Me and My Many WomenPosted on May 18, 2012 with 13 comments
I have heard many rumours about how much of a ladies’ man I am. In actual fact, a young journalist told me a couple of years back that she’d heard that I had fathered about 7 children with as many different women on as many continents (the intrepid world traveller that I am, eh?). That was news to me – I thought media folks were in the business of telling the news, not making it up! Well, they do seem to make up a lot of the news you see on TV these days…
I can accept the title of ladies’ man, but I am definitely not a womanizer. I am too serious, too focused on my work, too straight and honest to play that game. But I do love women and I enjoy nothing more than being in the company of a lovely lady listening to music and just “being”. I have always loved women. Since childhood, my favourites have always been the women. I was the proverbial tied-to-mummy’s-apron-strings kind of child. Wherever my mother went, I went along, and try separating me from her! Even Baba Ghana, the old Ghanaian man who taught me my first alphabets and numbers learnt quickly that I would follow him to his nursery only after having been plied with gifts.
I have met and been enriched by my association with so many great women, but the most important and influential, by far, are my mother (MaSegun) and late maternal grandmother (MamaAgba) – these two, in many ways, are responsible for the basic building blocks of my moral fibre. MamaAgba it was who taught me the basics of traditional African communalism and the essential values of humility, selflessness, good neighbourliness, non-materialism and love for people and nature. MaSegun was the one who infused in me a burning ambition to keep improving myself and not accept cheap limits. She also inculcated in her children the importance of being honest, hardworking, upstanding and proud. My parents broke up when I was barely 10 and I never lived with my mother or my grandmother again, but those early lessons have stood me in good stead until today; I keep passing them on to millions of people through my music and writings, and on to my own children in private, intimate moments.
Aside from these two titans, my success and standing in society today owes a lot to the good people who taught me in primary and secondary school. Mrs. Ayoola was an old lady to whose care I was entrusted after school hours, five days a week, between the ages of 7 and 8. Her job was to ensure that I got some discipline and took extra lessons in Arithmetic and English. She did a good job. By 3rd year primary school I had learnt how to sit still in class and pay attention to the lessons. Prior to that, especially in my first year, all I did was wait until the teacher had turned her back before wriggling out of the room through a hole in the wooden wall. I’d go out and play and my school uniform would be all brown with dust by closing time. My report card at the end of those early school terms was nothing spectacular; I stalled in the mid-range of performance. But after those few months with Mrs. Ayoola, I became an A student, often in one of the first five positions. By my 4th year, I was fully entrenched as the candidate to beat. I took 1st position in every test and major examination until I left that school and the trend continued in high school. Eventually, others started to take it for granted that little Akinlolu would take 1st anyway, and they settled on competing for the other “vacant” positions.
Mrs. Ayoola belonged to a generation of teachers who took their jobs seriously, who did not see their work as a burden, who believed that it was a honour and joy to have the opportunity to prepare the children for the future, and who were not basically concerned with their salary or what other business they had going on the side. You do have to feel pity for the children of the poor in Nigeria today: they have to go on empty stomachs to schools with crumbling infrastructure where the teacher does not always show up, and when she does, it is to sell whatever wares someone just brought back from Dubai. The children of the rich attend these insanely expensive schools but are they much better off? Today’s children have to endure dry, lifeless academic work, inorganic playtime and sports sessions and pretentious love from staff whose only interest is in the pay. They are forced into school as early as age 2 and are denied essential cultural education. These children are missing out on childhood! Nigeria and other countries in many parts of Africa need curriculum renewal and a total overhaul of the education system. This is something I am very passionate about, but it is doubtful that such change will come under the present non-creative and blind political leadership. (More on that in another blog entry…stay tuned).
Mrs. Ayoola was the first in a long line of female teachers I was blessed with. I was for, more than once, a teacher’s pet, the favourite whom no one could punish, the one who could never do wrong. In high school I met another very influential lady. Her name was Ogbechie when I first met her, Stella Ogbechie. She was a strikingly beautiful and elegant woman who took me under her wings when I was about 14 going on 15 and in high school. She was the English teacher who once told me I wrote better English that she did. She encouraged my creative writing, would actually challenge me to keep writing and somehow was able to cut through my shyness and convinced me to let her read those early manuscripts. She was more than a teacher; she was a friend, an encouragement coach, a believer and big sister all rolled into one. How I loved that woman!
The other day I had a group of friends over at my place for dinner which I had made myself. The general consensus (post-beer and wine) was that the food was great and the folks wanted to know how I came about such high culinary skills. I explained that I had spent a lot of time in kitchens over the years watching women cook and asking questions. Add to that my natural creativity and love of experimenting and you’ve got a good cook there. I have always gravitated towards the women, put me in a crowd even today and I will eventually end up amongst the ladies – this is not because I do not like men. I was equally influenced by many men while growing but the women had the more profound impact. And while men are likely to be competitive and find my dreamy ideas quite challenging, the women are always more accepting, encouraging and supportive.
So, is the attraction mutual? I’d say yes, I am as attracted to the female folk as they are to me. And I don’t think it’s got anything to do with my supposed good looks, intelligence or wit, I think it has more to do with a sense of commonality. My mother did believe for the longest time that I was an abiku, a reincarnation of the little girl she lost at only 9 months. So perhaps in a previous life I was a woman. In 2001, I had the opportunity of travelling in a southern African country and one of my hostesses, seeing how young ladies would flock around me each evening for long chats, labelled me a chick magnet. Yes, I kind of prefer that to “ladies’ man”. Segun Akinlolu, singer-songwriter, poet, chick magnet. Now you are talking!
In closing, I thought I should share a video with you this Friday. It’s a recent “quickie” with a travelling crew from OGTV Abeokuta. I was asked, amongst other things, about the meaning of Beautiful Nubia, my transition from veterinary medicine to music, my hair and, of course, the regular “Who is the woman in your life?”. When asked to sing a song though, I carefully avoided “What A Feeling!” Instead, I sang “Ka Jo Ma Se Po” a cappella. Once my young interviewer, the beautiful Chinonso, started swaying, I knew I had found the magic. That video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYV9CAxFXMo
And here is the video for “Ka Jo Ma Se Po”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGrvJKrejfU
Have a great weekend!
Date to Note:
Sunday, June 10 - Beautiful Nubia Live Concert at EniObanke Arts Centre, 19 Adekunle Fajuyi Way Ikeja GRA. Time: 5pm- 9pm. Fee: N1500 (Children - free). Tickets available before the date at the venue or from 08034549778