Tuesday 15 October 2013

TV personality Iniobong Monday: I cried for many nights when my wife-to-be, Emem Ndem left me when we were dating

Theirs is one of the finest love stories of the modern era. A story of genuine love, friendship, hurts, tears, break-ups, and make-ups spanning about 8years. Now, they have decided to take it to another level by walking down the aisle. Popular On-Air-Personality, Iniobong Monday will be tying the knot with his longtime sweetheart Emem Ndem on the 20th of October, 2013 at Church on the Hill International, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The beautiful couple sat down with IFREKE NSEOWO (Record Holding Nigeria’s Youngest Editor) to share their interesting love story. Read on….

How did you meet her?
Iniobong Monday: It was on a Tuesday, 4th of January, 2005. I went to school to seek admission in to the University of Uyo. I went to my potential department, Communication Arts  and I saw 5 ladies standing. I was quite young. I think I was 19 at that time. I saw one dark, tall, slim and gorgeous lady standing. I’ve never been that confident all my life, walking up to five ladies and excusing them to speak to one of them. It was some guts for a 19/20 year old. I spoke with her, we got talking, got to know each other. Like they say, the rest is history.

Did she give you tough time?
Iniobong Monday: Hers was a bit of unusual kind of friendship. I spoke with her on the 4th of January, 2005 and the next time we spoke again was April 2006. We were always on hello, bye, hi level.  The babe no give me face at all. I had a classmate who used to like her a lot, and the guy used to tell me he likes her, and I couldn’t say anything. At a time I was sure I wanted to make friends with her but you got into school and you are 19/20, you say I came to school to study and not for boyfriend/girlfriend thing. But on the other end, you wanted a company, someone you could relate with and she quite fitted the bill. But nothing ever warranted us talking to each other again and it was very difficult. In April 2006, circumstance brought us close. We were standing five of us, and I can still remember the five of us. It was me, a classmate Idy Bassey, another classmate Iniodu Idiong, one of her classmates Emaeyak and her. I can’t recall what we were discussing and one after the other they were just leaving and it ended up being me and her. We began talking. We were friends for a very long time before the relationship actually started. I’m sure she can confirm this, no one asked anyone out.  Something like ‘would you be my girlfriend?’ or ‘would you be my boyfriend?’. I remember in February 2007 we were inside the TV studio, I told her I love you. That was the first time I ever told a woman I love you and I meant it. It came from my heart. She was sitting somewhere and I just whispered into her ear and said I love you. She pretended as if she didn’t hear. She replied ‘what did you say’?. I told her again ‘I love you’ and she smiled and the next thing that came out of my mouth was ‘but with the love of the Lord’.  (laughs). It was very funny. She turned and told me ‘’I love you too but with the love of the Lord’. But deep inside us we knew the Lord had nothing to do with this. It flowed naturally. We’ve shared so much together apart from intimacy especially friendship. We could talk for 5 hours and you begin to imagine what we are talking about. School will finish by 5pm and we’ll leave by 9pm. It was such camaraderie between us but we were not dating, there was no relationship, it was just pure friendship, mutual respect and affection for each other which we didn’t quite take to the next level. People we asking and she will give them this phrase “we are just friends” and people will ask “what kind of friendship is this”. Something led to something and we started dating.
What was on your mind when he walked up to speak to you that first day?
Emem Ndem: At that time I just finished my diploma. So like he said, I was with four of my friends. I noticed he was staring at me. In my mind I said who is this Jambite that is staring at me? He walked up to me and said excuse me. And the reaction on the faces of my friends was like ‘who is this Jambite, you no dey fear face?’.  I didn’t want to be rude to him so I gave him a few minutes to talk and he sounded very interesting. At least the first thing I noticed in him was that he could speak English very well. I can’t recall what happened after that but it was always hello, hi, wassup.
After apart from his good command of English, what drew you close to him?
No, there wasn’t any attraction. He approached me so there must have been something that made him come for me but for me the initial reaction was why does he want to talk to me? But after that first time, I noticed he was a nice person. We got to talk again after 1 year and four months and that is when the likeness began. 

