In some parts of the world, Africa in particular, Nigerian movies reign supreme, and the actors are semi-gods. With their repertoire of popular movies, they have undoubtedly mended cracks in the union of some viewers, but then, many of their own marriages have been characterised by heartbreaks, separations and divorces.
They have made their way into the hearts of millions of people, who dream to be like them. But either at home or abroad, there is one thing none of their fans will pray for —failed marriages and heartbreaks.
This development seems to be more rampant among the movie stars. While some of them have remained eligible spinsters/bachelors, those that managed to walk down the aisle barely sustain the momentum. The list of movie stars with failed marriages is endless, and with the recent decision of actress Laide Bakare to walk out of her marriage to Mr. Okunfulire, the last has not been heard.
Laide Bakare, after about three years of denying that there are cracks in her matrimonial home, has eventually walked out of her marriage. In the early hours of 3 May, she officially announced through her publicist, Folorunsho Hamsat, that her marriage has hit the rocks.
The official statement from her publicist reads thus: “We would like to announce to the general public on behalf of Nollywood star actress, Laide Bakare, that she has officially opted out of her relationship with Mr. Okunfulire, her former husband.
“While it lasted, the actress showed the utmost level of maturity, in spite of the ‘glaring injustice’ from her former husband. Laide has endured the marriage with Mr. Okunfulire for whom she displayed total affection. But things fell apart when she discovered that she was indeed married to a man with a legally married wife and two children not a single man she thought he was as told her by Mr. Okunfulire when the relationship started.
“But, being a celebrity who has become a model to young persons in the society, coupled with the need to exercise decorum, she has kept fate with the marriage until lately when she could no longer continue and then called it quits. Her former union with Mr. Okunfulire produced a beautiful child, Similoluwa who is nicknamed Chelsea.”
The Yoruba actress also announced that she has moved on by settling down with another man, Mr. Tunde Oriowo. She claimed that her relationship with the latter began late last year, a development that has been criticised.
Barely a week after this announcement, Mr. Okunfulire, who is based abroad, opened a can of worms in an interview with a soft-sell magazine. He claimed that Laide is still his wife, though there have been cracks in their marriage because “she sleeps around.” Okunfulire added that he only learnt of his wife’s statement on the purported breakup on social media.
Laide Bakare’s sordid tale is just one of the numerous heartbreaks and marriage break-up scandals in the movie industry.
Many female entertainers in Nigeria are victims of this. It is either they have a broken marriage or don’t even have one at all. Some of them have blamed it on the society. They claimed that most Nigerian men have low self esteem, and cannot differentiate between their woman’s real character and make-belief. They argued further that an average Nigerian man will not be comfortable with his wife, fiancée or girlfriend, as the case may be, being smooched by another man in a movie.
They also blamed the media. The media, according to actress Benita Nzeribe, has broken many celebrity relationships with their sensational gossips. “No mother would read such scandalous stories and still allow her son to marry such lady. The media is not helping matters. The most painful aspect of it is that most of the things they write about us are not true.”
But Asiwaju Benson Akindeju, the producer of television dramas –Family Ties, Face-2-Face and Nowhere To Be Found, opined that the female entertainers, actresses in particular, should work more on their personality, rather than blame the society or media for their inability to get married.
Akindeju said the problem is more complex than what most people can imagine. “I think the problem starts with their inability to manage stardom. They could be humble at the initial stage of their career, but the moment fame comes, they tend to lose everything, forgetting that no matter the situation, an African man would always want to command respect from his wife.”
He added that most of them are so arrogant that they can’t even listen to simple corrections on set. “I have had cause to walk some of them off my set for insubordination. Most of them cannot manage stardom and it is a big problem. They always forget that nothing lasts for ever. If you are the best actress today, someone must surely take the baton from you tomorrow. So whatever you manage to achieve within your active reign is what you will live to remember. No matter her fame or achievements, a woman without a husband cannot be regarded as a successful person.”
Having played roles where they teach viewers many lessons about marriage and relationships, one would simply imagine that these actresses have one of the best homes or relationships, but the reverse is obviously the case.
The list of Nollywood actresses facing marital challenges seems to be endless. While some have tasted broken marriages, others have continued over the years to be eligible spinsters, and it has become an issue of growing concern. Many of the marriages break up on grounds of infidelity and battery.
Chika Ike, one of the most beautiful Nigerian actresses, got married to Tony Eberiri in 2006, but a few years later, the union hit the rocks following allegations ranging from infidelity to assault. The actress, who filed for divorce, said in an interview: “I have a lot of friends who would have left their marriages but because of the African society, their in-laws, what people will say or other factors, they stay. We’ve heard a lot of deaths caused by bad marriages and before the death, there would have been signs, things would have been happening leading up to that. I think it has to do with age and many other things like compatibility and not being true to yourself in the marriage. Everybody has a limit. There are some things in marriage that you might not be able to stand. Some people’s limit might not be my limit. My limit might be somebody’s starting point.”
One of the most shocking was that of Fathia and Saheed Balogun. The much celebrated union hit the rocks over multiple allegations of infidelity, and efforts by influential personalities in the country to settle their differences fell on deaf ears.
Actress Eucharia Anunobi, who is now a pastor, called it quits with Charles Ekwu, the father of her son, Joshua, a few years after they got married. Eucharia cited constant battery by Charles as the reason she pulled out of the union. But it was actually Charles that first walked out of the relationship. He actually abandoned the actress and her son.
At the tender age of 15, Shan George got married and after bearing two kids, she walked out of the marriage at 21, alleging that her husband couldn’t send her to school but rather turned her into a punching bag. After she graduated from the University of Lagos at the age of 29, she has tried to get married on two occasions but all to no avail.
Clarion Chukwurah is no doubt one of the most talented actresses in Nigeria. She had been married twice; first to the brother of the late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola and later to the Oduneyes, but at the moment, she is a single mother.
Popular actress, Ayo Adesanya moved out of her matrimonial home over alleged battery by her hubby, Goriola Hassan, who later blamed Ayo’s unfaithfulness for his actions. The hitherto rosy relationship hit the rocks amid controversy.
Frequent crisis, irreconcilable differences and incompatibility wrecked the four-year old marriage of actress Foluke Daramola to ex-hubby, Mr. Adebowale, though she is now married to Kayode Salako.
Ibinabo Fibresima, the National President of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria, AGN, is among female entertainers with failed marriages. The Okrika, Rivers State-born actress has experienced two failed marriages that produced two children.
Actress Monalisa Chinda accused her ex-husband, Dejo Richards, of battery and she moved out of her matrimonial home. The union was blessed with a daughter. The list of the industry’s personalities with failed marriages include Bimbo Oshin, Doris Simeon, Kate Henshaw, Moji Olaiya, Fred Aseroma, Emem Isong and Peace Anyiam Osigwe to mention a few.
Sultry actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is one of the few lucky actresses that have enjoyed a good marital life. In an interview, she identified the inability of her colleagues to “draw the lines between their profession and family” as the reason behind many failed marriages.
According to Omotola, an average African man will not compromise the level of respect he gets from his spouse, and as a result, the woman, irrespective of her status or class, must give due respect and time to her family.
The multiple award-winning actress cited that for instance, “when you see me outside, I’m Omo Sexy, the movie star. But at home, I’m the humble and obedient wife and mother. The moment you fail to realise this, there is likely to be a problem in your relationship.”