ONLY FOOLISH WOMEN LET THEIR HUSBAND STRAY â€“ LINDA IKEJI
At 29, model, and businesswoman, Linda Ikeji has packaged enough into her life to make her one of the most desirable ladies . Linda is not satisfied. She still wants more. In this interview with Samuel Olatunji , she parts the curtain to let us have a peek into her life. Excerpt…
What has been your staying power in the industry?
(Chuckles) How come I have refused to go? It's because I'm not meant to go. I'm meant to be here. I have other things that I want to accomplish in my life. My modelling days are over , so I am moving on from there to something else. Basically, I still have other things I want to accomplish in life. That is why I am still around.
What do you mean by the modelling days are over? You don't modelling anymore?
I'm still into modelling but not as a model . I now work behind the scene. I run a modelling agency.
What if you're offered a mouth-watering modelling contract?
I'll take it but unfortunately, they don't pay models well in Nigeria so I can't be part of that directly.
In your eight years of modelling, what were the pleasant moments?
Everything was good. It was quite memorable in a way. I modelled for all the big designers at a time. I did a few TV commercials, did billboards, all kinds of stuff. I enjoyed myself. I met people, everything was good.
Modelling in Nigeria is not that big, so I can't really say it was spectacular. I just did great shows, met great people, and that's it. I made some money from a deal with MTN in 2002 and bought my first guitar. I was 21 when I got my first car, and I did a few other jobs that yielded a lot of money with which I started my business.
So why did you say modelling is not big business in Nigeria?
Modelling is not serious business in Nigeria, because people don't take models seriously . They're not regarded as celebrities . You don't have models on the cover of any magazine here. Models don't make good money and they are not appreciated. People believe that every Tom, Dick and Harry can be models. They say something like, any fine girl can be a model so why should I pay attention to you? For instance, if I should come to you and say pay me N700,000 for a modelling job, you will say why should I pay you that when my sister is more beautiful? Why shouldn't I engage my sister and pay her N50,000? People don't really appreciate models that much because they are not paid much. They are not like Genevieve Nnaji.
But you made money, you made a name, you've been on the cover of several magazines?
Well there are exceptions I guess. Even at the early stages, I went beyond modelling. I started producing pageants when I was 19. I did that while I was in school. People knew me for that even before they knew me as a model. I was producing events including fashion shows even when I was still modelling.
Why did you start fending for yourself at 19?
I have always been independent. I actually started modelling at 17 even before I was admitted into the university. So I started making money at that age. I always wanted to be my own person , doing my own thing. I have always known that I wanted to be my own woman, so at 17, I was lucky to be able to get the opportunity to make money and take care of myself.
What about your parents?
My parents are alive. They didn't need to give me money anymore because anytime they asked if I needed money , I said no don't worry, I have my own money and I enjoyed doing that. If you have money, you can do anything you want with it. You don't have to explain to anybody why. I really enjoyed it ,so I didn't bother them anymore. They have other children to take care of, so I just removed myself from the list.
So why didn't you attempt acting?
Acting? No I was never interested in acting. Funny enough, I think I went to one or two auditions in those days, but after a while when I saw the whole thing, I just walked away and focused on modelling.
Are you fulfilled?
I'm not. There are so many things I have not done yet. So many things I have not yet accomplished, but thankfully, I am not that old. Very soon, I will get them done.
What things haven't you done yet?
I want to give back to the society. I feel like I am 10 percent done, I haven't done 90 per cent. That's the way I feel. Hopefully in another 2 years, I will accomplish another 40 to 60 percent before I turn 40. Ultimately, I would have accomplished 100 percent.
Specifically what haven't you done?
I want to get on TV and have my own program. I'm actually working on it right now. I'm bringing back my magazine. I want to be in the media. That has always been my dream.
Tell me about growing up?
It was nice. I really can't remember, but I think I was introverted. I kept to myself very much, so it wasn't really that exciting. I read a lot . Maybe that is why I am now an author. I wrote a lot, but I have a lot of siblings. When I was able to play with them, it was fun. Despite that my childhood was quite memorable,
How many siblings do you have?
I have six siblings.
Yeah, five girls and a boy.
And you are the first?
I am actually second child in my family. The first is my elder sister..
How did you start blogging?
Let me explain. You know I told you earlier that I always wanted to be a journalist. I loved writing . So when I was nine , I used to do interviews with my peers. I used to interview people, read news and stuffs like that. So when I became older and I was unable to study mass communication, I discovered blogging through Bella Naija.
Sometime in 2006, a friend of mine told me she read about me on the internet and gave me the link.