What made you gun for her?
Iniobong Monday: I notice something about her. She is stylish. Among the 5 of them that were standing that first day I approached her, she was the only one who wasn’t too much. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but at that time it wasn’t about beauty because she was in the midst of other girls who were very beautiful. It was just a natural attraction, I don’t know. That is why I call it fairy-tale. Sometimes I try to use the word ‘destiny’. I just saw her and I liked her. At 19/20 you are not sure of the kind of woman you want. You just want a girlfriend. I came from a different side of the divide. You stay at your father’s house, you go to church all the time, you don’t touch a bottle of beer, if my father sees you talk with a woman you are going to get 30 lashes on your back, and all of that. So I came from that kind of home, so seeing a young woman as stylish as she is, that natural attraction just came and thought we could be friends. Sincerely, I wasn’t thinking of a relationship. I like making friends with women, I get to learn a lot from them. I try to choose my friends, I don’t let my friends choose me. Nothing relationship was lingering in my head, I just had in mind to be friends with her and she happens to be very first person I spoke with in the University of Uyo.
He says he likes making friends with women. Don’t you get jealous when he does that?
Emem Ndem: It’s not about jealousy. I think we have an understanding. For anybody to feel threatened in a relationship it means the other party is giving you reasons to. I understand the kind of person he is. He likes to talk to women and it is okay by me. He doesn’t do it in a way that it affects me. It won’t go out of the boundary to do something to offend me.
As a TV personality, he has many female admirers. So how does that make you feel?
When issues like that come up, I don’t have business with the fans, I have business with him. He is a straightforward man. He is very disciplined so I know he won’t misbehave. It’s funny but the way women flock around media personalities is shocking. They come in their droves but I don’t have a problem because I know he knows when to draw the line.
Since you were in the same department in school, did your relationship affect your studies?
Iniobong Monday: It affected our studies bigtime. I have a lot of confessions to make and it’s gonna offend a lot of people. There were times I felt that hanging around her was much more profitable than attending a boring class (laughs). I’m sure if my lecturers hear this they will skin me alive. You don’t want to attend a boring class, you just want to be with someone who will make you laugh, smile, play. It is like when you see a 5year old child playing with another 5 year old, you see the freedom, the excitement, they are really letting loose of themselves, they are not scary. That is the kind of friendship I share with her. Lecturers saw it, colleagues saw it and they thought this guy doesn’t know what he is doing. They used to say it in Ibibio, ‘iwuod imaha nwed’ and we used to laugh about it. I am a very expressive person, I’m daring, adventurous. When I love I try to show it, I don’t pretend about it. I don’t mind losing my dignity because of love. I can kneel down anywhere for my woman. I can kneel down at the stadium or Eagles Square for my woman and I mean it. I can kiss and hug my wife any where. A lot of people thought we were trying to play to the gallery or put it in people’s eyes or we were over-doing it but for me there was never a time I said let me do it for the next man to see. I didn’t care about anybody. It was all about being happy and as long as my wife doesn’t have an issue with it then nobody should have an issue with it because it is a relationship between two people. Relationship is not something you seek people’s opinion, it is about compromise. Our lecturers didn’t like the fact that we were flaunting our relationship in front of people. If she was in the class and I’m done with mine, I will come and hang around her class and wait for her, and her colleagues will be like ‘dis kain guy, him no get wetin to do?’. 

