ON Monday, December 19, 2011, Biscon World TV boss, Dr. Bisi Olatilo and his beautiful wife, Mrs. Folashade Olatilo will assemble the high society for their 30th wedding anniversary. Already the buzz is in town as letters of notice have gone in circulation. The event will take place at popular event venue, 10 Degrees Event Place, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos with the dress code of shades of blue in formal outfits.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke to the lovely couple, who are blessed with five children and one grandchild. They went down memory lane narrating how it all happened, the challenges they encountered along the way and their plans for the future.
‘What sustained my marriage for 30 years’
- Bisi Olatilo
On Monday, December 19, 2011, you will celebrate 30 years of marriage, how will you describe the journey so far?
It’s God we have to thank first for allowing us to live this long as human beings and then celebrating 30 years in marriage. We give God all the glory while we continue to ask Him for good health and success. It’s not been easy but if you do business with God, you can never fail to make profit. Prosperity is not just money alone, prosperity comes with good health, good ideas, goodwill and I can say that since my existence, God has been faithful. Getting married is not as difficult as people think and that’s the point we are trying to prove by celebrating our marriage of 30 years.
What are some of the challenges you experienced in marriage for the last 30 years?
So many of them. The challenges are there, they will always be there but they are not insurmountable as we have proved. Quite daunting but if you are steadfast, if you are married to somebody who shares your ideals and ideas, it makes it a lot easier. The greatest challenge we had was when we were growing up in marriage. I am talking about the early 80s, that’s when we started procreation as a family because both of us were orphans we didn’t have parents. So, we were at the mercy of all kinds of people, baby care, that parental love must be there for your children. My wife was working then at the Ministry of Education, I was a broadcaster, an announcer at Radio Nigeria. We were able to juggle it. Could you believe, at a point we rotated washing of napkins, that was how committed we were and that was the kind of challenge we had. But we thank God. Looking back now, it was like yesterday, they have all grown up now. One of them is married, others have their own businesses now.
In this era where marriages don’t last, what has sustained your own marriage?
That is the reason we are celebrating this. Without being boastful, I think it will be the longest standing celebrity marriage. That’s no mean feat at all. You and I know how much hiccups are in marriage. People get out of marriage as quickly as they go into it. Before we finally start to cement our relationship, it was one hell of a struggle. I think it’s basically the grace of God.
How is the celebration going to look like?
We are just going to give it all to God. We have sent letters out. Invitations might come maybe a week to the event. Just now, I am going through my email, a couple of highflying men and women in Nigeria have started responding. The first letter I received congratulating me and assuring me of attendance was from the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi. He sent me an email wishing me well and also said I should be expecting them. I got another one from the Office of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekwerenmadu, CFR also congratulating me. So many people have aligned with our programme, we are going to have a prayer and worship session, we have pastor of my church, Apostle Wole Oladiyan of the CLAM Church, he would preach and of course, we will have the social aspect. So, it will not be okay if I cover people’s events and silent about my own.
Can you still recollect how it actually started?
It was in my mid-20s and we met by chance through a friend who had a friend who was a friend to my wife. I used to work with BCOS as an announcer and I had a request programme. It was done in three languages, I co-presented with a lady called Gloria Ikubo. I don’t know where she is now. We didn’t know that we had fans scattered all over the world especially in Ibadan. So, when we met I didn’t have to say too much or blow too much grammar, she had known me as a radio presenter and you know radio, unlike TV hide your identity. Anyway, she got to know me, it was like a love at first sight. We took it off from there and the rest is now history. But we had a major stumbling block, both of us belong to different religions. I am a Christian, she comes from a Muslim background, a deep one and because her sister, who was living with them, the first child of her mother who also comes from a Muslim background got married to a Christian and that problem was still on at the time we came on. You can imagine how it sounds to them, we are trying to see how we can manage this one, now you are bringing another one. That led to a lot of problems. We had to arrange and get away from the public eye. I had to elope with her, abscond with her so to speak to give time for the healing process. By the time we came back, two years later, we were able to convince her people and by December 19, 1981, at Mapo Hall, Ibadan, Oyo State, we got married.
What kind of values do you cherish about your wife?
We don’t agree most of the time, but that woman is a pillar that holds the home together. If my children are going to score us in terms of person that cares for them more, they will give me 10 per cent and give her the remaining 90 per cent that I can say for sure. Anything that concerns the family, she is very passionate about it, she will go the extra mile to do it. For me to have stayed in marriage for 30 years with this kind of business that we do is wonderful. Some people tell me I don’t know how you do it. I think the greatest strength she has is being able to put the family together. She is passionate about the well being of the family. I remember the first house we built in Alagbado, because of my talent I was regularly invited to come and do voice over on radio. I will also translate languages so I was making some money by the side, she just said to me that money is like a visitor, if you don’t use it well, it goes to another person. Then, what we used to do was to have fun, spend money at parties and she said to me that’s not how to do it and before I knew it, a friend introduced us to a land in Alagbado in 1991, for N18,000 and we bought it. We completed the house within three years. That’s my first house not minding whether it was in a suburb of Lagos. She just advised we build it and have it as our own and today, I thank God for that.
What’s the greatest lesson marriage has taught you in 30 years?
The major lesson I think everybody whether man or woman and those who are contemplating marriage will do well to keep very close to their heart is that as a man, don’t strive to show that you are the leader of the house because if you being to contest who is more stubborn then the marriage is already dying. I say to everybody that I am the fool of the family but I thank God because I am getting the gains of being the fool.
How do you settle disagreements?
We quarrel every second and I don’t know how we make up. Sometimes, I don’t know how many times we disagree in a day and we just agree, I can’t put my finger on how we settled it.
The first time both of you became grandparents, what was the feeling?
That was December 8, 2010. The biggest snow I ever experienced was in the UK where my daughter lives with her husband. She had her baby on December 8, 2010 and we had to go a week after for the naming. The snow was extraordinary, it was a wonderful experience. We were happy that we carried our grandchild and that’s the prayer of every parent, it was a good experience.
Tell us about your children.
My first daughter is in the UK, married. She used to be an IT person, she edited most of those clips you see on Bisi Olatilo Show. She now works with her husband in the UK. The one following her is Jide, my son, he handles most of my business and now he wants to establish his own lounge. I hope it opens this December, it’s an avenue to rendezvous with people of his age, the sister is next to my office. She is a fashion designer, also worked with me. I also have a 20 year-old, who is finishing maybe next year and the last of them is 17 years, he has already gotten admission to study abroad.
None of them is taking after you?
Initially, it looked like that but it didn’t work. We are helping them with prayers.
What kind of gift are you presenting to your wife for being with you all this while?
For now, I am blank on that not because I don’t want to. If I had that kind of money she would like a brand new jeep 2012 model, but I always told her that she should let us celebrate first. If I don’t give her then I owe her. But I will surely pay back sooner or later.
You have the license for your TV when should we expect your private TV station?
You should be asking the government. In fact, if they want to shock me, the 30th wedding anniversary present that President Jonathan can give me is to make sure that, they gave me a license. They should give me the frequency to run with it. The license without the frequency is not workable. We have the content, we are waiting for our frequency.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, December 06, 2011