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Campo: The Princess with great difference

By Okechukwu Onuegbu
Interviews Campo: The Princess with great difference
MAY 19, 2022 LISTEN

The world is a scene with different characters and characterizations. Some are born great. Some became great through dints of hardwork and exposure. Few fits in both categories or more. Her Excellency, Princess Mrs Nwanneka (renowned as Nwanne) Campo (nee Eze) is one of such great people.

Born in a Royal home at Ukehe, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State and married to a Spainard Engineer, the showbiz guru and multi-talented award winning ambassador of peace is one woman you would love to meet. She recently marked a golden jubilee anniversary of her sojourn on earth. OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU stumbled on the lady with Midas touch and entered a discourse with her. Read on!

Who is Princess Campo?

Her Excellency Chief Princess Mrs Nwanne Campo was born 50 years ago to a Royal couple from Ukehe in Enugu State and Onitsha in Anambra State respectively. I was a miracle child, the 1st surviving child after my mum lost the previous 6 pregnancies. I was given so many names but till my secondary school days I was officially known as Peace Nwanneka Eze but I changed the order of my names before I went into the University. I prefer to have my Igbo name as my first name instead of the English name because I love it and all it stands for.. (NWANNEKAEGO which means having loved ones is supreme to money). I also changed my name because I wished with all my heart to marry an European and wanted my Igbo name to tell the world where I came from, Peace Campo wouldn't have been easily traced to Africa or Nigeria. I was very young but knew exactly what I wanted for myself. I am grateful to God that he granted me my husband (a Spanish Civil Engineer) who is the biggest and best gift from God, through him came my most precious treasures, our daughters.

Though I work as an English auxiliary teacher in Santander Spain, I am a showbiz guru, fashion designer, awardwinning event planner, MC, Modelcoach, motivational speaker, actress, event Hall designer but above all my strongest vocation is being a humanitarian so in whatever of my careers, I always care about the wellbeing and happiness of others. While the Actors guild of Nigeria existed in Spain, I was it's Director of welfare. I think that is my major calling, caring for others and bringing happiness and hope to everyone. I am a very passionate about sharing love, peace and happiness to all. I respect everyone irrespective of their age, sex, race or status but I have zero tolerance for rude/mannerless people.

May we know how you celebrated the 50 years anniversary?

Though I always dreamt of throwing a big party to celebrate my 50th birthday but due to the corona virus pandemic, I spent the day just with my husband and our 2 daughters. I decorated the sitting room with balloons, cooked and had a great time with my family. I had calls all day from family, friends and fans from all over the world. I received gifts sent to me from India, Nigeria, Netherlands, Germany, Australia and Spain. I am very grateful to everyone that showed me love throughS birthday wishes, prayers, calls or sent gifts to me. May God bless, reward and honour each of them abundantly.

Are there anything special your birth brought into the family?

Yes, my birthday brought joy into my parents home and also opened doors for the arrival of my siblings. I was told that I was the 1st surviving baby of my parents, my mum was said to have lost 6 babies/pregnancies before my birth. Though I was born very sickly, God saved me and blessed my parents with more children, we are all alive till date to God's glory.

Are there any special expectations your family had on you? Have you been able to realise or fail them?

Definitely my family had great expectations which I didn't fulfil and which I paid a huge price for. Most families in Nigeria 30 years ago used to choose the life partners of their children but I chose to make that important decision by myself. My family had great suitors to choose from but my heart chose who wasn't even considered elegible but time has proved that he is the one chosen by God for me.

How was growing up like to you?

I have been extremely lucky to have been born in a very wealthy and popular family, I had a very comfortable life, never did house chores till I got married and relocated to Spain. As a child, I learnt to be a humanitarian thanks to my parents that taught my sibbings and I to help the less privileged and never look down on them. It was normal to have the needy seek for our assistance and we were taught to respect everyone irrespective of their financial or social status. We had a large number of workers from different tribes of Nigeria. My family is not tribalistic. I am grateful to my mum for teaching us that. I discovered my passion for organising and anchoring events at a tender age. I would efficiently plan every detail of my sibbings birthday parties, train my dance group made up of my friends and neighbours. Many of those children parties I organised as from when I was 12/13 years old were televised. My friends still talk about them whenever we go down the memory lane together. I got the gift of being a good orator from my mum who was and is still a popular TV personality, being MC of those events and being congratulated for the successful events gave me much joy and made me desire to organise bigger events. Truly it wasn't common for a teenager to do the things I was doing then. I flew around the country with my mum attending the Better life for women events, I assisted my mum at their stands in various trade fairs across the Country where she displayed and sold her art works. We lived in the Exclusive Government Reserved Area in Enugu (G. R. A), I had opportunities to meet very important people including my Japanese "parents" and later my husband who was our neighbour.

