Tuesday, 14 July 2020

ERSTWHILE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, PROF. KINGSLEY MOGHALU EXPLAINS HOW HE TOASTED HIS WIFE VIA PHONE CALL

Prof Kingsley Moghalu and his wife, Mayanne Moghalu
An erstwhile presidential candidate in the 2015 presidential election, Professor Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, and his wife, Mrs. Maryanne Onyinyechi Moghalu, have been married for 25 years. A chance meeting via telephone chat orchestrated by a mutual friend led to their becoming friends and later he proposed via telephone even though they were yet to meet each other.  Like every couple, they have had their share of marital challenges but nothing strong enough to put a strain on their marriage. In this interview with, they reminisced on how they met, how Mrs. Moghalu with a very promising career had to sacrifice that to be a full-time mum to take care of their four children. Relax and enjoy it.

A brief introduction of you both
Husband: We got married on December 21, 1994, at the Ikoyi Registry in Lagos, followed by a church blessing of our marriage. We did our traditional wedding a week later on December 28 in Mbosi, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, which is my wife’s hometown. I am from Nnewi North LGA in Anambra State. At the time, we got married I was a Political Affairs Officer in the United Nations Secretariat Headquarters in New York, and she was a Banking Officer at Commercial Trust Bank in Lagos. God has blessed us with four lovely children, three boys and one girl. Since we got married, we have lived in various countries such as the USA, Croatia, Tanzania/Rwanda, Switzerland, and of course Nigeria, when I returned home as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2009. We both come from civil service families back in those days. My late father, Isaac Moghalu, was one of Nigeria’s first career Foreign Service officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after independence in 1960 and later on a Permanent Secretary at home. Her father, Dr. Christopher Ezike, was one of the first personalities from the Southeast region to qualify as a medical doctor and was a Permanent Secretary in the civil service before his retirement and going into private medical practice.

Can you recall your first encounter with your husband?
Wife: Oh yes! It was a most unusual encounter because we first met on the telephone. I was in the office in Lagos and was passing the office of a friend and colleague of mine who was on the phone. She stopped me and said: “I am on the phone with a friend and old schoolmate who is on the line from New York, and our boss is calling me. Come and say hello to him while I answer our boss”. So, I said: “Please I don’t want to talk to any boring person o” and then took the phone my friend handed to me. When we said hello to each other the first thing he said: “I am not boring”! We had a pleasant casual chat and also discovered that we were family friends because our parents were good friends. I couldn’t have known that such a “chance” encounter would lead to marriage!

How did you know he/she was “the one”?
Wife: A few days later he called again on the phone and asked for me. I thought he was looking for my friend and colleague, but he said no, that he wanted to speak with me. We talked about different things including mine and my friend’s interest to possibly go and take master’s degrees abroad. Within a week he sent us application forms by express mail. My friend said: “See o. I have been asking Kingsley to send me these forms and he hasn’t gotten around to doing it, now he has spoken with you just once or twice and the forms have arrived very quickly!” Anyway, we just started talking to each other frequently on the phone and discovered we just enjoyed speaking with each other. We shared photos of each other. It was at this time I started having the feeling that this was someone I felt very specially about and he was probably the one I had been waiting for. He later proposed over the phone, and we had not even met physically! I cried when he did that. We later met up for a holiday in London where my sisters live, and at the end of the vacation we got engaged!

Husband: When I spoke to her there was something about her voice that made me feel very comfortable. Like she said, after we had chatted about everything under the sun in several phone conversations and I just realized I was always very happy when I spoke with her, I knew this was my wife. Imagine proposing over the phone even when I hadn’t met her in person! That was quite a leap of faith. Yet with a few other girls I had met before then I noticed it was always difficult for me to commit myself to them.

What were some of the qualities that you saw in each other that convinced you to agree to marry when there were several other prospective bachelors and spinsters around then?
Husband: It is difficult to say really. I just knew that this was my wife. But I liked the fact that she was a calm and peaceful person. She is friendly but also likes her own company. She is feminine but also has inner strength, and she loves children and family life. She is not a materialistic person. I liked those qualities.

Wife: My husband is a very caring and loving person. He is God-fearing, very kind, and a family man. I admire his strong sense of values. He is a focused, strategic and hardworking man with the ability to “see’’ the future. He was always ahead of his time, and events eventually catch up with his vision. He has a very powerful worldview. I like the fact that he is also an intellectual person who enjoys reading and writing.

What were the teething problems when you first got married and how did you overcome?
Wife: There were no very serious problems at all, just the normal issues that arise from the fact that marriage is a union of two different individuals and personalities. We have had occasional issues over which we disagreed, but at the end of the day, the fact that we love each other deeply, our faith in God and the Christian doctrines of marriage, and the fact that we are both committed to our union, has enabled us to overcome. We are each other’s best friends, and that helps a lot!

Did you envisage marrying a woman with her kind of profession?
Husband: We both studied law, in my case as my first degree before going into other disciplines. But she started a career in banking instead of practicing law. Her professional background was certainly within the range of my normal expectations of who I would marry. However, because I was a UN diplomat and knew I would be moving around the world on duty postings, I had to discuss with her that this might mean giving up her professional career. As I told her, I did not want a problem in the marriage later when she realized that the nature of my career would affect her own. She accepted this and had no problem with making that sacrifice. This decision on her part has been one of the key factors in the success of our marriage. Some women are so attached to their careers that it would have created serious tensions in the situation we found ourselves.

Did you envisage marrying a diplomat?
Wife: Honestly speaking, not really. I was living and working in Lagos. I did not expect to end up living in several countries. But it has been fun and a great learning experience in different cultures.

Did you agree on the number of kids you will have from the outset?
Wife: I wanted six. He wanted four. We had four. After three boys, we prayed for a girl, and once she came as the fourth child, the matter was closed!

How were you able to raise your kids with your career paths?
Wife: I supported him in his career, having given up mine, and he was very good at carrying me along on everything he was doing. In reality it has been “our” career. This allowed me to give full-time attention to raising our kids in the first decade of our marriage. No regrets. I later became involved in philanthropy and non-profit work as the Executive Director of the Isaac Moghalu Foundation which my husband founded in 2005, and through which we help less privileged young people and women in rural areas with access to education and skills.

How involved as a diplomat were you in raising your kids?
Husband: I tried very hard to balance work and family life because I think that after God, the family is my bedrock. I have always had workaholic tendencies and I traveled a lot on the job, so I had to make a conscious effort because I love my kids very much. I think I succeeded in being there for my children, but if my wife had not been a full-time mother in the early years of our kids it would have been very difficult to achieve the right balance.

You have been married for 25 years, how has it been, what’s the secret that kept you together?
Wife: Love, commitment, faith in God, and mutual forgiveness. We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a dinner with family and friends in Washington DC where our family is partly based.

Were you ever apart for a long time and how were you able to manage your marriage while staying away from each other because that has led to a lot of broken marriages?
Husband: We’ve never been apart for very long since we married. My late father advised me to avoid that. Even when I was posted from New York to a non-family duty station in Vukovar, Croatia in the mid-90s, I pleaded with the late Kofi Annan, my boss in the UN then, to allow me bring my family with me and keep them in a town named Osijek, just outside the mission area and live with them and come to work from there. Annan understood and agreed, and actually told me he had done the same thing when as a young officer he was posted to a UN peacekeeping mission in the Middle East. He kept his family in Jerusalem very close to him.

There are a lot of broken marriages today and domestic violence is on the increase, what is your advice to married couples?
Wife: Marriage requires commitment. The two of you must be the most important people to each other. Try to accommodate each other, and keep renewing your love and passion! (SUN)

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