Dr. Oluwafemi Akinwale Kuti Jr. only moved to California for a few months – but what he found was a long-term love.
It was February 2017, and Dr. Kuti, a general practitioner and entrepreneur, was attending a start-up event for Reliance Health, a health care company he co-founded a year earlier in Lagos, Nigeria. where they lived.
Around this time, Dr. Kuti, who goes by Femi (and shares a name, though not a relationship, with the famous Nigerian Afrobeat musician) signed up for Tinder. It was here that he found Namosu’s profile in Dr. Ugochi.
“I thought she was cute, and I reasoned she’d be smart since she went to Harvard,” he said.
“She was also Nigerian, and there weren’t too many in the Bay Area.”
Dr. Namosu, 34, moved to the United States with her family at the age of seven. On Tinder, “I saw we had mutual friends,” she said, which attracted him.
Talking on the phone and messaging, the attachment of both of them towards each other increased.
“We had a lot of common interests around health care, travel, politics,” said Dr. Kuti, 37.
The couple could not meet face-to-face for about two weeks because of Dr. Namosu’s cardiology rotation at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.
But on March 1, the day after her rotation ended, they met for the first time over dinner at Bissape Baobab, a Senegalese restaurant in San Francisco.
“I think there was a spark from the beginning,” Dr. Namosu said about the date, which she jokingly dubbed a “stolen” kiss. They would have arranged another date soon, but Dr. Namosu had made plans for a trip to Las Vegas with fellow residents. Later, she was set to move to Piscataway, NJ with her family.
“But we were constantly texting each other,” Dr. Kuti said.
Dr. Namosu said, “I was really looking forward to going back to San Francisco to go on our second date” — which ended in an archery lesson, perhaps a subliminal nod to Cupid. Later he saw the movie “Get Out”.
From then on, they saw each other as regularly as her busy hospital schedule allowed, every other day, and usually in snippets.
“When I was on call overnight in the ICU, he would visit me at dinner time and bring me food from nice restaurants as a way of calming me down.”
“I’m a little more prone to being anxious,” he said. “I realized very quickly that I could depend on him—that he would become my rock.”
At the time, Dr. Kuti was living in Mountain View, California, and Dr. Nwosu lived and worked in San Francisco, about a 50-minute drive away. Dr. Cooty said, “I know now that it was a bit schismatic.” But because of their growing affection, he said, “it didn’t seem scholarly at all.”
A turning point in their relationship came that April during a day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, a US national park about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco.
They rented a car, stopped at Devil’s Teeth Baking Company in San Francisco for a breakfast sandwich, then headed to the park. On the way, Dr. Kuti plugs his phone into the car’s stereo system and plays a playlist of mainly ’90s soft rock songs. But when the South African hit”Pluto (You Remember)DJ Clock and Beatenberg came by the group, the couple spontaneously started singing together.
They both agreed that the song became the soundtrack of the tour.
Arriving at the park, the two began an hour-long journey observing the fauna and flora of the area. There was a lot of laughter and jokes and deep conversations. He said they gained important insights into each other.
Dr. Kuti said, “I think we spent too much time talking about the big things we could do that could make a difference to the world.”
“I didn’t know we both had such a big mission in life,” Dr. Namosu said. “In that conversation I saw how similar we were in how we thought about the impact we wanted to make on the world. Hearing him talk about it in detail, I could really see myself with this person.”
“Everything felt perfect, from the breakfast sandwich, the playlist in the car, and the conversation during the hike,” she said.
Dr. Namosu received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his medical degree from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr Kuti, who was born in Nigeria and raised there as well as in Portsmouth, England, received his medical training at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
In late May, nearly two months after their idyllic day trip, the couple faced a reckoning. Next month, Dr. Kuti will return to Nigeria. Over dinner at El Teco, a Latin American restaurant in San Francisco, they tried to figure out if they had a future together.
“I think we both felt like I’m leaving. She’s staying. What are we going to do with it?” Dr. Kuti said, referring to their relationship.
“I’ve been in long distance relationships before that didn’t really work out,” Dr. Namosu said. “It loses its fizz over time. So, I was worried that whatever we were feeling would fade over time with the distance. With our busy schedules, I didn’t know if we’d make it Will you be able to keep it or not?
They considered different options: one to separate and wait until Dr. Namosu finished his residency a year later, in June 2018.
After some soul searching, they decided to live together long distance, although both were “very wary” about the prospect.
The nine-hour time difference between San Francisco and Lagos, Nigeria, didn’t help. Or maybe it did.
“When I’m up, she’s coming in, and when she’s up, I’m turning,” Dr. Cooty said.
