Muni Okoronkwo had always been focused, believing in her abilities, strengths and gifts as well as importantly, the grace of God to get her where she desired. Over the years, she boasted a number of successes. An A-lister from kindergarten, through to university, she had graduated Summa Cum Laude from one of the Ivy League universities in the United States of America, which she had attended on full scholarship. Muni believed in her country and felt she could impact positively on both its image and performance at an appropriate time.

Her sojourn in the Corporate world had prepared her for challenges and equipped her with the resilience, experience and knowledge she felt was needed to catapult her into public service at the highest levels. These together with her mantra “What is worth doing at all is worth doing well” propelled her to join a political party and vie for the Governorship ticket of her state of origin – Babula.

During her campaign for the primaries, her credentials were touted as follows:

  • A totally detribalized and liberal-minded individual who not only married outside her state of origin but also encouraged her children’s choices.
  • A champion for female emancipation who believes that the female population has numerous untapped resources that could be of benefit to the nation.
  • A consummate Technocrat having served in varying capacities in a thriving Multinational Corporation where until recently, she served as the Group Regional director for Africa and the Middle East Sub Region. Her experience gleaned at the Corporation honed her proficiency in the following areas:-
  • – Mediation and International strategic negotiations.
  • – Analytical skills resulting in fiscal policies aimed at profitability and sustainability.
  • – Astute assignment of human capital and attendant compensation/reward systems geared at achieving desired results.
  • – Deployment of technology as a veritable tool for advancement.
  • – An understanding of the Separation of powers as a guarantee for a properly run Government.

Today, Muni has just won the primaries of her party, Babula Democratic Congress (BDC) and has been declared the flag bearer for the Gubernatorial race. At the reception cocktail held in her honour, three of her closest persons are having an earnest conversation, cocktails in hand.

Mama Okoronwo, her mother-in-law takes a deep breath and expresses her concerns “Hmmm…I really don’t understand what more Muni wants. She has totally emasculated my son, Gregory. Being the Group Executive of that big multinational Corporation was not enough for her, now she wants to be described as “Her Excellency”, meanwhile, how would her husband be described – husband of her excellency? I wonder how they will relate at home…will she still prepare his meals and do the needful as his wife? Thank God the children are now grown and married.”

Princess (Muni’s childhood friend) interjects with a giggle and says “Not to worry mama, I trust my friend Muni. She has always been humble and good at multitasking. They have coped thus far and honestly, her role as Group Regional Director was very challenging. Greg is very supportive of her and they will cope just fine. I however think she should have limited her ambition to Deputy Governor or at the best, shoot for Vice president. Women are not meant to take the leadership role but act as a support or helper to a man who leads. Just my view though and I believe it is scriptural. After all, Adam was made the Head of the home in Eden.”

Mark – The Public Relations Secretary to the State wing of the party responds “With all due respect madam I disagree. Excellence does not bear a sexist toga. We should desire that the best man or in this case, the best woman lead for the collective good of the state. There is a saying that “If a man sees a snake and a woman kills it, the important thing is that the snake is dead and no longer a threat.” Unfortunately, most women have been conditioned to think they should take second place. I guess we will just have to wait and see. She has scaled the hurdle with the party, but it remains to be seen whether our polity is ripe for women holding the reins of power. Her competency and altruistic values cannot be faulted and frankly, she holds the best credentials among all the Gubernatorial candidates.”

Havilah is of the opinion that until objectivity rules our decisions, we will continue to have less-than-optimum public servants and mediocrity will prevail. Competence and ability do not have gender preferences. Our motto should always be “May the best man win.“ Did I just say that…I mean may the best man or woman win! Let us lower the flag of gender bias even from among us women.




Have you ever tried to have an escape room experience? I had the privilege about a year ago when I visited an Escape room in the company of my young adults and not only was it fun, but it also taught me the importance of teamwork, especially as a family. It made me realise that family bonding harnesses individual talents to arrive at solutions. Everyone has something to offer.  No one has all the answers and sometimes the most ridiculous suggestion may just be the solution to the challenge.

So, what exactly is an escape room? It is a game – a fallout from the famous 2019 movie titled “The Escape Room”. This game involves a group of persons – family and or friends locked into an enclosure and given a time frame to escape from the environment. There will be obstacles and challenges strewn along the way that can only be overcome by combined effort. Sometimes, you may not actually complete the task within the time frame allotted but you would have given it your best shot.

