MY NUMBER ONE MISTAKE: I WENT INTO A POLYGAMOUS MARRIAGE WITH A MUCH-OLDER MAN ––AISHA FALODE
You have been a sport journalist for over a decade now. Why don't you want to try other professions?
This profession is like when you are on drug; it hooks you. I'm a sport broadcaster, a trained one. I enjoy what I'm doing. I often tell people that the day I find my job to become a work, I know it's time to look for other challenges. It's still a job and that means I'm enjoying what I'm doing. I like the various challenges that the job poses on a daily basis and that is what makes it interesting for me.
What are those challenges?
Well, challenges in the sense that I'm one of those who helped to break that stereotype assumption or presumption that sport journalism was made for men. Indeed, a lot more women are into this profession (now) and they are doing very well, coping with the daily challenges that come with the job because it is not easy. I often tell people that for me, television was not a challenge. It was being on the field as a reporter, which was how I started.
You mean you were once in the field?
Yes. The field was where you got stories. The field was where you met the players, where you met those making decisions – either good or bad. And the field was where you got to really move around and begin to sow your seeds in terms of your root.
Did you face skepticism that you would not last long in this male dominated side of journalism?
Well, actually I faced skepticism from people who felt that I was just a flash in the pan. I was also aware of their skepticism and that fired me on that I went to a teacher's training college, and there I was very vibrant in sport. That was when sport was very vibrant then. So, after my NCE, I studied Physical Education in the University of Lagos. I was very active in sport. The NUGA Games were there during my university days and I participated actively. So, I had a BSc in Physical Education. And I told myself that I won't be a teacher. I'm very athletic; I have had a degree and it just struck me that I could practice my profession, not in the classroom, but on the field. Then I went back to school and I got a post graduate diploma in Mass Communication. And then Ray Power started and I joined them. And when they also started the AIT, we were the pioneer members of staff on the sport desk. So, today, I look back fulfilled. I also tell people that where I am today is due to Dr. Raymond Dopkesi, who saw in me what I didn't see in myself. There was a time I would work seven days a week. But now, I'm involved with the administration of the game on the continent, and in Nigeria and I still find the time to still be a journalist.
You devote so much time to your looks and hair. How do you cope with your work load?
I'm not the fashion type. I don't follow fashion steadfastly. And I don't go out of my way to follow trends. I like to look good, not in an outrageous manner, but I want to look presentable in a respectful way. The hairdos you are talking about was because I was constantly on television. And you know they say that television is glamour. Once you see somebody, the first impression you have of that person is the appearance, before you even begin to listen to what she has to say. You have to arrest the attention of the viewer by your look. I visited the salon then once a week, even in the midst of the tight schedule that I had. And my hairdresser then was so devoted. But now, priorities have changed.
What is that hairstyle you won't go close to?
I will not go close to dreadlocks. I don't see maturity in that. For me, I don't see maturity in dreadlocks for a woman who is in her 30s, not to talk of one who is over 40 like I am now.
When you were much younger, would you have gone for such a style?
Well, I would have. You have the years that you will just have to try out everything. You want to try out the minis, you want to try out the shorts, you want to wear high heels, you want to wear long nails and even design them. But then, there is a time for everything. That phase has passed. I don't wear false nails any more, I prefer being myself, looking natural, but I will still go to the salon and have my hair done. Then my pedicure and manicure too.
How come you are not wearing tattoos on your smooth skin?
No, no. That is a no for me in whatever form. Tattoo is honestly not for me.
What is the outfit you like?
There is no outfit I can't wear, but certainly I will never wear mini skirts again.
But you have beautiful legs.
I have beautiful legs. People compliment me on my legs. I know I have beautiful legs, but I will not go out of my way to expose my legs. I used to wear mini when I was much younger, but now I have stopped. When I was on campus, it was the trend for me to flaunt my legs. I followed trends then; I followed what was in vogue then, but now I'm at the age where I have a daughter who is in her teenage years. She is 15 now; I have left that kind of dressing for her.
There are some 50-year-olds who still wear skimpy things. They will not agree with you on that.
It is what they want. I'm not condemning anybody. I mean if they have the courage to wear it, if such wears look good on them, they can go ahead, but honestly such weird wears are not for me. I will not be caught dead dressing like that any more.
How will you feel seeing your 15-year-old wearing trousers that reveal her butts?
She knows my position on that. She cannot wear trousers, the ones that they call hipsters now, I mean the one that stand half way to their butts. And then, you have them wearing mid rib tops that will show half the stomach. We must begin to build values in our children. We have traditions, we have values, we thank God for our mothers, who taught us to dress and cover up well. Then we thought that what they were saying or doing was too rigid. Even at that, fashion was not as permissive as it is now. Our young girls, especially teenagers these days, the things they wear will shock you. And I think parents should also set a standard by the way they dress.
Which styles do you feel comfortable in?
Well, I like long gowns, long dresses that will accentuate and compliment my figure. I also wear trousers a lot. Maybe because of the nature of my job, I wear jeans and tee-shirts a lot.
What's your best colour?
I like dark colours because of my complexion and I'm not a make-up person, except when I'm going out. But when I'm at home, I take it all off because I want my skin to breathe. I use the local sponge because it will scrub me very well, more than exfoliation. But for my face, I use products that are oil free. I have my foundation, which is oil free, my compact powder is also oil free. They usually say the less of it, the more, and that is fashion for me.
What fashion item gets you excited?
The MAC range of cosmetics is one, but I don't have any particular perfume. I don't buy names. I don't buy things that are unnecessarily expensive.
What item will you spend a fortune on?
Well, I will say a wristwatch, but I won't tell you how much the one I'm wearing now cost.
You were once married and it crashed?
Well, I tell people that marriage is meant for one to enjoy and not a do-or-die thing. I think a lot of our women now, maybe because of the society, people want to carry the tag Mrs. A lot of women are in marriages that have broken down completely. Marriage is very good, but if it makes you unhappy all the time, or if you are in a marriage where you are strangers, even when you live in the same house, then it is not a marriage. In my own case, I think I went into marriage too early, I was 26 when I got married and I went into polygamous marriage with a much older man. That was the number one mistake. I realised early enough that it was a mistake on my part. And I needed to just end it, and I did. And I thank God that I got two children from the marriage. Though the marriage broke down, the father of my children and I still remained very good friends until he passed on three years ago. If I find another man tomorrow who is the Mr. Right, I will go for him, but it is not a must. I am very contented with what I have now. I have two beautiful children (a boy and a girl), I have a career that is fulfilling. I'm a very busy person, and before I marry a man, he has to understand my schedule and like me for who I am. We won't be expecting so much from one another; maybe I will marry him. But it is not a priority.