Nigerian Inter-Ethnic Love Stories || Aisha & Olamide Craig
I've secretly been looking forward to this feature! And perhaps a few people were hoping for it as well. Shortly after I reached out to Olamide, someone sent me a message on Instagram advising that it'd be great if they shared their story as they've got all of the three major Nigerian ethnic groups! Plus I was hoping that we'd get to feature more Hausa or northern stories here.
Anyway, I present to you Olamide and Aisha! Olamide and I went to University together and he was always such a pleasant chap. He is Yoruba, from Abeokuta in Ogun state. He was born in Lagos and is a Pastor, Physician, Photographer and Poet.
Aisha, (or more completely Aisha Nkiru Ademide) is from Zazzau and is part Hausa, part Igbo, part Bonny and part Efik. Born in Lagos she grew up in Kaduna, Lagos and Onitsha. Aisha works in Banking. I'm so thankful to both of them for sharing their experience and their gorgeous photos! As usual, I bring you all the scoop. Enjoy!
Growing up and based on your experiences, and those around you, what did you think of inter-ethnic unions? Did you intentionally seek to marry across board or was this just pure co-incidence
We both come from liberal families and while an inter-ethnic / inter- tribal marriage was not specifically intentional, we grew up in an environment where it was not forbidden either. We feel that this is very important to distinguish here because while things are changing, there are still a handful of Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo families who will tell their children that they are prohibited from marrying from another tribe. In our families, the character of a person mattered much more than where they came from.
How did you both meet, how long did you date for and when did you realise that you were meant for each other?
Olamide: We met in 2013 at the church office of the House on the Rock in Abuja. I (Olamide) had gone in to see a friend who worked there and met Aisha, who had only started working there a few weeks before. We exchanged BBM pins (it was cool at that time) and we just kind of became friends. We kept in touch mainly via BBM and WhatsApp and as time went by we found out that we had common interests; music, singing, travelling, photography and more crucially that we shared a passion for Jesus. As our friendship developed I realised that maybe we were on to something special. After 7 months of friendship I asked her to be my girlfriend and the rest as they say is history. We were together for another 2 years until we got married late in 2015.
We've seen snippets of Lami's poems and love epistles on IG. He comes across as romantic. How was the proposal?
Aisha: It was a beautiful and sunny afternoon in Abuja, I had gone up to Olamide’s house for a visit. We made some lunch and while I was doing the dishes, he was out washing the car. I had forgotten a box of jewellery at his place the last time I had been there and it contained some pieces of jewellery that I was itching to get back. I remember him giving me the box as he sat next to me later that afternoon and he asked me to open it. I wondered why, but opened it anyway, and inside the jewellery box was another smaller box alongside my things. "Open it", he said. And when I did there was a beautiful ring sparkling inside a black velvet box. He held my hand and told me that he would be honoured if I would do the rest of this life with him and be the woman his children called Mummy. I looked him in the eye and smiled. I said yes!
All through dating & courtship, what challenges did you face? Were any of these as a result of the cultural differences?
Like any two people who are trying to get to know each other and develop a deep and intimate relationship, we had challenges, but none of these were as a result of our cultural differences. Perhaps this is because faith plays a bigger role in both our lives than culture does. No, don’t get me wrong, we are proud of our heritage and are all too aware of the role that our culture played and continues to play in the development of who we are today, but over and above that, our faith in Christ and our Christian values and principles have always been the dominant force that shapes our lives.
What did the families think? Any iota of reservations or concern?
Aisha: My family is inter-tribal. My maternal grandfather, an Igbo man married a woman who was from Bonny. Her mother, my great grandmother was from Calabar and she married a Port-Harcourt man. My father is from Zaria and he married my mum who is from Onitsha. Tribalism was never an issue for me. My parents were not the typical Nigerian couple of the late 80’s. Ethnic tensions stemming from the civil war had hardly cooled, but here you had two international students in Sofia, Bulgaria who met and fell in love, a love that did not care what part of the country the other was from.
Olamide: I grew up in a very non-traditional Yoruba family. My mother is Ijebu and my father is Egba, and these two sections of Yoruba land have a long standing rivalry. My parents explored that rivalry in a healthy and jocular way, which made us children realise that where a person is from should never dictate how we treat another human being.
So you see, the question of reservations or concerns could never have been an issue with us, because our parents and their parents before them never let tribal sentiments get in the way of their world view.
Different ethnicities tend to approach wedding planning and affairs differently. What was your experience. In what ways (if any) did you infuse these three cultures in the ceremonies?
