Tuesday, February 23, 2010

23 year-old Nigerian Singer Weds 62 year-old American Grandmother

YOU might have heard or read about men and women who marry across age, culture and distance but this particular story may sound a bit intriguing. Mrs. Amelia Felix Adimike, as she happily introduced herself to me, is a 62 year-old Columbian-American widow, who came all the way from the US to marry her new heartthrob, Mr. Victor Somkenechukwu Adimike, a.k.a SK Mode, a 23 year-old upcoming Nigerian musician. She was married to an American Air Force officer for 39 years and that is exactly the same number of years with which she is older than Victor.
Her first child is 40 and her youngest is 33. Throughout this interview, she never for once called her new love by his name. It was always: ‘My husband.’ For a match made on the internet and quickly formalized in an Ondo, Ondo State registry, you may scream, ‘Yahoo Yahoo,’ but think what you may, talking with the young man and his wife might change your perception of the concept of love and marriage. Just read their story and find out.

Tell us, how did this start?
I became a widow on July 3, 2007. I was married to a United States Air Force man. I never thought I would remarry, it wasn’t my intention but after a year, I started to feel very lonely in a big house without my husband. A friend of mine, Caroline, kept telling me: “Amelia, go online, list your profile you might be lucky to get somebody through the internet. She got a husband from Haiti through the internet. I had my misgivings about the internet because I’m a Christian, I had never been an outgoing person. Within two days of getting online, I had a storm of men that wanted to meet me. I didn’t know what to do with so many people.

Did you limit your search to a particular geographical area?
No. I just said that I did not want to deal with any scammer and anybody that was under 56 years old, because I thought the age bracket that would suit me would be somebody that is closer to my age. But all the men that got in touch with me were in their 20s.

How many matchmaking sites did you register on?
US Search, Yahoo and eHarmony. My husband found me through US Search.

Why didn’t you try Facebook? That’s one of the most popular sites in the world at the moment?
I never heard of it.

How many people came through US Search?
From US Search, there were seven men that tried to get in touch with me. Three of them had children and I screened everyone of them by asking them questions. Some of them didn’t answer the questions so I totally eliminated them. The only one that answered all the questions was him (pointing at her husband).

What were some of the questions on your questionnaire?
I was looking for a man that is caring, a man who has a sense of humour, a man who is not lazy; I didn’t want a man who would be a couch-potato in my house while I work for him. I wanted a man that is hard working, that has talent, that has ambition. I was looking for a man close to what my first husband was. But then Caroline said to me: “Amelia, you can’t expect to find a man who is exactly the way your first husband was because when God made your husband, he broke the mould. So you better look for a man that fits other criteria that your previous husband didn’t have.” So, I built up my questionnaire based on some of the things that my previous husband was and some of the things that he didn’t have. I also wanted somebody who didn’t have some of the abilities that my first husband had which I had, I wanted someone that is musical, loves to dance and loves the theatre, because those were the things that I liked and he (pointing at her husband) was the one that fit the bill. He was the only one that did not try to take advantage of me. One of the questions I asked him was: “If I came home from work and I was tired, would you demand that I cook you a dinner right away or would you demand that I pay your needs before I take care of my needs. And he was the only one that gave the answer…(Victor interjects here smiling, what answer did I give) that he would massage me (both laugh heartily), treat me to a dinner and allow me to rest before taking care of his demands.

Has he been doing that?
Yes and more. Another question that I asked him was if he would take me to the theatre. I told him that I was looking for somebody that would be my companion whenever I wanted to go to any place; he wouldn’t be ashamed of going with a woman of my age. I did not know his age at that time because we spoke about so many things and we found out that we had so many things in common. One of the things we have in common is his birthday which was the first thing I asked him because I wanted to find somebody that was astrologically compatible with me.