A recent chat with my friend Romoke prompted my recall of today’s topic. This is her story.

Romoke is a widowed mother of two children in Secondary (High) School. She has just completed the construction of her residential building to accommodate herself and the children. After congratulating her, I asked if there were notable challenges she experienced while building and she responded:  “Haa…Havilah, there were challenges of supervision, pilferage, and shortage of funds but there is one I will never forget, hmm, it is good to have good children o”. She continued –“It was a Friday afternoon and I had miscalculated my funding requirements for the week. I would not have access to funds until the next Tuesday and my workmen were threatening to leave the site if they were not paid on or before the next day – Saturday. I was at my wit’s end as to what to do. I was owing everyone I could borrow from and if the workers left the site, getting them back to work would cause delays and hardship to access the next tranche of mortgage borrowing. All my pleas to the workers fell on deaf ears and I returned home totally deflated. Mope, the older of my children observed my mood and prodded me as to the reason. I opened up to her and she asked, me “Mum, how much do you need?” Upon my response that N30,000.00 would solve the problem she said I should stop worrying. She then walked over to her brother’s room and called for his piggy bank. Together, they broke their piggy banks and, you better believe it, they came up with N35,000.00 in change. My dear, N200 and N100 notes never felt so good. They saved the day! Incredibly, these children understood the problem to be a collective one and teamed up to provide the solution.”

A number of things struck me from Romoke’s story:

  1. She had open communication with the children regardless of their ages. They knew about the project and were carried along.
  2. She had taught the children the essence of saving for the” Rainy day” and they recognised the situation for what it was – a rainy day. They correctly evaluated the situation and provided a solution timeously.
  3. The children understood the project as a collective one and saw the challenges as one that required collective input and participation in solving.

So, why did her story remind me of the Escape Room experience? These were my takeaways from that experience:

Anything that challenges one member of the family should be viewed as a collective challenge to which other members can proffer solutions. It enhances the bond.

Solutions should be offered in a timely manner in order to be effective. There are situations in which “Better late than never” is no good.

Empathy is a necessary emotion to be cultivated.

Everyone has unique talents and attributes which can be brought to the table to ensure solutions.

In summary, bonding experiences offer an opportunity to foster unity and understanding within a family. It enables you to observe the strengths, weaknesses, talents, etc. of the individual members and better coordinate them for the collective good. A bonding experience can range from the very simple like playing cards or other games to family vacations. There is always something to do together. Please do not undermine it!




“Mom…you had no right going through my stuff! If you hadn’t you would not have found the contraceptive pills you are making so much fuss about” was sixteen-year-old Adunni’s prompt response to her mother’s accusatory remarks. Pere’s (Adunni’s mom) stricken response was “How dare you Adunni. You are a disappointment, after all, me and your father have done to ensure you have a good education and are grounded as a child of God”!? This was one of several rows in the recent past between mother and daughter but this time, Adunni was ready to bare it all. She continued.

“Mom, you both were a large contributory factor to what you are seeing today. You and dad were never available to talk with. Yes, I was largely in my room on the internet or social media, but you never bothered to find out what I was doing there. Apart from you occasionally popping in your head through the door and muttering with a shake of the head “On your laptop again, when will you be socially interactive?” I was pretty much left on my own. I had questions mom but wouldn’t dare ask them for fear of your stereotype of response “Ah…you shouldn’t even be discussing such things” or “I could never have asked my mother such”. So – I had my answers online or from my peer group. I entered chat rooms where I was free to discuss anything and voice my opinions without fear of recrimination. I made interesting friends who filled in the gaps. That was how I came across my boyfriend, Bablo and after some online interaction, we met up on a date and I really grew to like him. He introduced me to sex, and it seemed like the natural next step in the relationship. Mind you mom, he never coerced me. Incidentally mom, the day before our first physical date, I asked what you felt about dating and at what age you felt comfortable for your daughter to start dating and your response was “Shut up child…you are too young to discuss dating” That put paid to the subject. Dad was even worse; I couldn’t even approach him at all”. Pere had heard enough. Tears welled up in her eyes as she wearily retired to her room to place a call to her sister – Tilly, (Reni’s mum) to discuss this worrisome development. Tilly calmed her with soothing words and agreed to come over the next day.

