What She Said: I Don’t Regret Leaving My Husband in Nigeria

November 18, 2020

Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.


The subject of this week’s What She Said is a 61-year-old woman who left her family behind a few years ago to start a new life in Europe. She talks about why she left, the backlash she received and why she doesn’t regret it. 

When did you know that you absolutely had to leave Nigeria? 

After I missed my first opportunity to leave. Before I got married, I had planned to marry someone else whom I went to school with. Even though we had not seen each other in years, we kept in touch through letters. He was in America in university, while I was in Nigeria working as a clerk in a bank. This was the 80s; things were not working with the coups and unrest in parts of the country. I was still managing myself. I was alright. Then he asked me if I wanted to get married and move to America with him.

Just like that?

I was very excited. I wanted to do it. I was almost 30. I was worried about not getting married. Most of my friends at the time were getting married. So I agreed. Then I told my parents. They also agreed after much convincing and pressure. However, just before he was to fly in for the ceremony — we had prepared very well — a religious leader, a prophetess, that was my mother’s friend said I couldn’t marry him, that she saw something bad waiting for me. What it was, she didn’t say. My mother refused to give me consent to marry him. She just cancelled all the plans. My father was not on her side, but he couldn’t help her change her mind. I cried.

That’s very sad. Did this change your relationship with your parents?

No. I was very angry inside, but outside I still had to respect my mother. It’s not like now where you can do anything you want and get away with it. I couldn’t just do anyhow to her. I continued to respect her. My mother kept convincing me that someone was coming. 

So when I lost the opportunity to leave Nigeria at that time, I realised I really wanted to go away from home and start afresh somewhere else. I started working towards it and saved a lot of money. However, my dad fell sick, and we had to pay plenty of medical bills. My small savings went dry. 

Oh wow.

My mother introduced me to someone and we started courting, then we got married soon after because I got pregnant. I wasn’t yet sure if I wanted to marry him, but I was not very interested in having a baby outside wedlock. In fact, I didn’t want to marry him. But there was pressure. I decided to marry him and close that chapter. 

Did you like anything about him?

Like? It was money I was looking at and social standing. Can he hold his own in public? Can he have conversations? Is he respectable? He was okay. 

How was the marriage?

It was fine. I was satisfied most of the time. We had children quickly. Four girls. This childbirth didn’t let me advance in my career as I would have liked. I wanted to go back to school and get a proper role in the bank. So it was as if I was stuck in one place for a long time. Meanwhile, my husband was doing very well in his own career. I was envious. 

Were you two in the same career paths?

No. But he was very selfish. He didn’t help around the house, he didn’t take care of the children. So he was progressing and I was just going backwards. It took me long to bring it up with him and when I did, he said he was doing what was best for the family, but it wasn’t best for me. 

What did you do?

I continued managing myself. At some point, I quit working because it didn’t seem like it was working out. I even tried other things on the side, but they never really went off the ground because you just had to be present for the children.

I don’t blame anyone for what happened. I was the one who was having children like it was nothing. Maybe if I planned my career properly or planned child birth properly, it would have been better. Also, support would have been good, and I didn’t have a lot of that. The worst part for me was seeing all my friends leave Nigeria.

Why were they leaving?

Nigeria has never worked and people have always been leaving. In the 90s, a lot of my friends and even family members left. I wanted to leave, but it’s not easy when you have four children and a husband that doesn’t even want to leave. My brother’s wife and children were kidnapped once, and we found out that the police were working with the kidnappers. That was one event that drove me mad and angry with Nigeria.

I remember one night I had a conversation with my husband about it. I suggested that we come up with a plan to leave, it wasn’t like we didn’t have the money. He said, “It won’t be possible right now.” He gave a few reasons which seemed reasonable to him. He said we can’t just uproot the children’s lives. He said we had property in Nigeria. That we had family members who depended on us. These were just excuses. If only I had suspected that he was hiding something.

He was hiding something? 

He was hiding another family.

Like wife and children? 

Yes, like wife and children. I didn’t find out at the time. We just moved on after he said it won’t be possible. Luckily for me, once the last born was in primary school, more opportunities started to come, and I started working again. This time I separated my savings into an emergency fund and travelling fund. The money inside the emergency fund was for anybody that wanted to die. That was all they would get. Travelling fund was for me to leave. 

What was your target for the travelling fund? 

Can I even remember right now? I just knew that before year 2000, I had to have left with the last two children, and then I’d start making plans to bring the others. Of course, something came up and my travel fund finished. 

What happened?

My husband wanted to start a business, and he begged for my support financially. This one too is my fault. So they won’t say that I’m a bad wife, I supported him. So things started to look okay: his business was doing well, we had built our own home, I had a good job and our children were doing fine. I abandoned my dream of leaving at that point.

How did you find out about the other family?

The business he started was an import business. So he used to travel a lot. Once when he travelled, I called the friend he would normally stay with, but it was his wife that picked. It was his wife, who was also like a friend to me, that told me that she was suspecting something because my husband hadn’t shown up in their house since he arrived in the country.

She was the one who discovered the family. Before she even told me, she and her husband confronted him, and he said I wouldn’t believe them. 

Wow, how did you feel? 

