Tolu Odukoya is first child and daughter of late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya and her husband Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, Senior Pastor of The Fountain of Life Church. In this interview with Niran Adedokun and Toni Kan, Tolu and Olumide who got married on Saturday November 3, 2012 talk about their 14 years journey to the altar, how they met, what they learnt from her mum and the challenges of dating as young Christians. Excerpts:
Can we have your full names?
Olumide: My name is Olumide Babajide Michael Ijogun
Tolu: I am Toluwani Caroline Odukoya
Could you tell us how it all started for the two of you?
Olumide: It all started many years ago, was it 99, 2000?
Olumide: We met at a secondary school, Greensprings, and it was quite a magical moment because as I walked into the class, I noticed her amongst the rest. It was really a moment that I still cannot express in words. I knew it was a sign and this was a sign from God. I knew I might not have fully recognized it but I couldn’t miss it. If I can express it in words it would be like…you know how the spotlight shines on someone among so many people? I have never felt that way again with someone else.
Tolu: It all started for me when he came into Greensprings and, because Olumide is a fine boy, all the girls were all over him. I knew he was a fine boy but I didn’t want to follow the crowd so I kept my distance and did my own thing. We knew we liked each other but we were kids at that point in time. So, I travelled away to America and came back, then we started the relationship and we have been together ever since.
So for you it was love at first sight?
Olumide: Yes, it was.
Tolu: It wasn’t really love at first sight. OK, I knew he was this fine boy but there was so much fuss around him.
Olumide: It was love at first sight for her but she is denying it. (General laughter) So from JSS 3 you remained friends until the relationship started?
Olumide: I think we spent most of the first year just looking at each other. (General Laughter) I was coming from a British curriculum trying to fit into the Nigerian curriculum and that was very tough. And being the son of a very strict Ondo man, I had to look and focus on academics, first, because we had always been told when we were younger that if you don’t get this right other things will not follow, and if you got this right other things would follow. I think it was me prioritizing as much as I wanted to approach her. And she is a very fine girl too; she had so many guys on her. I was just watching from a distance while other guys flocked and jumped around the whole place. I was patiently waiting and focusing on my first goal. It was fantastic.
So did you guys stay in touch after Greensprings while you were in America?
Tolu: I think we started dating, like in 2000. We graduated in 2001. Then I went to America and he went to London.
We broke up in-between and, even when we dated other people, we knew we had to behave ourselves because we knew we were definitely going to come back together. And we always talked about our relationships, like who did you date? What did you do? And how long were you with the person? You know stuff like that. We always kind of knew where it was going. We were always in contact. I was always going to London for summer and we always came back home for Christmas.
How did you know; was it something spiritual?
Tolu: No. I won’t say it was something spiritual for me. As I said in Marriage Class, he is somebody I am comfortable with; I can be myself when I am with him. I realized that in church, I was this child everybody looked at, but in school I was just a normal child like everyone else. So I could actually be myself with him; he was not like you are Pastor’s daughter. I could just be normal and that’s what I cherished about the relationship. We were friends and we grew together, and knowing that I could not be like that with anyone else was just something that kept me going.
You want to say something?
Olumide: Yes, I was just thinking about that first moment again. How do I put these in words so that you guys get the picture? It was a sign I had to interprete as a young man, as a young boy then. When you look at certain situations, you don’t really understand what love is. It’s been a roller coaster, though you can’t have too much fun on a rollercoaster, depending on how strong you are, but it’s been very exciting. It has not really been in our own power. There has been a force that just pulls us together and we are at our best when we are together and we just thought, instead of fighting this force, let’s work with this force.
Now you’ve used so many words, rollercoaster, exciting, etc. Let’s drill down: tell us 1,2,3,4,5 things about her that make you feel she is the one?
Olumide: My relationship with her makes me sure. I feel right, this is a carefully thought-out utterance, and I think it’s déjà vu, and you know déjà vu can be either positive or negative. It can even be a warning if you are spiritual. I feel right when I am with Tolu. You can’t explain these things, so if anyone wants to explain how love is, I think the person is joking. You can never really express these things. What do I like? Five things, that’s too few. If I had to start, we would be here all day or stay here all year. When you can’t explain love, that’s when you start saying things that can even scare people. So I can say I like her dentition. I like her bone structure. You know! I like who she is inside, as a person. You can see someone at face value and you don’t know what is going on inside. She has got a good heart!