That was how I discovered Bellaniaja. Bellanaija wrote about me. I saw all the comments about me and other people's own and I liked it. I started going there almost every day. Somehow, I started wondering if I could actually do it. I really felt I could do it. I enjoyed posting news and getting feedbacks and that's how I started my own blog page.
You now have over 5000 fans on your blog. How did you do it?
I'm hoping to get more over time. I guess it's because of my consistency . My stories are always interesting and that makes people want to visit every time. I used to talk about myself and put my pictures. Other people's stories allow visitors to air their opinions and I guess that's why I'm able to get many people to visit my blog .
You now get adverts too?
Yes, we just started getting them recently .I was doing it out of passion for writing and for disseminating news and stories but now after three years people started telling me there is money in it. So people started asking if they could place adverts and I charge them for doing so. It's not much but it comes in every month now.
Now, you are a blogger, writer, and you run an events company. You have a lot going for you. Are you not too busy for would-be suitors?
I beg forget that one. Which man? I'm not so busy that I can't make room for a man. Some people are busier than I am.
But you know Bukky Wright had an interview with Sunday Sun too and said men are afraid of successful women?
I think men are chasing successful women now. Most men are looking for women who will complement their efforts financially and otherwise. They are looking for women who can take care of themselves at home, who can contribute to the family. I had a friend who said he had two girls he was considering for marriage. One was a student and the other is a banker.
He asked which he should choose. I said go for the one you love and he said I love the student but why should I marry a student that I will be taking care of when I can also marry the banker? I think times have changed and men are looking for women who are already successful or with potentials to make money. Women who can contribute or even help them.. I think if you find a young girl who is very rich and not married, trust me she is not married because she has not found her kind of man. It's not because there are no men.
Take someone like me, I get overtures from men regularly, but I haven't found my choice. So men chase women who have money a lot because they want someone who can help them or at least complement their efforts or at least assist them. You know, not someone that will be dependent on them to do their hair, to buy recharge cards and all that. Most young boys don't have time for that.
Now that you are a bit successful, do you get more toasters than before?
I get more toasters now than before. Yeah, but my problem is that I tease them. So, I don't know maybe the older you get the more you start thinking about self and I have this standard that I've set. I just have to be happy. I'm so particular about happiness. That's why I am still giving myself time to become successful.
But people often say that Nigerians are the happiest people. Are you saying men are unable to make ladies happy?
I don't mean it that way. I mean like my own happiness. Finding somebody who makes you happy is not about Nigerian men or something but it's necessary that you find your own soul mate. Without that, you can't have a good relationship and I am happy even without a man. If I'm happy with my relationships, being happy with my husband is a different thing.
What specifically are you looking for?
A person who is good for me, a person that is perfect for me.
W hat can a man do to make you happy?
He doesn't have to do anything. He just has to be himself. There are six billion people and choosing one person out of this number means that the person is someone you want to be with. Someone who for some reason, you cannot explain how he makes you happy. When you are with such people, they don't have to say anything to make you happy. You're just happy being in their presence.
Do you have a specific timeframe within which you wish to get married?
No, absolutely not. When God gives me a husband, I will marry.
Don't you think you are getting old and people can start talking about you?
I don't care what people think about me. When God is ready for me, He'll give me a husband. I can marry at any age depending on when God gives him to me.
What do you do to maintain your stunning figure?
It's natural. I don't do anything. I don't exercise, I don't eat a specific food. It's just natural.
What's the difference between love and infatuation?
You know it's very difficult to distinguish because a lot of people are infatuated and they think it's love. For me, the best way I can answer this is that, love is a real thing. Infatuation is when you think it's a real thing. Love is without any doubt. With love, you can overcome anything but the infatuated takes into consideration wrongdoing easily.
What's the difference between love and sex?
There's a big difference. You can have sex with someone you don't love. It's a totally different thing. Love has to do with emotions while sex is physical.
But people often say unless a woman is a prostitute, she doesn't give her body to any man except she loves him. What's your take on that?
Yeah, women rarely give their bodies to men they don't love. Except you are loose or you are seeking favours or whatever . But most times, women are of high moral standing with God. If they don't love you, you can't touch them and I'm one of these women. If I don't love you, you can never touch me.
What should we expect from you in 2011?
A lot. I have a lot to do in 2011. I am expanding my brand, expanding my online business, expanding my magazine, going on television.
Can you date a married man?
Over my dead body.
What's the big deal about dating a married man?
Why would I do it? It's silly to date another woman's husband.
Some women believe men will cheat no matter what you do to satisfy them?
That's for ladies who let their husbands go out cheating. I am not one of those .
You are almost certain that your man will not cheat aren't you?
He probably will, but it's going to be so unusual of him. That is until it happens. I never thought about it. Never! Though men are prone to cheating, it's how you deal with it that matters.