Tilly’s advice the next day is summarised below:

“Sis…the times are different from ours and so your training and mentoring must be in tandem with the times. Generation Zees (Genzees) are brought up in an age of high technological advancement with a huge internet presence and a preponderance of social media platforms. This requires that we as parents must up our game by being “Techy”. We cannot afford to be a fossil or a dinosaur in these times. I am on top of the feeds and get to see trending topics which give me an insight into what Reni and her brother are reading and discussing. This enables a basis for discussion and gentle guidance, especially where I think the general view in the chatroom is misplaced. Some of my views may be considered old school but it gives them some other perspective other than that which is paraded in social media. Remember also that no topic is barred, as everything can be learned from the Internet. It is therefore always better to discuss a topic to give them your preferred perspective and content rather than to parry the subject. You must make them your friends so that they feel comfortable having free discourse with you about anything and everything. That way you can guide them and fashion out prayer points on their behalf.”

“Pere, it is not easy, but it is necessary” she continued. “The wake-up call for me was when Reni was in her penultimate year in secondary (high) school and I walked into her room late one night. She had thought I was asleep but there I was bam, I caught her deep in conversation with a male classmate and they were using very suggestive language. Immediately she sensed my presence, she dropped the call, but I had heard what gave room for concern. The next morning, we had a mother and daughter heart-to-heart talk about dating, sex, etc. I didn’t chastise her but rather counseled her. To my pleasant surprise, she cut off all communication with the boy as she realised, he was a negative influence”.

Pere thanked her sister and set out to plan restorative measures to be taken with Adunni.

Havilah’s view is that in dealing with the Genzees, the usual threefold steps for mentoring children must be utilised but the fourth is critical for this generation. The steps are:

  1. Steep them in the ways of God.
  2. Be their” Go To” person by being their friend. Know their friends and discuss freely with them without downplaying fears and concerns.
  3. Pray for them AND with them.
  4. Do not be a Fossil or Dinosaur. Acquire technological skills and remain relevant. Speak their language and navigate their terrain so that they don’t see you as outdated with outmoded views.

P.S. “Genzees” are described as ranging from about age 13 to 26.




Someone said Anniversaries are a time for cheers, the clinking of glasses and celebration, be they birthday, wedding, inauguration, or the like…yes? But they are also a time for reflection on what has transpired in the intervening period between anniversaries. It, therefore, comes as an exhilarating experience that Havilahspeaks has turned full circle to make it a year today since it hit the waves. While reflecting on this milestone, I cannot but appreciate ALL my readers who have taken out time to follow my episodes and served as sources of encouragement throughout the year. Special recognition goes to those whose inputs by way of comments and suggestions have in no small measure contributed to improving the quality of the blogs.

In consideration for those of us who have a preference for audio versions, as part of our anniversary package, Havilah will be launching an audio version. Watch out for it soon! Now, to today’s episode-

It would be Boma and Boulos’s 25th wedding anniversary in a week and Boma was busy concluding with her childhood friends – Reni, Data and Penny on their proposed two-week vacation in Mauritius. This time around, Boma purposed to celebrate her wedding anniversary with her friends, away from Boulos.

Every year since their wedding, Boma had always craved celebration of their wedding anniversary but Boulos had always promised to celebrate landmark anniversaries. Boma quietly respected his resolve and would provide private candle-lit dinners with a bottle of wine every year. The landmark ones came and went without Boulos fulfilling his promise and it became routine for Boma to provide the usual candle-lit dinners. Boma repeatedly reminded him on the 5th, 10th and 20th anniversaries and had determined that she was done with reminding him. As she made her plans regarding the forthcoming trip, Boulos felt certain he was included in the arrangements, after all, Boma had never missed being around him for their wedding anniversary in ALL of the 25 years they had spent together. This could not be different.

That night, dinner done, Boma laid out her travel plans to Boulos and that she would be away for two weeks. She went on to inform him that she had made adequate arrangements for his feeding and care in her absence and hoped he would enjoy his “space”.

A shocked and crestfallen Boulos could barely stutter “Why would you be away for our anniversary – the 25th for that matter- don’t you think it is worth celebrating”? As Boma served his favorite dessert of pineapple upside down she replied “Oh really? I thought anniversaries are only meant to be celebrated with my special candle-lit dinners and wine. We can always do that when I am back but this time around, I need something memorable and my friends have promised to make it just that.”

