Toni Payne is the ex-wife of a popular artiste fondly called 9ice. Though blessed with a son, Zion, their marriage crashed after 20 months. A diva, artiste manager and a publicist, she tells Adaeze Amos in this interview that she wouldn’t mind remarrying if the right man comes. Excerpts:
Many know you as the former wife of 9ice and the mother of Zion, his only son, but how do you see yourself?
Yes, they are right. I have a son known as Zion. I see myself as a diva and an entrepreneur.
Can you reach out to ladies whose marriages are not working even after being submissive?
Marriage is meant to be enjoyed and not to be endured. That is my own philosophy. You are meant to enjoy your marriage. If you are in a marriage and you are not enjoying it, why are you there?
Should they leave their kids?
Oh well, if your kids are seeing you unhappy, that means you are raising kids that are not going to be happy adults. When your marriage is not working, maybe there is no communication. A lot of times, men are busy doing their thing and women are busy accepting it because they want to be submissive. Talk to your man and tell him what he is doing to you that you frown at. When he refuses to change, then check yourself; you are doing something that he doesn’t like and he just keeps seeing you do that. Communication is key. I think there are lots of marriages that are not sweet. It is because the communication is not there. I always say if you want to be married to somebody in life, he should be your husband; you, his wife, mistress, girlfriend, sugar mummy, his everything.
Don’t you think people would see you as someone who couldn’t practise what she is preaching, especially as your own marriage crashed?
But they also say it takes two to tango. You can force a camel to the stream but you can’t force it to drink water. If you have two parties that are willing to make something work, it would work but if you have just one willing party, there is nothing that you can do. Even God can’t come and knock you on the side of your head for it to work. It takes two to tango, honestly.
Does this mean that you made extra efforts to save the marriage?
I tried my best.
Why then did it crash? What happened?
I won’t answer this question please.
Do you hope to remarry?
Definitely. Everybody knows that about me that I’m definitely trying to remarry. I’m hopelessly romantic, I believe in the institution of marriage. I grew up in a family and my family was very close. I grew up with family morals. I want that for my kids.
I believe my kids should grow up in a home, not a house. Definitely, I do plan on getting married again, one day, very soon, yes, hopefully. If I find the right guy, I would definitely be doing that.
What lessons have you learnt from that botched relationship?
Now, I’m going to be a little bit more careful. I would watch carefully and instead of just following my heart, I would do so with my brain. When you are younger, you are likely to make mistake, but I have realized that life doesn’t work like that. Now, I would look at the basics. What do you want? Five, 10 years from now, where do you see yourself ? I would ask all those questions. Anybody that tries to talk to me today, maybe, telling me ‘I love you’ and all that, I will ask the person some questions. If you don’t love me, don’t say that to me. If you are able to answer those posers and your answers tally with mine, then we can go ahead; if not we call it quits.
Having learnt your lessons, what are now the qualities of your ideal man?
I think a person that has very strong family orientation. You have to be a strict family person with the strong spirit of wanting your marriage to work. That is what I’m looking for, someone whose visions are same as mine, so much that when I’m 80 years old, we are still holding hands and our kids are happy and our grand kids are happy.
What is the most scandalous story about you?
They have written so many scandalous stories about me. None is true. I’m a very level-headed person. I see myself as being intelligent enough not to do stupid things. There have been a lot of scandalous stories about me. I must say those stories weren’t fair on me.
Were there some stories that made you shed tears?
Oh yes. The most popular one was that I cheated on my husband. But did you do it? I didn’t do it honestly. I read it and for me it was a little bit painful because I know the kind of person I am. I’m hopelessly romantic. If I decide to marry somebody, I’m definitely not going to cheat on him regardless of anything. I’m not materialistic. It’s not as if I’m looking for one moneybag or so.
what do you have for mothers-in-law who poke their noses into their children’s marriages?
To mothers-in-law, I always say try and be your daughters-in-law best friend. It is the wisest thing to do. I have a son and when he decides to get married, I would try as much as possible to be his wife’s or girlfriend’s friend. I will try to be as lenient as possible. It is not easy letting go of your son because I know that feeling. But you just have to know that this is what it is.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was beautiful. I grew up partly here and in America. I grew up around my family. There is nothing better than the family