FORMER veteran journalist turned serial entrepreneur, Mrs. Oyin Onime and her entire household rolled out the drums on Saturday, May 16, 2015, in celebration of a fulfilled golden jubilee.
She spoke at length with ENCOMIUM Weekly about life at 50, marriage and sundry issues.
How does it feel to be 50?
To be candid with you, I am not feeling different. I am still feeling the same way I felt when I was 30, 40. What I have noticed about me now is that, I am calmer. I am more reflective now. I have fond memories. At times, I look at myself and say, if it were to be the former Oyin, she would have reacted in another way. I give glory to God for sparing my life. It is a great privilege to mark this age.
What is the significance of 50 to you?
It is a time of reflection. I was talking to a couple of friends days back, I told them we are getting to the afternoon of our lives. We are not young anymore. Forget about all the enhancements we use. Basically, at 50, you are at the peak of your life.
50 also means I am going into a bigger responsibility. My daughters are grown ups. They will get married and have children. The number of people looking up to me will increase. A time to slow down in terms of mundane things. It is time to be closest to God. I am someone who is close to God. I told God that when I am 50, I will be closest to Him. That is what 50 means to me.
You don’t look 50, what is the secret?
That is what everybody says. In fact, it is amazing. My mom told me that I don’t look 50. She said, she looked more matured and older when she was 50. I think basically it is because God Himself renewed me. I will also say I started being responsible very early. I matured earlier than my age. At 21, I was earning my money. At 25, I was a very comfortable person. I put myself through school. I grew old when I was young. By the grace of God, I am contented. I am happy. When I was much younger, I wasn’t glamorous. I didn’t go to parties, I didn’t dress as such, just my top and jeans. Just about six, seven years ago when I left journalism, that was when I started doing all those things. I think now, I am living my 30s in my 50s. There is nobody that will say I look 50. You don’t see a woman add to her age, we subtract from it. I will say that it is God. I tell people that God has given me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning. I am contented. God has given me a lot of things without running after them. I know a lot of people who don’t have children. I am happy I have four lovely children. What else do I want? Maybe, that is why I am looking so young. I don’t use any special cream. It is just of recent I started going to the gym. I don’t use anything special, it is God.
What are you most grateful for at this age?
I am grateful to God for everything He has done for me. I did a lot of things before my mate. I got married before all our friends. I did everything fast. God has blessed all the things I laid my hands on. It is not that I didn’t have challenges. Our marriage went through eight years of trouble, but in all of that, I am grateful. I thank God for my husband. He is a special man. He is a different specie of an African man. He is a man of his own, he doesn’t talk much. He doesn’t do a lot of things other men do. I am grateful to God for that. I am grateful for my children. God has helped to bring them up. They went to school, served and they are now in their own places. My younger sons are doing well too. They didn’t give me trouble, and they wouldn’t in Jesus name. God has been faithful, He has been good.
Can you share some of the lessons life has taught you at 50?
Life has taught me to be contented with what I have. Accept what you cannot change. Be fair in everything that you do and be honest. Take things easy. The mortality rate is quite high because we put our hands in a lot of mess. Don’t look for trouble. I can remember the first house we could afford was a ‘self contain’ in a shanty in Itire. We didn’t care. A lot of people want to show off and end up putting themselves in trouble. Be close to God. Sow good seed because whatever a man sows, he will reap.
Any regret at 50?
No, there is no regret. I am work in progress. My husband is work in progress. My children are work in progress. The path of the righteous is a shining light, it shines and shines till the perfect day. My future is better than my past. I don’t have any regret. By my own standard, I have done well. I have walked my path. If there is anything I regret, I learn from it and move on.
How does it feel being the same birthday mate with your husband?
It is awesome. It is beautiful. I met my husband on a boat. In the 90s, we always move from one place to another, Floating Buka, late Bobby Benson’s Caban Bamboo and the rest. As a journalist, you have to move around. The first time he saw me, he said something told him I was his wife. We became friends, started talking. He didn’t toast me, I told him to toast me. There is one song I like so much, an Arabella Fountain song. Anytime they played it, I danced flex. Anytime I start dancing, he will come, hold my back and dance with me. That was how we became friends. He used to walk me home.