Boulos replied “Babe…I am sorry, I took you for granted for so long, but I can’t imagine an anniversary without you. I will make it up to you just give me the chance”. To which Boma responded “I am sorry too Boulos but it’s too late to change my plans now. Everything is booked and paid for; besides, I will be letting my friends down. They have actually subsidised my expenses for the trip. Maybe we can celebrate the 30th Anniversary, God sparing our lives or any other one you choose to”.

That said, a very pensive Boulos retired to the living room in contemplative silence determined to right the wrong. It was true he had always taken Boma for granted. She had been a good wife, mother and friend. She did not ask for much and deserved to be celebrated. Whatever it would take, he would surprise her by joining her in Mauritius for the anniversary. He called up Penny and discreetly obtained all the details of the trip then surreptitiously concluded his plans to arrive in Mauritius the night preceding the anniversary. He booked a room for the night at her hotel and at 6 a.m the next morning, he knocked at her door pretending to be the hotel staff checking on some detail regarding her room service order. A sleepy-eyed Boma walked to the door only to experience a rush of emotions ranging from shock to joy then confusion at seeing Boulos at the door. He swept her off her feet, planted a kiss on her lips and whispered “Happy 25th Anniversary babe”. He later moved his things to her room and ensured that the special event he had arranged for her with her friends in attendance, took place. There he gave a speech extolling her virtues and ended it by kneeling on one knee and placing an Eternity ring on her finger. Was Boma THRILLED? Indeed, it was the 25th wedding anniversary to remember!




Whitney walked into the Management Canteen of her company, a subsidiary division of a giant conglomerate, of which she was recently announced as the new Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer. She was accompanied by Suku, a friend and fellow contestant for the position. A sudden hush fell on the crowded canteen at the unanticipated presence of the subject matter of their discussion making it difficult to continue their erstwhile conversation. Whitney had worked in various capacities with the group over the past 20 years and had proven her mettle. It was therefore no surprise that she emerged as the new Managing Director of the Food and Beverages Division after a keenly contested race for the coveted post. Suku, her closest ally had also been her stiffest competitor but Suku readily acceded to her superior abilities. After loading her tray with her preferred meal, she walked up to her favorite table and pulled up a chair. One of her colleagues at the table, Ifejika, bantered…” Madam M.D., you have left our league remember? You should join the table for the CEOs now o.” Whitney settled herself firmly in the seat and responded “Aren’t you guys forgetting something? You haven’t sent me forth yet o so till then, I remain a distinguished member of this table” she replied laughingly. With this, the edgy silence thawed and the usual camaraderie resumed.

Whitney could barely withhold her excitement as the official letter confirming her new status was handed to her after lunch and she rushed home to share the good news with her husband – Pedro. Pedro, a successful businessman with a chain of boutiques to his name, often operated from his home office and Whitney was sure he would be in the office. As she barged in through the door of his office, she did a rumba style dance and she handed him the letter with the words “Guess what dear?”. To her chagrin his response hit her like a slap in the face as he said in an off-handed manner “Congratulations, I hope you realise that the C.E.O position does not extend to our home.” Whitney beat a speedy retreat to the kitchen, served him his lunch and retreated to her study to ruminate. She quickly surmises that mounting the saddle of corporate leadership poses its own challenges, especially for a woman. These challenges must be carefully navigated to be successful. She acknowledges that she possesses both the capabilities and capacity to function successfully but realises that she must maintain a balance with relationships that could also impact negatively or positively on her performance. She broke this into 4.

  1. Her relationship with her spouse. This she considers to be of paramount influence on her performance at work because she needs to have peace of mind for optimal performance. That can only happen if the home front works and she receives the necessary support from Pedro. She senses that she needs to work on this relationship, stemming from his initial reaction to the promotion, by making him comfortable with it. After all, he will be expected to accompany her on official social events and invitations. If she however fails to receive his support, she may need to steel herself and focus on getting the job done regardless. She has never failed in any assigned role or responsibility hitherto and believes she knows how to engender Pedro’s cooperation and support.
  2. Her relationship with her two children. Both Tina and Peter are in the university and have an awesome relationship with their parents. They are doing well and making their parents proud. She expects the situation to continue and that they would not be a cause for concern at work.
  3. Her relationship with her peers. She had always experienced cordial relationships and support from her peers as she always exhibited team spirit. No man is an island and she realises the importance of teamwork in achieving desired results. In spite of competition, her excellent interpersonal skills place her in good standing with her peers and she intends to maintain it that way.
  4. Her relationship with subordinates further down the corporate ladder. Being a proponent of the strength in Human resources, she realises that this cadre of personnel can make or mar her results so they require careful handling. She determines to be an empathetic strong leader who is able to communicate a clearly defined vision and have it cascade down the ladder. She knows that consistent achievement of results will build employee confidence in her abilities but it should not be to the detriment of the people.