Did any of the lecturers fail you because your relationship?
Emem Ndem: I didn’t actually see him for a while because I travelled. So on returning, I had a class at 49/50. You know when you want to have a class, the lecturer is moving, someone is carrying his books and every other person is following him. when I saw him, I jumped on him with full excitement. It was supposed to be a one-hour class but he likes to teach for 2-3 hours. I had to stand throughout the class because the lecturer said so many mean things to me, that I was sent to school to come and study and not to come and go after a man, why I should stand in front of him and hug a man, that I’m morally debased. I painfully stood for about 3hours, and in subsequent classes he always had reasons for me not to enter his class and at the end of the day he failed me. I think I should go and invite him for this wedding (laughs).
You guys broke up twice in the course of the relationship. What caused it?
Emem Ndem:  It was a misunderstanding but the whole break thing helped us to understand ourselves better. It helped us to stick together. What I found very interesting about the break ups people will always say ‘yes, that your relationship was so this, so that’, so I noticed that people just had idiok esit about the relationship. The second time was that we needed a little space, to give us time to think. I went away, I got to know other people but I realized that I can’t find that friendship in other people. It wasn’t about relationship now, it was about somebody who is ready to stick with you through thick and thin. I saw people who came and go, people who were not dedicated, people who were not disciplined. So I said I have someone who is better than these people. The break-up was so good for the relationship.
Iniobong Monday:  sometimes in life, you need to take stocks. Sometimes in life you need to go away and get your head down. I’m very passionate about the things I love. The break-ups weren’t palatable. it was painful, hurting. It was very horrific. I couldn’t find that friend. I used to go the movies when we broke-up, and I would say I wish I went to the movies with her, how can I be doing this without her. Sometimes things happen and you just want someone around you, that person who just makes you feel good. It was really painful but we didn’t quite understand each other very well. As far as I’m concerned you could take 100years and you won’t still understand someone very well. There were few grey areas that we didn’t quite get it right which necessitated the break-ups. We had to stay away from each other to find out the few truths about each other. I took stocks when she left. I was left, yes, she left, did I do well? should I have done better? I asked myself all these questions and it was really necessary. It was really painful. You know how you feel when a dagger is stabbed through your heart. It felt like that because I knew one thing, I will never love another like I love her. I knew I would never love with such an innocent and free mind. I didn’t understand what break-up means.
Did you cry when she left?
Iniobong Monday: So much tears.
Emem Ndem (interrupts): Why are you saying this, do you know this is going public?
Iniobong Monday: It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to express myself let people understand. People say men don’t cry and I say you’re talking rubbish. John Terry lost a penalty kick in the Champions League final in 2008 against Manchester United  and he cried like a baby. I can remember the 2005 FA Cup final, Manchester United played Arsenal to total submission but Arsenal won on penalties. Ferdinand cried like a baby and till today he is still to win the FA Cup. That loss pained him so much. Sometimes when you cherish things, when you love things and they slip away from your hands, at that point sometimes you can’t help. Your emotions overwhelm you. It wasn’t like I cried for one day it was all over, I cried for nights. It was like losing someone very dear to you to maybe the cold hands of death and you are left with the submission that you can’t get this person back, sometimes you can’t do anything but cry. That is what I went through. I cried because I thought I lost the most priceless possession I ever had. Not N10billion will make me excited. If you give me N10billion and give me my wife I will take her. N10billion cannot buy you happiness. 10b will buy you comfort, happiness is something that comes from the inner, it comes from fulfillment. When we broke-up those exciting moments were lacking and it was painful but like they say the rest is history. We are back together and we are back for life.
What makes you keep taking her back each time she goes away?
Love. It was about the genuineness of the love. I just felt ok she left and she has come back, I’m not trying to apportion blames but sometimes things happen we don’t care to put ourselves in people’s shoes. Maybe at a time she had a perspective of something which you couldn’t say she was wrong because you see things differently from her. Everyone sees things differently. So I said to myself, this woman was just seeing things differently, it is my duty to make her understand this is who this thing should be. It is about conviction, it is about persuasion. Everyone has got an opinion. So at that time it was just a clash of opinion. It was simple for me to say we could get these things right, forget about the wrongs and hurts of the past. Forget about the pains of the past. She was almost the air that I breadth. Even when we were away from each other, I did everything I did with her in my mind. I’m not joking. PMs and DPs (on Blackberry messenger) were written and changed with her on my mind. I’m sure she is hearing this for the first time. The cloths I had to buy if she didn’t see me wearing it that means it wasn’t complete. She had to see me wearing them. I had to do everything I could to get her back. I had to make her see that this guy is a responsible man. It wasn’t fun being without her. I have an unflinching and unwavering love for my woman. I’m not saying it because she is here. I met women, probably more beautiful than her but I still loved her. There is always a woman more beautiful than your wife but there is something your wife would offer you that other women can’t. That is what she does for me. She makes me thick. She puts me in the mood. It was that friendship that I missed. Not many men like being seen with one woman around them all the time. I’m different because I like to be seen with my woman all day long. Someone asked me the other day why have you chosen to marry her, I told him that I’m 50% and my wife is the 50% that I’m not. People think you are an MC, you are on TV, you are very intelligent but I don’t see myself as being that intelligent. But I’ve got a brain around me that there is nothing in the face of the earth that I don’t know that my wife won’t know. If she doesn’t know I would know it. if don’t know it she will know it. it was just like partnership. If there is a way we could change the word ‘wedding’ to ‘partnership’ I will do it. wedding is very overrated but for me it is partnership. I missed that partnership.
When she left you and you were hurt, your parents knew who caused the hurt. What was their reaction when she came back?
The initial reaction was like ‘she is back again oo’ and you can’t fault them. It wasn’t just my parents, it was the family. I felt really hurt. Maybe sometimes I have my mother or any of my siblings eavesdrop on me crying. They have caught me several times in so much pain. I wasn’t happy. They saw it. so when she came back, they said she is back again. But I made them to understand that this thing was meant to be. It was just a reaction of people who cared about me. They don’t want to see you get hurt again or go through pains again. But it was just the initial reaction but I think they are fine now.
He proposed. I guess you least expected it
Emem Ndem:  I have known him for so many years. I knew he was thinking of something like that but I didn’t see it coming.  He went to South Africa and he got the ring and for like 3 weeks I didn’t know. That was very strange because he doesn’t do something and I’m not aware. He is more expressive but I’m more laidback. He knows how I feel. What was more beautiful for me was the manner of the proposal. Like he says I’m very stylish, by meeting him I’ve come to pour a lot of that into him. So he did the proposal in a very stylish way and I was swept off my feet. Ever since he knew me, I’ve never shown that kind of emotion. I couldn’t get over myself throughout the night. I was so excited. I said hi to any waiter that was passing. It wasn’t about the engagement but about him.
Why is there no traditional marriage?
Emem Ndem: I didn’t grow up here. I grew up in the north. So the whole traditional things is not really okay for me. It will be difficult for me to do all those traditional things like tying wrapper and dancing. Apart from that, we just wanted something quiet. We have been planning the wedding for about 6months now but nobody knew. We like our stuffs to be different. Someone saw our wedding card and was like ‘I’m I in London? What kind of yankee level is this?’. We opted for a very quiet TM. Life is about your family and friends. We had our very close friends around during the very quiet TM. I looked at the traditional marriage thing and I realized that it is just fanfare, the basic things are done inside. So we didn’t see any need for a TM. The traditional marriage was done in my father’s parlour.
Iniobong Monday: So, I’m unofficially married (laughs). I’m not a big fan of traditional marriage. Sometimes I think it is fetish. I’m a very religious person and it doesn’t suit well with me. I accept that you have to give things to the family,  because the traditional marriage is the giving of items to the family of the bride, fulfilling all righteousness. That is the traditional marriage. But I don’t like the fanfare of it. I don’t like the tying of wrapper thing. I just feel I’m going to look out of place. I know a lot of people like it but we are different. We wanted to put our energies in the white wedding. I’m hoping to live in London in the later part of my life, I appreciate the English culture a lot. It is about our happiness. We are no big fans of TM. As she said, we did the traditional thing in her dad’s parlour. We invited our friends and close family members.
How many kids do you hope to have?
Iniobong Monday: Just 3. That has been done and dusted. My mother gave birth to 12 children and that is almost a rugby team. She’s got the energy and she got married at the age of 19. I told her you started quite early, we are not starting that early so we cant do a rugby or football team now. I want 3 children and I have reasons and people say I’m trying to cut cost. I’m not trying to cut cost. I want 3 children because I want to look at them very well. I want my children to enjoy what I didn’t enjoy, I want them to be better than me. My parents gave me a fantastic foundation. A child who went to nursery school is different from a child who went to primary school. My mum was saying four but me and my wife have settled for 3.
Where are you spending your honeymoon?
Iniobong Monday: We are not quite sure yet. But you’ll be the first to know when we have chosen the location.

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