In a world where cultural, religious and traditional differences can often create boundaries in relationships, the love story of Isa and Diana, with the help of Umar and Ramata, is a good reminder that love knows no boundary. Despite their different backgrounds and challenges of long-distance relationships, they have been able to navigate their differences with ease and respect. Daily Trust Saturday spoke with Isa, Umar and Ramata on how they have been able to build strong relationships despite cultural and religious differences and the challenges they have faced along the way. Unfortunately, Diana could not say anything due to language barrier but smiled and chipped in where necessary. Isa and Umar, who spoke in Hausa, explained how they have been able to weather the storm.
Daily Trust Saturday: Where are you from?
Isa Hammanjoda: I was born in 1982 at Toungo ward in Yola South Local Government Area of Adamawa State. I obtained a diploma in Computer Science from the College of Legal studies here in Adamawa. I am Fulani by tribe.
Daily Trust: How did you meet your spouse?
Hammanjoda: I met her through a mutual acquaintance, Ramata Ahmadou, who happens to be the wife of my friend, Mohammed Umar.
Umar is a content creator who uploads videos on Islamic teachings to his YouTube page. Ramata came all the way from Norway to marry him after they connected online. When she returned to Norway, she showed her friends pictures from the wedding, which is where my wife, Diana Maria Lugunborg, saw my picture in a group shot and became interested in me. She requested to be my friend. We started as friends before she confessed her love for me. That’s how our story began. We got married at the High Court Registry on July 14, 2023.
Daily Trust: What was the most challenging aspect of navigating cultural differences in your relationship?
Hammanjoda: Fortunately, I did not encounter any major challenge when it comes to cultural differences in our relationship. I have not been to Norway, but my wife has shown great respect for my culture and tradition. She was aware of our cultural practices before she came and was willing to follow them. For instance, she would kneel while greeting our elders as is customary in our culture. Diana has always been open and respectful to my culture and tradition, making it easy for us to navigate any difference that may arise.
Daily Trust: What was the most surprising cultural aspect you learned about each other?
Hammanjoda: As at now, I have not been able to learn much about my spouse’s culture since I have not visited Norway yet. Therefore, I cannot say that there is any particular aspect that surprises me.
Daily Trust: What advice would you give to other couples in a similar situation?
Hammanjoda: My advice to other couples in a similar situation is to always have good intentions, put God first in everything they do and accept whatever comes their way with an open mind. It is important to remove fear from your life because when you are nervous you can never achieve anything in life.
Daily Trust: What are the most important values you share?
Hammanjoda: One of the most important values we share is honesty. My wife is straightforward, and we both believe in being truthful and transparent with each other.
Daily Trust: How do you navigate through your different religions in your relationship?
Hammanjoda: Religion and societal status have never been an issue for us. As long as we are both good human beings and honest with one another, we have been able to navigate our religious differences with ease. In fact, my wife is very supportive of my faith and even wakes me up for prayer if I am sleeping when the call to prayer (adhan) is made. She never allows me to miss my prayers.
Daily Trust: Tell us more about how you prioritise your faiths?
Hammanjoda: We both understand the significance of prayer and try to perform it together as much as possible. We also make sure to respect each other’s religious practices and traditions. Overall, our shared values of honesty and respect have helped us to navigate any religious difference that may arise in our relationship.
Daily Trust: Is Diana originally from Norway?
Hammanjoda: Her late parents are from California, but she grew up in Norway and speaks Norwegian language fluently. She was married and has a 9-year-old child. Diana is 43 years old and works as a primary school teacher in Norway, where Ramata, Umar’s wife teaches.
Daily Trust: In what language do you communicate?
Hammanjoda: Diana understands a little English, so we mostly communicate in English language, but I have also started learning her language. When the communication gets tough, she uses the Norwegian language and I have to use Google Translate to understand what she means. Nonetheless, language has never been a barrier for us as we always find ways to communicate effectively.
Daily Trust: Can you share some of the Norwegian words you have learned?
Hammanjoda: I have learned few words like Takk, which means, Thank you; Velkomme, which means, You are welcome, and Veggatea, which means, I caught you.
Daily Trust: What are some of the challenges you have faced since your wife came to Nigeria?
Hammanjoda: One of the challenges we have faced is that they do not eat most Nigerian foods. They prefer chicken, fruits and tea, and they do not like anything oily. Additionally, the weather in Nigeria is not conducive to them, so they are always in the air conditioner and hardly go out. Another challenge was convincing my parents to allow me to marry her. However, I am grateful to have the best parents, who only advised me to hold on to my religion.
Daily Trust: Can you clear the air on the allegation that you were given some millions of dollars?
Hammanjoda: These are lies. I would like to take this opportunity to tell anyone who cares to listen that my wife is just a primary school teacher. Where would she get all that money from? I can take care of my wife because I am not jobless. I work as a Civilian JTF and earn a monthly salary of N45,000. I also do small businesses on the side. People should not be making claims on things they are not aware of.
Daily Trust Saturday also spoke with Umar and Ramata, who played a pivotal role in bringing the couple together.
Daily Trust: Your wife is based in Norway and you are still in Nigeria. Can you share the challenges that come with long-distance relationship?
Mohammed Umar Kaura: It is really challenging to marry a foreigner. I never knew that it would be this difficult. I thought that immediately after the wedding I would follow her to Norway, but it has been a year now due to some delays we encountered with paperwork and immigration issues. Alhamdulillah, I have completed all my clearances and only waiting for an interview at the Norwegian Embassy. After that, I plan to travel to Norway with Ramata, who is also making preparations.
Daily Trust: How have you managed to keep your relationship strong despite the distance?
Kaura: For the whole year, we have been speaking on phone regularly. Hardly a day goes by without us speaking, and that’s what has kept our marital relationship strong. Despite the distance and challenges, we have always found a way to stay connected and support each other.
Daily Trust: Have you faced any challenge in navigating cultural differences?
Kaura: Fortunately, we have not encountered any major challenge when it comes to cultural differences. My wife and I have always been open and respectful of each other’s cultural practices and traditions. We have found that communication and mutual respect are essential in navigating any difference that may arise.
Daily Trust: Can you tell us more about Ramata?
Kaura: We are both 26 years old. She is originally from the Central African Republic (CAR), but grew up in Cameroon. Because there are Fulani people in Cameroon, she is fluent in Fulfulde. This makes it easy for us to communicate since I am also a Fulani. Ramata only knows how to speak Fulfulde and Norwegian.
Daily Trust: What qualities of Umar attracted you to him?
Ramata Ahmadou: I was attracted to his knowledge of Islam and his gentle nature. Umar likes uploading Islamic teachings on his YouTube page, so as a Muslim, I searched for his contact online and gave him a call. He also values education.
Daily Trust: What took you to Norway?
Ramata: My parents took me to Norway when I was six years old. Since then, we have shuttled between Cameroon and Norway. I am now an indigene of Norway. I work in the same primary school as Diana, who is a close friend. We have known each other for eight years.
Daily Trust: What cultural differences do you admire in Nigerian cultures?
Ramata: I admire the way Nigerians involve religion in everything they do. Most of the Muslims here are religious and I love that about them. I also appreciate their welcoming nature and the way they embraced me as if I were one of them.
Daily Trust: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get involved in this type of marriage?
Ramata: I would encourage anyone to practise our kind of marriage because when I came with my Christian white woman, Diana, we were openly accepted. There were no problems for us, so I encourage others to do the same.