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A search... 32 years long

Posted by By Temitope Ariyo on 2005/06/07 | Views: 234 |

A search... 32 years long


Retired soldier seeks reunion with his wife and two children he last saw when they visited him from Markurdi

Retired soldier seeks reunion with his wife and two children he last saw when they visited him from Markurdi

THIRTY -FIVE years after, Sule Makinde popularly called Baba Gunbe, still nurses the scars of the civil war, not on his body, as one may think, but in his heart.

He saw action on several sectors of the war but today, hardly ever remembers his wounds, yet certain memories from those years have kept him a man yearning for what he had then, but which circumstances seem to have taken away.

Makinde retired as a member of the 3rd Marine Commando with the Army Number 153757.

At a stage during the war, he continued, they were deployed to Gunmale, a community in Makurdi, Benue State to safeguard the lives of the inhabitants of the land.

Behind the war front lines, ladies swarmed round returning soldiers. It was easy to fall in love and many soldiers, Makinde said, entered into relationships. He himself settled for a relationship he thought would be for a life time.

Despite the fact of being in a strange land, life still had to continue, thus he got married to one of the ladies of Idoma in order to abstain from, as he put it, "patronising prostitutes" as some of his colleagues did.

Eventually, the war ended. But having been married to an Idoma woman, they had to stay together in Benue State for sometime.

Within his limited resources, he tried to be a good husband. Although he confessed that "things were hard even in those good old days".

Having stayed in Benue State for eight years, the old soldier opted to follow his superior officer, a Captain who was travelling back to Lagos in his private car. Unfortunately, the available space in the car could not accommodate this family of four - father, mother and two children.

Therefore, the retired soldier had to come to Lagos with his first child leaving his wife, Grace Oriagbol Makinde, behind with their little kid. After staying for a brief period, Grace travelled back to her town, leaving the elder child with old soldier.

In Lagos, Makinde still tried to be good to the wife. Life in the barracks was horrendous for soldiers like him who wanted to be good husbands. He said he was not a heavy drinker like many of his mates then. He tried to dot on his wife knowning that she was from a different ethnic stock from his. The orientation, the customs and mores were different. There was also no time to study each other before marriage.

Actually, with the war over, soldiers were not into cheap money such as they had at the war front. So providing for all the needs of Grace and the children became an uphill task, Makinde confessed. "Yet, I did my best as a good husband and a disciplined soldier", he said.

"As time went on, I became worried for not seeing my wife and my daughter. In the course of this, a Captain in the Army asked after my wife and I told him that she was still at Makurdi," he said.

Fortunately for him, the wife of that Captain who is an indigene of Benue State was travelling down there, so, she was told to bring Mrs. Makinde and her daughter on her return journey to Lagos.

But Makinde did not realise that his wife had other plans. She had apparently crossed the Rubicon.

What was to be the beginning of another honeymoon for Makinde was truncated when his wife packed her bag and baggage, having stayed just for nine days to go back to Makurdi after many years of living apart from her husband.

One would wonder what on earth could have made a wife to depart from her husband whom she had not seen for some many years? Definitely, something was in fishing.

Till today, Makinde denies that he did not know what turned their love sour. And he did not suspect his wife of having other plans while they stayed together in the barracks for the crucial nine days, until long after she went back.

However, Grace went back to Makurdi with a pregnancy, which she claimed was for her husband, old soldier. And Mr. Makinde also attested to it that the pregnancy was from him, but till now, he has not seen the boy, neither did he know his name. The child was delivered in Grace's town, Makurdi.

Meanwhile, their second child, who was formerly Miss Fatima Agunbe Makinde, migrated to Kaduna State in search of greener pasture. In the process, she got married to an Hausa man, but the father was not informed when all these took place.

Having waited for the space of three years without seeing nor hearing from his wife and his children, Makinde could no longer hold himself. He sought for money from every angle, and travelled to Benue State.

On getting there, he received the greatest shock of his life. On his arrival at the Ahansi compound of Igunmala in Benue State, he was dumb-founded by the amazing look and question of the people toward him. "So, you are still alive, was their question," said Makinde.

Unknown to him that his wife in a bid to get married to another man from her community, she cooked up lies surrounding him and inductrinated their kids and members of the Igunmale community that her former husband was dead. Thus, she got married to another man.

Makinde who was still trying to put himself together by explaining to the neighbours that he was not dead, received another big blow for asking after his children.

He cried aloud: "At least if you are married to another man, please let me see my children." But the woman insisted that until Makinde performed the burial rites of her late parents, that she would not take him to the place where the children were neither would she tell them that their father was alive.

The poor man, who had used all he had, both at home and abroad to travel to Benue State, pleaded with his wife for five days, but all to no avail.

Mr. Makinde who hails from Ikire, Osun State is now turning to all Nigerians who know the whereabouts of his daughter, who was formerly Miss Fatima Agunde Makinde but presently married to an Hausa man in Kaduna State, to tell her that her father is still alive.

He told The Guardian that he lives at No. 37, Olanibi Street, Papa Ajao, Mushin, Lagos and his mobile phone number is 08053367947.

According to him, "if I can see Fatima, then she will tell me where her brother is."

He said that his Moslem faith would not alow him to abandone the search for his children. "Allah knows I love my children from the bottom of my heart. Grace, in her heart of hearts knows that when the going was good, I did my best to be a good and carring husband", he said.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.