Tolu: He has got a good heart and a lot of people expected me to marry someone who is always speaking in tongues and falls under the anointing…. Olumide is someone I have seen grow; somebody I have seen God’s hand work on. He
It has not really been in our own power. There has been a force that just pulls us together and we are at our best when we are together and we just thought, instead of fighting this force, let’s work with this force.
is not clouded. He is real, he is not fake. He is not trying to impress anybody or speak Christianese.
We have grown together, we have had our ups and downs, and we have seen God manifest in our lives. He is my friend, my best friend, and I am a very, very strong woman. (General laughter.) I think I am, and a lot of guys think I am. He is one guy, apart from my father, that I respect and listen to and look up to. A lot of guys, older thanhim, have tried to approach me but it is not about the age; it is about what you carry inside, and he carries what is right for me. He is somebody I respect and I want to listen to and I am so enthusiastic about a future with him. I can’t see precisely where God is taking us to, but I know that it’s huge because of the kind of person he is.
How did he propose?
Tolu: It was very simple. He is a very simple guy. I didn’t really expect to see anything crazy because I would have
said this is not you. He had travelled back from his M.B.A. graduation. I was asking to see his certificate and he brings out two boxes but he held on to them as one box, and I was thinking it was a bracelet or chain. My husband is very prudent with money; he doesn’t just spend money, so I thought he had gone all out this time to buy me something very expensive. But before he brought out the box, he was hugging me and telling me he loves me and he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and I was like “yes now, I have been waiting here for 14 years or do you think I am playing?” Then he turns it to me and there were two rings and he was really sweating, really, really sweating and he tells me he loves me and he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and I said “yes, put the ring on my finger.” It was very simple because that is who he is. It was a precious moment.
How does it feel marrying into Pastor Taiwo Odukoya’s family knowing he is not just the normal, average Nigerian? Do you feel any weight, any pressure?
Olumide: I have known the family for so long. You see people from a different perspective because you don’t know
them. You won’t really believe the perspective that I see the family from. I am family. And I have been family for a long time. Like she said, she has seen me grow. I have also seen
Fountain grow for like, how many years now?
Olumide: Yes, 14 years now. I have seen transitions; so I feel normal and I don’t feel any weight, no pressure, nothing.
You got parental consent, no opposition from anywhere. Are your parents happy?
Tolu: The crazy thing is that my mum actually spoke to us in 2005, summer time. She knew we were in a serious relationship. She called us into the church office and we came into the office and we sat down and she said
“This Tolu you say you like, do you want to marry her?” and he said yes. She said, “Hmm, this girl, eh, she has problems o.”
(General laughter) “She gets angry. I hope you know the bad part of her?” and he said “Yes, ma, I know.” She spoke to us like we were about to get married in a couple of months.
Olumide: She said marriage is not a contract but a lifetime commitment.
Tolu: And it’s amazing that she did that because people always ask me: did your mum meet him? And I say yes, my mother knew him. She was at first driving him away. She was like “she is too young, don’t come to the house” because then we were like 13.
Olumide: I used to come and teach her mathematics. (General laughter)
Tolu: Yes, he used to come and teach me some Math and my mum would be like “you people are just joking.” But then by the time we got to SS3 and we started dating. My mother was like “maybe my approach is wrong, maybe I should let her have a boyfriend but they must meet here in the house,” and then she started asking questions like “this relationship that you guys are having, what do you do and what do you say?” She wanted to be a part of it. By then, my dad had known, my mum had known, both families had known about it and they have been guiding us in the right step. Don’t do this, do that, this is what you should know, this is what you should say or do and this is what you should look out for, this is what you should ask each other about. From both sides, my family and his family, it’s been long-awaited.
Now, your mum is not here, but thank God she gave you some counsel. The things she taught you, do you still remember them? And how much do they impact the steps you take?
Olumide: I will ask you a question? How many people’s lives has she touched?
He is one guy, apart from my father, that I respect and listen to and look up to. A lot of guys, older than him, have tried to approach me but it is not about the age; it is about what you carry inside, and he carries what is right for me. He is somebody I respect.
Olumide: Exactly. We heard it the most. We don’t even have a choice. You want to do this, you hear her voice. You want to do that, you hear her voice.
