By Victor Enengedi, Senior correspondent
It was indeed a shocker when in the early hours of Monday, July 15, 2013 it was widely reported that actress Funke Akindele and her husband Kehinde Almaroof Oloyede are no longer together.What started on blogs and social media soon spread to national newspapers. Akindele remained silent for days, and many fans hoped this was yet another wicked rumour.
But to the disappointment of her fans, the actress emerged in the evening of Friday July 19 to confirm she’s actually separated from her husband of one year Kehinde ‘Almaroof’ Oloyede. Nigeria’s most talked-about wedding of 2012 is over. Gone, in one year, and on record as one of the country’s shortest celeb marriages ever.
NET investigations reveal that the estranged couple’s problems started months ago and got to its peak only a few weeks before the Facebook announcement by Oloyede. While Funke Akindele was trying to achieve a quiet separation and eventual divorce with little or no public coverage, hubby Oloyede took to social media to broadcast the break-up.
He wrote, ‘It’s with heavy heart that am announcing the separation of me and ma wife Mrs olufunke akindele, we’ve both agreed to go our separate ways coz of irreconcilable differences. we still best of friends nd we 4ever remain gud friends. Am doing just fine, gettn along without u, don’t need u anymore in ma life. u d greatest mistake av made in recent time.’
Funke’s decision to marry the real estate businessman in 2012, was severely criticised by her fans and the media who wondered why she should get involved in polygamy. She rebuffed critics and went on to have one of the most glamourous weddings of last year on May 26, 2012, leaving days later for a honeymoon in the UK.
Months after the wedding, Kehinde was reported to have impregnated a certain lady, Modinat Nike Dada. The couple did all they could to cover up the mess, but it was out in the open.
Apart from Modinat, there was the eldest wife, Fadekemi, who felt betrayed by Kehinde’s marriage to Funke. Sources maintained that Fadekemi and Modinat neither supported Funke’s marriage to Kehinde and even though he went ahead to marry her, they firmly objected the union. NET gathered that there were issues from Funke’s family too, especially from her immediate family. But the lovers went ahead, against all odds. And it seemed to all that they had both found happiness in one another.
What went wrong?
It is no more speculation that the marriage, which was contracted on Saturday May 26, 2012, months after Nigerian Entertainment Today first spotted the couple at Industry Nite, at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos, has entered seriously troubled waters.
With more angles now coming out, including allegations ‘Almaroof, the man who stole Funke’s heart last year, swept her off her feet and landed her in the altar, has become a serial baby daddy, keeping a string of affairs, and even returning to the women he had prior to the celebrity wedding with Funke Akindele, it was only a matter of time before it was all out in the air.
Just like Mercy Johnson, who had a big pre-wedding scandal on her hands after the wife of the man she was to marry stepped out and tried to stop the wedding, Funke also had disgruntled wives to contend with. There were many fans, friends and colleagues too, who felt she did not need to settle with an already married man; with the attendant drama and chaos. But, as it is in the things of love, just like Mercy, Funke went ahead to tie the knot in what was unarguably, the most expensive, most glamorous celebrity wedding of 2012.
‘Everyone close to them knows the thing is not working and Funke is very unhappy. People have been advising her. She has just been busy shooting and trying to occupy herself. They have not even lived together since, but they are not divorced, and it is not like it is officially officially over. Couples separate and come back together. Even some divorced couples still settle. So why are people talking as if this is final?’ one friend told NET, over the weekend, insisting ‘people should mind their business or pray for the couple’
She was happy beyond limits on her wedding day. And the days to come were full of bliss. So were did it all go wrong? Or was it a facade all along?
Why the marriage failed
Prior to their high society wedding, it was widely reported that Kehinde had several children from different women, a fact that was no mystery to Funke. It was reported that he was married to two of the women, an allegation that the ‘Jenifa’ star denied in an interview with a publication.
She boasted, ‘I can tell you authoritatively that my husband is not married to anyone else. Yes, he has beautiful children, who are not mine and we have a cordial relationship, which dates back to even before we got married.’
But insiders have told Nigerian Entertainment Today that the actress would later shockingly find many surprises along the way; even as husband and wife started to discover there were so many things different about each of them. ‘You know when you are in a relationship, it is always a different thing from when you are in a marriage. Funke and Kenny have always had problems but they have managed to conceal it from the public. I don’t know if they have truly separated, but the marriage was becoming shakier by the day’, a confidant who did not want to be named told us..
For months there had been concerns that Funke’s husband was rarely seen around her at most events she honoured. Mr Oloyede’s photos are nowhere to be found on Funke’s Instagram page where she’s very active.
It was also widely speculated by observers that the marriage, right from the inception, seemed like it was destined to fail because of all the controversies that surrounded it. From Kehinde’s many wives to many children, and of course alleged strings of affairs, many opined it was surely going to hit the rocks sooner or later.
Moreover, for some reason, the couple allegedly chose to live apart, an action which, sources say, did not help their bonding.
If Funke no longer trusted her husband, then she was not alone. Many say it is possible Almaroof became suspicious of a very busy woman, especially withy her endorsement galore and frequent trips. But, unlike Almaroof, it is not certain if there were confirmed instances of infidelity on Funke’s part.
‘He can never say he caught her with any man, or that she cheated’, one Funke friend told us. Many others refused to comment on what is, understandably, a sensitive issue.
When popular blogger, Linda Ikeji broke the news of the crash, she also claimed that Funke’s publicist had confirmed the reports to her. Funke’s publicist, Ayo Ola-Mohammed denied this, insisting she did not speak with the popular blogger who many celebs love to hate.
‘My attn’s jus bn drawn to LIB claiming 2 ve spoken to Funke Akindele’s Pubicist confirming her story. 4 records, Linda & I never spoke!’ Ayo tweeted – clearly ignoring the big question is the story true or not?.
She did not respond to NET enquiries.
Did Funke lie?
Days after the news of her crashed marriage went viral, Funke Akindele denied the reports in a widely circulated text message, even threatening to sue. ‘What proof do you have? And I am taking this to court because my marriage is intact. You guys are rumour mongers’, the text message read. ‘What proof do you have? And I am taking this to court because my marriage is intact. You guys are rumour mongers’, the text message read.
In a chat with blogger Stella Dimoko Korkus, Funke said, ‘First of all let me clarify that I have not replied any sms or spoken to anyone on this development before now and neither have I threatened to sue anyone, I do not know who sent out that sms denying that my marriage is over’.
Whose mistake; Funke’s or Kehinde’s?
In his Facebook message which announce to the world the crack in their marriage, Kehinde refered to Funke as the greatest mistake he has made in recent times. ‘Am doing just fine, gettn along without u, don’t need u anymore in ma life. u d greatest mistake av made in recent time’, he wrote.
This assertion leaves one thinking-who made a mistake? Was it Kehinde or Funke?
Funke had everything going for her, a budding career and a growing list of endorsement. Many believe her first mistake was getting involved with a man who was already married, and was rumoured to have an unquenchable thirst for women.
Her second mistake, according to NET findings, was assuming that once she and Kehinde were married, that he would only have eyes for her. If for some reason, she thought she could change the man, then that was her third mistake.
But it is apparent Almoroof has his many goofs too, and as one pundit put it ‘they will begin to emerge in no time. All the possible misdemeanour that could make a man say his wife is the greatest mistake he’s ever made. He’ll begin to speak soon. Only a matter of time’.
Will Funke marry again?
Many celebs that have been unfortunate to be involved breakups usually end up remaining single or just starting another relationship that may not necessarily lead to marriage. There are, however, others, who keep hopping from one marriage to another.
Funke in her case has a budding career to bother about, even though at 36, age is no longer on her side.
A bonafide Nollywood millionaire, will she go on to become a single mom while continuing to build her brand? Or will she give in to love again and give marriage another try?
The man Almaroof Oloyede
Before Funke Akindele’s path crossed with Almaroof Oloyede in 2008, the businessman and politician’s fame was only known in the Oshodi axis of Lagos State where he is actively involved in party politics.