It seemed like a disadvantage at first, but he worked out a routine to make the most of the time difference.
“He would give me the first hour of his day and I would give him my last,” Dr. Namosu said. “So it worked.”
There were also daily text messages and FaceTime conversations that could last for a few minutes or hours depending on what circumstances allowed. And every two to three months, they would visit each other in person – with Dr. Kuti traveling to San Francisco because he had more flexible working hours as CEO of his health care company, Reliance Health. There was a work schedule. Once he completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Nwosu visited Dr. Kuti’s home.
“I was thinking of joining him in Nigeria,” she said. “It was a good trip for me to see what my life would be like.”
But he put another year aside when he was accepted as an instructor in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.
Over the years, Dr. Kuti accompanied Dr. Namosu several times to his parents’ home in Piscataway. However, in June of 2021, the journey was different. He plans to ask Luke Namosu, Dr. Namosu’s father, for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
“I told him that I loved his daughter very much and wanted to marry her,” said Dr. Kuti. “I wanted their permission and wanted to know what rites I needed to perform before doing so,” he said, referring to the rituals often required before proceeding with a marriage.
Mr. Namosu told Dr. Kuti that he would think about it.
“The next day, he shows up with a list of rites,” Dr. Kuti said, “and then says he needs to meet my parents, even if virtually.”
The rite began with the Igbo tradition of Iku Aka, or “knocking at the door,” where the prospective groom and older male members of his family would call on the potential bride’s family while presenting gifts—usually food and drink. And so in October 2021, Dr. Kuti did just that, using beer, champagne, and malt-flavored soft drinks.
The tradition is “basically where the groom formalizes his intentions with the bride’s family,” Dr. Kuti said. “Ugochi and I had discussed it, and it was important to him that the move happened as a sign of respect for his parents.”
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In December 2021, he proposed on his knees in Western tradition.
Dr. Cooty reconstructs the day they went hiking in Point Reyes four years ago. They rented a car and headed to the park, buying a couple of breakfast sandwiches from Devil’s Teeth Bakery along the way. When they reached the park to begin their ascent, Dr. Namosu sensed something was wrong.
For one thing, she said, Dr. Cooty was overly concerned about timing. “Who’s concerned about arriving at a specific time and place during a hike?” she wondered. “Femi loves planning surprises so I was looking forward to seeing what she had in store for us.”
Sure enough, when they reached a spot that Dr. Kuti had pre-determined, the photography team he had hired was there, to record Dr. Kuti’s proposal and engaged them To present with the ring which he coded with a jeweler.
Dr. Nosu said of the ring, “I didn’t know he was designing it,” she said. Without hesitation, she said, “Yes.”
On 10 December, the couple had a civil marriage officiated by Grace Odia, an official at the Federal Marriage Registry in Ikoyi, Nigeria.
On 28 December, they had a Christian ceremony at Crystal Lake Resort, Oguta, Imo State. A 31-member Catholic choir performed during the ceremony accompanied by traditional Igbo drums and other instruments. Dr. Adisegun Fatusi, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences in Ondo, Nigeria and a former mentor of the groom, officiated.
On 29 December, the couple had a third ceremony at the bride’s family compound in the town of Aro-Ibiasoegbe, which included both Igbo and Yoruba traditions.
The couple now lives in Lagos.
Reflecting on the journey of Dr. Kuti and her marriage, Dr. Nwosu, now a senior vice president of clinical services at Reliance Health, recalls a time in the spring of 2020, when she was in New York and Dr. There were huts. in Lagos. He was supposed to visit her in mid-March, but the pandemic put an end to those plans.
When they finally got together in August, she said, “After being together long distance it was clear that I wanted to be with him, no matter where he was in the world.”
When: December 29, 2022
Where: Bride’s family compound in Aro-Ibiasoegbe town.
Blending Traditions: The African ceremony incorporated cultural aspects of Igbo and Yoruba traditions to pay homage to the ethnic groups of the bride and groom. During part of the celebration, musicians play Yoruba talking drums, and a DJ plays contemporary and classic popular music in Igbo and Yoruba.
Overlapping Love: The bride’s ring was designed by the groom and Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Maggie Simpkins. The two overlapping curves on the band represent love and unity in the African writing system called ncbidi,
three dresses: In different parts of the ceremony, the bride wore clothes symbolizing the stages of her life: first, her “maiden” dress, which she wore with girth beads from her late grandmother. She donned another outfit as she frantically searched for her husband amid a crowd of well-wishers. Her final outfit was the one in which she made her first appearance as a married woman: ceremonial dress in Yoruba tradition (in honor of her husband’s ethnic group), which matched her clothing, symbolizing their unity.
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