How long have you been married?
OJB: We have been married for 20 years.
When and how did you meet?
OJB: We met in church. The church just opened in the area and she came with her younger sister who was my friend. The sister was the matchmaker. To a large extent then, I think I was looking for a partner. As with everybody, you get to a stage where you feel you have to make your life more grounded and I was looking in the direction of marriage.
Which of her qualities attracted you?
OJB: Don’t deceive yourself with the notion of the inner person. The truth is, we do not see the inner person until the both of you get to court. First her physical attributes catches your eye. Then, you check if she has the right height, shape or complexion among other things. Also, as a man, selfishness comes to play because you start thinking about how beautiful you want your children to be because if you are ugly, you should not marry an ugly woman.
Was it love at first sight or the love grew?
Mabel: My sister was adamant about me meeting this particular guy who turned out to be him. When we met, I still had to pose even though I knew he is a fine man. I will say I was attracted to him at the initial stage. We courted for two years.
Were you in any way bothered about his being in the entertainment industry?
Mabel: No, I was not because sometimes, you don’t foresee what it is all about until you get into the marriage. When we met, he was still OJ. The B and Jezerel were not there. It’s by God’s grace that I have coped all this while. He is a fine guy but I don’t bother myself. He is in the music industry and if he does not go after the women, they will come after him. I tell people that when something is your own, you won’t have to struggle for it.
How did he propose?
Mabel: On our way back from taking a stroll one eventful day, he popped the question and that was it.
Any opposition from any of your families?
Mabel: His mother, when she was alive, can be likened to Margaret Thatcher. Everybody in the area knew her to be tough. My neighbours told my father not to allow me marry OJ because his mother was said to be very tough.They did not understand that she was a disciplinarian who did not suffer fools gladly.
What are some of the challenges of your 20-year-old marriage?
Mabel: There are several. OJB himself is a challenge, his music, lifestyle are all challenges even though he is not a night crawler. Sometimes, the children and I don’t get to see him because he is either working late or he is out of town. Overall, he ensures he remains a good father and husband.
Are there times you have felt like quitting the marriage?
Mabel: It has never crossed my mind. Marriage is for better or for worse. God keeps me going in this marriage and also my husband. Even though he did not see my inner person when we met, I saw his and I realised he is compassionate and has a wonderful personality. Even when he does wrong, he easily admits his fault and apologises before you go off on him.
What are some of the high points of your union?
OJB: That will be when you consider the fact that in every relationship, you definitely have your ups, downs and through it all, you still find yourself surviving it. That, I think, is laudable. A lot of relationships go through that and they don’t survive it.
Apart from being his wife, what else do you do?
Mabel: I am a businesswoman and I also own a shop.
Why did you decide to give him one of your kidneys?
Mabel: I did not even think twice about it, I had it and I gave it to him. He is my husband, the father of our children and I love him. This is somebody I have been with all my life. I did not tell anybody before I decided to, not even my parents because I had foreseen their reaction. There was no reason to inform them. When I married him, I told God I wanted the both of us to grow old together and live to see many generations. I am sure God knew this situation before he brought us together because not only am I a match for him, we are the same blood group and we are both stubborn.
How did you sail through the health challenge he had as a couple?
OJB: A major illness can break a home. Sometimes, instead of one partner seeing the other through the period of sickness, they would rather walk away. It could be draining them psychologically, financially or both. When you talk more as a couple, you create that atmosphere where you can actually share what you feel about the situation. I did not want anybody to donate an organ for me and I was very stubborn about it. I thought I was going to come out of the situation without a transplant. I was ready to go through any other route to make it happen. Above every other thing, I have always believed in the God factor and that is what has kept us going because Nigerians are very sceptical.
Who apologises first when you disagree?
Mabel: He does all the time and I don’t because I am very stubborn.
What do you want to change about each other?
OJB: Everybody should come down from their high horses. We both cannot be proving a point at the same time and be angry. We are in our 40s now and I think age and experience should be dealing with that.
How romantic is he?
Mabel: He is very romantic. I will score him 70 out of a 100.
OJB: She likes the romance but pretends not to. Even though she is enjoying it, it does not show on her face and sometimes, I am tempted to think she does not like it. Before, I used to misunderstand the signals and that was discouraging especially at times when I want to go all out to be romantic. Now, I know better.
Do you believe in having a joint account?
OJB: We do not have a joint account and we did not plan to separate our finances. In our early days as a couple, things were not this smooth. It was a cash to mouth, hand to mouth situation. In that situation, you don’t even think of having an account.
What are your pet names for each other?
OJB: I call her Mama J and she calls me Jigga my Nigga.