Popularly known as Kenny Doo, he is the son of Alhaja Almaroof, who at present is the Iya Oloja of Oshodi market, as well as a woman leader in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Almaroof is highly into real estate.
He once contested for the position of Local Government Chairman and membership of the House of Representatives in two different elections on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He later became the Special Assistant to former Minister of Works, Adeseye Ogunlewe. After serving out his appointment, he returned to Lagos to focus on his property business.
Funke’s private world
Since the reports filtered into the media, Funke, has been inundated with calls from family, friends and colleagues, including politicians, pastors and Imams. And the messages are a mixture of consolation, counseling, and attempts at reconciliation.
NET gathered the actress shooting in Enugu when the news broke. She has since returned to her Ikeja, Lagos home to the support of her family.
One of the most influential faces in Nollywood, Funke Akindele shot to national fame following the success of her movie 2008 Jenifa. She has since joined the millionaires’ club, settling down to fame and fortune, years after entering the industry through the popular TV series ‘I Need to Know‘ sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund..
In 2009 she won the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) for ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’. Many of her movies, ‘Omo Ghetto’ parts 1 & 2, ‘Ojo Ketala‘ and ‘The Return of Jenifa‘ have become blockbusters grossing millions of Naira in returns.
And, in spite of controversies surrounding her rumoured romance with Femi Adebayo who was also married, her image remained mostly neat and clean, until the drama that came with her wedding to Almaroof.
She is currently brand ambassador for Globacom, Klin Detergent, Vitafoam, Jobberman and Lagos Inland Revenue Service
Why do celeb marriages fail?
Jennifer Eliogu who recently joined the league of actresses with broken homes admitted in an interview, ‘It’s unfortunate that marriages are breaking up, but it’s not synonymous with the industry. It happens in every sector. When two people are not compatible or having misunderstandings, there might be break up, sometimes they make up eventually and sometimes they don’t. I think it’s just the devil at work.’
In her own case, Chika Ike who recently finalized her divorce claimed her marriage wasn’t just working. ‘I ended my marriage because it wasn’t working’, the actress stated in a recent televised interview.
Some celebrities have also accused the media for being responsible for breaking many celebrity marriages. ‘Most of the things written about celebs in the media are lies. With all the scandalous stories, it becomes hard for any woman to allow her son to marry an actress’, Benita Nzeribe told Nigerian Entertainment Today.
Who Will Save Celebrity Marriages?
At a time when global moral values are on a rapid decline, it is not surprising that the nuclear family structure, and the conventional marriage institution, is greatly endangered. Marriages appear to be breaking up more than ever before. Single parenting is on a steady rise while the number of young people who are developing a phobia for marriage is alarming. For those who get married, and indeed, the marriages that seem to ‘survive’, stories of trouble abound: married couples now cheat on each other with reckless abandon; the rate of spousal abuse is on the high; some of those who stay on do so for reasons other than those for which the marriage was contracted.
It is even worse for Celebrity marriages. Way before Ayinla Kollington and Salawa Abeni, celebrity marriages have been known to be painfully ephemeral. Clashing Egos. Conflicting schedules. Issues of Control, Money matters, Domestic priorities, Internal complex, Cheating. Communication crisis. Just like any other marriage, the list of what can possibly go wrong is unbelievably long. And just like any other marriage, there are possibilities of external influences: friends, siblings, parents, neighbours, mentors etcetera.
What’s different for Celebrity marriages is the huge interest of fans and the media in their affairs. A little spat at the departure lounge, or a one-week mutually-agreed separation can turn into a media scandal of great proportions if care is not taken. Poor media handling, common in these parts, makes matters worse, causing us to lose some of our favourite couples in the process.
And it’s rather troubling that the break-ups move quickly from separation to divorce proceedings, with communication between the partners totally broken down in some cases.
