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December 13, 2013

OJB Jezreel Says His 1st Wife Mama J Is " A Courageous Woman" For Donating Her Kidney To Save His Life

On Friday, August 23, 2013, music producer Babatunde ‘OJB Jezreel’ Okungbowa left the shores of Nigeria in company of the woman we can call his guardian angel, with no clear-cut assurance that the kidney transplant they were going for would be successful. It was a matter of chance – life and death.
Weeks later, the news of his successful surgery in India littered the internet, with follow-up pictures, showing Jezreel with his Indian Doctors, Nurses and his wife as proof that all was well.
However, that was nothing compared to the viral reports that his return (November 30), generated. OJB has become more popular than he ever was, not only in the entertainment setting, but to many who had never paid attention to showbiz. His popularity has grown widely and compassionately.
How do we then tell the story of  this man of the moment, who has been to hell and back, without giving credit to his stronghold – his God and the 1st of his 3 wives, Mama J.? Despite discouragement from family and friends, Mama J still donated one of her kidneys to save her husband. The woman was adamant to let OJB live, even when the doctors told her she would be cut all the way to her back and one of her ribs would be removed to enable them take her kidney. As frightening as that sounds.
‘I will say she is a courageous woman,’ OJB admits.
In their first interview since they returned last week, OJB and his wife, Mama J open up  to HipHopWorld, exclusively,  telling us all that needs to be told about what they went through – the pain, the gain, the hate and the love…
OJB speaks at HipHopWorld secretariat
OJB speaks at the HipHopWorld secretariat
Why did you come back secretly?
You know it’s a public thing, yet personal too and after the surgery there were lots of restrictions like don’t shake hands, don’t hug people, always put on a surgical mask if you have to go out, for the next six months. So I just have to be careful.
What were your thoughts when you were told you would undergo a kidney transplant?
It was scary because I find it hard to take an injection let alone cutting the body for surgery. I didn’t really welcome it but with time I had no choice than to give in to the idea and hope for the best.
What has changed about your Lifestyle and how often do you take your medication?
I’m more disciplined now especially with hygiene and sanitization. I have to take my drugs like 8-9 times a day. Even when going out I have to have a plan so that I don’t miss my medication. Emotionally my focus is wider because after going through a life threatening situation, my perception of things changed. I value life now. As for diet, you know sometimes we want to be stubborn eating amalaeba and all the heavy foods but it has to be in small portions. To avoid weight gain because I ended up having two surgeries i.e. aheart and kidney surgery because the doctors said there was a problem with the heart which led to the kidney failure. So it’s less starch and more vegetables and protein for me.
OJB and Mama J during the SAVEOJB campaign days
OJB and Mama J, during the SAVEOJB campaign days
Well, some are born with it that way, others could be through high blood pressure or diabetes but mine was due to my sleeping pattern and it kept affecting me with my knowledge. Then I used to sleep as late as 1:00am and awake at 4:00-4:30am and head straight to the studio. I was getting not more than 4hours of sleep a day. I was told it could have resulted to stroke because it started from the heart and then to the kidney but I thank God for exempting that stroke part.
What do you have to say about the controversies that surrounded donations towards your kidney transplant?
Well, there are well meaning and bitter people in Naija. Most people were just complaining and these people didn’t even donate. All the figures flying in the air then were just fake and make-belief from different angles because if we had the money we wouldn’t have the governor donate N16million. Lots of chequesthat some people donated bounced. I don’t want to mention names and when we called them to come for their cheques they didn’t come for it. We didn’t want to talk about it in the media because it was about saving a life.
What would you like to say to people that have supported you?
What I would like to say to all the people that supported me like I’ve kept saying is, I can’t reward you. I can’t give you anything, it is only God that will reward you and I pray from the depth of my heart that God will enlarge you and whatever you have given me, God will give you in large fold. It wasn’t just about the money but about saving a life and they did that, saving a whole family. I’m saying God bless them.
After the surgery in India, OJB had every reason to smile
After the surgery in India, OJB had every reason to smile
How would you describe your wife, who volunteered to donate one of her kidneys?
I will say she is a wonderful person because it is one thing if God is telling you to do something but another to do it. It takes a lot of courage to actually do it. Just as Jesus had made the water for Peter to walk on, Peter needed a lot of courage to take that step and that was what she did at that dying minute. Even when the doctors came to tell her that they would have to cut her all the way to the back and would have to remove a rib so they could have access to the kidney and if after that you still go ahead to do it then that is serious courage. I will say she is a courageous woman.
We heard that you are lodged in a hotel for now because your house is undergoing reconstruction?
Yes. Someone by the name Felix Edebo actually spoke to me about that before the surgery and advised I should do a reconstruction because of hygiene during recovery. I was reluctant because of finances, he said he’d give me a call and before he left he gave me $1,000USD. Days later, he called and asked for my account details and paid in N6 million for the reconstruction and still told me he had a gift for me, and then he gave me the keys to a Land Rover jeep. We are having an extension to a bungalow which will be the main house, because the way the house was structured originally had studio with it. It needs to change, people come into the studio a lot and I have to control the hygiene. So I have to separate the two in order to sanitize the house.
The Land Rover jeep OJB was given as a gift from a certain Felix Edebo, the same man who funded the reconstruction of the producer's Surulere home
The Land Rover jeep OJB was given as a gift from a certain Felix Edebo, the same man who funded the reconstruction of the producer’s Surulere home
When are you hoping to get back to work?
I guess my first work is going to be with P. Square. Hopefully we’ll be doing something as soon as possible, and then mix some of my old songs. Using my experience to help people is another thing I want to do and very soon I’ll start a foundation.
What lesson has this experience taught you?
It’s more spiritual really. I see it as, anybody that has God should be anxious for nothing’, because he has you in mind, you might think He doesn’t but He does. It has changed my whole perspective now.