She concludes that as a woman, she should expect greater obstacles to success than her male counterparts because she must carefully balance home and work while gaining the confidence of her employees in a male-dominated environment. She however determines that it is achievable and sets her mind to it.

Two years later, Whitney is celebrated as the best performing C.E.O in the group and she is proudly accompanied by Pedro and the children, to the celebration event.

Havilah notes here that new opportunities are often fraught with challenges, but if properly analysed and thought through, success is achieved.




Keji was a happy, bright, pretty and intelligent young lady in her final year at the university. She was loved by her parents Peju and Raheem and seemed to have everything flowing beautifully for her, that is until she was involved in a motor accident while traveling back to school via public means of transportation.

Peju, a teacher in a government-run secondary school was busy invigilating promotion exams when her mobile phone rang and she was given the news that Keji had been involved in an accident. She was petrified but was more concerned about the effect of the news on Dauda. He absolutely worshipped his “little princess” as he often referred to her. She hurriedly called him to inform him and they agreed to go together to the hospital.

At the hospital, both of them were requested to donate blood as Keji needed to be transfused. The hospital had checked her blood group and found it to be B+, a slightly rare type so they concluded that either of the parents would probably be compatible. To everyone’s consternation, both parents were found to be A+. How could parents with blood group A produce a child with blood group B? As the realisation of the situation dawned on Raheem, he quickly got into his car and left the hospital to have a drink and clear his thoughts before taking a decision on his next steps.

Peju, on her part, knew she could not face Raheem with the truth. How do you disclose to a man who is in his early sixties that his only child is not his biological child, especially one he loves so deeply? She decides to visit Brother Muri, Raheem’s eldest brother, to explain the unfolding scene. When she arrives at Muri’s in tears, she goes on her knees and informs him about what had transpired at the hospital and then she went on to reel out the explanation behind the scene. “Brother Muri, you will recall that for over ten years after marriage, we searched for the fruit of the womb and despite several prodding, Raheem refused to do any medical test. His excuse was that prior to marriage he had impregnated some ladies who had terminated such pregnancies. This put tremendous pressure on me and so I heeded the advice of an elderly friend of the family to have an extra-marital affair with the sole purpose of having a child to secure the marriage.

The opportunity came when Raheem was on Sabbatical leave to Burundi where I joined him. I had a brief relationship there and after I took in, I returned home to have Keji shortly before Raheem’s return. Subsequent attempts to have children with him failed but I remained faithful since we had one to call our own and his world revolved around her. The biological father never knew of the pregnancy as I cut off all links immediately after I got pregnant. You know Raheem is not someone I could have discussed this with and I thought my secret was secure until this… “the tears come cascading down again.

She blows her nose and continues “I really don’t know what to do, I am so confused brother, help me. If Keji gets to know I don’t know what to expect. My life is shattered and Raheem is devastated. Our hitherto happy home cannot be the same. Can he have the heart to forgive me as at the time, we couldn’t afford to attend fertility clinics and Raheem was uncooperative about medical intervention in any case”?

After berating Peju for what had transpired, Muri promises to convince Raheem to first get tested and then subsequently ask for God’s wisdom in dealing with the situation.  The next day, he accompanies Raheem for testing whereat it is confirmed that he is suffering from secondary infertility – chronic azoospermia – which having been left untreated had resulted in the inability to bear children.

If you are Muri, what would you advise given the ages of the persons involved and their close-knit relationship? Should Raheem cut his losses, go for treatment and try to start a new family or should he be encouraged to mend the cracks that have evolved in the marriage? How should he treat Keji? Should Keji be informed about the whole debacle when she recovers?

Havilah looks forward to reading your comments and possible advice on this situation. She is of the view that lots of counseling will be required from their religious leader and forgiveness will play a major part in the healing process.




