistake, a nightmare of the worst kind. I cried myself to sleep that night. I was depressed and sad for many days. I thought of God as being mean to give me such a spouse and then thought of my father every day, wondering what will happen when he hears this. He loved me dearly and showed it without reservations. How would he take this news?
About one week later, I sent Uche a note asking to see him. Would I say no, or would I say yes? I battled in my spirit and found no peace each time I inclined to say no. I knew the Lord had spoken to me but I wasn’t ready for the consequences of this reality. Uche’s arrogance made it worse. If only he knew what lay ahead of this decision we are making in obedience to God’s words and promptings.
It was on 2nd September 1992, a Wednesday evening as the sun strolled gently to its setting; Uche and I sat together like two foreigners trying to figure out each other. My dread of him was gone and a mixture of pain and love made for a very uncomfortable feeling. I said yes to him but I knew the journey of a million kilometers was just two steps in.
When I eventually mustered the courage to tell my father, I wasn’t surprised by his response. “If I see that boy here, I will kill him.” He meant every word because of hurts and pains inflicted on him and his loved ones in the past by someone of Uche’s tribe. He struggled to accept Uche and felt I’d betrayed him. I couldn’t appease nor assure him but I held unto God’s words and with the determination to have my Parent’s consent before marriage, I prayed through. My father’s acceptance of him as a would-be Son-in-law was in 1997 into 1998. By this date in 2000, we became Man and Wife, One item.
Too many events attempted to derail this union before it started and for over 7year we weathered the storms. Before my father passed away in 2015, he and Uche were very good friends. Whenever he’d acknowledge I married well, I’d see the satisfaction in his eyes and promptly thank him for granting us his blessing.
Today, as I reminiscence, I am in awe of God and what He has done in me through this union. It could only be Him.
I have watched Uche bud into the man of my dreams. Behind the façade of his strong face is a hilarious comedian known only by those closest to us. He is fearless but not a careless risk-taker. He is a warhorse in terms of work ethics but his compassionate heart dreads people’s injuries and the sight of suffering in the lives of others. He is a reckless giver and if the parts of our bodies were easy to give out, he would have had none of his left in his name. Two great attributes I celebrate in him are his readiness to own his errors and apologize. He is comfortable in his skin; never threatened by my successes, rather he gave me wings to fly as I made exploits as an apostle in the market place.
Join us today, to thank God and celebrate His goodness, as we renew our vows and dare to dream of a greater tomorrow that beckons.