Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bianca Ojukwu On Coping With Late Husband's Loss And The Pressure To Remarry

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Bianca Ojukwu, the widow of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, is now Nigeria's Ambassador to Spain, and says her work is helping her cope with her beloved husband's loss from her life. Bianca met Ojukwu at the age of 21 and they were together for 23 years before his death in 2011.

In a series of new interviews with Ekerete Udo, starting from last week, Bianca has been speaking about her marriage to the late Biafran Warlord. In this latest article, she explains how bereft his death has left her, but says she has no plans to remarry. Read excerpts below..

On how she's coping with his loss

As I said in my tribute, he was not just a husband, he was also a friend, a mentor and I was very protective of him. Whereas people would think that the role ought to be reversed, I was very protective of him. I was worried more about certain situations that I felt might endanger his life. We had such a strong bond and I was involved in every aspect of his life, it was like two people living one life.

I remember when doctors were asking me to leave the room when things got quite bleak and I told them I could not leave, they thought I was getting too emotional. I told them if I didn’t leave him during the best of times, I couldn’t leave him now. I told them he was not going anywhere as long as I was holding his hands. The most traumatic point was when he could no longer hear me. Even when he was struggling to stay alive, whenever he heard my voice he would look up and smile, but when he could no longer hear me, I knew it was over, and that was very traumatic. I didn’t quite expect that the exit would be so swift.

When they wanted to take him away, I refused and asked them to give me some time alone with him. I had some hours to reflect on our lives and it was difficult to imagine that he was gone.

On plans to remarry

People marry I think not just because they need to come together, live together, raise family together, it is a rite of passage and I think I have fulfilled my part. Why I said that, is, I have gone through marriage, lived with what I consider a wonderful man who gave me 23 years of happiness, of fulfillment,  I literally felt I was the luckiest woman to have had a man who gave me utter dedication and, above all, wonderful children.

So my pledge to him is that I will devote my life to taking care of our children, raising them properly, teaching them those ideals that he cherished and held very dear and trying to carry on his legacy. So I don’t have any compelling need to remarry and, in any case, my time is very limited; so I am trying to channel it properly towards raising my children.

On handling male advances

Nigerian men are not aggressive; they may be aggressive in business, in their career pursuits, but in that particular area of aggressively pursuing a romantic interest, I have been very impressed by the level of decency and decorum they project. I mean, it might be just my own experience. They have treated me with a lot of respect, deference-they have been protective in a way as if to say this is a treasure that we must protect. I get on flights, and I see people stand up, take my luggage to my car, they have been amazing. I haven’t encountered that sort of pursuit and I have been very touched and humbled by the way they have treated me.

My husband’s friends call me regularly to see how I am doing- I mean a lot of widows complain that that they have issues with people proposing to them. But in my own case, I must say that I have been lucky to have wonderful support system based on respect and a sense of protection. If that is a function of the respect they had for my husband, I don’t know.

When I travel abroad, I also meet Nigerian men who are respectful. I also believe that it also depends on the woman’s attitude-sometimes we lay blame at the doorstep of the men— but the fact is that if you are engaged in your work, if you are a woman who have a sense of purpose, regardless of the fact that you operate in a terrain that is dominated by men, once you can hold your own, it will be difficult to fall into that quagmire where you feel you are being propositioned or your gender is playing a derogatory role.

Once you are not making excuses for bad performance, or once you are not looking for a man to cover for you, for your inadequacies, once you are able to let you work speak for you, it’s a lot easier to survive and live a life of dignity, and once you don’t present yourself as a weak and defenseless woman- one to be pitied and really cuddled by a man just by a virtue of being of a weaker sex – then it’s much easier to live a life that is not being truncated  by those pressures.

Read More - Vanguard

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