Nigerian Inter-Ethnic Love Stories || Kunle & Flora Ogunlusi
I'm finally sharing this interview!
And I'm so excited because I know it's almost impossible that you won't enjoy it as much as I did. You'll probably wish it didn't end.
I love it so much for 2 reasons. First, Kunle reached out to me saying they had a wonderful inter-ethnic relationship and he would love to share!
Secondly they both took the time to respond to each question rather than provide a joint response. And one more, if I may - it feels like such an honest interview. Yet fun!
I really wouldn't want to spoil it for you, so I'll leave you to get to it. (But you should totally read to see how Kunle played a prank on his mum to get her to like Flora!)
About our awesome couple!
Olakunle Peter Ogunlusi: From an idyllic town of Ibokun in Osun state in the south western region of Nigeria, Ibokun in Osun State to be exact. Last born of 5 kids. Fun-loving, outgoing, spontaneous, friendly guy. Financial analyst and consultant. Currently works at one of the leading banks in Nigeria.
Flora Oghenero Ogunlusi: From the State known as the ‘Big Heart’ -Delta State, located within the South-South Region of Nigeria. Leap Year babe (born on February 29!). Building a career in the field of Marketing Communications. God-lover, great daughter, adorable sister, awesome wife and loving mother. Enjoys cooking, talking, playing lawn tennis, swimming and watching movies.
Met: At the Singles Fellowship of church. Became friends and been married for almost three years with 2 adorable girls!
Fun Fact: Kunle proposed to flora on February 28. He would have loved to do it on her birthday, but obviously wouldn't wait for a leap year! He showed up at her door for a surprise visit and proposed at dinner. He says kneeling down to present the ring to her made him feel "like a brave warrior about to be knighted by his Queen!"
Did you ever consider getting married to someone outside your ethnic group:
Kunle: I never really considered getting married outside my ethnic group as my mother had always drummed it in our ears never to bring home an “outsider”, meaning a non-Yoruba
Flora: Not exactly. I lived the most part of life outside my state of origin, so I knew there was a possibility of that happening. Also, I was raised from my teenage years by Inter-ethnic foster parents.
Did you face any challenges from your parents/family members regarding your relationship and how were these resolved:
Kunle: The major challenge was my mum as my dad had advised I come home with any lady whom I loved and who respected me. My wife had expressed her fears of acceptance from my family especially my mum, since she knew how much I loved her. But I proved to her that my mind was made up by proposing to her even before introducing her to my folks.
I also played a smart one on my mum, when I took my wife to my hometown for the introduction I did not give my mum any warning. I asked Oghenero to dress in a beautiful native (Ankara) gown. When we got home, I introduced her with her English name and the special Yoruba name (Oluwafolakemi) I had given her. It was after the expressions of joy and acceptance that I told my mum her Urhobo name!
Flora: Our relationship has been a testimony to the fact that God answers prayers. Having been friends for about three years, Olakunle and I began to date. With our dates came the consideration for marriage, a consideration we took on logically. We analyzed our different personalities, experiences, family backgrounds and ethnicity keenly. We knew the challenges we might face and began to pray about them together as well as create the kind of life we desired. I can tell you we are still reaping from those seeds sown.
We were also quite strategic in our approach to introducing each other to both parents and family members. For example, he gave me a Yoruba name which he mentions before my given names, I was already used to the Yoruba culture by reason of being raised by my foster mum, so I just blended with his people well.
Olakunle on the other hand learnt a few Urhobo words, especially the greetings; he loved our food so well and in addition to fact that he is a charmer. Everyone loved him from the very beginning and they still do. If there was any fear at all, it was the fear that I could just decide that I was no more interested in the relationship. My mum always thought I was too choosy with men. Lol!
Did your wedding involve both cultures, and did anything surprise you during the events:
Kunle: Yes it did. My parents and I were pleasantly surprised with the simplicity and richness of the Urhobo traditional wedding. I enjoyed wearing the traditional dress and wrapper! I looked resplendent, like a Royal Prince. There were really no surprises as we were well briefed beforehand.
Flora: Our traditional marriage was done according to the Urhobo traditional marriage rites in Delta State, Nigeria. It was another show of Olakunle’s love and readiness, especially considering his background and upbringing. He took time to make all the necessary inquiries and familiarizations before time. To the glory of God, my Uncles were also very supportive and helpful, so everything went well. The only surprises we got were pleasant ones.
Did you have a dream honeymoon? If not, what will your dream honeymoon have been?
Kunle: A dream honeymoon would have been an all-expense paid trip to the city of lovers - Paris. We had a great honeymoon in Ghana; it still ranks high on our trips and vacations.
Flora: Our honeymoon in Ghana was splendid - fun, no worries, talks, laughter, happiness and adventurous.
Have you experienced any culture shocks i.e. something that's done differently and how have you reacted/adjusted to this:
Kunle: There have really been no major culture shocks as we both have same Christian values that balance out any traditional thinking. An added advantage is that my wife stayed with a mixed couple (Yoruba woman/Urhobo man) for over 15 years. This made her deeply familiar with the respectful Yoruba culture.
Flora: We haven’t experienced any culture shock so far. In addition to being Christians ourselves, we both come from growing but strong Christian families as well. Hence, the commonality of our faith has been the basis for all of our family decisions.
