I’m not a feminist, my husband is the head of our home- Shade Okoya
By Remmy Diagbare
Shade Okoya celebrates 20 years of marriage to Chief Razaq Akanni Okoya, and she is going all out to have the best time. Talking with Shade, one gets a refreshing sense of her depth. She talks like a deep thinker. She is not a flash in the pan society bimbo; she has depth, which perhaps explains her sustainability. Shade shares her joy and the peculiarities of being in a multiple spouse relationship.
Congratulations on reaching the miles stone of 20 years in marriage. Has it been 20years of bliss?
I thank God for my 20th wedding anniversary, and He has been wonderful to bless me with the knowledge to overcome all that comes with marriage.
What are the high and low points you discovered in marriage?
There are usually some highs and some lows in married life. Once you decide to go into marriage, plan yourself and always pray that there is no looking back. Determination and zeal make one succeed.
What lessons have you learnt since you got married and how did you evolve to be who you are today?
The lesson I learnt is to be tolerant and always ensure you respect your husband. Have you ever heard an old sea-captain boast that in all his experience he had never seen a raging sea, never a dull, heavy, storm-laden sky, never listened to the tempest shriek through the rigging, and threaten to tear away the masts? His pride is in his skill, not in his luck. The matrimonial sea never remains serene and calm, with no ruffling waves for years at a time. The vital point is that the storms are quiescent in safety and the love and trust, purified by time, remain undaunted for 20 years.
Have you had to ignore many things as you evolved? What gives you the motivation on your journey to becoming wife, companion and mother?
I have the motivation to succeed. I hate to fail in whatever I set out to do.
Marriage is like the acceptance of the unreturnable delivered goods. Courtship is the joyous, sunshine launching of the craft of hope. The two now pass under the test of new conditions; they face new problems and enter a life of more exceptional attunement, of constant call on patience, tolerance, forbearance, concession, kindness, sympathy and wise understanding.
As a young woman, getting into marriage, especially the type you are in, comes with a lot of packages, did they affect you? What about in terms of meeting your expectations?
You can never get all your expectations in marriage, but I believe God made me fulfilled. I am so blessed and thrilled with what my life has been. I will like to speak in proverbs; The neighbourhood consensus was that the marriage might not survive. Anyone could see that, just by looking at it from the outside world! Weddings have their sad moments once in a while—a little unwanted crabgrass. And sometimes we may want to give up the good to get rid of the bad. Give it a bit of attention, make a little more effort, and the right experiences can eventually crowd out the bad ones. Focus your energy and attention on the marriage rather than on the outside world. The importance of efforts and attitude, of believing and hoping, of bearing and enduring in the union is in the mature mind.
How have you been able to juggle marriage to Chief Okoya? Managing your children, and running your business? How about threading his elevated position in society. How have you navigated that?
I love my job as an industrialist, and being a wife and a mother makes me fulfilled as an individual.
I have a beautiful family, and we always made ourselves happy. My marriage has been very peaceful, enjoyable and full of happiness that attending to the needs of the children and business has become a moving train on an even rail.
How did you get around his older children, who are about the same age, while some are older than you? How did you relate with them, and resolve the initial resistance, if any obvious ones?
We are all one happy family, and we relate with each other with the expected mutual respect as required in the family as it is in the Yoruba kingdom, where compliance is not negotiable.
You came as a young woman in her 20s; now you are a mature woman in her 40s. What will you tell your 20year old self today, having experienced 20 years in marriage?
I will advise or look back and say that whatever you set out for yourself is what you will achieve, and I didn’t limit myself. I only do what I want irrespective of people’s opinion. I genuinely treasure time spent in my own company, and never have to make a decision influenced by fears of being lonely/alone. I go where I am wanted, create my opportunities, and never wait for someone to ask me to do what I want to do. These are qualities I grew up to understand and believe as influenced by my husband.
Have you ever been hurt since you came in, any actions or words you regret saying or doing?
I thank God that my ups have been more than my downs.
How do you handle the pressure?
Marrying an older industrialist man has prepared me for more at an early stage than most people of my age to be. Planning and organising is a fundamental way to handle pressure. I work better under pressure, and I’ve found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment; this helps me to stay motivated and productive. Of course, there are times when too much pressure can lead to stress; however, I am very skilled at balancing multiple projects and meeting deadlines. I created a schedule that detailed how I would break down each project into small assignments. I believe I am very organised and detailed.
Do you have a playtime or relaxation time?
Yes, I have a playtime and relaxation time. For me, spending quality time with my husband and children relaxes me.
Are you happy?
Happiness is into different aspects, but for me, I enjoy spending the time I have around my family. Yes, I am thrilled at home. I also enjoy my work, so I believe individuals make out for themselves what happiness means.
What is happiness for you?
Satisfaction and peace of mind. Happiness can come from a sense of personal accomplishment or achievement; I feel perfect for reaching a specific set out goals,Satisfaction is a feeling that exists inside a person, and being happy with yourself is a kind of success that everyone should be able to experience.
If you had a choice, what would you change about you and your circumstances now?
I will not change anything about what I have going for me presently, and I thank God because he has blessed me in terms of my expectations and goals. Life is made up of choices-some we regret, some we’re proud of, some will hurt us. Everything in your career and your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want different results, start making different choices. Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and the ability to perform cannot exist.
Do you think you have enough time with your husband, or would you wish he spends more time with you and the children?
I am always around my husband, we have time for each other, and it is tough for one to see him without me. We are one happy bonded family.
Are you free to make your own choices, or you have to take permission every time you need to take a decision?
I get to make my own decision, and my husband allows me to act according to what I want. I am free to make my choice without my husband’s interference. I live an open life with my husband, and this has earned me his heart and trust. Therefore the idea to take permission every time does not arise.
Do you think women are treated well in marriage and society at large?
I can only speak of my marriage to Chief Rasaq Okoya, which I do not regret. Which I have been a happy mother and wife for the past 20 years of marriage to him. I will continue to pray to God to keep it so.
Nigeria is a patriarchal society, which relegates women to second class status. Do you think women should do something about it, and should we now kick against it?
No woman should feel relegated in today’s society, irrespective of being submissive to one’s partner. All women should rise to get a formal education or trade in something to contribute their quota to the community. Respect is reciprocal!
Do you understand feminism, and are you a feminist?
Feminism is a social movement and ideology that fights for the political, economic and social rights of women. Feminists believe that men and women are equal, and women deserve the same rights as men in society. In my 20 years of marriage and social life, I have always seen my husband as the head of the family, which he will continue to be forever. Feminism does not arise in a cultural Nigerian family setting.