Veteran Nigerian actress Joke Silva, 56, has revealed that the popular Silva family, which she is known with, adopted her decades ago.
The popular TV icon said that she was an adopted child from a foster home operated by the Red Cross in Lagos.
Joke disclosed this family secret on Tuesday, at the first annual conference of Heritage Adoption Support and Advocacy Group (HASAAG) which was held in Lagos.
The actress, who is married to veteran actor Olu Jacobs, said she was adopted into the family of the late Chief E.A. Silva, a reputable lawyer, who was also known as Babajiro of Lagos and his wife, late Dr Abimbola Silva, a pioneering female doctor, who died in July 2015 at 89.
Joke recounted her days in elementary school where her talent in acting was first discovered. How her foster parents ensured that she had the best training and even provided for her like she was their biological daughter.
She said: “Everybody would be calling me whenever my adopted mum (Dr. Silva) came with cakes and a lot of things during her visit. I went to YWCA Nursery, which was not too far from the Silva’s home in Yaba. I also have memories of moving in with them when they moved to Glover Road in Ikoyi.
“I remember reading newspapers to my Dad in our sitting room and pronouncing Brig-General Aguyi Ironsi, the then Nigeria Head Of State, Agolo Iresi! My father could not stop laughing at my hilarious interpretation of the newspaper.
“Also I remember making them proud, when performing at St. Saviour School. My parents would be standing and were congratulated by other parent too for my acting skills. My parents were so excited that this child was incredibly talented.
“I have memories of going to Holy Child College Lagos because my parents insisted on me going to Holy Child because that is where Julie Coker, Pearce Olusola and Ibidun Allison went and they believed with all my performing talent skills, that is the kind of school I should go to too.”
The actress revealed that she never knew she was an adopted child years after a big cousin pointed it out to her but when she found out, she didn’t tell her mother.
“I remembered going out with my cousin and we met a big cousin She introduced me as ‘my cousin’s daughter and this is Dr Silva’s daughter.’ Then, the older cousin was like, ‘Dr. Silva ke? Se Doctor Silva bimo ni? (meaning does Dr. Silva have a child?) . Did Dr Silva ever has a child?’
“I was so confused and when I got home I told my mum, ‘I met this lady that says you never had a child.’ My mum froze and she said, ‘don’t mind them, they are used to rubbish talk.’
“But I got to know years later when I wanted to travel and was looking for my passport where my mum kept it. Since she was not around, I opened the box in her absence and I saw my adoption papers. I never discussed it with my mum because I felt it was something that would hurt her, that was why, it was kept secret from me,” she explained.
Joke said that she can never refer to her foster parents as foster parents because they never treated her as an adopted child.
She said: “Even in their wills, I was well protected. My Daddy being a lawyer said in his will that all his children, both adopted and biological, should be treated equally. I was not stressed in anyway. We were all well taken care of till my mum died at the age of 89. At 56, I still miss her but I know she has definitely gone back to her father.
“On her sick bed I always sang her favourite tunes, she would be imputing the melodious tunes and she died singing to her Lord. She had prepared her family before my coming into her life because I had an incredible big Silva family.
“I have a very big family I am the first daughter, I carried the responsibility of a first daughter. Everybody in my family cannot take any decision until sister Joke has come. I can’t call my parents adopted parents. They are my parents.”