It was something we looked forward to with great anticipation. We wanted to give a nod to all three main cultures where we were from. Since the groom was asking for the hand of a Hausa maiden, we tried to replicate the core aspects of the Hausa wedding ceremony with Lalle bridal decorations but gave it a modern metallic twist. As homage to her Igbo roots, we infused some aspects of the Igba Nkwu wine carrying ceremony, with the bride escorted by Igbo maidens and seeking out the groom with a cup of wine. After this we finished with the Dobale and Igbe’yawo elements of the Yoruba traditional marriage where the husband prostrates for his in-laws asking for her hand in marriage and then carries his wife as a symbol of his taking her into his care. All in all it was a beautiful ceremony and while it was a mishmash of sorts and not intended to be an accurate representation of any one of the three cultural traditions, we felt it was important to celebrate our roots.
Let's talk food. Tell us one new dish you've now tried as a result of your union and what you think about it.
We are both adventurous when it comes to food and had experimented with various cultural cuisines even before we met. Aisha grew up eating Amala, Lafun and Ikokore and Olamide eats Ofe Nsala and Banga. We both love Edikaikong, Afang, Tuwo and Fura (with coconut flakes sprinkled over it *winks*).
What practical steps would you hope to take to ensure your kids are exposed to the good sides of all three cultures? And how would they learn the language?
Children tend to mirror what their parents do or say, we have always been and will remain positive about our tribes. They are so many beautiful and colourful aspects of our cultures that should be actively spoken of and this is the atmosphere the children will know and grow up in.
Olamide speaks Yoruba and is getting the hang of conversational Igbo. Aisha is fluent in Yoruba and Igbo and we are both learning Hausa. We are looking forward to raising multilingual children who are able to speak not just these three languages, but continental African and European languages such as Swahilli, Amharic, Spanish, French and so on.
Aisha has names from all three ethnic groups. Would this be the case for your kids as well. We promise not to steal, so tell us your fave Igbo, Yoruba & Hausa names at the moment.
Our children will have names from all three cultures that represent our heritage. We love many names and have actually chosen a few, but you will have to wait and see ☺
For those who are biased towards certain ethnic groups, any words for them?
You are probably missing a lot, with those rigid views you hold on to! Nigeria is one big, blessed country and coexisting together in love and harmony, irrespective of our tribal or cultural differences only makes us stronger.
You both have created a Nigerian online dating site called SuruLereLove! Why did you set this up and what do you hope it achieves?
Surulere is a Yoruba adage. Suru’ means patience, ‘ere’ means reward and ‘Surulere’ means “Patience is not without its rewards” or “Patience will yield its fruit”. It is from this ancient traditional wisdom that we have distilled the words of our brand. We set up SuruLerelove because we truly believe that “you can’t rush something you want to last forever!” and we know that all good relationships take time and patience to develop.
We started SuruLereLove because we realised that there was a gap in the market to cater for the Nigerian at home and in the diaspora who was looking to find a spouse online. We recognise that social media sites like twitter and Instagram had helped to break down long standing prejudices that were previously a hindrance to Nigerian singles venturing online to find love. Many relationships in Nigeria are now starting online via social media direct messages and many celebrities have admitted either starting or growing their relationships this way. We believe that now, more than ever before, our society is ready for online dating, and all we’ve done is try to create a formal platform to facilitate this exchange.
We like to think of SuruLereLove as a matrimonial matching site, and unlike conventional dating sites where sexual attraction and instant gratification are the most important criteria for choosing a mate, we want our members to develop lifelong relationships and not just one nightstands. Our hope is that this platform will encourage singles to expand their reach and seek to form friendships across city, state, tribal and continental divides.
Any last words for singles and those dating on finding their other half?
- Take your time. Get to know each other and do your due dilligence. People are unpredictably complex and two people from different backgrounds living together indefinitely is unimaginably harder than Hollywood rom-coms would have us believe. DO your best to beat the odds before you tie the knot by choosing a partner on this journey that compliments you and makes living life together easier.
- Ladies. Don't let emotions cloud your judgement. Not everyone you love is meant for you
- Guys. Physical attraction is fleeting and is the least reliable indicator of marital success.
- Sex is better when you’re married. Trust us. We know! Waiting was the best decision we made.
I don't even think I'm going to add any words! I love their story. I love how they've embraced all cultures. I love how they see the beauty that is Nigeria. I also love Aisha's parents' story - and would love to hear more -sounds all so cute. And I think their advice above is pretty spot on!
I hope you enjoyed this! As usual, share your thoughts with the rest of the community.
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