It was the first day of the Semester and Hussain and Fatimata took adjoining seats for their first class in the Department of Sociology where they were freshers. Instantly, a bond of friendship was created as they smiled and exchanged pleasantries. This bond strengthened over their four-year sojourn in the University as they kept adjoining seats and enjoyed their lunch break in each other’s company, throughout the period. Course mates often wondered at the length and depth of their conversations which often spanned a variety of topics. On Fatimata’s part, she often briefed Hussain about all who indicated an interest in her and when she started dating Dapo, she solicited his advice on issues relating to their relationship which he willingly gave. After graduation, Hussain was posted to serve his National Youth Service in Cross River State while Fatimata headed to Zamfara with a promise to keep in touch. However, attempts to keep in touch by Fatimata were unreciprocated by Hussain and the relationship fizzled out.

Some ten years post graduation, fate threw Hussain and Fatimata together and they found themselves seated beside each other at a meeting in Hussain’s firm where Fatimata had been asked to represent her director. Imagine the shock on their faces coming face to face with each other again. After the business of the day, Fatimata retired to Hussain’s office and the following conversation ensued.

Hussain: “Just look at you girl. You could have been my wife you know? You just friendzoned me and toyed around with my emotions for four good years.”

 Fatimata gasped and responded saying “Come off it Hussain, you know we were nothing more than good friends. In fact, I saw you as an older brother in whom I could confide and seek advice. If you really felt differently, how come you never voiced it?”

Hussain’s calm response was “How could I when you were always confiding in me, especially about Dapo. I wanted your happiness and I am sincerely happy you sorted out your issues with Dapo and eventually got married. When we were posted to different states of the country for the National Youth Service Corps Scheme, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to break the cord after all, I had been friendzoned and couldn’t bear to continue to be strung along. Anyway, all that is history and I am genuinely glad to see you again”.

Fatimata ended the discourse with “That is an unfair statement Hussain. How was I to read your mind when you never voiced out your intentions? Don’t forget I was a naïve young girl in her late teens when we met in school. You know, I always wondered what I did wrong for you to end our friendship that way especially since my calls and messages to you in the early part of our service year were never acknowledged. Now I understand better. It certainly has been great catching up with you.”

The Cambridge dictionary defines Friendzone as “The state of being friends with someone when you would prefer a romantic or sexual relationship with them.” You know you are in the friendzone when she asks you for relationship advice.

Havilah is of the opinion that quite often a lack of declaration of one’s interest may end up putting such a person in the friendzone.  People must learn to communicate their intentions either verbally or through actions and not leave the discernment of their motives to conjecture.




Elder Ibinabo Perry was taking her usual preparatory class for intending couples when in her characteristic manner, she threw them this poser: “Allan and Grace had recently arrived in Canada having received visas to enable them residency there. They relocated with their three children who were between the ages of one and five years, only to go through the initial settling-in challenges. Grace had to stay home to take care of the children as they were not yet eligible for school and caregivers came expensive. Allan was therefore forced to singlehandedly fund the living expenses of the family in addition to taking classes to enable him access to better employment opportunities. He was stretched as he juggled two jobs with his studies and often had to do the grocery shopping for the family. It was their first winter and he had to contend with clearing the snow around the house and his car as well. This day, Allan rushes in to catch a meal and some two hours of sleep before heading out to his second job. He had promised to pick up some milk and cereal from the store, on his way home but he was so tired that he was already parked in his driveway when he remembered. As soon as he walks in through the door, he gives his children a kiss and hugs his wife asking for his food prior to catching some sleep. Grace glares at him angrily with “Where are the grocery you promised to pick up? The plan was to give the children cereal tomorrow and as usual, you have messed things up”. She kept on nagging and berating him in a loud voice in the presence of the children. All attempts by Allan to placate her proved abortive as Allan apologised that his state of fatigue was responsible for him forgetting to stop at the store and that he had only remembered after parking the car. He requested to eat promising to head back out immediately after his meal to purchase the items. However, Grace would not let up but continued to complain and nag, referring to him as irresponsible and unthinking, while plonking his food in front of him in an angry manner. At this point, the dam burst for Allan and he yelled back at her saying “Will you shut up and accord me some respect? You keep berating me in front of the children and I never knew you could be this disrespectful, else I would never have married you. Keep your food, I don’t need it!” with that he picked up his car keys and left, to clear his head and pick up the items in the process. Grace on her part broke down in tears as she settled the children to bed with the following thought reverberating in her brain “Allan no longer loves me. He doesn’t care that I am alone all day, I am unhappy and unfulfilled yet he doesn’t show tenderness. He doesn’t care.” Given what we have learnt regarding the instruction for wives to respect and submit to the leadership of their husbands and for husbands to love their wives, can you analyse the situation and how you would advise the couple to redress their situation?

