Showbiz entrepreneur, Kenny Ogungbe, has been married to Bolajoko for 20 years. They give an insight into what makes their marriage tick in this interview with Sunday Punch.
Was yours love at first sight?
Kenny: Allow my wife tell you that.
Bola: Somehow it was because he did not say, ‘I want you to be my girlfriend.’ He said, ‘I want to marry you.’ We met in Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, at a friend’s wedding but that was not the day he told me he wanted to marry me. After the wedding, I visited his sister and that was the first time he spoke to me.
What was the certainty behind your pronouncement?
Kenny: I knew that was the right person and it was at the right time too. Prior to that episode, I was scared of marriage. I was young, just finished school and living in Los Angeles but in my mind, I knew that God would direct me in making a decent choice at the right time. When she showed up, I knew she was the chosen one.
What are those qualities that swept you off your feet?
Kenny: She was and is still very beautiful and it is easy to tell she is a responsible person from a responsible home.
Bola: I was not very sure when he proposed because I was just out of the university. I was also in a relationship with an Igbo man and I was a bit confused. Somehow, God intervened and I let go of the other person. I saw in him a gentleman, who is quiet, calm and he is the opposite of what you see on television or listen to on radio.
Did you follow up with a formal proposal?
Kenny: That was not informal. Sometimes as men, we even employ that as a lie to women but when I told her I wanted to marry her, I was not lying. It was time to get married because at that time, my younger brother was already married with children. It was a case of, ‘enough is enough, and I cannot be a bachelor forever.’
How long was your courtship?
Kenny: We dated for about three or four years and I was shuttling between Nigeria and America. I was not working at DAAR Communications then but at OGBC.
Did you have a problem with him being in the limelight?
Bola: Yes, I did even though he was not as popular as he is today. By the time I made up my mind to marry him, it was a wake-up call for me to move closer to God. Now, after so many years of being married to him, I have developed a thick skin. I know he has female fans but I remain unshaken because there is nothing they can do that I can’t do. I am a pretty lady.
You must also love showbiz…
Bola: When you are in a relationship or marriage and you have taken your partner as your friend, you will have to like what they like. What I am saying in essence is that even though I am not what you will call a lover of music, I have come to love everything music because of my husband. That way, I can assist with his vision.
Kenny: My wife may not be able to sing but she has an ear for good music. Several times, she has been able to tell me which is marketable music and which is not.
Did you experience any forms of opposition from your families when it was time to tie the knots?
Bola: It was nothing serious. We just had a few people who were sceptical about the industry he belongs to. I told them that if this was God’s plan for me, then whatever will be, will be.
How would you describe the long years of being married to each other?
Kenny: It has been wonderful and we give God the glory. As a man in showbiz, it is not easy. Most people think because they see you on television every now and then, you must have girlfriends everywhere. Ask my wife, when I go to work in the morning, by 7pm or earlier than that, I am back home. I may work hard or travel a lot but when it’s time to come back home, relate with my wife and family, I do so. We always put God first and my wife is a pastor.
What are some of the highpoints of your marraige?
Bola: When we had our first child. After we got married, we did not have our first child until after three years and there was pressure because he got married in his late 30s.
Kenny: You can imagine my brothers getting married in their 20s.In fact, my elder brother, Otunba Doyin Ogungbe, got married at 22. I was the first person in my family to be married in his 30s, so the pressure was much. My people said I worked too hard and I did not spend enough time at home with my wife.
How did you endure the waiting period?
Bola: I ran helter-skelter going from one hospital to the other where I was subjected to several medical tests. When it was time for us to come together, that was when he would tell me he had to travel; then trouble would start. Today, I give God all the glory. When the baby came, he was more excited than I was and till date, he has not come out of the euphoria. He is so protective of her and fusses over her endlessly. The twins came six years after we had our first child.
Who apologises first when you disagree?
Kenny: She does not know how to say ‘I am sorry.’ At the beginning, I used to be very upset but later, I was advised to help her. As a typical Yoruba and Ijebu man, the wife is always wrong, even if it is the man that erred and she is expected to apologise. That is why it is good to marry an African woman because an American woman would ask to check if you are insane.
Bola: My mother-in-law would tell me that it is not because my husband is her son that she has asked me to go on my knees and beg him but because she wants me to stay in my husband’s house and that is why I am still here today.
How do you maintain cordial relationship with your in-laws?
Bola: I come from an extended family, therefore, I am used to being accommodating and welcoming. God has helped me build a lasting and loving relationship with my in-laws. Besides, I am blessed to have great in-laws.
Kenny: That brings us back to marrying in a scenario where both cultures are similar and we understand each other.
How do you spend time together as a couple?
Kenny: I am here every day when I don’t travel. After church on Sunday, we go out together as a family to any restaurant of choice.
How romantic is he?
Kenny: There are some things my wife appreciates and once those things are honoured, she is easily satisfied. I don’t ask for too much either. Things as little as chocolates and sweets satisfy her. When I go out every day, I don’t come back home empty-handed.
How do you celebrate special days like your birthdays, Valentine’s Day and anniversaries?
Kenny: In the last few years, Valentine’s Day has coincided with the Grammy Awards and I am away working but you can’t joke with her birthday. I am not a birthday person and that is why I always tell her not to celebrate it for me but between her and Dayo Adeneye, they always come up with something. For her 40th birthday, we had a serious issue because since I don’t like to celebrate, I expected her to be on the same page with me. My sister, Moji Dokpesi, had to intervene and said because I don’t like to celebrate mine does not mean every other person around me must not celebrate.
What advice would you give to young couples?
Kenny: The one we were given was that marriage is not a bed full of roses. You will disagree with even your family members including your spouse. You can build as long as you put God as the foundation. That way, you can never go wrong.
Do you have pet names for each other?
Kenny: Everybody calls her Bola but I call her by her full name, Bolajoko. When I am upset, I call her Bolajoko with emphasis.
Bola: I call him daddy. Maybe that is because it’s what the children call him.