It was a day of honour for the family of Prof Enosakhare Samuel Akpata and Prof (Mrs) Victoria Akpata on Saturday, December 29, 2018 as the lovers celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a dinner at the Metropolitan Club, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Prof Enosakhare Akpata who is a retired professor of dentistry got married to his heartthrob, Victoria in December 1968. She is a retired professor of Microbiology of the University of Lagos.
The climax of the dinner event attended by the crème de la crème of the academia, business and corporate world was the unveiling of the latest book written by Professor Samuel Akpata titled ‘Sand, Sun and Surprises’, a memoir which focuses on his experiences while living and working in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) for 23 years.
Some of the dignitaries at the occasion include Chief Arthur Mbanefo, former Nigerian Representative at the United Nations who chaired the occasion, Professor (Chief) Osato Giwa-Osagie, Retired Distinguished Professor, University of Lagos, Professor T.A. Junaid, friend and colleague of Professor Akpata at Kuwait University, Right Reverend George Bako, Retired Bishop of Lokoja (Anglican Church of Nigeria), Engr. Solomon Uwaifo, chief launcher of the book, Air Vice Marshall Joe Ehigie (Rtd), Professor Gabriel Osuide, pioneer Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Edugie Abebe and many others.
Prof Sam Akpata worked at the University of Lagos for 21 years before he moved over to King Saud University in Saudi Arabia where he taught for 13 years and then to Kuwait University for 10 years, all as professor of restorative dentistry. When he returned to Nigeria, he also worked at the Lagos State University for about 3 years.
Speaking on what motivated him to write the book, he said, “after working in the Middle East for twenty-three years, I returned to my country, Nigeria in 2011. In conversations with friends at home and abroad, a topic that invariably came up was about my experiences in the Middle East. Some of them have found it astonishing that I was able to survive in Arab countries for that length of time, considering the quaint stories that they had heard about the region. Others have been curious and wanted tips on life in the Middle East, in case they emigrate, or needed to advise others who had similar plans. Hence, I decided to write this memoir”.
The book according to the erudite professor will appeal to people who intend to go and work in the Middle East, those who want to visit the region on holidays and people in the Middle East who wish to know what expatriates think of them.
Commenting on the factors that contributed to the success of his marriage, Prof Akpata said, “the key thing in our own case is openness. We discuss issues even with the children. When the children were with us, we had our meals together at least twice a day. We sat at table together during breakfast and dinner. If there is any issue between us as a couple, we allow each person to talk about it. We have never gone to a third party to settle any matter. We feel that there is no issue we cannot iron out between us”.
Asked to advise younger women about the most important things about marriage, Prof (Mrs) Akpata said, “the important thing is to understand that marriage is a team work. You are not related, you are coming from different homes, if there are ways you did things in your own home when you get to the man’s house, you must recognise that he is the head of the family. As a sportsperson at school, I am a team player, you don’t just do everything for yourself in a team, you must consider the entire team. Otherwise, your team won’t win. In marriage, you must realise that you are not alone, so everything can’t be according to your own wish. If you are sensible, you will know that your husband and the people around him are important. You don’t just say, he is my husband, so father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends, go to blazes. No, it doesn’t work that way. If you want to be happy, you must look at the environment holistically and behave properly. If you are new in a place, you study the new environment and try and fit in. In our culture and most cultures in the world, it is the responsibility of the wife to make her husband and people around him like her. You must put yourself in a position to be liked. You try and study the man, you research him. There is no equality in this business, the family must be based on love and respect.
The Akpatas are blessed with three sons and six grandchildren.