John is the first to take a go at the poser. After clearing his throat, he says “I will address this from two angles:

  1. The Instructions to respect/submit and the one to Love are mutually exclusive. In other words, the responsibility of wives to submit to their husbands is not dependent on receiving love from their husbands and vice versa. Husbands should love their wives regardless while the wives submit to their husbands regardless.
  2. The instruction to submit precedes the one to love. That presupposes that wives should first respect their husbands.

I would therefore point Grace to the reality that she has a duty to respect her husband regardless of whatever he may have done wrong. Most especially, berating him in the presence of a third party, (in this case his children) is unacceptable and would be counterproductive. Even where she felt he erred, her actions and words could have been delivered in a loving manner that would spur him to act without raking up rancour. It is not easy to be fully responsible for the finances of the family and combine that with the school. Honestly, he should be appreciated not berated.”

Bodun on her part agreed with John but had this to add. “Although the husband’s love should be independent of the wife’s submissiveness, in practice, when a woman respects the husband, it usually elicits the man’s love. Grace should have been more understanding, given him his meal lovingly and then raised the issue in a loving non-confrontational manner at an appropriate time. That would have elicited a better resolution of the matter especially since there were possibly other things the children could eat. She could have given alternative suggestions regarding the procurement which would engender a peaceful resolution. However, it is important to note that Grace has her own frustrations which may have caused the reactions. Allan needs to be sensitive to his wife’s frustration and needs and find a way of calming and reassuring her pending when they can be adequately addressed.”

Elder Ibinabo ended the class with the following advice.’ In relationships, our speech must be guarded so that we don’t ignite situations. In practical terms, both respect and love must be mutual. If a man demands respect in an authoritative manner it will probably be met with resistance, But if he is gentle and caring, showing love and tenderness and attending to her needs, she will likely respect him. Similarly, when a woman respects her husband and submits to him, his love is likely to shine forth and he feels the commitment to love her. Note that there will be life’s trials and challenges in marriage but mutual Love and respect, will help you surmount them with the help of prayers asking God for the strength to overcome the temptation to be brash.”





Uyi and Esosa had been married for five years during which a lot had changed. When the lovebirds married, they were Security Guard and Receptionist respectively, at a small sole proprietorship business with no education beyond their Secondary School Certificate. Uyi however craved a higher education and strove to attend a part-time course at the University while Esosa seemed content to remain the doting wife and mother with no intentions of furthering her education or acquiring a skill. Recently, she observed that she was outside Uyi’s new circle of friends as she felt out of place and awkward with them. Uyi was also becoming more critical of her, causing her discomfiture which gave her reason to seek out advice from Aunty Pauline.

After she explained the reason for her visit, Aunty Pauline berated her for her lethargy. “Come on Esosa, you have to step up! You are an intelligent lady. Polish yourself up, go back to school or learn a skill and excel at it. Make him proud of you. It can only engender respect. I think I need to share MY STORY with you”. Aunty Pauline continued:

“Anda and I are from underprivileged backgrounds and barely finished Secondary School back in our village. We both decided to move to the city to search for jobs and settle down in marriage. Anda had always been very ambitious with a zeal for higher education but his parents could least afford that. However, after our marriage, he retook the SSCE and JAMB exams and came out with excellent results. This spurred the church we attend to offer him a scholarship to pursue a course in Sociology at the Federal University of his choice. He graduated top of his class and went on to do a Master’s degree in International Relations as a Graduate Assistant at the University. In all that time, it was I who sustained the family on my meagre salary as an Office Assistant – holding up the family and supporting my husband. On completing his Post Graduate course, he obtained employment with the Ministry of External Affairs and was shortly posted out as an Ambassador to Botswana. This gave the family the opportunity to travel out but I soon discovered that Anda started avoiding being seen with me or presenting me as his wife. I appeared to be an embarrassment to him as I had nothing to contribute to conversations at official events and barely understood the topics of discussion. Soon enough, I got dropped out of these events and it placed a strain on our relationship.

