Nov 14, 2014 – Annie Odediran, Chinese Woman Says Father Disowned Her For Marrying A Nigerian Yoruba Man
Meet Mrs Annie Odediran, a Malaysian-Chinese woman married to a Nigerian man.
She is an optometrist while her hubby is a retired UNICEF official.
In a recent interview with Tribune, Mrs Adediran narrated how her choice to marry a Nigerian caused her dad to disown her.
When did you get married?
That was January 16, 1988.
How did you meet your spouse?
I became a Christian when I went to Australia in 1981 for my A’Level studies. In 1982, I was in Brisbane, where I studied Optometry while he studied Public Health Engineering. We both belonged to Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF) and he was the president. The fellowship held its convention at the time we were rounding off our courses. We were in the dining room and I wasn’t feeling fine, I therefore asked him for a pain reliever which he gave me. That was the first time we held a close gaze. I felt a strange feeling within me and his thought didn’t leave me. It was same with him. He later told me his mind but what got him confused was the fact that he was coming back to Nigeria a week after. Since I have learnt to hear from God, I prayed and He gave me Psalm 112 as a confirmation and then I knew there was no going back. My profession was then in great demand in Brisbane. I therefore got employed immediately after graduating. We thus got in touch through mails and phone calls.
Didn’t you entertain any fear marrying someone outside your country and continent?
God gave me a word in Psalms 45 and I held on to this. It was a lot of stress because I didn’t have the support of my family. My maternal grandmother on her part was concerned about the distance. The Bible was what gave me comfort.
How did your family receive the news?
I wrote my dad and asked, ‘Is it okay or alright if I marry a non-Chinese and non- white?’ I intentionally didn’t say African or Nigerian. He replied ‘Please consider very well.’ He later sent my aunties to me in Brisbane to discourage me. My father was very authoritative. He later came, asked me to resign and come back to our town, Penang in Malaysia. Back home, my family members and relatives kept on trying to persuade me to let go of the relationship. They made jest of African black skin and said their lips were thick and they were hungry. They referred to my white skin as milk and my husband as coffee. They also taunted me that no children of mine would look like me.
What effect did this have on your relationship?
We were still getting in touch and my dad knew this. I sometimes spoke with him on the phone. My dad never stopped or scolded me. My father didn’t actually understand English Language and so didn’t understand what I was saying. I came to Nigeria in 1987 to pay him a visit. I told everyone else except my dad and stepmother. My husband was then staying at 1004 in Lagos. It was during this visit that he has got a job with the United Nations Children’s Fund United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), after working for some few years with the Lagos State government. We decided to get married, and so we prayed about it and God gave us middle of January, precisely January 16 the following year, as our wedding date.
What was your husband’s family reaction to his choice of you?
His father asked him if there was no other person in Nigeria he could marry. I met some of his siblings and we were cautious in the way we related.
How did the wedding go?
We had it in our home church in Penang. None of my family members attended. My father bribed my two sisters in New Zealand with money so as not to attend. Only my aunty and her four children attended and she came back the next day to the hotel where we stayed weeping that she was scolded by other family members.
How long did it take your dad in particular to come to terms with your choice of husband?
I was writing him to give him update about us though he never replied. Even while in Australia, he never replied my letters aside the one I wrote on the choice of my husband. I actually never experienced the love of a father. Two years after our wedding, I travelled home and stayed in my uncle’s hotel. I had our first child with me. My dad also came in to see my uncle. On sighting me, he avoided me. Again, while on a visit to my sister in Singapore, I tried to speak with him on phone but he hung up.
What were the things you found strange on getting to Nigeria?
We were then living in Ketu in Lagos and the way people run after molue, sell by the roadside, irregular power supply and having to carry buckets to fetch water due to lack of water supply, the sandy paths and untarred roads were somehow strange to me. But then, with the kind of upbringing I had, I could adapt to any situation. Another is the family member issue. Being the first child, he had to bear the responsibility of training his siblings and attend to some other needs or demands of his family.
[Interview by Tribune]