Tolu: And we use her books too; we always have the 165 Questions. We ask this because sometimes the things you have, you take for granted and sometimes people outside will benefit more from it. So, you need to stay conscious of the teachings.
Tolu: Yes. For me it’s conscience. Like you said, it is very easy to take stuff for granted. So, I am always saying “let’s sit down” and we start asking each other questions and that was something she kept drilling into couples: ask each other questions. And when we do, we are so happy and it’s always like that was good we talked about that.
Your mum was all about Single and Married. Pastor Bimbo talked about marriage and family.You guys have been here 14 years, how did you do this without sinning because your mum got married as a virgin?
Tolu: It has been hard, it has been very difficult.
Olumide: Hold on, I will handle this. It’s either you believe in something you have faith in or you don’t, no one is perfect. We all try to do what we can do, to walk according to the will of God and His purpose so we can receive not just half of His blessings but His full blessings. So, it’s been hard but we’ve pulled through.
Tolu: Anytime I want to do something bad, it’s like I hear my mother’s voice in my brains. It’s been drilled into my brain. So it’s been fun but I guess until we enter marriage, we won’t understand the full story. But so far, it makes sense.
Your lives as single guys must be an inspiration to people who are coming behind. What specifically about the single life would you want to see others emulate?
Olumide: I will say life is full of choices and choices are informed by something. If that something is not positive, if it’s not something that’s going to make you better, you need to go back to your source. In every relationship, you should make God the centre. If your choices are informed by the
Bible, I don’t think anything will go wrong. Like one of our Aunties told us, marriage is like a triangle…you have God in the middle. The closer you get to him, the closer you get to each other. The farther you are from Him, the farther you are from each other. We all are humans, and we all have our temperaments, but once you are focused on the right source, everything will be okay.
Tolu: My own advice is get to know each other because it’s easy to get lost in the whole of what you feel and feelings are very deceptive. They are like seasons, they come and they go. I think what keeps two people together is the friendship they have, and how can you be friends with a person you don’t know?
I don’t feel like the 14 years we have spent together is really enough because I keep knowing new stuff about him and the new stuff that I get to know is not stuff that will drive me away. It’s stuff that gets me closer to him because if you love somebody you get to see their weaknesses and their strengths. It’s good to also ask questions, ask as many questions as you can, because some situations will only happen after you get married. Ask your boyfriend or girlfriend, what would happen if this happened? What do you think about this? What would you do in this situation? All that will help you see whether you are in the right relationship or whether you are wasting your time.
So, are you a Fountaineer? You won’t take her away from us?
Olumide: Yes, I am a Fountainer. Why would I do that?
Give us your biography so we can have your full details?
Olumide: I went to Mahdi International School in Cairo, Egypt. I was there for about six years. Then I came back to Nigeria and went straight to Corona for a year, and then went to Greensprings for three years. I did mostly sciences and went to do A’levels in the U.K. in 2001. Then I went to Loughbrough University to study Computer Science and Electronic Business.
I graduated in 2007. I worked with Zenith Bank for a while and I have constantly been working with ACKMEN
Nigeria Limited. It’s a real estate company. That is like my birthright, so I just have to be there. It’s a family business so I have always been a part of it. While I was with Zenith, I left to do an M.B.A. at Nottingham Business School where I majored in Operations Strategy. So, I am a trained Management Consultant, especially for small to medium sized enterprises. I am also skilled in capabilities and everything that has to do with efficient running of businesses. After that I came back and proposed. (General laughter)
So what do you do now?
Olumide: I am into full-time real estate management.
But we read that you work at Honeywell?
Olumide: That was my dad. He worked for Honeywell. Do you have siblings?
Olumide: Yes, I do. Both are younger.
So, you are the firstborn?
Olumide: Yes, I am.
Tolu: We are both firstborns.
Tolu: I went to Star land, then I went to Little Saints and to St Gloria’s School. I also went to Greensprings for part of my Secondary School. I went to High School in America then came back to Greenspring. I went to Oral Robert University and got a B.A. in Public Relations and Government Pre-law. I moved back in 2006 and started working with Prima Garnet Ogilvy. I left in 2009 and went for my Masters in Advertising at Buckingham University in London then came back to work with Guaranty Trust Bank as a Product Manager in the Corporate Affairs Department. Now I work in GSK as a Brand Manager for Lucozade Sports.
Thank you very much and happy married life.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS