Musician Gbemiro Tokunbo, popularly known as GT da Guitar man, and his wife, Annie, share their seven-year love story with ARUKAINO UMUKORO.
How did you meet?
GT: I first met her some years ago at a dry cleaning company where she was the new secretary. I had gone there to do my laundry. I gave her my number and asked her to call me. I was attracted to her; that was why I had to give her my number hoping that she would call. But she didn’t call me until after five days when she ‘flashed’ me.
Annie: We first met eight years ago before I gained admission into the university. Then, I worked at a laundry firm as a secretary. He had come that day to dry clean his clothes and I was the person that attended to him.
What qualities attracted you to each other?
GT: What attracted me to my wife the first time I saw her was her beauty, then her simplicity. She was humble enough to want to be a secretary in a dry cleaning company. When I got to know her, I realised she was an amazing person and I fell in love with her character and everything. Her head is swelling as I say this (laughs).
Annie: I was attracted by his realness. He never tried to be what he was not. Also, he is hard working and a charming guy. But before then, I had a huge crush on him as an artiste.
When did you get married?
GT: We got married on April 23, 2016.
Annie: Yes, but we had our introduction in March, same year.
You courted for six years before you eventually got married. How would you describe the journey so far?
GT: It’s been amazing. But it has also had its challenges, there have been ups and downs, but we always surmount them.
Annie: The journey has been a beautiful one, although we have our differences, we always find a way to resolve them. And now that we have a beautiful baby, it is even more wonderful and amazing.
How often do you have disagreements in your home and how do you handle them?
GT: Very often, because we are two different people with different upbringings and views about life. There is to every possibility that we would clash at some point in terms of ideas and how we view life and issues. At the end of the day, what is important is always reaching a middle ground, including the fact that we love each other genuinely and want to make our marriage work. We consider each other’s point of view and settle for the best logical solution. We always settle it. It is normal for people to disagree and be angry at each other for a few minutes.
Annie: First and foremost, I don’t see having disagreement as a bad thing because the best decisions are often a product of a heated debate. Gone are the days when the opinions of women are thrown in the thrash. As a sociologist, I have strong and conservative opinions on certain issues. But, also as an African woman, I know how to express my views without being disrespectful. If it is intense, we give each other space as long as it won’t exceed a day. But then, he apologises first.
Yours is an inter-tribal marriage, how would you describe the experience?
GT: For some very funny reasons, I find myself being friends with people who are not necessarily from my tribe or of my religion. My best friend in secondary school was a Muslim and most of my best friends are Igbo. That said, I didn’t know I would marry an Igbo woman. It wasn’t that I was looking specifically for an Igbo woman. But then, I fell in love with her and couldn’t help but to marry her. Travelling all the way to Anambra State was tedious but it was worth it.
Annie: It has been good so far. Being in love with a Yoruba ‘boy’ got so many people talking. They asked questions like, “Didn’t you see an Igbo man, as beautiful as you are? Do you want to ‘waste’ your beauty on a Yoruba man?” And I was like, “What has beauty got to do with who I waste it on?” This is the person I love; so I don’t play inter-tribal or ethnicity cards. I have wonderful parents and they didn’t see a problem with our relationship, because they believe that we are one Nigeria. They gave me their blessings.
How do you unwind as a couple?
GT: Sometimes, we go to a local bar to eat catfish and pepper soup, or we stay at home to play chess.
Annie: I play chess with my husband or we watch television and Mexican soaps. As a nursing mother, I relax when my baby is asleep.
How would you describe your role as parents?
GT: I believe parents are custodians of their children. We have been given a responsibility to look after and take care of them and breed responsible youths in the society. Being a dad for the first time was one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. I don’t think I can go a day without seeing my daughter’s face. The job of parenting is a tasking one. I would also like to appreciate my wife; she does most of the sleepless nights. The funny part is she wouldn’t bother to wake me up to support her, and she just allows me to sleep. It’s amazing.
Annie: My role as a parent has been a multitasking one. But I couldn’t have asked for anything else; having baby to nurture and cater for. I believe I will be the best parent and role model to her. Although at times, I feel I am not doing enough. It’s not easy, but at the same time, it’s really fun.
Do you think couples should operate a joint account?
GT: It all depends on the couple. I and my wife don’t operate a joint account. But it is something we would love to do. It’s not compulsory. I’m indifferent to it.
Annie: The man’s money should be in the joint account while the woman’s money should be in her individual account (laughs). I’m just kidding. I’m also indifferent to it.
What are the misconceptions people have about marriage?
GT: Let me start with the entertainment industry. They say it would affect your marriage and all that, but for me, when I got married, that was when I even started to get more serious with my career. My wife has been very helpful and supportive. Sometimes, when I feel like not doing certain things, she is the one that ‘gingers’ me. When I write a song she is the first person that listens to it, and she would say, ‘no, I don’t like the way you sang it this way or that way. She points out all those little things before I record them. She sees all those little things. Also, another misconception is that some people feel inter-tribal marriage do not work. My father-in-law and mother-in-law have been amazing. It’s fun all the way. The only thing different is that I get to enjoy more of other people’s culture and their delicious food.
Annie: One of the misconceptions is that people believe inter-tribal marriage cannot work. When I was getting married to my prince charming, some people said all sorts of negative things about Yoruba people and that it won’t work, that it was always best to marry from one’s tribe. But they were wrong. I’m very happy in my marriage. Also, most people believe marriage is a bed of roses, it is not true. One needs to be well-cooked before entering the institution called marriage. Lastly, most people believe marriage can destroy one’s career, which is false. Even though I am yet to start working, I have dreams of being a career woman, and not just a housewife, with my second class upper degree in sociology. I’m waiting for the right time and opportunity.
How do you cope with his female admirers and do you get jealous?
GT: My wife doesn’t get jealous. She trusts me and knows what I can do. Also, she definitely knows the business side of music and she can separate the person from the personality.
How do you handle your husband’s female fans?
Annie: I don’t think there is any cause for alarm. I trust my husband; he is very sincere and truthful to me. That is all that matters. The success of any brand can be measured by the love and appreciation he gets from the consumer. My husband, being a soulful singer, definitely attracts lots of attention and I’m excited about that. I’m not in any way jealous because the brand, GT da Guitar Man, is what we’ve nurtured together. GT da Guitar Man is the business, while the man behind the business is my husband.
Can you share some memorable moments in your marriage?
GT: One of them was the wedding. I had to travel to Anambra State and the whole Igbo ceremony was amazing, from the introduction to the whole traditional rites. Another memorable moment was when we gave birth to our daughter in August last year. It was definitely one of the most memorable, if not the proudest, moment of my life. Every moment from then and now has been most memorable for me, because waking up to see two of them has been a dream come true for me.
Annie: I think my husband has said it all.