Do you believe in astrology?
Yeah, I believe in astrology because I was astrologically compatible with my first husband and our marriage lasted 39 years. I happen to be a Leo, Leo women have a very powerful character. They need to have a man that is sensitive, caring, not over-powerful so that they can be happy. My husband is a Virgo which is astrologically compatible with Leo. We are opposites and opposites attract. He happens to be born in the year of the tiger in Chinese astrology and I was born in the year of the boar, Chinese astrology. We are opposites in Chinese astrology. People that are too close in character are always fighting each other; people that are opposites in character have better communication and we have very good communication. Whenever he has a problem, I tell him: “Discuss it with me.” Because how am I going to know that he has a problem except he tells me? I don’t read the mind. So, we have made an agreement that whenever we had a concern, we would discuss it and so far we never had a bad argument. We know what to talk about, we know what to say to each other, we know what to do to settle ourselves and we got married. We talked to each other only for six months. The first time we started talking was on June 26, 2008. From that day, he interested me so much that I used to run straight from work to the computer and he was already waiting for me. And he would say something like, “Welcome home my wife” (laughs out loud). He started calling me his wife even before we met and I would tell him, but ‘I’m not your wife, I’m just your friend.’ We talked for a long time and he was aware of my age all along because it was on my profile. His wasn’t on his profile and I never knew that he was a recording artiste. I did not know who he was before we decided that we wanted to look at each other on the web. Each one of us got a webcam and we saw each other. The first time that I saw him, I started to cry. I cried because when I saw how young he was, I had second thoughts because I never believed that the person I had been talking with all this while could be that young. But I felt an attraction for him that I could not understand and I said: ‘Why do I feel so attracted to this man.’ That was when I knew that I had to meet him in person so I could confirm if the same attraction I had for him online was the same with what I had for him in person. For eight days, we didn’t talk to each other because I told him that I had a difficulty dealing with the difference in our ages –because I have children that were older than him.

How many children do you have?
I have four children and they are all older than him. My oldest daughter is 40 but she looks like she is still 20. She is a divorcee with one child. The second child is a son. He is an artiste in New York and he is also a nurse. He clocked 38 on August 26, he has three children. The third child is another son, he is also an artiste. He has two children and would be 36 in December. My youngest child is a daughter. She is a nurse and she is 33 years old. She would be 34 on September 16, the same day that he (pointing at Victor) has his birthday. She is also married and has a stepdaughter. I have six grandchildren.

Did you do this with their consent?
No, but they had knowledge of it but only one of them, my youngest child agreed with my decision. She is the one that has been communicating with us, she is the only one that seems pathetic to our cause.

Were your children aware of your intention to remarry?
Yes, but my eldest daughter gave me a hell of a time when she found out that I was coming to Nigeria in September. I had made plans to meet him in September, 2009 and I didn’t tell my children anything because I know they would not support me. So, I bought a ticket for Delta Airlines, I had everything planned to just tell them I was going on vacation because all my life I have always travelled alone. But there was a show that Oprah Winfrey had where she was depicting Nigeria as a country of scammers and my children became apprehensive. It was a show of how a young woman was ripped off by somebody and she came all the way from the US to Lagos and the person never showed up at the airport to claim her. My children were afraid that the same thing would happen to me. And I think that’s the reason why the American embassy is always reluctant to issue visas to Americans that were marrying Nigerians.

Please, tell us more about the problems you faced with your children?
When my oldest son also found out about it, he showed up in front of my house and between him and my oldest daughter, they plotted to lock me in my bedroom to stop me from picking a flight that would take me to Nigeria. They had me sequestered in my own home and I gave them such a hard time that I almost had a stroke. He (pointing at Victor) was worried because he was expecting me. So, I tried to let him know that I would not be coming because I did not want him to come all the way from Ondo State to Lagos to pick me and not find me at the airport. So, my daughters agreed to communicate with him. They had an argument online, they exchanged words and my daughter called him all sorts of names, she even called him a terrorist-claiming that he wanted to kidnap me. My daughter was so upset that she called the police and tried to get the police to arrest me so I wouldn’t come to Nigeria. But the police told her that she did not have any proof that Victor was a terrorist. So, they couldn’t do anything about it. When I was able to communicate with him I told him that I had gotten Bell’s Palsy because of all the problems and I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t even type very well and my daughter tried to blame him for all the problems I was having, while in reality, she was the one causing all the problem. She got hold of my personal email ID and password, got into my box and emailed all my intimate conversations with him to all my other children. So, all of them were aware of what was happening between me and him. My daughter tried to book me on a flight to Columbia instead because I’m originally from Columbia and she said that if I ever wanted to meet anybody I didn’t know, that it would be in Columbia. I had to sneak to talk to him because my oldest daughter took charge of all my things. She made my life miserable and even threatened to put me in a nursing home. She even took me to an attorney and tried to get him to sign over all my assets to her so that she could control them and I said over my dead body. Behind her back, I rebooked my flight for November 22, 2008 with Delta Airlines. I arrived Nigeria on November 23 and he was there at the airport waiting for me. We drove the same day to Ondo State in the evening because the car broke down on the way and we had to wait for somebody to come and fix it up before we could continue our journey. When we got to Ondo State, the reservation he had made for me had expired and we had to find another hotel. We made love the very first night that we met and we got married two days later at the registry in Akure South Local Government Area. I returned to the States on the 29th.

Are you happy with your decision?
I am, even though we have spent practically eight months trying to get a visa appointment at the embassy, I am happy.