What’s the surgical mask you are wearing meant for?
I have to go around with a mask for sanitization because when you have a kidney transplant your immune system goes down and your hygiene level increases to avoid some flu or bacteria, which could be worse. So when you see me on the way and I don’t shake you, don’t feel that ‘this guy is a snub.’ It’s just part of the precautions I have to follow.

OJB's wife Mama J also speaks to HipHopWorld, hesitantly
OJB’s wife Mama J speaks to HipHopWorld, hesitantly.
You must be courageous, how did you make the decision to donate one of your kidneys?
Should I use the word ‘courageous’? I’d rather say it was just the grace of God
Many people would berate you for that kind of move, how do you feel?
Not that I have not heard a lot of people talk or say all sorts of things, but I’m not quick to judge or criticize somebody because I’m not in that person’s position. So the person talking needs to be in my position. You can say whatever because you are not in the situation. I was in that situation, facing the decision, it was a do or die situation. It’s either I do it or he loses his life. I didn’t give it for any glory or anything. I gave it because if he is alive, it is for my own good. So there is nothing to it, I didn’t see it as anything from day one, I asked God to help me and give me the courage and He did. Every step, every process was difficult because a lot of things they told me were enough for me to say I wasn’t doing again. If I should think about the cut, the pain affects some people psychologically because it goes to your brain and you can easily go mad if you are not strong enough. Even till now I still feel the pain, there are some positions you cannot sleep like you can’t sleep on your right side for too long, you can’t sleep on your left or face up. I still feel the pain but now it’s not the pain but the joy that everything is ok that keeps me going.
Did you face challenges from your family at all?
OHof course I did. My brothers were like no oh you are not going to do it, my mum didn’t even talk to me. My dad was like what do we do, even if we tell you not to do it you will still go ahead, so let’s not waste time. It’s not just the fact that it’s OJB; he is my husband, the father of my children. I don’t know the reason I will not give him, there’s no reason I shouldn’t give him if I am the perfect match for it.
Apart from God, who would you be grateful to?
I want to be grateful to all Nigerians, in fact when the whole thing happened, the reaction of Nigerians shocked me and I was like ‘are you this big?’ Nigeria is a very wonderful country o! The reaction of Nigerians brought tears to my eyes because I was like yes, he needed help, and he said it. But I wasn’t expecting the massive response from people; everybody was coming from far and wide. Even people I don’t even know, people that he had helped longtime ago and has forgotten about it came. Governor Fashola himself, Lagos state as a whole and even the Governor of Cross River state. It was too much. In fact I want to say a big thank you to Nigerians, everybody and even you people that are here because it is something. Every contribution and penny went a long a way. I want to say thank you to everybody, yes God really used a lot of people.
Source- Hiphopworldmagazine.com

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