Founder Cornerstone Precious Women and Emmanuela Mission, Mrs. Becky Unoarumhi, is leading a voice for the woman and girl-child to break free from societal shackles. In this interview with Mary Ekah, this one time Nollywood actress talks about her past and how she turned over a new leaf with the support of a loving husband
You recently marked the 10th anniversary of the annual Cornerstone Precious Women Convention. How significant was the anniversary for you?
It was a wonderful anniversary and this time we talked about listening to Jesus. The vision of the Cornerstone Precious Women is to build women to be spiritual houses for Jesus Christ, so that we don’t look down on ourselves. We believe in who Jesus says we are. And we believe in Jesus so that our lives are moulded by His words. So Cornerstone Precious Women Convention this year was a wonderful success to me. We had other ministers also but we were extremely honoured to have the Oyo State First Lady, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, in our midst.
You seem to be so passionate about women. What is the driving force behind that aspect of you?
As a woman I have gone through a lot of trials in life and I know that so many women have also gone through same. Some of these trials either mar or make you. So as a woman, I want women to know that they are not second class citizens but precious children of God and for the women to stand sure that Jesus loves them and are not to look down on themselves. So I run an NGO called Emmanuella Mission and that has been a big support. Even though I have also been of blessing to the men, my vision has been for the women because of the life that I had lived. I used to be an actress. Becky Musa was my maiden name and during that time, I lived a very rough and wayward life as an actress. I know that there are so many girls out there sleeping with men for money and thinking that they are nobodies. They feel that they must sleep with men to be somebody – they must sleep with men to get money, jobs and so many other things, so because I have gone through that path and God delivered me from such lifestyle, He now gave me that burden for women to let them know that you don’t have to sleep with a man to be who God says you should be.. So my NGO is for battered women that look down on themselves. The Emmanuella Mission has helped a lot of women to see that that’s not what God says they are. Nobody thought I could get married but God gave me a wonderful husband. My husband proposed to me the day I was raped. It is not usual for a man to propose to a woman she was raped. He said to me ‘Becky you are a very good girl but you don’t know it and that is why you are allowing all these men to use you’. That turned around my life as a woman; that there are still good men out there. If God gives you a man that is yours, he will never abuse you. Since I married my husband for 28 years ago, he has never for once abused me, he has never slapped me and he has never even told me I am a fool. I thought I was a-nobody and that I was worthless but God gave me a man that loves Him and also loves me very much.
How exactly did you meet your husband?
I met my husband when I was 17 in Auchi. He was 19 and he was then a disc jockey (DJ). I was going to get a DJ for my 17th birthday and so a friend of his introduced him to me. So he was my DJ at my 17th birthday and that was how I met him. And the first day I met him, I told my mother and my brothers that I have met my husband. Even though the journey was not that smooth because we broke up a couple of times, any other man I went out with I always told them I had a husband.
What attracted you to your husband?
I like people that are very free and laugh a lot because I laugh a lot too. Peter is a free man and he laughs a lot. He is a very principled person. I like men that are principled and keep to their words. He speaks his heart and he stands for the truth. Even when he hurts you, he will speak the truth. So I knew that something good was going to come out of this man. Sometimes when you meet a man, you meet him in his raw state and you just look down on them. When I met my husband, he had no money but I knew there was a potential in him because he was a serious person, he was not a push over man. He had his principles of life even though he wasn’t a born again then. We were not born again when we met.
At what point did your husband realise you were his God ordained wife?
Like I said, he came to my 17th birthday as my DJ and through that party time, he approached me and after that we started going out. But after a while we broke up because he went to do his A Levels and I never met him again till after. I was working at NTA Ibadan and while also seeking for admission into the university. So one day I went to the University of Ibadan (UI) to pick up my admission letter and then I saw him and that was how we connected back again in UI because he was also doing his programme there. I also got admitted into UI in 1985 and then the relationship started but when we graduated, I travelled to the United States and the relationship broke up again. We reconnected again in 1988 when I came back from the U.S. Our story is a destiny story. It is a story that you know that God actually wanted us to be together because the day that I reconnected to him in April 1988, under the Anthony Bridge in Lagos, I was coming from the Island in a taxi. The taxi man was supposed to take me to Maryland but when he got to Anthony, he just got upset and said I should come down. And I was like, “What did I do?” He screamed that I should just get down from his car and that I should not give him any money. I was scared and so I quickly got down from the taxi. I was just standing there with so many people at the bus stop and suddenly I was wishing that Peter Unoarumhi will see me again and know that I was still a very beautiful girl. And all of a sudden, I heard someone screamed my name from the other side of the bridge and when I realised who it was, I screamed back too. I was so happy! That was how we reconnected again. And for you to know it was God, after that period of our reconnection in 1988, in 1989 I had cancer and it was now the person that was there to take care of me.
So when did he propose to you?
Like I said earlier, he actually proposed to me the day I was raped.
How did that happen?
