Chief Dr. Folasade Okoya, the much loved wife of Nigeria billionaire, Aare Rasak Akanni Okoya has revealed how she made her home a peaceful one and how she relates with her husband’s first wife, Alhaja
For me, submission is to my husband. And for me, there was no “awon ti mo banle”. It was me and Big Mummy (senior wife) and she was like my mother and we have our space. We were not in each other’s space.
I laugh because people tend to see our house more than we that live in the house. I respect everybody a lot. I put all my all in marriage. My husband is my priority. “My husband is ise”. My husband is my priority. He is my number one. So when you give your all and the man is crazy about you, they will say “ti tun ni nkan ni”
Sade okoya, billionaire okoya and their four kids
Tell me about your growing up?
I grew up with my grandmother who was always there for me and others. My mum was a working-class woman and I can say the same is happening to my children now. My mother is always there for me now to take care of my children.
My grandmother taught me lots of values which has helped me. I am “Omo Agba” to the core.
What are the things your grandmother taught you that you will love to share with us?
My grandmother made me to be a better cook. The discipline was also superb. I wasn’t trained by a young mum but by Agbalagba. So she instilled lots of discipline in me. My children are going through same thing now as they are “Omo Agba” too. Even as a young mum, my mother was around to instil discipline and values into my children.
Did your grandmother ever beat you?
Of course, she did. Though I have always been a very disciplined child as a young girl. I knew what I wanted in life. I always get whatever I wanted but there are occasions my grandma will force me to do some things. A good example is, while growing up, I always love some certain kinds of food. So when it is beans or Yam day, I don’t like such kind of food and you know she would have wasted her time cooking those food and me saying I don’t want to eat is a no for her. My grandmother was everything to me.
So did your mum inspire you into being a workaholic?
Well, my grandmother was a businesswoman. A good one at that. She was selling fabrics. My mum is a career woman. She was a Nurse before she went into business. I think both combinations made me who I am today. My grandmother was always around though because my mum would go out in the morning and she won’t be back until evening.
So your mum raised her grandchildren?
Yes, when they were much younger, their grandmother raised them. We have all the nannies, hers was to manage the nannies and all. Even if I am not there, my children weren’t missing anything because they have a mother figure already.
You had your children back to back, how was it raising those 4 children?
It was much of a stress because they came all almost at the same time. They came like a year intervals, so we had to do the job at once. It is fun watching them grow now.
You always look happy despite the age difference in your marriage, what is that thing you have been able to do differently?
I think it is the respect I have for my husband. Just as you said in your question, marriage should not define any lady. Wheather you pull out of your marriage for a reason or you are still in it, it shouldn’t define anybody.
I think I stayed in my marriage because I knew people thought I was going to fail. So that definition of me wasn’t right. People couldn’t know much about me than me myself. So I just wanted to prove everybody wrong that I came into this marriage, saw what I was going into and staying in it was a decision I took not for anyone.
And I am happy in my marriage anyway. Of course there is no marriage without ups and down but I am totally happy in my marriage. Let me put it that my husband was already a made man before I met him and he is used to doing his things in a certain way.
I know I had to adjust myself to meet his own. I knew that to have a successful marriage with him I must be able to adapt to his views on issues and all. You know you can’t change an elderly person. He would always be right and the age difference also there. I have to give more than what I expect him to put into it. I told you I was raised by “Agbalagba” so adapting was not difficult for me.
We see you at parties kneeling down to greet all your husband friends
Yes, I am not faking it, it is how I was raised. It is how I grew up. It is also an advantage because it is just how I was trained. So to my husband, it came naturally because he is much older and he has how he does his things. So I moulded myself to fit into his lifestyle and looking at what I have done, it has paid off. This is 21 years of marriage and still counting. Initially, people will be thinking, one year 2 years max, she will be out of it.
Tell me, when you just got married, was it like a Cinderella story, did he take you round the world?
Funny enough, my husband told me from the beginning, he doesn’t want a lady wife. He told me if you want to make this marriage work, you have to bring something to the table. So he was clear, he had no time for frivolities. I think this shaped my life. So, “Mo Yaa Fun Oja Mi” (I was prepared).
What did he mean by he doesn’t want a lady wife?
