I was born in Italy 75 years ago. I had my education in Italy, which culminated in a doctorate degree in Law. I came to Nigeria in 1972. At that time, I didn’t know I would marry a Nigerian man because it was not something that was common in those days. As a matter of fact, my father didn’t accept my marriage till he died at the age of 95 .
How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband at the university. We were engaged for four years before we got married in 1967. We have three children; a daughter, Cristiana Akubunachi, who has a degree in Fine Arts, Roberto Chidobe who is a mechanical engineer, and Maximillian Emeka. They all live abroad. Christiana was married but unfortunately, her husband died two years ago. She has four children. Roberto is also married with two children.
What attracted you to your husband?
I was curious. He was different, simple, genuine and straightforward. However, when I came to Nigeria, I was forced to accept some situations that I never knew I would be faced with. Living in Nigeria is a different experience for me. The extended family system is new to me, as we are not used to that where I come from. In Italy, you work and succeed on your own. You don’t go begging for handouts from your family members. It hasn’t been easy for me.
At the time you met your husband, how much did you know about Nigeria?
I didn’t know too much but before we got married, I came to Nigeria to see for myself what I was about getting into. It was a bit of a culture shock for me because the environment is dirty. I had never seen an open gutter in my life until I came to Nigeria.
How did your parents deal with the fact that you were getting married to a Nigerian?
How did you adapt to living in Nigeria?
Right now, I am very well adapted to the culture. I am a chief in Igboland with the title, Ugoma Abatete, but unfortunately, I do not speak Igbo language. Italians are not very talented with languages. I only learnt English, and as soon as I was able to communicate, that was all. My degree in law has helped a lot in my business.
Do you eat or prepare any local food?
I know how to prepare some but I have a cook who helps in that area. My favourite Nigerian food is egusi soup, and white rice with plantain.
Who are your closest Nigerian friends?
I have many Nigerian friends. There is a saying in my husband’s town that if every white woman is like me, then they should invite other white people to marry people from Abatete. I brought some reverend sisters from Italy and they established a secondary school in Abatete. Now, they have boarding facilities and about 400 students.
How would you describe your marital experience?
The journey hasn’t been an easy one. It has been full of ups and downs. Marriage is majorly about making sacrifices from both sides. In a mixed marriage like ours, the sacrifices are more because of the different cultures. If you want to save your marriage, you have to accept the situation. At a point in my life, I made a decision that I had married my husband and I cannot leave, because if I do, my children would suffer. For this, I needed a solution. I chose God and my family. And I tried not to dwell on the other problems that could come.
How do you unwind?
I am always thinking about business because it is something I love doing. If I’m not engaged in business, I cannot just be here doing nothing. I also socialise a lot. I attend parties. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary recently and it was a success. It was very well attended and that shows how our friends appreciate our marriage. Even the clergy said marriage between people of the same race quickly break up these days, but we have been able to stay together for 50 years and counting. SHARE THIS STORY USING ANY OF THE BUTTON BELOW ⬇ PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW ⬇⬇⬇
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