The entertainment industry in Nigeria is still in shock. Newsrooms are buzzing up; and fans are scrambling for information. Yes, it’s true. The couple we love and admire; the union we so fancy, is breaking up – leaving us all jaw-dropped with saliva almost escaping from our mouths.
It’s not the first time couples are parting ways. And it will not be the last. We’ve seen it over and over again – From Kris and Tina Okotie to Bukky Wright and Bolaji Basia and Kefee and Alec Godwin – celebrity marriages world over appear to have very short shelf lives. What’s different in this case, however, is that not many saw the union of 9ice and Toni as ‘another celeb marriage”. Just like Betty and Soni Irabor or Joke and Olu Jacobs, we saw 9ice and Toni as two driven, focused and passionate people whose souls are intertwined; two young people who know their destination, and are willing to go all the way, hand-in-hand, in spite of whatever trials or tribulations accost them on the way.
Sadly, the announcement today, of the couple’s separation, has dashed hopes and defeated all expectations; causing us to stop and ponder: was the relationship what we thought it was all along? Or did something go wrong along the line?
9ice was yet to hit it big with ‘gongo aso’, when he announced to a reporter at Hip TV that he’s dating Toni Payne, and that they’ll be getting married. The year was 2007. Toni at the time, was known simply as the owner of an online entertainment journal, along with the Toni Payne fashion and cosmetics range. 9ice was a struggling musician who was about to join the A-league, following the growing success of his single.
The blogs praised their relationship, and many expressed confidence that Toni’s experience and exposure would help 9ice’s growing career.
And indeed, the months that followed saw 9ice’s career grow in leaps and bounds. 2008 was a great year – the year he finally hit it big, and joined the millionaire’s club. And, in spite of rumours that he was having an affair with a certain Globacom executive, he re-stated his commitment to Toni, and went on to exchange wedding vows with her, at the Surulere Registry, in Lagos, on July 17. Toni was already pregnant at the time. Their baby Zion was born on December 4, 2008.
Yes, they got a baby boy; holidayed in the UK and US, built a home in Lagos, and supported each other’s business.
But in the midst of all that, those close to the couple say there were signs things were not what they ought to be. ”There was often arguments and disagreements and a lot of times, 9ice would get out of the house”, a source who wants to remain anonymous told NET.
There’ll always be disagreements and quarells in a marriage. Couples will disagree. Partners will fight. Friends will be upset with one another. But at what point do you decide you’ve had enough? That it’s all over and done? At what point do you bang the door and take a walk?
When a marriage breaks up, it affects not just the couple involved. Friends, parents, siblings, colleagues, children all bear the burden. Everyone feels the strain, and to those who understand the import of marriage, it seems like a personal loss, even when your most distant married friends/relatives/family friends are waving each other bye.
Apart from the couple though, no one feels the pain, over the course of time, like the kids involved. The kids have to live through the trauma of a broken home – we can’t begin to enumarate the effects on them, and even the society on the short and long run.
We all welcomed the birth of Zion. We rejoiced on the couple’s behalf and used them as a good example for other celebrity bachelors and bechelorettes who are too scared to take the bold step. And it’s sad to think that Zion will grow up not seeing his parents the way they were in 2007 – lovebirds, lost in their own world and willing to dissolve into one being.
While we continue to ask questions, hoping to get to the root of the cause of this unwanted separation, we’d like to invite you to please join us to appeal to the couple, to please reconsider their stand; leave divorce out of their options now, and please seek practical ways of resolving whatever differences tearing them apart. This is one request we know baby Zion would make, if he could speak right now.
Let’s make it on his behalf; let all 9ice fans come out and request he reconcile with his wife.
Who knows? The situation might still be redeemable?
20 QUICK FACTS ABOUT TONI PAYNE AND 9ICE
- 9ice and Toni Oluwaseun Payne met in 2006 at Gbenga Adeyinka’s 10th anniversary at motherland in Opebi.
- Their affair started as friendship and later led to marriage.
- They were legally married in Lagos on Thursday, July 17, 2008 at Surulere registry.
- Toni Payne is based in Los Angeles, Califonia,USA. She is the CEO of Toni Payne line of cosmetics, apparel and publisher of Nigerian entertainment magazine.
- She was responsible for the fashion concept on his ‘Gongo aso’ album released March, 2008.
- Their baby Zion was born on Thursday December 4, 2008 at Presbyterian hospital, Southern California, United States of America.
- 9ice is the CEO of Alapomeji Records which houses artists such as Ajayi Brothers, Streetwise, Snow and Kayefi..
- Toni Payne started her apparel business in 2003.
- Her mother hails from Abeokuta in Ogun State.
11. She studied Video Digital Art.
12. In April 25, 2009, Toni Payne lost her father who hailed from Lagos.
13. In June 20, 2008 9ice performed at London Hyde Park alongside Will Smith, Amy Winehouse, U2 and many others; in honour of South African leader Nelson Mandela who clocked 90.
14. His debut album titled ‘certificate’ was released in 2006.
15. After the success of the Gongo Aso album released in March 2008, 9ice joined the millionaires club, built a posh duplex christened ‘Alapomeji’ on the Lagos-Abeokuta express way.
16. 9ice released his third alum ‘tradition’ on the December 7, 2009.
17. As at last count, 9ice’s collaborations amounts to twenty
18. 9ice was born on January 20, 1980.
19. In Wednesday 15, 2008, 9ice won the MOBO best African act award.
20. Their wedding lasted for 20 months