I was privileged to have attended Queen's school in Enugu which was the best school that existed, I later gained admission to Nnamdi Azikiwe University where I studied Sociology.

Princess Campo is a Nigerian and Spaniard. Can you let us into your marital journey to Europe?

I met a Spanish Civil Engineer who was our neighbour at Savage Crescent Street in G. R. A, Enugu. We clashed at first sight because I was told he was a racist, that he fired all the workers in the house where he moved in. That house was my second home as my Japanese parents lived there close to my biological parents. The mansion had a permanent domestic staff while the "Masters" usually Asians/Europeans rented the premises on short-term. So I grew up seeing same workers in that premises. The activist in the naive me sprung into action on sighting him cutting the grass in his compound, I got down from the taxi I took on my way home from Campus and told him what I thought of his actions, he attacked me back calling me a small girl and asked me to run off to my parents which got me very angry. Well, he made up his mind on that spot to marry me but I never knew that and wouldn't have believed that would happen as I thought I hated him. On getting home from that incident, my mum excitedly asked me to organise a welcome party for the new neighbour, you can't imagine how bad I felt but I had to obey my Mum. At the party, he came to where I was dancing and put his arms around my waist to take me to sit down as he said I was dancing too much, there was a huge silence as such body contacts/displays were not encouraged except for married couples. I tried to get his hands off my waist but he held me tight and I ended up sitting down to avoid more unnecessary attention. I thought he didn't know our culture but to my dismay he whispered that he knows exactly what he did which got me furious. Well, my mum invited him over days after and found out why he fired the previous domestic staff. All the big bags of food that he stacked in the house including a full goat, fishes and beverages disappeared from his house within a very short time and he only came home for dinner, it was incredible as the staff all denied seeing anyone remove those stuff from the main house so he fired all of them. My mum felt bad about what the workers did and invited him to have dinner with my family every night. He accepted and I was uncomfortable with seeing him around but I really can't tell the exact moment I fell in love with him. I was never allowed to go out without permission or past 6pm, I guess that made him to visit us every evening after work, he brought pastries daily. Being with my family varios hours daily made him study me, notice certain things. He would always comfort me when I was too harshly and wrongly scolded. Gradually I relaxed and started seeing him as an extremely kind and loving person but wondered why he was not married, I kind of became his adviser. I encouraged him to stop smoking and drinking heavily. I fell in love and knew he was the soul mate that I have prayed for since my parents' traumatic divorce when I was 13.

He was highly welcomed to my family home till he solicited for my hand in marriage. Hell broke loose and I was forced to take the drastic and one of the most difficult decisions of my life. After he brought to our home at Enugu the first palm wine e.t.c to seek for my hand in marriage, he was misled in the next step and he carried the things in the list given to him by my family to Onitsha.. My late grand Uncle Chief Barrister Ogudebe told him that such wasn't valid as my paternal family should be the receptors of those stuff and the rightful ones to give their consent.. That was an impossible mission as thunders struck at the mere mention of my father's name. Meanwhile so many preferred suitors then started visiting my home, I didn't know that they were initially waiting for me to finish my studies but as they saw that the foreigner was about to cart away with their desired treasure, they was pressure. My heartthrob and I went to seek to get married in the church but Rev Nwizu of All Saints Church in G. R. A, Enugu who was a close family friend told us that our parents were the ones to present and solicit for the holy matrimony for us. I must mention that my husband's family were also against our marriage. Seeing that we both had unmovable obstacles to go about it the normal way, we decided to get married secretly. We applied for the special licence which was needed for international marriage, when we got it, we chose a date and got married at Enugu Local government townhall on the 15th of September 1992. I was 20 years old. It was tough as I always dreamt of my wedding to be fabulous as befitting the Princess that I am. Well, I don't even have a picture of that ceremony as we didn't invite people not even a photographer so that they will not disclose our secret plan. I leave it to your imagination to guess what happened when my family found out, I was already pregnant by the time they got to know of my marriage. My husband was often set up, accused of being a spy or whatever which got him arrested almost every Friday and released afterwards . We had to leave Nigeria with our little baby due to the various attempts of some important people to frustrate my husband and also because of the political crisis and unrest of 1993. It took 3 years plus before we returned to Nigeria again on the request of my family, I was pregnant with our second daughter. Misfortune struck again as we lost the container with all the goods and properties will sent down to Nigeria to try once again to have the life we dreamt of. Unfortunately, it was same old story, my husband and I decided to pack up relocate with our 2 daughters (Princesses Julia and Consuelo) in 1999 as things were getting worse in Nigeria. I actually live a life of no regrets but surely would have loved it if my family and my husband's family accepted our decision to get married.