What happened when you went back to the States?
I went straight to my lawyer the following Monday and submitted all the paper work to him. He told me it was going to be a bit difficult because of the 39-year difference in our ages but that it was possible. He told me all the documents we needed to make a successful visa application and I got them.

What’s your lawyer’s name?
His name is Robert Sheldon. This was the first time he would be taking on a case from Nigeria. He told me that he had heard that dealing with Nigerian spouses was not an easy task. He asked me if I was sure this was what I wanted and I told him I was. I am a teacher and I can tell from the way a person writes what type of personality the person has. A teacher always knows the personality of all her students because of the way they write and express themselves. I knew the kind of personality he has. The very first day I heard his voice on the phone, I asked him, ‘Do you sing?’ And he said, ‘How do you know that?’ And I told him that I see that from his voice. I sing too and I could tell if a person could sing or not. I also deal with astrology. I have a very sharp sixth sense. When I am in front of a thief or a bad person, I get a bad vibe, when I’m in front of a person who is honest, I get a good vibe (at this point I asked her: ‘What kind of vibe are you getting now?’ When she replied that she was very comfortable with me, we continued).

How did you learn these vibes?
I had a very sensitive grandmother who always told me, ‘If you are in the middle of making a decision and your left hand gets hot, don’t sign! If your right hand gets hot go ahead and sign’ and I have always followed my intuitions. That’s why I signed that marriage certificate. I am not going to tell you that our love was instantaneous because that’s impossible, but our love grew through the conversations that we’ve had over time. I realized I loved him before I even came to Nigeria, but I wanted to confirm it, that’s why I came to Nigeria. I don’t believe in everything people say about Nigeria, I believe in finding out things for myself, I didn’t even find out everything about him myself. It was my daughter-in-law that went into his website and called me to tell me that he’s a singer. It has been an ongoing process that we have had. I wasn’t back in Nigeria before now because my lawyer kept asking me to wait for the visa appointment before coming.

When did you apply for his visa?
It was in the first week of December 2008, after I went back. I decided to go through a lawyer because I figured that a lawyer would know exactly what I would need. My lawyer told me I needed $85,000 in order to get him here. I asked him why? And he said it was because I wanted to bring in somebody from Nigeria and Nigeria had more stringent rules than other places. I had to have that kind of money in the bank and I felt that was horrible because I knew another woman that had claimed her husband from Nigeria and she never needed that much. According to my lawyer, I was supposed to be in the visa interview room with him, but they refused. They told me he was going to be in there alone and that my lawyer didn’t know Nigeria. The first date was August 20 and they wouldn’t let me in into Nigeria on July 29, 2009. I think he should take over from here now.

(Here, the focus of the interview shifts to her husband) Let us start from the beginning, tell us your story.
I am from Oru West LGA in Imo State but I live in Ondo State with my family. I have three sisters and I am the only boy. My parents have been living there before I was born and I have lived all my life in Ondo State.

Where are your parents now?
They are in Ondo State. My dad is a pharmacist and my mum owns a boutique.

What are your educational qualifications?
I had my secondary education at St. Thomas Aquinas College, Ondo State. After that, I went on a training for video directing and editing. I can shoot a good video and I am a musician. I own a record label called Modebeats Entertainment. I am popular in Ondo and the neighbouring Yoruba towns. I do hip-hop and R n B. I released my album immediately I finished secondary school in 2008. I released it in June before I met my wife. The album even got me a contract in New York, someone is waiting for me in New York now to do some collabos with me.

You didn’t get to the university?
No, I was helping to train my sisters through my music but I intend going to a more professional school of art very soon. One of my sisters have graduated from the university now and we are both helping to train my other sisters.

How many matchmaking websites are you on?
I was on Singlesnet, US Search, MySpace and Facebook.

Amelia says her objective for getting online was to find a husband, what was yours?
It wasn’t about marriage at first. I was just looking for someone that could help me to promote my music outside the country but I met my wife and fell in love with her. She included in her profile that she needed an artistic person as a husband.

How did you find her?
I was designing my website and surfing through the net when I saw her profile. I never though it would be possible for me to meet her because of the enormous age difference but something kept pushing me towards her. Some Nigerian guys were also on to her at that time; some scammers were on to her by then, but I saved her from them (Amelia laughs heartily). I gave her some questions to ask, I asked her if their number shows when they call her and she said no. they didn’t give her their numbers but they kept calling her, claiming they were in the States.

What really attracted you to her?
The way we chatted was very interesting and we were always laughing. She usually said things about me which nobody knew. I was intrigued with the fact that she could tell so much about me even without seeing me.

