Ace-comedian, Atuyota Akporobomeriere, a.k.a Ali Baba, began his comedy career when comedy was considered an unserious business.with over two decades in the entertainment industry, Ali Baba has become a household name in Nigeria and its environs.
In a recent interview with Vanguard, he shares the story of his eight-year-old marriage to his wife, Mary, his breakthrough and challenges. Their marriage is blessed with six children, plus an adopted daughter.
What marriage has done to me
Marriage has been good. It’s a stablising factor, it helps one to plan properly. It also redefines your responsibility pattern. When you are a young man, you don’t have the kind of responsibility you should have as a man. For instance, if somebody says ‘let’s go partying in Ghana,’ you are ready to storm Ghana without anything holding you back.
But when you get married, you will no longer take that kind of decision on your own. It means that a lot of things you do will now have to be shared with your partner. Marriage also helps you not only to reorganise youself in respect of how you want to live your life, but, more importantly, how you spend the money that you make in your business.
Meeting my wife
I met my wife after I had started my comedy business.
My wife being my fan
Not at all. She was my banker. I met her while I was banking with the now rested Citzens Bank.
Proposing to her
It took a long time. For the kind of person that I am, particularly in my own kind of business and also, in her own kind of profession, she needed closure and a lot more to be offered to her. Given my kind of business, you don’t blame her if she’s skeptical because of the exposure that comes with it. I think sincerity of purpose was one of those reasons that made her to accept my proposal.
How long I have been married
I have been married for eight years. But we have been together for over 16 years.
Courtship before marriage
Yes, courtship with a purpose, indicating that this is where I am going to, and it would be nice if you would go with me. Unlike when you say, ‘this is where I am’, and your partner says, ‘okay, I am thinking about it’. You will be compelled to convince the person that you are actually going in that direction.
Secrets of the success story of my marriage
My wife has been the secret of our success story in marriage and God. She is the glue that keeps holding us together. She holds the home front, she also manages me. I am not the easiest person to live with, considering the fact that I am an artiste and always on the move. She’s somebody who believes in firm planning. She likes to do everything according to plan. I am the kind of person that works on the fly and I think on the fly as well. But she finally began to make me to fall in line. She’s a stabilising factor in my life.
Having admirers in marriage
You will continue to have admirers even after marriage. It’s natural that everybody gets attracted to what is good. And so, for anybody who becomes a celebrity, you would see people who would want to associate with you, not because of your real person, but because of the popularity and cloud of celebrity that surrounds you. It’s a mix of all of that and you decide on how to handle the situation.
Love at first sight
It was a case of getting to know the kind of person she was, and knowing that she was a family oriented person. She’s also a very professional person, and it took a cousin of hers to introduce us to each other.
Your parents opposing the union
Not at all. My dad’s main concern is whether she’s somebody that ‘you are comfortable with, somebody who can support your dreams and make you grow as you would want to grow. If she’s, then we will support you’.
Pitfalls in marriage
When respect is eroded and when the causes of happiness are missing in marriage. If your spouse is somebody who likes to be pampered and you do not have the means of pampering her or don’t have the time to pamper her, it begins to get at her. So, in every relationship, once your partner begins to want something that is supposed to make him or her happy, it systematically leads to break up of that relationship. But beyond this, issues of infidelity, jealousy, incompatibility and inreconcilable differences could also lead to break up of marriages. You need to know the kind of person you are going to spend the rest of your life with.
What I don’t like about her
There are a lot of things I don’t like about her just as there are lots of things I like about her. Sometimes, she pushes me too hard. She’s like telling me ‘you can do it, give it a trial’. Sometimes, I resist the pressure she mounts on me. But later, I discovered that after I have done it, it actually works out well. She sometimes feels I am not where I am supposed to be yet. And the pressure is not about her, rather it’s about where she feels you are supposed to be, and you are not. That’s positive. But there are some people who can’t take that.
We hang out a lot. She’s always a busy woman, but as much time as we have, we hang out. She dances very well, but she’s not the partying type.
A lot of things attracted me to her. Apart from being a professional, she’s a stabilising factor in my life. She has great sense of humour, she cooks well and she’s a very pretty woman. She understands the thespian in me, having read Theatre Arts as her first degree. Above all, she normally sees where my dreams are going.
Advice for young couples
Getting to understand themselves. For a lot of young artistes, it’s not knowing who you really want to settle down with because fame has crept in. You find it easy to settle down with somebody who wants fame to set in. But when you now become popular, you do not know who really loves you for who you are, or because of the fame. What I’m saying is that, as a celebrity, it pays if you get married before you achieve fame. This is because, as soon as you become famous, a lot of distractions and camouflaging will come into play.
Break up of celebrity marriages
I don’t have issues with that. To me, your happiness in marriage is key to every thing. That is not to say, for every flimsy excuse that you have, you walk out of your marriage. But if the person you finally got married to, turns out to be somebody totally different from somebody who you thought he was, or totally different from who you expected the person to be, you are in such a situation where the person is key to your happiness, you prefer to be away from home in order to find happiness than to come back home and break down.