How were you able to cope marrying to a Spaniard?

Meeting his family and learning to survive without the luxury I was used to were the toughest part of my early days in Europe. Like many Europeans, they had little or no idea what life is like in Africa, they thought everyone in that continent lacked food, shelter, education and in other words they considered us inferior beings. My late Father - in- law loved me and protected me from other members of the family that disliked my husband and I to the core. A cruel cold welcomed me to Europe. I will never forget that winter day. It was my first trip to Europe. Not knowing Spanish language made matters worse as it makes one seem to be an illiterate. I was blessed to have had my father in law's compassion, Late Don Ignacio Campo Snr became my protector and teacher/mentor to the discomfort of some of the Campo family members that loved mocking me. I was determined to adapt to my new environment so I learnt the language with the help of a dictionary while my father- in - law taught me how to cook, clean up with the gadgets I never saw in Nigeria then. I was never allowed to cook, clean dishes or do house chores before I got married, we had lots of people that handled all those tasks while my siblings and I were expected to study and have good results. Being without my husband in a not friendly family house almost choked me up not to mention that living in a small room in their family house made me fill like caged as I was used to very spacious rooms in our mansions in Nigeria. I felt caged because his late stepmother would nag all day, mocking me and insulting her husband for protecting me. I had no where to go for me not to hear her so I spent most time inside my room with my few months old daughter . I had to learn fast and in 6 months I could speak, read and write Spanish on a basic level.

As soon as I felt I can do the shopping, house chores and cooking by myself, my husband rented a flat and we moved in though he was working temporary in other States, he came home every weekend. For me, making our marriage work against all odds is the first biggest achievement for both of us. Secondly haven encouraged and seen our daughters study and graduate against all odds is another huge achievement for me. Why you would ask? Hmmm I fought hard for that as I had to be a stay home mum to give my children all the love, encouragement and assistance that they needed. It hurt me when my elder daughter who did brilliantly in primary 1 in the Italian international school in Lagos, Nigeria was forced to repeat Primary 1 in Spain as the system is not same, kids start Primary School from 6 years. Besides that, non of the certificates from Nigeria was valid here, I was even advised to go back to school to sit for their Primary, Secondary school exams and then get admission into their university. That felt like an insult to me. So I told my husband that I wouldn't want our daughters to have difficulties in working in their country after studying in Africa so I told him that I wish to bring them up in Spain but we agreed that he could travel and work wherever possible. He came visiting once in a year though we later reached to a point where I would visit him in whatever Country he was working as a year was too long to be without him. Well, back to why seeing my daughters through the University was another of my biggest achievements, my husband got struck by cancer and our lives turned upside down in 2013. I had to give up my showbiz career and nurse him, it took like 2 years before he could eat again through the mouth. As he wasn't working, there was no income, I had to source for the money to pay for my children's school fees, accommodation and feeding. My Priest and Caritas ( the Catholic NGO) helped me with some food and cash for 3 years. I sold most of my gold jewelleries and put in my whole salaries in paying for their school fees and other expenses. Today, 9 years after my husband's tough battle with cancer, my elder daughter is a nurse while my younger daughter, who is a Criminologist is currently doing her Masters . Though I am grateful to God for a whole lot of things that I have achieved, our almost 30 years old happy marriage and our daughters success top the list of our achievements.

Considering this, if you're to come to life again, would you still love to be a Nigerian and Spaniard?

Absolutely Yes, but I don't want to marry just any Spanish but Chief Engineer Ignacio Campo. I would blindly marry him in the next life irrespective of his nationality, have our 2 daughters and maybe more children but I would wish for both of us to be born into happy, united families where love and peace reigns so that we can enjoy life with our extended families.

Still on intercontinental marriage; would you advice any of your children to try such? If yes, why? If no, why?

