will turn 65 in a few days time.
Folorunsho Alakija is a Nigerian billionaire fashion-designer and
Executive Director at FAMFA Oil, an indigenous Nigerian oil, gas
exploration and production company.
I returned from my second sojourn in England in December 1972, and
within two weeks of my arrival in Nigeria, I met Mr. Modupe Alakija, a
dashing young lawyer, at a party in Surulere. Though I was in thecompany of my elder brother and his fiancee, Modupe insisted on driving
me home. From that point on, we dated regularly for three and a half
years until we got married on 12th November 1976.
During our courtship, we partied, dined, visited friends, combed street
markets and generally had a swell time in each other’s company. We would
go out frequently, for lunch and dinner, visiting suya joints, decent
‘mama put joints’ where we regularly asked for ‘olowo-ko-siere’, which
means ‘the rich man is not mad’ and describes the part of the cow leg
that has little or no bone. I also have fond memories of the many times
we drove to Badagry and Epe to buy fresh fish.
We had become inseparable; it was obvious we Were made for each other
and one day, he proposed for my hand in marriage. He said he wanted me
to be his wife, his sister, his lover, and mother to him and his
children. He promised never to leave me so long as I didn’t ‘rock the
boat’. I gladly accepted because our love had grown so deep that we
realised we did not want to live our lives without being in each other’s
company. This is still true today.
Alakija family in approaching my parents for my hand in marriage.
Preparations for our wedding day had been rife when we suddenly lost one
of my sisters to the pangs of death. We had to postpone our wedding.
During this waiting period, I delivered our first son in November 1975,
and quickly became pregnant again with our second son. I was such an
ignorant young mother or was it, ignorant young wife! Today, I would
know how to avoid such a quick second pregnancy. We got married on 12th
November 1976, only twelve days before our new baby boy’s arrival!
October 1983. In 2006, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. It
was such a big party that it seemed more like a wedding than an
anniversary. Our children formed the bridal train. I guess this was our
chance to make up for the elaborate wedding we had to miss thirty years
earlier! We danced into the reception with our four children preceding
us. To mark this anniversary, Modupe gave me a beautiful eternity ring I
will continue to cherish for life. Our caterers told us they could not
keep up with the anniversary parties that followed ours, as it seemed to
have served as a reminder for couples to celebrate their relationships.
Yes, a good marriage should be celebrated again and again!
My darling husband, Modu, as I fondly call him, and I are so close that it is as if we are part of one and the same body. Each one of us is incomplete without the other, and we know each other so well; it is as if we knew each other inside and out. When Modu calls me by my name twenty to
thirty times a day with different tones or accents, I can tell what he
thinks and feels each and every time. I know when he is in a good mood
or a bad mood; I know when he is excited or impatient; I know when he
has news for me or a question; all of that just by the way he says my
My husband tells me from time to time that he cannot imagine living with
another woman, and of course, I feel exactly the same way. I cannot
imagine living with another man. Why would 1?
We truly complement each other, as we both believe in diligence and hard
work. We are a true couple, a partnership as it were. Modu always seeks
my opinion first, on any issue, no matter how mundane or important; and
I do not fail to do the same. His guidance and support are invaluable
assets to me. Some
of the advice we have given each other has been excellent and some have
not, but we avoid playing the blame game as much as possible for the
important thing is that, apart from God, we rely on one another for
Of course, every marriage faces challenges, and ours is no exception, but we do our best to resolve our differences.
I never fail to be the first to kiss my husband good morning, even if we
had an argument the evening before. We always look for ways to make up.
Sometimes we simply reconnect by asking each other for help with simple, but personal things. I might ask him to close my zipper or he might ask me to button his collar. That ends it!
a challenge, as I am usually opinionated, but I have learnt to give my
opinion in a non-antagonistic way, lovingly and respectfully. After all,
that is what God wants; He expects that women submit to their husbands.
I respect my husband and he deserves this respect, although I would respect him even if he were the kind of man who did not deserve because I choose to honour God’s commandment. So, yes, looking after my
dear Modu has always come naturally to me. I take care of him out of
love and duty, because God expects no less of me.
socks, which were so delicate they needed to be hand-washed with care.
Modu was the one who taught me how to iron shirts, and he has since
admitted that over the years, I have become better at it than him. We
have since found a professional to do the laundry, and a cook, although I
still enjoy cooking and entertaining from time to time.
and I saw him rolling around on the floor with their children. He had
such a sparkle in his eyes that I knew he would be a wonderful father.
heart, or better still, a heart of gold. I knew that my tiger would
always fulfil his God-given role as head of the family as best he can.
It is these qualities that have made my love for him grow ever more and more deeply over the 38 years wehave been together. I pray that God will give us the grace to enjoy our relationship for many more years to come.