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When I met my wife, the only property I had was my tribal mark — Actor Sanyeri tells sweet love story

 
Popular actor, Olaniyi Afonja, aka Sanyeri and his wife of 10 years, Omolara, tell TOFARATI IGE about their marital experience.

Can you recall how you met you wife?
Sanyeri: I met her in
2004 when I want to screen my movie, Okan Emi, at the National Theatre
in Iganmu, Lagos. She came there to have a good time. I sighted her and
her friend from afar. I walked up to her friend and told her I liked her
friend but she said I should tell her myself. So I went to her and told
her I would want us to get closer but she replied that was it because I
just shot a movie that made me think I could ask her out. Afterwards,
she walked away. After that day, I saw her about a month later and I
requested for her number. Even then, it took me a while to convince her
to date me.
What attracted you to her?
Sanyeri:  People always
have an idea of the kind of person they would like to marry. Since my
childhood, I had made up my mind that I would marry someone who is
taller than me, so that our children would be of good height. So her
stature was the first thing that attracted me to her. In the course of
dating, I discovered that she is a nice person and we understood each
other well. That convinced me that she was a good wife material.
Omolara: Even though it
took me a while to accept to date him because of his profession, I was
swayed by his persistence. He is a very caring, honest and
straightforward person. And he is fun to be with.
How did you propose to her?
Sanyeri: I didn’t even
propose with a ring because there was no money then. I just told her I
wanted to marry her and I knew she would make her choice whether to
marry me or not. The good thing is that she understood me and accepted
to be my wife. I used to work more behind the scenes then taking care of
set lighting and other technical aspects of production.
Omolara: I believe that
our marriage was ordained by God. I knew he wasn’t so buoyant at that
time but I felt he was someone who had a bright future and he cared
about me. So I decided to give him a try and I am happy for where we are
today.
What gave you the conviction that you could sustain a marriage even though you weren’t well-to-do at that time?
Sanyeri: I did not look
down on myself that I wouldn’t be able to make it in future. I felt
that even though there wasn’t money, we had love that could sustain us.
What was your parents’ reaction to the marriage?
Omolara: They only
asked me if I was certain he was my choice and when I answered in the
affirmative, they supported me. They asked basic questions like where he
is from and his family background. They also asked if I was sure he
wouldn’t dump me when he became buoyant in future. At the end of the
day, they were convinced and they didn’t say anything negative about our
union.
How easy was it for you to adjust as a married couple?
Sanyeri: There was no
big deal about that because I’ve always been a homely person even though
I was on the street hustling. I always spent my free time with my wife
and we blended with each other well. Even when I became popular, I still
maintained my lifestyle.
Omolara: Just like he
said, he is somebody who is usually at home whenever he is not on set.
We were able adjust well as a married couple because we already
understood ourselves even while dating.
How would you describe your marital experience?
Sanyeri: Anybody who
says that his or her marriage is always smooth is not being truthful.
There will always be ups and downs. In our case, we complement each
other because of the understanding between us. She corrects me whenever I
do anything wrong and she doesn’t even see me as a star. She tells me
that it is Niyi she married, not Sanyeri. I also correct her when the
occasion calls for it.
Omolara: It has been a
good experience so far. As is to be expected, we fight and we also
settle between ourselves. We don’t take our issues to a third party
because I don’t like that at all.
How would you describe your individual personalities?
Sanyeri: My wife likes
to attend comedy shows because she loves to laugh. She is even more
cheerful than I am. And at times, when I get too serious or if I’m lost
in thought, she would cheer me up and tell me to calm down. She likes
being around people, whether young or old.
Omolara: My husband’s
character is different from what people see in films. Even though he has
a sense of humour, he is also someone that likes to be alone sometimes
so he can think deeply. It’s not like he laughs all the time and he
doesn’t talk too much. He also takes care of his family and likes moving
with responsible people.
How do you settle disagreements?
Sanyeri: It is very
important to understand the people close to you, even if you are not
married. People always have specific times that they are receptive to
correction and advice. Sometimes, it could be in the middle of the night
that I would call her and bare my mind. I would make some things which
she didn’t know about before known to her.
