Call Charles Oputa aka Charly Boy a weird one and his wife, Diane would frowns and confront you with a question, “Does he seem weird to you?”
But having spent 30 years of her life with the maverick musician cum social crusader, Diane is just the best person to give intimate account.
Her words, “Charles is a family person, he takes care of his family very well. If he has not proven to be a family man, I probably would not have been in Nigeria in the first place. He has been a good husband and father to his children.”
The couple was the cynosure of eyes at Sheraton Hotel and Towers last week as they celebrated 30 unbroken years of their union which has blossomed with three grown up children. The strictly private event which also marked the American born lady's birthday was witnessed only by the media.
She explained in this interview the secrets of her marriage as well as how she effectively plays the role of a wife and mother.
Congratulations, how old are you?
I don't think it's necessary to disclose my age. Really, I am as old as I feel, if you ask me I still feel 26 or 30.
How has it been living in Nigeria with a Nigerian for 30 years?
Sometime I wonder if it is really up to 30 years. Maybe it's because one is just enjoying the ride, I guess. When you are comfortable and you do the things you like to do and you are around people that you enjoy, you wouldn't just realize when that time is going by. But it is going by because I see my children in College graduating with first degrees, definitely something is changing around me. It is a long journey and we have had ups and downs within the 30 years that we have been together. But we are happy together. A lot of couples haven't got that far-we are really privileged.
How are you coping with a weird personality as Charly Boy?
Does he seem weird to you? He really came up with a nice idea and surprised me. I knew he wanted to do something but I didn't know it was going to take the shape it took. My ideal thing would have been to go to a secluded place, maybe a resort to relax. But he likes to be around people and do things in the open. He went out of his way to do this. So I am just going to soak it all in and take it as it comes.
What have you enjoyed most?
Companionship. Like I said, all couples have their ups and downs but we have been able to sort things out by ourselves. Also we communicate a lot. Talking is a key thing in any relationship and we always point this out anytime we are interviewed. Honesty and agreement are also important. We strive to make things good for ourselves and our extended family including our children and parents. We look beyond just ourselves.
What is the hard part of it?
I guess it is just the small things that every couple experiences in a relationship.
It may be disagreement in raising the kids among others. I also have step children to look after. The bottom-line is the resolve by both of us to make the relationship work.
Tell us about your home?
I have seven kids all together out of which three are mine biologically children and the rest are step children. We are all very close. We reprimand those who are not doing well and commend those who are doing well. We try and work with them and they know they have our love as parents. They don't really look at me as their step mum and that is how I always have wanted it to be. They all call me by my first name. I hate it when they use the appellation 'Ma' for me. It hurts me. One of my step children came to Nigeria some years back and when he saw me he was overwhelmed. He never knew that a step mother can have such a positive influence on one's life.
Are there things you would have wanted to do differently, if you have the chance?
With regards to coming to Nigeria, I don't think I would have changed anything. But I think if someone had told me that I would come and live in Nigeria and have kids here, I would have told whoever the person is that it was not possible. The first time I came to Nigeria, I wanted to stay for three months but I ended up staying for nine months. So, it's not about the country but the person who brought me to Nigeria. I don't want to brag but I am grateful to God for my relationship.
What got you hooked to him?
From the beginning, meeting Charles was different because he was a Nigerian. I have never really gone out with a Nigerian. I have a lot of American boyfriends but not a Nigerian. I really wanted to know much about a Nigerian man and his culture and people. That was what really intrigued me.
How has he been coping at the home front?
He takes care of his family very well. If he has not proven to be a family man, I probably would not have been in Nigeria in the first place. He has been a good husband and father to his children.
How have you been on good terms with his other kids?
The children we are talking about are all Americans, and only one is in Nigeria. It is because of the love I have for my husband and his family. At the end of the day, I am looking the long road not the immediate. It is not a selfish thing here. The children have to live together after Charles and I would have gone. They have a common bond in their father and that is why I do what I do?
Advice for young couples
I think they have to first get it right from the start. I think dating is very important. You need to know what you want to get yourself into. For women, it is not because the clock is ticking and for men, it is not about what you have. But you need to know the person you want to spend your life with before you commit yourself. We make mistakes but people have to be careful. One of the things that work for me and my husband is that he is not a typically and culturally Nigerian man, maybe it is because of his exposure.
Why do you think celebrity marriage crash in Nigeria?
Although, celebrity marriages are not different from any other marriage, however, the bottom-line is that both parties have to know what they want from the start. The society and your fans are not leaving in your home with you. If you know your career is first then you should not be married. We see what happened abroad where celebrities marry four or five times and the whole essence of marriage is all messed up. It is difficult but one needs to stay focused.