Didn’t you consider that your parents and society might be opposed to the relationship?
My parents don’t have a right over me. I had to work for myself to get to where I am today. My CD cost me close to N1 million and I funded it myself. I became a man myself, my parents cannot stop me from making my choice because I have my rights. In the first place, they never even supported my music and I have succeeded so far with it. Now they are fully behind me.
(Amelia interjects) They told me that I was the best thing to ever happen to him because he was on the way getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. He even had people that were after him. But I have saved him from them and he is very happy now.
(Victor continues) I didn’t need to marry in order to get a visa. I already have an invitation from a musician in New York who wants to collaborate with me in my music and I believe that her invitation letter and the fact that I can sustain myself would have got me a visa. My passport has been ready since and I have been saving for a trip to the States. My wife has been very worried about me because she really wants me to be with her. Ever since she left we exchanged calls daily. There are phone bills to prove this and I really care about her. People at the embassy really acted funny because they really think we are not honest but we love each other very much. We have a second visa appointment this month and I believe this would be the final because since she cannot stay permanently here, I need to go with her to be with her.

Don’t you think this marriage would affect your relationship with your family in future permanently with the level of opposition you have so far received from them?
I am their mother and I know them better than they think they know themselves. I know they love me and they are more concerned about what the media says. They are afraid that I might give away all their inheritance to him but their father was a very smart man. He left a trust before he died for each of them. He also said that should anything happen to him, everything he had should go to my kids. He left a Will. The Will left everything to me and they will only get it when I die. He gave them their own inheritance while he was still alive. He gave each of them enough money to buy their own homes.

What do you think about the fact that you are marrying outside your culture and somebody that is young enough to be your grandson?
I understand the implications. I know he would need to continue his family name in the future and I am already 62 years old. I had my 62nd birthday here in Nigeria and we celebrated it together at the Soundcity Urban Music Blast. I am okay with the facts on ground.

So, what do you think about Nigerians?
I think Nigerians are very friendly people. Nobody has tried to scam me here except the police (laughs). They have always stopped us to collect money whenever they saw us together. There are still good Nigerians.

Now that you are probably not going to have children together, what is your plan?
I realize that because of my age, I cannot give him physical children so we are going to adopt Nigerian children.

What do you think about your husband?
He is very caring and romantic. When I came, I was sick because I ate something and I was vomiting and he was there for me throughout. I have conditioned myself not to eat anything after six o’clock and I forgot that when it is six o’clock here, it is actually 12 midnight, so I got very sick and he took good care of me.

What is the sweetest thing that he has ever told you?
One of the major things that made me to come was that he told me that he would take care of me till I was old. Not even my own kids take care of me. That mattered much because I told him I am going to live to be 106 years. I am planning to beat one of my grand aunts who lived for 103 years and she was not even as fit as I am. She was fat, she had diabetes. The only good thing about her was that she never got angry with anybody, she would just sit outside her house and greet everybody that passes by. She was very sweet. I am very fit, I exercise and my doctor told me that my cholesterol level was ok. He gave me a clean bill of health before I came.

Are you still working?
I work part-time. I am a substitute teacher in Florida. I take virtually all courses ranging from physical education to music and even working with special children because I have a Masters in Human Service Administration from the Metropolitan College of New York and a degree in Business Administration from there also. I used to work as a realtor before this part time job.

What kind of music do you do?
I sing in a church, I sing in mostly Spanish. I belong to a Latin-American church in Florida and I am the music director.

How many languages do you speak?
I can speak Spanish, English and a bit of French. My dad taught me a bit of French when I was a child and a few words of the Igbo language like Dim.

What is your beauty secret because you really look much younger than 62?
My name is Amelia which means ‘loyal’ and ‘to make better.’ I always try to live by my name. I do not prostitute myself, I was married to one man for 39 years and I never prostituted myself even though he was a military man and was away most of the time. I didn’t miss him as I would have if I didn’t have my four children. I took care of my children and still went to work everyday. I try not to have evil thoughts. People that have evil thoughts age very fast. If you try to maintain a positive attitude, stay away from gossips and keep your marriage together, you would be fine. I only get angry when I have a real reason to do so.

What would you love to change about Amelia?
She is perfect so far but she talks a lot. She can talk from morning till night. (Amelia speaks) I have such an attraction for him that he has to constantly remind me not to touch or kiss him in public.

Have you ever had a plastic surgery?
I have, but not a beauty surgery.. I had a corrective surgery after my last baby. I had a surgery to prevent me from having another baby after my last baby and the doctor left an imperfection on my navel and I didn’t like it. I had a corrective surgery for that.

What are your final words?
I do not believe that immigration or the embassy has the right to decide peoples’ lives based on the difference of age. Because men from all the generations have always married women young enough to be their children and women have the right to do the same.

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