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I was careful to not intimidate my wife with my academic credentials – Professor Bada

It’s expected that a scholar who is prominent enough to be offered an appointment by the Presidency, acknowledged by the International Chartered World Learned Society among other recognition would have a wife who is equally scholarly but that is not the case with the Badas, Prof Madashiru Akande Bada and Mrs Muibat Anike Bada. In this interview with YUSUFF ADEBAYO, they narrate how they’ve been able to manage a home for 49 years with the husband a renowned scholar and the woman largely uneducated.

How did you meet your wife? Our God is just miraculous. I was working at the time. I often leave my office around 7pm. It was in March 1970, I can’t remember the date. Walking down the office, I was heading to the Post Office and I saw this girl. And I immediately said this girl has to be my wife. You know, it sounds spiritual but I was just convinced. I stopped and turned from my track to follow her. She was walking ahead and I was following from behind. She sells the materials for furniture making at Ogunpa market. I said to myself: ‘this one shouldn’t be tough for me to get.’ The next day, I went there to price some carpet which I wasn’t going to buy anyway. It was just to see her properly during the day. She did attend to me that day but I wasn’t buying the carpet, I was buying her. The following day, I went there again and I think she felt, ‘look, this man that’s on suit and tie and coming here to price carpet, I hope there’s nothing extra.’ So, after some time, I told her what I felt about her and that was how we started courting. And we did that for 9 months after which we got married.

Madam, do you remember this story the same way?

I don’t remember seeing him following me that day but I just noticed that he was coming to price carpet and other items that we were selling at our shop at that time. I would attend to him as I should. So, when he was always coming around, my elder colleague told me it seems this person is coming here to see you and not to buy the materials. I argued that this person in suit and tie couldn’t have anything to do with me. But, he had. He told me he wanted to marry me and I accepted and we’ve been married since.

What mattered most to you when you decided to find yourself a wife?

At the point of finding a partner, my first consideration was the religion. I had a religious background and family. I understand the tenets of the religion. I’m not an extremist but I’m a religionist. And I have always been looking for someone who will look after my children, not necessarily a banker or doctor who would go to work and come back around 8pm to 9pm while I’m also out fending for the family. The children will be left to stray. Unfortunately, everyone I was seeing was a Christian. I’m a Muslim and I don’t want that kind of division in the home. I won’t be focused and I’ll be caught up in a situation where if I have a male child, I’d say, ‘look, I’m taking him to the mosque, you take the female child to the church.’ It took me my all to find a wife. In fact, my mother of blessed memory had to ask me if I was potent. I said ‘yes, nothing is wrong with me. I just haven’t found the person. Then there are four other values and when I realised she possessed all of them, I was more convinced she was meant for me. She is kind, compassionate yet disciplined. And those are the combinations needed to raise a successful family. So what was her immediate reaction when you expressed your intent to her at the time? Well, you know as ladies, they will be defensive. She said, ‘No! Iwo akowe yii (you lettered fellow). There would be reticence to say the reality. But I’m the type that when I’m focused on a matter, I don’t withdraw. I knew I was pursuing a cause and I understood that that reticence was she being human and more importantly being a woman. I understood that I was serious about this and decided to cave in. So we moved from seeing each other at the store to following her to her house.

Madam, he just said that at first glance, he already knew that you were his woman, was it the same process for you. Was that reticence just you acting tough because you had to as a woman?

In all honesty, I did not know. I thought he was just going to be one of those men that would come around and go when they are done sightseeing. But he proved me wrong. And I was close to being ready at the time he came around. So, it was easy to decide after a while and the moment I decided, we started taking steps towards getting married immediately. That is why we didn’t court for more than nine months.

You were a clerical staff who went on to start lecturing and became a professor while at it. You have presented papers and received recognitions all over the world. Ma’am is obviously not as lettered as you are. Was there any point when some sort of inferiority complex set in on her part?

Was she intimidated by your academic stature? Well, not at all and I understand why you are asking this. A lot of people also wonder that this is Bada, a highly acclaimed scholar and his wife didn’t even attend any university. See, I knew what I wanted. If I had gone for anyone in my field who is perhaps as well read as I am or ambitious as me, I might have a successful outlook out there but my home might not be in peace because there will be this constant struggle to outdo each other which is fine for anyone who can afford to be engaged in it. But, I knew it won’t work for me. I wanted to raise the best kids and a wife that will be available to take care of them was what I needed and that is what I found in her. It doesn’t matter how educated she is or otherwise. She fulfills her responsibility as a mum. It will surprise you to know that she is instrumental to the academic success of all of our children. I won’t tell you their number but all of them are successful in their academic sojourn now all thanks to her. The youngest of them just graduated from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Ibadan. During her project defense, the Head of the Department, I can’t forget, just had to tell the supervisor, ‘if it’s about Miss. Bada, we won’t leave here soon, Oga, just sign her papers and let her go’. All of that credit, I give it to her.

Did you feel any insecurity on your part, madam?

Any insecurity that I felt was before we got married. We had conversations around it and how we’d get married and then he’d later feel he’d seen someone who was educated. I told him, you know I didn’t go to school before you approached me. So, he assured me nothing of that would happen and it hasn’t.

We live in a largely patriarchal society where most times, it’s about the man and his ego than the woman and the respect she deserves. Sir, how do you manage to combine the role of being a respectful husband and a firm controller of the home?

In all honesty, it’s God’s wisdom. I had to be a lot careful as well owing to a deep sense of how I stand academically and career-wise vis-à-visa my wife. I was careful to not intimidate my wife with my academic credentials. So, I get awards and I keep them where she can’t see them. I genuinely respect her. It does not matter if you call yourself names. The most important thing is to be respectful and firm at the same time. I also knew that she could be bothered about the sort of people that I work with and their social stature compared to her. So, I made myself very open about whatever was happening with me. She understood that there were chances of those who are more educated than she being my colleagues and I constantly reassured her that there was nothing to fear. So how would you describe the union so far in one sentence? It’s a learning process. Even at 49 years, we are still learning.

You had the option of marrying four but married one. How much influence did that have on the survival of this marriage?

It does have a lot of influence. I’d say a lot of people have decided to ignore the clear injunction about getting married to more than one wife. Even the scripture says do it if and only if you can be fair in all matters that concern all four of them. How many people can boast of that? People hide under that guise to fill the house with as many wives as possible and it’s not fair on the women. I knew I wasn’t going to have more than one wife, that’s why I went for exactly what I wanted.

Madam, what defines a successful marriage according to you?

The success of a marriage can be how well the children are doing and mutual respect; honor from the husband to the wife and the husband’s family as well keep the family together. Trust and loyalty together with the love are also important.

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