Omolara: We settle our
disagreements by ourselves. Whenever I offend him, I apologise and he
also apologises whenever he offends me. I don’t hesitate to tell him the
truth as I believe I’m the closest person to him who can do that. And I
also implore him to call me to order whenever I do something wrong
instead of telling outsiders. I don’t see him as a star but as my
husband and I know how to broach certain issues with him.
Can you recall the first major disagreement you had as a married couple?
Omolara: Honestly, I cannot remember because it was a long time ago. Besides, whenever we have issues, we settle it and move on.
Do you have pet names for each other?
Sanyeri: She calls me
Ola, which is the short form of my name and I call her Ola too because
her name is Olaiya. We also call our children Ola because that’s what
their names start with.
A lot of marriages don’t stand the test of time these days, what do you think is responsible for this?
Sanyeri: If your
marriage lasts, it is by the grace of God. One also has to be very
tolerating. Marriage is not easy.  If anybody tells you otherwise, maybe
the person is staying outside the country and his spouse is in Nigeria.
But if they see themselves every day, there would always be friction.
Even siblings who live together quarrel.
Omolara: Marriage is
the coming together of two people from different backgrounds. They would
have different ways of doing things so one has to be patient and
understanding.
What is the importance of money in the success of a marriage?
Sanyeri: Money is very
good and important. Most marriages that crash are caused by failed
responsibilities. When one party cannot fulfill responsibilities, there
would be problem in the marriage. There are some men who don’t give
their wives money at home but they prefer to entice other people’s
wives. I consider men like that to be senseless. I have always had it as
my personal philosophy that I can never date a married woman. And I
don’t pray for anyone to date my wife too. If you take care of your
wife, you would have the confidence to correct her whenever she does
anything wrong.
Omolara: Money is very
vital because you would need to take care of the needs of your family.
Some men don’t spend money on their wives and families but they prefer
to go outside and spend money lavishly. That is not good enough.
How do you cope when your husband has to go on set for several days or weeks?
Omolara: I have known
his profession since we were dating, so it’s not something new to me. He
always tells me about his movement and he lets me know beforehand when
he would be going to location. And whenever he is not on set, he would
be with his family at home.
How do you cope with female fans?
Sanyeri: My wife has
never fought any of my fans, whether male or female. Even when we travel
abroad and some fans ask me to sign autographs on some parts of their
bodies, she would encourage me to do so. Some of them would even hug and
kiss me in her presence but she doesn’t mind. Even when street urchins
accost me, she encourages me to give them money.
Omolara: He is where he
is today because of his fans and I know he has to relate well with
them. Ladies love to be around celebrities and there is nothing anyone
can do about it.
How has parenting impacted on your relationship?
Sanyeri: I pray God
would give us all good children. I like it when my children are doing
well and I always give them necessary advice about life. I don’t usually
beat them, so when I do that, they must have done something serious.
Omolara: I spend more
time with the kids so I know their individual personalities and I know
how to relate with them. I correct and discipline them when needed.
How do you celebrate your wedding anniversaries?
Sanyeri: If we are in
Nigeria, we would go to hotels and spend some days all by ourselves. And
if we are abroad, we go to some fun places.
How do you relax as a couple?
Sanyeri: I usually make out time to relax with my wife. On occasions like that, we would travel out of the country and enjoy ourselves.
What’s your best food?
Omolara: My husband’s best food is amala with gbegiri and ewedu soup, while my best food is rice.
What are the most memorable moments of your marriage?
Sanyeri: I always
remember those times that we didn’t have much and she stuck by me. When
my wife gave birth to our first child, I had just N3, 500 with me, so it
was quite tough. That’s why I always say that there is nothing I cannot
give my wife. As of the time she married me, the only property I had
was my tribal mark.
Do you buy gifts for each other?
Sanyeri: Yes and not
just on special occasions. Anytime I travel and see fine clothes, I
always buy for my wife. And the dress I buy for her often fits her more
than the one she buys for herself. She also buys me gifts.
What advice do you have for young couples?
Sanyeri: We could not
have a wedding anniversary celebrating until six years after we had been
living together as husband and wife. And what I’m trying to say is that
my wife stayed with me, right from when there was nothing. My advice
for young girls is that they should not discard suitors, just because
the person is not rich. So far the person has potential and focus, take
the risk and stick with him. There are some people who started off as
rich but became poor over time. Nothing lasts forever.
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