I take everything in stride. I don’t like stress. But at that point, I was tired. I just wanted to leave. I called my children before my husband returned and I told them, look, this is what is happening, this is what I know. After that, I just went to sleep. Should I have told them at that point? I don’t know, but it was a lot for me to grapple with. The first child of the other wife, according to my friend, was a 10-year-old boy. This was in 2005. My husband confessed by himself eventually. He said I had four girls for him, of course he went outside. What was I expecting?

Wow.

At that point, I didn’t even say, let me save any money. I just started borrowing money here and there, sold my gold, sold my parent’s land, got a visa, packed my things and left. I didn’t tell him I was going anywhere. Just my children.

I had a lot of help from family members and friends. That was how I started putting my life together again. It’s not like things are perfect now. But I’m less stressed. I don’t look like I did when I was in Nigeria.

How did your family and friends take it when you left? 

My children are grown up, so they’re fine. We are even planning for the younger ones to join me after their university education. It was people like church members and extended family who condemned me. This was funny because it was in that same church that a visiting pastor told me that he could see my husband with another woman in a “vision”, and then he prayed for the woman to disappear. This was shortly after I found out about my husband’s other family. Word must have spread. 

You’re still married. What about a divorce?

I don’t even have strength. As far as I’m concerned, I’m free. 

What about your husband?

He’s still well off and living his life. He wanted us to talk about it in the beginning. He wanted me to come back. I told him I’m not a dog, I don’t eat my vomit. 

For more stories like this, check out our #WhatSheSaid .

Ope

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

April 15, 2021

Ramadan is a special time for Muslims dedicated to fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. What then does this time mean for some Nigerian women? Bola, 17 Every Muslim no matter their spiritual strength works hard in Ramadan, the vibe is just different. Even though I’m not the strongest spiritually on a regular day, Ramadan makes […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

May 15, 2021

At the end of the day, what is your soul really worth? A plate of food like Esau? Or you have nothing left of your soul for sale? Don’t take this quiz if you don’t like to be exposed sha, because we will find out. QUIZ: How Much Is Your Soul Worth?

May 15, 2021

Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians. The subject of today’s Sex Life is a 28-year-old gay man who recently discovered he is a side — a gay man who isn’t interested in penetrative sex. He talks about how this affects […]

May 14, 2021

Bolanle Austen-Peters Production, in collaboration with the MTN Foundation, is bringing the story and characters of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman to the Terra Kulture stage on May 13 to 16 in eight performances. The story, which is inspired by true events, is about a king’s horseman who is prevented from committing ritual […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

November 28, 2019

There are so many talented and stunning Nollywood actors that make it hard not to fall in love with them. So, while we all know the likelihood of us ending up with any of them is super low, it’s still fun to imagine a world where we actually stood a chance, and that’s why this […]

More from Her

The Worst Thing A Friend Has Done
May 14, 2021

Friendships can be tricky. Sometimes, friends hurt each other and it’s hard to get past that. In this article, we asked seven Nigerian women to share the worst thing a friend has done to them.  Ibinabo, 24 I had this roommate when I was doing my diploma in Ibadan. I was a new student but […]

May 12, 2021

The subject of this week’s What She Said is a 50-year-old woman who dated her ex-husband for 12 years and was married to him for 14 years. She talks about leaving him after years of being manipulated, the joy that comes from being a single woman again and life as a divorced Christian woman.

Women Who Love Sports
May 11, 2021

For misogynist reasons, women who love sports are always asked one question or the other when they tell people they love sports. Here are seven of the things women hate they hate the most. 1. ‘Do you understand the rules?’ If you don’t geddifok, of course, they understand the rules. Do YOU understand the rules?  […]

May 7, 2021

As a woman with big feet, there are various struggles you would encounter on a daily basis, and some specially when you want to buy new shoes. Here are five things women with big feet can relate to. 1) Shoe sizes are so hard to find Most shoe sizes for women are very limited. If […]

queer
May 7, 2021

As told to Mariam I put a call out for women to tell me the things that affect their mental health most. In Ada’s* message, she said her parents found out she is queer. I was curious about how that played out and I asked more questions. Here’s what she told me: I am the […]

May 6, 2021

Purity culture is usually a combination of religious and cultural beliefs that promote abstinence from sexual activities till marriage. These six Nigerian women share with us how they overcame purity culture. Yinka, 23 A lot of the guilt and shame I felt around sex and decency came from following Christianity. I was taught that I […]

Hedge Witch
May 5, 2021

As told to Mariam I have known Wendy for about three years and during this time, I have watched her go from being irreligious to religious and back to being irreligious. As an irreligious person myself, I was curious about her journey so sometime in March I asked her. Here’s what she told me:   I […]

May 5, 2021

The subject of today’s What She Said is a 34-year-old Nigerian woman who grew up getting everything she asked for. She talks about constantly pursuing enjoyment, and how that led to her leaving her cheating husband and raising her two children independently.  What was it like growing up?  I had a pretty happy childhood. I […]

May 4, 2021

The culture of invalidating women and shutting down their experiences because people are uncomfortable with the conversation needs to die. The idea of tagging women-centred conversations as an agenda is a shallow and unfair attempt at creating a distraction. To counter this, we have compiled a list of things Nigerian women do not need a […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X