This is a very difficult question because of what is currently going on in the world. As my husband and I came from a broken homes, in his case his mum died when he was 5 years old. He never got along with his stepmother which made him runaway from home as a teenager, worked and paid for his education in France. We both made it a priority to build a solid happy home. Our daughters and other young people nowadays have different priorities, they pursue their career first and think of marriage after haven achieved certain goals. I got married too young but was extremely lucky to have found my soul mate. I personally think that marriage should be based on love, mutual respect, encouragement, tolerance, understanding, patience, and forgiveness. The nationality of the couple comes after all that I stated afore. It is important that both parties study themselves and their cultural backgrounds and must be willing to reach compromises on what to adjust, give up or maintain. Both of the couples must be willing to make the marriage work if not it will end up in divorce which is usually like more traumatic in international marriages as they fight for the custody of the children using all they can to hurt the other. These days we hear of some people kidnapping their own children and running to other countries and in worse cases the children or women are killed by the men rather than grant them divorce. It's so scary, that is why I advise the young to marry who they truly love and to make greater efforts t make the marriage work. An international marriage if well cultivated and watered to flourish is the best as it makes you more open minded.

At 50 years, what can you say is your greatest achievements, why and how were you able to attain it?

Though I have achieved a lot of my goals during my 50 years of journey on earth, having a solid 30 years of very happy marriage against all odds and haven done my best to see my daughters through the University even when life was putting a lot of obstacles for us, are surely the greatest achievements for me.

Well, all Glory goes to God first and foremost. My husband and I desired the marital bliss we have and both of us put in a lot of effort from the beginning to make it work by the special grace of God. As for being able to pay for my daughters University fees when we could barely feed due to my husband's tough battle with cancer, I sold my jewelleries to foot most bills till God sent help through some angels we never imagined. As many family and some friends abandoned us to our fate, our Parish Priest and the Catholic NGO helped us with some food and cash for good 3 years till my husband's health got stable enough for me to leave him at home and go to work. Today our first daughter, Princess Julia is a nurse and Princess Chelo is a Criminologist.

Are there what Mrs Campo considered as turn on and turn off?

I would say I love humble, polite, empathetic, kindhearted, candid, cheerful, optimistic, jovial, down to earth, hardworking and generous people. Fashion wise, flashy/outstanding gorgeous people turn me on. For Turn off: I can't stand liars, narcissists, manipulators, oppressors and arrogant, cruel, greedy, selfish, vengeful, aggressive, lazy and pessimistic people.

You might have won some awards. Kindly let us into some of them!

I have won awards from some Nigerian /african organisations in Spain, Holland and Nigeria such as Naija EU Best Nigerian event planner in Madrid, Spain 2012. Others are medal of honour, best Nigerian MC from Anambra State Association, Malaga, Spain; Woman of Dignity Award from Hephzibah Christian Association in Valencia, Spain ( 21/11/2015). I was coronated as Chief Osodieme of Awka Kingdom by His Royal Majesty Obi Dr Gibson Nwosu, Ezeuzu of Awka Kingdom in Anambra State (30 Dec 2017). I received eminent Peace Ambassador award by International association of World Peace Advocates / United Nations Peace Volunteers on 14/06/2018. In 2013 I was honoured in Netherlands /Holland by the prestigious Voice Achievers with the african Woman in diaspora award.In 2016, I was nominated for the Igbo Women's award in the category of Community activist award alongside the former Mayor of London, Ms Kate Anolue.

What message do you have for young Nigerians and Spaniards (especially on marriages and traveling overseas)?

Love is a beautiful thing, relationships are sweet when both parties are in love. Everyone is unique, those that want to be in relationship with people from other cultures will have to work harder than other couples to understand their partners, their way of reasoning, beliefs, traditions, fears, dreams e.t.c. It is absolutely important to be open minded and have no prejudices. They need to be extra generous in their communications. I would advise Nigerians and Africans in general that wish to relocate to first of all investigate and know the countries that encourage the academical and financial growth of Africans. There are some countries where it is very difficult to work with Nigerian or African diplomas/certificates. Those that wish to travel should also learn some crafts and improve on their skills because a times, one has to survive on that while studying or trying to get a desired job. Thirdly, not all countries speak English so if one wishes to relocate to any of such countries, it is very important for them to learn the language even if it is on basic level. Fourthly, life in most developed countries are expensive, those intending to travel to study or work in those countries should make sure they have enough cash to sustain them before they can start earning some cash there. Fifthly, I think that it is absolutely crucial for travellers to know the culture and norms/laws of their host countries to avoid getting into trouble. Sixthly, when they luckily move to their desired countries, they should do their best to socialize with the natives of the host Countries thereby integrating into society.

Back to your 50th birthday. 50 is a Golden age. What do we expect from Princess Campo in subsequent years (especially from 51, when you will clock 70)?

It is a big blessing to live long and age gracefully, I surely would love to live up to 70 and even much older. I would love to fulfill certain goals that I couldn't achieve during the first half of my journey on earth. I would love to make visible changes and positive impacts in the lives of many more people.

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