One day, I invited him to our house. We chatted for hours. I didn’t see him as a boyfriend, we were quite busy as journalists. As my birthday was approaching, I asked him for his birthday and he said May 16. I didn’t believe him until he showed me his identity card. After that, we became very close. If I was going on any assignment, he followed me. I worked with Climax magazine then. We were the magazine people loved to dread. I can remember, we went to Port Harcourt for a story. We took a night bus, I had to carry a camera as well. I think it was after that I realized he was somebody I could marry. He encourages me. I used to carry about three cameras. He helped me a lot on the field. We became partners. Everything just worked out for us.
How long have you been married?
We have been married for over 24 years.
Can you tell us the experience and the challenges?
It has been wonderful to be married to Kunle. The first six years of my marriage was different. We didn’t see ourselves as married couple. He had a job that was taking him out of Lagos. He came only on weekends, I was at the peak of my career. I wasn’t usually home. Sometimes, I get home around 2 a.m. My daughter used to stay with my mom. Later, he was transferred to Lagos and we started living as a married couple. After about seven years of marriage, bigger responsibility came and everything changed. Change comes with its own baggage. Maybe because I had been independent early, I was earning N120,000 per month. We had issues for about eight years. I used to call it my wilderness experience. Thank God, I went to God. If I look back at those challenges, I give glory to God.
Can you tell us some of your landmark achievements?
I have beautiful children. I had a good career. Some people would list mundane things but for me, I will say, I have affected my society for good. I am the third female photo-journalist. When I see young female journalists carrying cameras, I feel elated. I broke the barrier. I remember in those days, they will say I can’t do this or that. But I was able to convince them and got things done. I was the first female to cover the World Cup. They are all mundane. The most important thing is that, I am alive and well. I have some women looking up to me. I am comfortable by the grace of God. I can hold my own in anything. My business is still vibrant, I have achieved good life.
What else do you want from God that He has not yet done?
He has done basically everything. It is not that I don’t have needs. I am looking up to God to give my children good husbands and children. I was humbled when I saw a friend’s house. I told them I was bringing my husband to see the house. I coveted it. I want my husband to be a pastor, I want him to be flexible and accessible. They are all things I want. I know the God that has been doing it can do it again.
People say maturity comes with age. What are those things you are doing before that you can no longer do?
I don’t believe maturity comes with age. I have two friends, one is older than me, the other is younger. I prefer listening to the younger one than the older one. You learn and earn wisdom with age. Maturity comes with personal experience and discipline.
Being a female journalist is not easy. Can you share some of your experiences with us?
It is not easy as a woman. I want to say this in sincerity. I am sorry if I will step on toes or if some people will be angry with me. If you look at the number of female journalists that have good marriages, they are very few. Our job does not allow you have a good marriage. Journalism will not allow you be the best mother. I tell people that, I didn’t rise above where I stopped in my career because I chose my home first. When I had my first baby, I looked at her and said, this baby is suffering. I had to stop working when Climax went under. I was home for like six years. Then I had my second child. I made sure I took good care of them before going back to journalism. Our career does not allow us to be responsible. It is easy for the men. Journalism doesn’t allow you to give your best to your family. That is why a lot of journalists don’t have successful marriage, except they are both journalists and they have competent hands helping them raise their children.
What advise do you have for young journalists who want to be married?
Life is easier now, it wasn’t like it used to be. You can submit your work right from home. In our days, you can’t. If an event is around 10 p.m, you have to wait till the second day. As a photographer, you have to print the pictures, take them to the office. You have to write your story, wait for it to be typed, correct it before submitting. Even if the man is Jesus, he will complain one day.
Life is easier, you can do a lot away from the office. You can be a journalist now and still have a successful marriage. Once you are disciplined and know how to juggle your schedule, you will be able to do a good job.
If not for editorial meeting, I am not sure you need to go to the office every day in this age now. Nothing stops the women to be the best they can be now. If I were 30 years younger, I will be the best and be winning awards everywhere.
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN