By Tony Ogaga Erhariefe
Behind every successful man is a woman. And behind popular musician, John Asemo, who is also known as Daddy Showkey, is a beautiful but strong woman. Ever since he began his career in the early 1990, the Galala exponent has been lucky to have as a pillar of strength his wife of 15 years, Lolo Sandra Ebere Asemo.
In an exclusive chat with TS Weekend, the mother of four; two boys and two girls disclosed that when they met in Nigeria’s largest ghetto, Ajegunle in 1992, Daddy Showkey and Daddy Fresh, then members of the music group, Pretty Busy Boys, had just released their debut album and success was still a long way off for the ghetto soldier. Excerpts:
Born on Idowu Street in Ajegunle, Lagos, Sandra grew up in Ibadan, Kano and Abia State where she finished her secondary school education before finally moving back to Lagos in 1992. She recalls: “My dad was middle class and he and my mum tried to make sure we had everything we wanted as kids. He was a manager with UTC so we were always moving. That took us from Lagos to Ibadan and then Kano before we relocated to Abia State. After I finished my secondary school education in 1991, I relocated to Lagos to stay with my cousin, Daddy Fresh in Ajegunle.”
How I met Daddy Showkey
“I met Daddy Showkey through my cousin, Daddy Fresh. That was in 1992 when I finished my secondary school education and came down to Lagos. They had just released an album and the name of their group was Pretty Busy Boys. That was before Showkey released his own album in 1994 and started his solo career.”
Sandra disclosed that for them it was not a case of love at first sight but a relationship that gradually grew from just being friends to eventually being lovers. She narrates thus: “It was just his personality that attracted me. He is a nice guy. When I was in my cousin’s place, he had many friends that came around but I always observed Daddy Showkey and I realized that he stood out. While the others were loud and talked too much, he was quiet, calm and reserved and that was what attracted me to him.
“First we were friends. Whenever he visited we would talk and laugh. He used to be very funny and always made me laugh so hard. He was the one that made the first move. He was very shy and had challenges expressing himself. Now he is so exposed and sophisticated and can get any woman he wants but back then he was a shy guy.
“There was this day he came around and said in Pidgin English that he wanted to see me. I was like, ‘hope there’s no problem?’ He assured me that there was none but insisted that he needed to see me urgently. He said that there’s something he wanted to tell me that just couldn’t wait. I was like ‘really?’
“However, it took him a while before he finally found the courage to express his love for me. After much pressure he finally opened up and said that he liked me. I was like ‘is that why you’re acting like this?’ He confessed that he did not know how he was going to tell me that he loved me because he believed my father was so rich that I was always appearing clean and neat whenever he came around, and that’s why he was scared of coming to me and expressing himself. I said ‘no problem, but you have to start from somewhere’ and that was how we started. This happened in 1992.”
And so the romance blossomed. From being friends both Showkey and Sandra became passionate lovers and in 1997, she became pregnant with their first son. Obviously aware of the implication of having a baby outside wedlock, the musician had quickly traveled down to Sandra’s village in Abia State and performed the traditional introduction ceremony. Soon after they had their first child, the couple had their traditional marriage.
“When I got pregnant with my first child,” Sandra recalls, “we were not married; we were still dating. It was when I was pregnant that he now did the introduction. That was in 1997. I gave birth to our first child shortly afterwards that same year, after the first child, we did our traditional marriage; that was the happiest day of my life.”
15 years after, is Daddy Showkey still as romantic as that first day when he asked her out? Sandra breaks into light laughter before she responds with a big smile on her face: “When you’re married it is quite different from when you’re still dating. That’s why they say that marriage is for better or for worse. It’s been back and forth, sometimes he will be himself and sometimes he will just change.
“At those times when I noticed that he has changed I’ll talk to him, I’ll ask him, ‘what is the problem? I hope the girl you’re dating outside is not distracting your attention because if you’re thinking of her, one day, when she sees that there is no cash with you again she will dump you, so you should always remember that.’
“I’ll say: ‘listen, if you’re dating somebody outside, it does not mean that you have to change totally because men are bound to have many girlfriends and wives outside and as a woman, you can’t stop them from that’. Any woman that doesn’t have that in her mind will die early. And at such times, he’ll apologise to me, saying that he did not know that he was acting badly.”
Is Sandra not scared that some young girls out there could snatch her husband?
“Hmm…” she begins, ‘those days I used to have that feeling; that was then but now I have no fears. He can go out with any woman of his choice but he will surely come back to me. There is no way a dog can outgrow its master. There is still something that’s special about me and he will always remember me when he is with any woman.”
However, Sandra adds that beyond what people see on screen, the real Daddy Showkey is a loving and caring husband.
“At home, he is a loving husband and gentle father. He listens to his kids, plays with them and takes them out whenever he is around. He loves them so much and makes sure he spends quality time with them. He is also a man who believes in education. He does not care how much he spends on school fees, his is to make sure that his children get the best in life.”
Daddy Showkey and Sandra have been married for 15 years. What has been the greatest gift he ever gave her? “I am not the crying type but the day he married me, I was overwhelmed with joy.”
Life under the brand
According to Sandra, being married to a celebrity has opened a lot of doors for her. Wherever she goes people accord her special respect and even wait on her just because she is Daddy Showkey’s wife.
“It has been a great experience being married to my husband this past 15 years. Yes, his name has done a lot for me. When people hear that I am his wife, the way they relate with me is different. The love and respect people accord me is overwhelming. I am not one that is so loud but people just want to be nice to me because I am Daddy Showkey’s wife.
“There are times when people say if I don’t wear designer clothes I should not bother to go out but they forget that I knew Daddy Showkey when he had nothing. He could be a superstar before the whole world but he is still my husband, the Daddy Showkey who asked me out in 1992 when he had nothing.”
Today, Sandra has taken after her dad who worked for years as a manager with UTC by becoming a businesswoman. Recounting her daily routine at her Sandre’s Boutique & Hair Salon, she says: “The first thing I do every morning when I get to my office is pray. I have to give God the glory because it is not by my grace that I wake up every day and take care of the children and my husband. It is only by the grace of God so I have to call upon Him whenever I step into my office.”
Sandra says that her decision to go into business two years ago was borne out of sheer boredom. Hear her: “When I got married I was not doing anything. Initially I could get by but with time I became very restless. I said to myself, ‘is this how I will spend my days sitting at home cooking and serving my husband and kids, and sitting down for the rest of the day and even for the rest of my life?’ I now made up my mind that I had to start something.”
The woman revealed that initially she started dealing in frozen foods but she lost a lot of money because of power outage so she had to quit and invest in a business that required less electricity. “At first, I was into frozen foods but NEPA and its wahala and then Nigeria generally forced me to pack up the business and look for a more viable alternative, and that was how Sandre’s Boutique was born.
“When I started Sandre’s Boutique, it wasn’t just moving. There were days we wouldn’t make a single sale so I said to myself, ‘Sandra, you have to devise a strategy to overcome this stalemate’ and that was how we came up with the hair salon. Since I started the salon, things have improved drastically.”
According to Sandra, what sets her boutique apart is the fact that it caters to all classes of people. “What makes us different is that we don’t only deal in designers, we also consider those who are low on the rung. If you come to my boutique with just one thousand naira you will surely leave with something tangible. I take care of everybody.”
Commenting on the challenges she has been facing running the outfit, Daddy Showkey’s wife reiterates that the only problem is cash flow. She insists that if enough capital is pumped into a business, it will definitely be successful. The woman, however, believes that she will break even some day.
Today, Sandra is running her own business. Which of her parents did she get her business acumen from? “My father,” she says proudly. “As for now, he is into building materials and runs his own business in Umuahia; I learnt a lot from him. He is a risk taker. He is not scared of putting his money into any project as long as he believes in it. First of all, he will take his time to study the business. With his experience as a manager in UTC, he knows his onions and he has ploughed that experience back into his building materials business. He has a high business IQ.”
Sandra is such a busy woman. How does she find time to relax?
“I only relax when I close from work. When I get home, I prepare dinner no matter how tired I am and make sure I dish everybody’s food. Then I take my bath and go to bed and rest. I wake up in the middle of the night and browse the web a little maybe for like an hour before going back to bed.”
Advice for celebs’ wives
Sandra has been married to Daddy Showkey for more than a decade, what advice does she have for women married to celebrities? She states: “The advice I have for women married to celebrities is that no marriage is perfect, including mine. We go through our own ups and downs but you have to stick to your man no matter what happens. Sometimes you help your man with prayers. I am not talking only about musicians but celebrities generally, the devil always wants to use them but with you by their side, no problem. You’re their pillar of support because you always present their matter to God and He listens to you.
“There are times when my husband and I will have misunderstanding. And later when we settle he would say that he thought I was going to pack and leave his house and I’ll ask him, ‘why will I pack my things? Why will I abandon my home front?’
“Look, it happens in every home. If I decide to leave my husband, what happens to my four lovely kids? What happens to them? That’s what every woman should always ask herself before moving out of her matrimonial home. You cannot move from one home to the other just because one is not working well. The question is ‘are you sure the one you’re moving into will succeed?’ So, you have to stay and manage your marriage because of the kids. There is nothing like a perfect marriage. Anybody that says that is a liar.”
According to Shwokey’s wife, the greatest challenge she has faced in her marriage is the long and lonely nights when her husband is on tour. “Sometimes, my husband will travel leaving only me and the kids at home. It gets so lonely and I’ll say to myself, ‘how I wish he’s always around.’ That’s the greatest challenge for me. Sometimes he could be away for as many as three months.”
Nevertheless, Sandra concludes by saying that giving birth to her children has been her happiest moments. “Ah, my greatest moment is giving birth to my lovely children.”