The nightmare of the Alec Godwin-Kefee scandal is still fresh in our memories. Femi and Funke Kuti, who recently concluded their divorce, broke our hearts when they separated years back. Frank Edoho and his wife Katherine are currently going through the trauma of separation and pending divorce. Same for 9ice and Toni Payne, Ara and Nurudeen, Daniel and Doris Ademinokan, Hazida and Zaaki Azzay and several others. Other victims include Edward Ashiedu and Kenny St.-Brown, Iyabo Ojo, Monalisa Chinda (and her ex-husband Dejo Richards, who has since remarried and separated again), Soul E and Ure Okezie, Goriola Hassan and Ayo Adesanya, Bukky Wright (who’s been through at least two divorces with prominent celebrities), Stella Damasus and Nzeribe, and many, many more.
The recurring cause in most of these break-ups: Abuse and cheating. The resulting chaos makes life difficult for the offspring and other close relatives; while the negative publicity throws a huge question mark in front of the word ‘marriage’.
Abroad, more and more celebrity marriages are failing too – the most recent being those of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elin and Tiger Woods, JLo and Mac Anthony, Vladmir and Lyudmila Putin. The shock of the Kimora Lee and Russel Simmons divorce is yet to fade away; as more and more celeb marriages collapse like a pack of poorly-arranged cards. Many are now staying away from the institution. And those who go on, go in with signed pre-nuptials, and lawyers on standby.
If the marriage institution is to be saved, we will need to pay serious attention to this extremely worrying situation, and seek for practical ways to make celebs live by example and make marriage work. Youngsters look up to pop stars, actresses and other entertainers; fashioning their lives after these ‘models’ and hoping to someday be like them. Imagine the effects of the Kefee divorce or the Frank Edoho scandals on their fan-followers? Or the unfolding Funke-Kenny situation?
The media, religious organizations, NGOs, immediate and extended families and other stakeholders have very vital roles to play. Celeb Couples also need to go into marriage for clear reasons, understanding the intricacies of their profession and status, and appreciating the fact that what happens in their lives will by effect, influence millions around the world, and by extension, society at large.
It would be nice if we can also take lessons from the likes of Tunde and Wunmi Obe, Matthew and Omotola Ekeinde, Betty and Soni Irabor, Joke Silva and Olu Jacobs; and others who have, despite all odds, kept their union strong and safe…
Popular Celebrity separations
Broken marriages are a very common feature amongst celebs. Some actors will tell you that broken marriages is not perculiar to celebs, but a function of the wider society, and because they are in the limelight, their divorces become topic for discussions. Here’s a list of some of the popular celebrity divorces.
1. Nike Osinowo and Tunde Soleye
2. Joseph Benjamin and wife
3. Monalisa Chinda and Dejo Richards
4. Stephanie Okereke and Mike Iloanyusi
5. Fred Amata and Agatha Amata
6. Chika Ike and Tony Eberiri
7. Kingsley Ogoro and Esse Agesse
8. Laide Bakare and Okunfulire
9. Eucharia Anunobi and Charles Ekwu
10. Clarion Chukwurah and Tunde Abiola/ Femi Oduneye
11. Foluke Daramola and Tunde Shobowale
12. Ayo Adesanya and Goriola Hassan
13. Shan George and Tony Nwosisi
14. Hilda Dokubo And Karo Mbrakpo
15. Saidi Balogun and Fathia Balogun
16. Kate Henshaw and Roderick James Nuttal
17.Doris Simeon and Daniel Ademinokan
18. Bimbo Oshin and Ola Ibironke
19. Moji Olaiya and Bayo Okesola
20. 9ice and Toni Payne
21. Eddy Montana and KSB
22. Kefee and Alec Godwin
23. Stella Damasus and Emeka Nzeribe
24. Tchidi Chikere and Sophia Chikere
25. Bukky Wright and Femi Davies
26. Bukky Wright and Bolaji Saheed
27. Soul E and Queen Ure
28. Femi Kuti and Funke Kuti
29. Zaaki Adzee and Hadiza
30. Frank Edoho and Katherine Obiang
31. Steph Nora Okere and Lanre Falana
32. Binta Ayo Mogaji and Jibola Dabo
33. Uche Osutule and Obi Osutule
34. Evi Edna and Emma Ogoli
35. Segun Arinze and Ann Njemanze
Timeline of love gone sour
2008- Funke and Kehinde meet on a movie set where Kehinde had come to visit a friend.
