Melissa Mpofu, Showbiz Editor
Media personality, Vimbai Mutinhiri who rose to fame after featuring on the Big Brother Africa reality show in 2011, this past weekend went against odds and tied the knot with her Nigerian lover, Dru Ekpenyong at a time most people are locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Calabar Blog personality Mina Atambi during a live show on Instagram on Thursday evening, Vimbai said although she and her partner had plans of hosting a “big” wedding, those plans had to be shelved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two however, decided not to let the pandemic derail their marriage plans hence their decision to plan a court wedding instead as all that mattered to them was the union.
“Since we couldn’t go ahead with our wedding as planned due to the pandemic, the court wedding felt like the right thing to do because in this generation, you spend lots of time focusing on wedding over marriage. But for us, at the end of the day, it was about the marriage.
“I don’t even know how it (court wedding) came together as we started putting things together last Tuesday and the wedding was on Friday. We literally had other plans (big wedding), but God had His own plan and everything came together so beautifully.”
On getting married at such a time when the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, Vimbai who is the last born daughter of politicians, Ambrose and Tracy Mutinhiri, said technology had a huge role to play as those close to them were part of the proceedings through an online Zoom conference.
“My sister-in-law came up with the idea of getting everybody on Zoom to watch the wedding. Everything happened so fast, but everybody was connected and I was surprised how people like my little niece and mum had embraced the world of technology as they already had Zoom on their phones,” Vimbai said.
Reflecting on her relationship with her husband, Vimbai said she first met Dru, who is the youngest son of Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong from Cross River State, in Calabar years back when she attended the carnival.
“I was in Calabar for work when I was still with DStv. It was during the carnival so we were filming some things and I had mutual friends with Andrew. We then went to the nightclub to party and that’s where I met him. We sort of stayed in touch over the years, but it was more of WhatsApp messages here and there until we ended up in the same city (Johannesburg, South Africa) in 2017.
“He sent me a message when he was in Johannesburg and I went onto his Instagram page (to check out his profile) and I was like hooo, wow, OK, why am I not talking to this guy. So I suggested that we go for dinner. We went for dinner and the rest is history. Now I’m a Calabar girl,” said a visibly content Vimbai.
On how she is coping with the pandemic, Vimbai who is quarantined with her husband said he has been a great support system.
“I’m isolating with my husband so when I’m down, he’s up and vice versa. It really helps to be around people who observe and notice that something is off. In my case, most of my family is in Zimbabwe so somebody will look at you and tell that this one must be missing her people today and look for a way to make me feel better so that’s played a very big part.
“Apart from that, technology has been amazing because through this period, I’ve communicated with my family more than normal because we’re all sitting at home so there’s more time and effort to check up on each other and make sure everyone is safe.”
Generally, Vimbai said the lockdown has been a nice luxury for her as she gets to wake up late and relax.
“I’m not a morning person so I can spend the morning in bed. So it’s been a nice luxury for me as I can stay in bed a little longer. I’ve also become cleaner as there’s nothing else to do other than cleaning.”
But most importantly, the pandemic, Vimbai said, has taught her that the most important thing in life is one’s goal.
“The court wedding taught me that the most important thing is the goal. A lot of us put a lot of energy into worrying and being obsessed with how we’ll get to our goal such that when things like this (pandemic) happen, it’s easy to feel like you can’t get to your goal just because the process has changed.
“This period has taught me that I’m not going to miss out on my goals just because there’s corona. I just need to look out for new ways to achieve all the things that I wanted to achieve, just like I did with the court wedding.”
Turning to her career as a TV personality, Vimbai who is loved by many in Nigeria, said she is forever grateful to DStv which gave her the platform to shine through their Big Brother Africa reality show, Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards and Star Gist show.
“I will never downplay the role Big Brother Africa played because there was some fame that was created. I was also lucky because after that opportunity, I was invited to present a show on Africa Magic called Star Gist and that show ended up being very popular across Africa, especially Nigeria. So those platforms were very important.”
Other than DStv giving her the much-needed boost, Vimbai said to be a force to reckon with in the media space she made a lot of sacrifices and put in a lot of work. Among those sacrifices was going against her parents’ will as they were not so supportive of her media career in the beginning.
“There’re a lot of things I did for myself to get to where I am today (top personality in Nigeria). I set money aside and said that every three months, I’m going to visit Nigeria to network and meet people in my industry just to see how things are done.
“I also reached out to people and did a lot of free work so that I could get into the system so people know about me. That played a very big part and once there were platforms, things moved forward,” said Vimbai.
Shuttling between Nigeria and Zimbabwe, Vimbai said was not easy as it took a lot of sacrifice.
“Just flights alone were very expensive and the accommodation and all. It was very tough but God always seems to make a way. And when you’re determined, you don’t even feel the pain of the sacrifice because I was very hungry for it (success and penetrating the Nigerian market).
“Those days, I wasn’t the most fashionable person because whatever I made, I’d use it for logistics. I knew where my money was going and I’m just so glad it paid off.”
Quizzed if she had plans to relocate to Calabar where her husband runs a family hotel, Vimbai said they are still working on the logistics with her husband. She however, admitted that Calabar is about to become a big part of her life.
As a parting shot, Vimbai said people should not be deterred and give up on their goals for the year because of the pandemic.
“People mustn’t think that this period (Covid-19/ lockdown) is going to ruin their year or plans. Stop stressing about what it looks like to get to your destination and focus on your destination.
“No Covid-19 formed against you shall prosper, there’s an alternative way to achieve what you set out to do this year.”