I was looking for an accommodation but I never got one. And each time I came into town I will go and stay with my sister in Sango-Ota, Ogun State. And the day I said I met him at Anthony again he told me there was a vacant apartment where he lived but I told him I was married and cannot come and stay there with my husband. And he said, so you are married? That’s nice! But I wasn’t married. I just wanted to be sure he was still interested in me. I eventually got an apartment at the compound where he lived then. I would go out with men and come back, he will also go out with his girlfriends and come back to his apartment and it was like we never meant anything to each other. But on this particular day, he told me not to go out with this particular girlfriend of mine but I ignored him and went out with this girl and some other guys. And that was how I was raped. So when I came back the next morning battered and covered in blood, he saw me and wept. This was a man I can tell anything about myself. I don’t pretend to him nor lie to him. If a man sleeps with me, I will tell him. So Peter knew everything about me. I never knew in my wildest dreams that he was ever going to propose to me and so I never hide anything from him. So when I came back that morning, beaten, battered and raped with all the blood on my body, he told me to go and take a shower after I told him the whole story. When I finished taking my shower, I dressed up and came back to my room. He now came to me and said: Becky, I want you to be my wife but you must make a promise to me that today would be the last day that you would ever go out with any other man. And my response to him was: I don’t know how that would happen but I would need your help. And he said to me, I am just like you, even though I have never raped a woman before, so if you promise to stay away from men, you would be my wife. And I promised him I will never go out with any other man again. And since 1988 till date, I have never slept with any other man except Pastor Peter Unoarumhi.
You are also the wife to the senior pastor of the Cornerstone Anointed Church of Christ, so how does it feel to be a pastor’s wife?
Before being a pastor’s wife, I am a Christian. So it is a privilege to be a child of God. I never knew my husband was going to be a pastor. We actually left Nigeria for good to go to America and enjoy our lives, stay there, have children and make money but along the line I had cancer. Before we even travelled out of the country I had cancer, precisely in 1989 and that was when God caught my attention. So when God now healed me of cancer, my husband and I became born again during that cancer episode. When God now healed me of cancer, He opened the door for us to travel to the UK where I was supposed to be getting treatment; it was from there that we went to America for holiday and there my husband and I were called. My husband never actually told me he was going to be a pastor or else I wouldn’t have agreed but God told me Himself. God ministered to me Himself. He appeared to me and told me that He was sending my husband to Nigeria to be a pastor and He wanted me to go with him. Nobody disobeys God. And so I went to my husband and asked him what his vision was and he told me that God has called him to be a pastor. And then I told him that God wanted me to support him. It has not been a hunky dory journey but God has been our support all the way. So I can’t even trade it for something else. I love it. I love the children God has given us. God has strengthened so many lives through what He has been doing here. So it is marvellous in my eyes, the work God is using His word through my husband Pastor Peter Unoarumhi to do here, as his wife, I support him.
What was actual conviction that you both were called by God?
When God told him that he should come back to this country, he didn’t tell me because he knew that ordinarily I would not agree to it but because I had already surrender my life to Christ, God sent his angel to speak to me that He was sending my husband to Nigeria and wanted me to go with him. God specifically said to me that through my husband He was going to build a sanctuary and would turn lives around. When God meets with you, you can’t explain Him. It is by faith. That was how I got my conviction to come back to Nigeria with my husband and I am not regretting it one bit. I can’t exchange being a pastor’s wife for any other job. I love it.
Can you talk a bit about your growing up days? What kind of girl were you?
I was from a Muslim background. My parents were Alhaji and Alhaja. So we were all Muslims. I am from Edo State but was born in Ghana and later we all came to Nigeria. My growing days was tough. I suffered because my mother was the third of my father’s wives and had 10 children; I am the 5th of the 10 children. My mother suffered so much that because of her suffering, I said to myself that I was not going to get married. My mother got married when she was just 12 years old. My father died when we were still very young and so my mother was just the one who struggled to take care of us. Some of my father’s first wife’s children were far older than my mother. So my growing up was nothing to write home about and through those difficult days, I remember I used to go to school even though my late father didn’t believe that women should go to school but thank God for my mother, we had a breakthrough and I finished my secondary school and later attended university. I lived with people as housemaid just to make ends meet and I suffered living with people. It was a very painful time for me. I remember the last time I left where I was living as a maid, I told the woman that the next time she sees me, I will be a very popular girl, I would make it so well in life that she will beg me for money and I packed my small load and left her house battered, lost and with no direction, I didn’t know where I was going to. That was a very painful time for me. It was not a fantastic time growing up but God saw me through and that was when I started acting at NTA Ibadan and became so popular.
Considering the fact that you are 28 years in marriages and still waxing stronger, what would you say is responsible for divorce in marriages these days?
Lack of contentment is the first thing responsible for breakage in marriage these days. These days before some young people marry their husbands, they would have known that they are not earning enough money but after marriage they would start putting pressure on their husbands to bring enough money home. Did you not know that he was not making enough money before you married him? So the problem these days is that they are never satisfied. They want their husbands’ stories to change overnight and that is why marriages are breaking up these days. So I always advise women to let their husbands be. You know the state you met him and you agreed to marry him, so how do you expect him to change his status overnight. It is only through your support and encouragement, and not criticism, as a wife that his level will begin to change gradually for him to get to where you desire him to be. Even the Bible says “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.” It is the favour that you bring to the man that would make the man to be at the city gate.