2011- The pair remained friends until Kehinde officially asked to date the actress.
February, 2012- Kehinde proposes to Funke
March, 2012- NET reported the first official outing as a pair as they were spotted at the Oriental Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos for the May D hosted Industry Nite event.
May 26, 2012- The widely celebrated 3-part wedding between Funke and Kehinde took place at the Haven Event Centre, Ikeja, attended by a host of celebs and entertainers.
May 30, 2012- The newly weds flew to the UK where they enjoyed their honeymoon.
June 22, 2012- Funke accompanied by Kehinde was at the University of Ibadan where she was given an award of recognition for being a positive role models for Nigerian youths.
July 22, 2012- Funke made her first major public appearance (although without her husband) since her wedding at Davido’s ‘Omo Baba Olowo’ album launch concert at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos.
August 24, 2012- Funke celebrates her 35th birthday with a small reception for friends, colleagues and of course husband, Kehinde who later whisked the actress to an undisclosed location where the celebration climaxed.
October, 2012- A woman, Modinat Nike Dada is reported to be pregnant for Funke’s husband, Kehinde.
November, 2012- A popular soft-sell publication reports that Funke has had a miscarriage from a 4 months pregnancy, the actress denies report.
July 15, 2013- Kehinde Almaroof announces on Facebook that the one year old marriage is over.
July 16, 2013- Funke’s publicist, Ayo Ola-Mohammed denies telling a blogger, Linda Ikeji, that Funke’s marriage is over.
July 17, 2013- In a widely circulated text message, Funke denies the break-up stories, claiming her ‘marriage is intact.’
July 19, 2013- Funke eventually speaks through her publicist, admitting that the marriage is finally over.
Friends, colleagues, fans speak
Ope Banwo- ‘I encourage her to be calm even as things get are bound to get bit rough over the next few weeks in the wake of her heartbreaking separation. Yes, Bad things do happen to Good People, and regardless of what anyone may say is the cause, or why she even married the guy in the first place, I believed it is always better to have dared and fail, than never to have dared at all. So, my friend, keep your head up and NEVER LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR.‘
AY, comedian- ‘I‘m sorry, I do not usually have a public opinion on other people’s marriages. It isn’t a good thing and I cannot comment’
Desmond Elliot- ‘I’m afraid I have no comments on that. And until I can get a proper confirmation from Funke, there’s no comments from me.’
Gbenga Adeyinka- ‘For reasons best known to me, I don’t want to talk about it at all. Please understand’.
Emem Isong- ‘I have not heard anything about it and there’s really nothing I can say.’
Ibinabo Fiberesima- ‘It is not in my place to make a comment about other people’s affairs, but I can only wish her well’.
Michael Aghragha: ‘What has happened is indeed unfortunate. The only thing left for her to do now is pick up the bits of her life and move on’
Mercy Oloku: ‘She is one of my favourite Nigerian actresses and I feel sorry for her. At least she has a viable acting career to get her mind off the whole break-up saga’.
Femi Fadiji: She should have seen it coming. A man that that already had other wives before you, would one day fix his eyes on other women outside. That’s just the way it works.
Chinonso Ekeh: Life goes on. It probably wasn’t working and so I don’t expect her to die there. Yes, she has made a mistake, but it’ time to move on and try not to make such mistake again.
Celebrity couples with the longest marriages
1. Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva
2. Tunde and Wunmi Obe
3. Sony and Betty Irabor
4. Zack and Ngozi Orji
5. Charly Boy and Lady Diana
6. Matthew and Omotola Ekeinde
7. Isaac and Nneka Moses
8. Ejike and Ogechi Asiegbu
9. Kenny and Bolajoko Ogungbe
Watch a very happy Funke Akindele shred and throw her wedding bouquet below.
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