That’s not to say that there are no differences at all. One most recent, would be how and when both cultures celebrate ‘Baby Christening’- Yorubas christen babies on the 8th day after birth and celebrate the occasion as well, Urhobos on the other hand name the baby right after birth without any celebration or being allowed to be seen by any one besides close family relatives until after 3 months.
Do you speak each others' language and if no do you want to or/ feel inclined to learn:
Kunle: My wife speaks better Yoruba than I speak Urhobo, but I understand and speak the general greetings. This earns me a lot of respect and admiration from her family and even my clients and customers.
Flora: I speak Yoruba quite well and Olakunle loves and is learning to speak Urhobo as well.
Have you got any special pet names for your spouse which originates from your culture?
Kunle: Yes! I enjoy giving friends nicknames and my wife is the chief recipient. I call her Olori, Ololufe, Iyawo mi, Aya Mi. Those are all Yoruba. Other non cultural ones include - Ghen Ghen, Ghenecious, Flo Baby, Pst Flo, Floray, Shuga, Baby.
Flora: Now that you asked…Oshare me! and Ovie me! meaning My Man! and My King!
What has been the difficult/ most challenging aspect of being in an Inter-Ethnic Marriage:
Kunle: Truth is, we have not really experienced any challenges based on ethnicity because of my wife's early experience with the Yorubas and my love for the Urhobo culture.
Flora: Marriage as you can very well attest requires a lot of work. The truth is that being of different ethnic groups is the least of challenges one has to deal with in marriage.
Our challenges have come majorly from personality differences. For instance, Olakunle is spontaneous and I am a planner. It can be really difficult to come to term with his ‘spur of the moment’ decisions or lifestyle. The beauty of our contrast however, is how certain aspects of our personalities are beginning to rub off on each other.
What's the best part of being in an Inter-Ethnic Marriage:
Kunle: The FOOD! Urhobos have a rich offering of soups and food from Oghwo, Banga, Starch, Ukodo, Melon pepper soup and so much more.
Flora: Hmmm… the exposure to a different culture has been most fascinating. I’m more particularly excited for our girls though, I think they get the best part of the whole deal. Being raised in an open-minded environment is a gift, one that is needed to win the war against ethnic and racial divisions in the world today.
What aspect of your spouse’s culture have you come to appreciate:
Kunle: The love, unity and openness. The Urhobo people are generally brave, fearless and say-it-as-we-see-it people.
Flora: Their 'socialness' is off the hook. Yoruba people can party!…as in any occasion is a reason to party. I just love my people.
On a serious note though, it’s the respect that I love the most. Yorubas are probably the most respectful people in Nigeria, if not the whole world. It’s always humbling to see my 6.2ft tall hubby prostrate to greet an elderly person.
Do you love the food from your spouse's culture? What's your best/worst? Which of these can you cook:
Kunle: Starch and Banga plus Oghwo with Yam are my favorites. Sadly, I cannot yet cook any. The worst is bitter leaf soup.
Flora: I love to cook basically and can fix a good number of meals, with exception to Pounded Yam. God bless the ‘Poundo Yam’ initiators. My best soup would be ‘Efo Riro’ (Mix-through Vegetable Soup) and worst is ‘Gbegiri’ (Beans soup).
Have you had any peculiar issues dealing with in-laws?
Kunle: I have been blessed with great unobtrusive in-laws
Flora: My in-laws are amazing! I enjoy the same love and considerations that Olakunle gets, or even more. Like they always say…"awon Ogunlusi mo Iyawo toju” meaning “The Ogunlusi’s know how to take care of their wife”. I’m humbled & grateful.
What's your general advice to people who think they cannot get married outside of their ethnic group:
Kunle: The world is a global village, in fact a global hamlet. Love is caring and sharing and does not discriminate. The choice of a marital partner should not be based on flimsy ideals as ethnicity but more lasting and enduring values such as friendship, mutual respect, love and selflessness.
Flora: Get a life! Okay, I'm kidding but seriously though, you don’t have to go looking outside your ethnicity for someone. But if you find someone or get found (as the case may be) who has all that you are looking for except not being from your ethnic group, all I can say is don’t lose a good man/woman based on a perceived notion. At the end of the day, the real issues that crop up in marriage aren’t always based on ethnic differences.
That's it people! What an amazing interview and I genuinely enjoyed their responses! Flora totally echoed my sentiments in her last words Some people have asked me if I do this to encourage everyone to consciously find a partner outside their ethnic group. Of course not. But as Flora mentioned, when you find that person, and the only box unticked is the 'same ethnic group' box, please don't let them go.
And can we take a minute to appreciate Kunle's wisdom in the way he introduced Flora to his mum! Such tact. I love it. I'm not sure why he doesn't like bitter leaf soup though! Weird that in our Ayo & Cyril Interview, Ayo who is Yoruba also mentioned she hated it! I love Bitterleaf.
And like Flora, I'm not quite a fan of Gbegiri. But just a little hack on the pounded yam - I use my food processor and the dough blade and it turns out perfect!
Any thoughts on this? What did you love about it!
Please share and appreciate K&F for their openness. We'll love to hear from you!
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