My husband attends to his business himself. The planning, day to day activities and all is a job on its own and he takes care of that.
Young people see you and were like, oh, she has taken over, how were you able to take your ears off this and focus on your husband?
If you want to succeed in life, take your eyes and ears off what people say. Negative comments don’t get to me. So you make your life meaningful and see how people will appreciate what you make of it. I shouldn’t let people decide what I want.
So going back, was there no honeymoon?
We used to have fun, lots of fun. Even my children will tell you that mummy and daddy are always enjoying themselves. Chairman loves to travel a lot. We go on a lot of adventures when it comes to travel.
For an Agbalagba?
My husband is not Agbalagba (smiles). Don’t let me fine you. We enjoy ourselves and make good use of our time when we are together.
It is said that you still cook for your husband, how true is that?
Very true. I cook all his meals. The only thing my cook does is arrange everything, I do the cooking.
What kinds of food do you cook?
Different things and this is because dinner time is a special time for us. Only when we go outside the country that is when we eat out. I cook his food every day. My husband is so used to my cooking that he knows when I am not the one that cooked a meal.
Anything that has to do with my husband, I handle it. It is my business and I don’t give it to a 3rd party to do. My husband is so used to it that he doesn’t eat outside. In fact, I had to say, Chairman “e je sir” o da. The only thing you can find him eating his small chops. When my cook starts something on my behalf after a spoon, he says, se won ti ba e se.
You call your husband Chairman/Sir?
Yes, I call him Chairman. He didn’t demand for it. We all have what we call our husband. We have various pet names for them. I am just comfortable calling him that.
Did you raise your children to speak Yoruba?
Yes, they speak Yoruba. Don’t forget that grandma was always with them.
Did you beat them growing up?
While growing up, the Okoya kids worked at the factory, do your kids do that too during Summer?
Yes, they do when they are in town. The junior ones go with us too. It is a must. We are not dictating to them to take after us because children of these days are not just about training, you must put prayers too, so they can carry the legacy on.
Do you pray 5 times daily?
Yes I do when I am at home because it is not easy to have it done at the factory. My kids do because they have an Arabic teacher. We have a Mosque at home, so it is easy. We teach them how to appreciate God while they are young.
How have you been able to keep in shape after 4 kids?
No, I don’t exercise but my job is very stressful. I am also lucky, I don’t compromise on food. I eat right.
What is your perfect breakfast like?
Honestly, I don’t do breakfast but when I am on holiday, I do breakfast. But when I need to, I eat right.
When last did you eat at night?
Hmm, my husband doesn’t eat early at night. Like 10, 11 pm and you know for his age, he won’t sleep till 3 or 4. So he has balanced it up. Even when I pet him, Chairman eat before 7 pm, he loves to take his time and he knows what it is good for him. He won’t sleep until 3 pm or 4 am. He knows what is good for him. It has worked for him over the years so it is difficult to change him. He knows what works for him. So he is keeping to his doctor’s advice and all.
How did you do it, he is looking so young at 80, it is obvious even on his birthday, what did you do?
I think God has been good in his life because it is not everybody that has that grace. God has been kind to him. My husband eats very well. He doesn’t just eat to fill up. He eats healthy. He doesn’t compromise on what he eats.
Give us an idea of what he eats?
He eats lots of protein. He eats a lot of vegetables and fruits and quality food. He eats little. He will never compromise on what to eat.
What happens to your Aso-Ebi, after wearing them, do you give them out?
Yes, my Aso-Ebi doesn’t come back into my wardrobe. It will fill up the whole space. So I have people I give to.
That stuff you rocked on your husband’s birthday did you give it out?
Yes, I gave some out but that yellow outfit still there. I gave almost everything out.
Your hair, is it curly, and how do you get to buy them, how do you decide what style suits you?
I see something I like and I tell them to buy for me or make for me. I don’t do lots of experiment. I stick to what works for me.
Do you dance at parties?
Everybody that knows me knows that I am shy. I am not the Baraje type.
You have lots of older friends, why?
I am comfortable with them. I have young friends but they are private. I learn a lot from older people. Having young friends means I have to give them lots of attention. But the older friends understand.
What kind of body shaper do you use?
No! I am blessed.