One day, after some deep introspection, I decided I would surprise him – step up and match him or maybe…outdo him. I was equally intelligent but had put all my energies into raising and sustaining the family, believing that the education and enlightenment should be left to the children. I had felt I was past learning. Ignorance had appeared to be bliss but I realised my safe world was crumbling. Without hesitation, I investigated the learning opportunities in Botswana and enrolled in school.  At the age of 37 and after birthing three children, I was back in school with a hunger that propelled me into the Merit list of the school. I graduated with honours which earned me respect not only from my husband but from his peers and other members of our family. With education came enlightenment and technological advancement. I became a relevant source of reference and assistance – a sounding board for my husband who now respected me more than ever before and began to rely on my advice and in-depth analysis of situations and events. Needless to say, that was the tonic my marriage needed. Rather than lose to ignorance and lethargy, I “stepped up” and it paid off”.

Havilah sounds a note of advice here – In any marriage, both parties must build mutual respect. Unfortunately, this may sometimes be affected by a mismatch in education, exposure, interests, values and the like. When either party considers the partner as an embarrassment for any reason, respect usually gets kicked out the door and causes the basis for friction in an otherwise healthy relationship. Communication is key to every marriage and effective communication can only take place where both parties are operating at similar levels of communication. Both parties must be able to clearly understand what is communicated.




It’s another Friday evening and the three musketeers as they are fondly called, meet as usual, to relax with their spouses. The Friday Rendezvous is usually rotated among them and today, it is Manfred and Nini’s turn to host. They are always excited when Nini is hosting because her cuisine is always “Finger licking good”.

After finishing a sumptuous meal, Gbenga exclaims patting his protruding stomach – “Mani bobo…hmm, Nini’s cooking skills are extraordinary and coming from me, you know that the comment is a fact. It beats everything I have eaten throughout the length and breadth of Africa and beyond. As a connoisseur of good food, it beats me how she consistently churns out these sumptuous meals, year in and year out. It is the consistency in quality that boosts my admiration”.

Fola picks it from there with “Mani, you are a lucky man o. No wonder you are never interested in offers to eat out. Nothing you find out there can beat what your woman serves. She is gifted jo, KILODE”!

The main meal served, the “boys” settle down to watch the finals of the soccer world cup on the large TV screen in the living room while the “sisfrens”, as they refer to themselves, retreat into the kitchen to help Nini serve the dessert. The following banter ensues.

Betty taps Nini on the shoulder with “Nini, na wa o. Where did you learn the culinary wonders, you churn out each time we are here? They are not dishes that are strange to us but they always taste intrinsically better. You have a way of tantalising the palate. Sisfren…pray, what is the secret ingredient? She concludes with a laugh”.

Nini replies with a smile “Truly sis, there is no secret ingredient, there is nothing to it. After all, you have sometimes assisted with the preparations, did you notice or see anything different or unusual?”

Rolayo continues by insisting “Haba, Nini, there must be something. Maybe you add it to the stock or some other ingredient before we are present. Referring to your cooking as finger-licking good is indeed an understatement”.

Nini heaves a deep sigh and replies “actually sisfrens, there is a secret ingredient and it is really very simple if only you can believe it works. For me, it works over and over again”.

Betty and Rolayo exchange glances and chorus in unison “We knew it. Come on sis, out with it”!

Nini continues” The secret ingredient is committing the entire process into God’s hand. As I embark on the preparations, I ask God to take control by making it wholesome for all who will eat of it and importantly, to not only nourish their bodies but make it excellent to their palates”.

Rolayo continues “You’ve got to be kidding me Nini. Who would have thought that to be the answer? However, on a second thought, the holy book enjoins us to entrust all our ways and endeavours into the hands of the Almighty and he will actualise it. What a practical application of that instruction. It is just that cooking seems so mundane, I would never have thought to involve God in the manner which you just explained”.

Hmm…Betty exhales slowly and responds “It is worth giving a try sis. It’s uncanny how God takes over and perfects things when we let him”.

With that, the “sisfrens” return to the living room with trays of delectable dessert and serve their husbands – each of them, determined to put into practice what they had just learned.

Havilah’s view? God is concerned in everything that pertains to us and if we let him in, he perfects us. Nothing is too mundane which is why he instructs that we commit everything into his hands.