I've known Tina since our secondary school (high school) days in Queens College, Lagos. But she was one of those people you could really not immediately know what part of Nigeria they came from.
For a long time, I was intrigued. I mean her name was "Ernestina Da-Silva Domingos". I later learnt she was Yoruba. Well, she's now crossed over to the eastern part of Nigeria via marriage. She's now Ernestina Anyanwu, and as she says "I was once from Lagos state, but now from Imo state"
I'm so glad she agreed to share the her inter-ethnic marriage story with us! Hope you enjoy.
Did you ever consider getting married to someone outside your ethnic group?
- Yes, as I didn’t have any ethnic group restrictions regarding who I would or would not get married to.
How / Where did you meet and how long have you been married?
- We've been married for 7 months and met in September 2011. I was coming out of a cybercafé one evening and this dude was in his car outside the cafe. He called my attention and he’s like he wants to gist with me and all and I’m like okay… no wahala. That’s how it all started. I thought this was all there was to our ‘How we met’ story. I was wrong. About a year later, when we were gisting about how we met, he tells me that he had been driving along the road that night and saw me as I was walking towards the cybercafe. He then made a u-turn so that he could wait for me outside of the cafe. Not sure of the amount of ‘cybertime’ I had purchased, he signalled the cafe attendant to come outside – and asked the dude how much time I had purchased, which was one hour. My husband not wanting to wait that long then tipped the cafe attendant and told him to turn off the fuel tap of the generator so that the generator would appear to have developed a fault and go off thereby forcing me to leave the cafe before the time I purchased was exhausted! (Hahahhahaha…..such scheming!).
Have you experienced any culture shocks i.e. something that's done differently and how have you reacted/adjusted to this?
- I think the weirdest thing that I’ve learnt thus far about my husband’s culture is that they claim that the gizzard of chicken should be eaten by their men only (*side eye). Apart from that, I haven’t experienced any major shocks (maybe because I am still new in this business!)
Do you speak each other’s language and if no do you want to or / feel inclined to learn
- We don’t speak each other’s language… yet. My hustle to learn Igbo is very real though.
Have you got any special pet names for your spouse which originates from your culture:
- Hmmmm… the non-English pet names we have for ourselves are Utazi (for him) and Dongoyaro (for me). Don’t ask me how those pet names came about, why the former is Igbo and the latter Hausa, and why they are both names of leaves in their respective languages; that’s a funny story for another day.
How will you decide on naming your kids?
- It seems we have both reached a consensus that at least the first names of our kids to be Igbo names.
What's the best part of being in an Inter-Ethnic Marriage?
- I think that all the ‘bests’ that I’m enjoying in marriage are borne more from being married to a very decent and understanding person and have little or nothing to do with our ethnic differences
What aspect of your spouse's culture have you come to appreciate:
- My husband’s people have strong family values which I really love. I also really love the Tales by Moonlight stories that he tells me every now and then about the history and people of his village
Do you love Igbo food? Which of these can you cook.What's your best/worst?
- I do!… It was when I met him that I learnt about Ugba (gosh, I love Ugba), Nkwobi, Ofe Owerri and Oha soup. I’ve had the theory and practical classes from my sister-in-law on how to make Oha soup. My exam practical coming soon. Watch this space! Hahaha. I don’t have any worst yet.
What's your general advice to people who think they cannot get married outside of their ethnic group:
- I think that people should keep an open mind generally and also see themselves also as world –citizens rather than as only citizens of their ethnic group. This mindset helps to bridge the cultural divide and I know that this mindset has helped me to be more receptive/understanding of other people and their culture.
How can we make Inter-Ethnic Marriages work:
- Keep an open mind – life is all about learning, unlearning and re-learning. Also, you can have gist sessions with your partner where he/she can tell you how to handle situations relating to their culture/their side of the family for smoother sailing
I particularly love the story about how they met. Such scheming indeed!
I think we can all agree that Igbo food is amazing. If you haven't tried it out you totally should. I think I had heard that Igbo women shouldn't eat the gizzard of a chicken. Not sure the reason why, but I definitely eat it!
If you'll like to share your stories (the good and the bad, whether arising out of just dating or relationships), or if there are any particular questions you'll like me to ask in subsequent interviews, please get in touch here.
I share my own personal stories in the EastMeetsWest bit of the blog. It's actually two years today since my traditional wedding, so I'm working on a couple of posts related to that.
Please subscribe, like our page on Facebook and follow me on Social Media!(@KacheeTee)