‘Fear of the unknown a major hindrance for Nigerian Women’
A graduate of Computer Science from the University of Ilorin, and the Rhema Bible Training center, Abuja, TTA as she is fondly called, is passionate about nation-building and believes the importance of strong family values cannot be overemphasized. Lead coach at TTALifeclass, her life’s goal is to stir up awakening in women. In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, Tolu, who recently launched her event company, The 2705 Events Company, speaks about helping women discover their life’s purpose, the importance of strong family values, and how to thrive in the face of fear.
Tell us what BLAM is about, what purpose does it serve to Nigerian women?
IT is a for-purpose ministry that focuses on supporting young women to live in the fullness of the life God has called them to. We achieve this by hosting regular meetings, both online and physically, aimed at imparting knowledge and nourish women spiritually by creating a nurturing environment through mentoring and networking.
There are so many areas for you to have chosen to focus your ministry, why marriage?
Even though I’m very passionate about marriage as I got into the institution at 22 years old, BLAM is not only focused on marriage but on every woman, in general, living a fulfilled life; married or single.
What spurred you into taking up this task?
I would say I was born to do this; the events of my life all prepared me for what I’m doing now. In as much as I will like to sound like I have it all figured out and give some inspirational reasons to why I am qualified to do this, the truth is, it is more of a call I am yielding to. Of course, my yielding requires preparedness, but to be honest, this is more of a call I have been supernaturally equipped to follow.
You have held several conferences and seminars in the last couple of years for young women, are we still going to get any this year?
The year is almost over, we typically have our major conference in June, but for the COVID-19 restrictions, we couldn’t have the meeting in June. We had had quite a number of online meetings before then, particularly during the lockdown. And by the end of June when the restrictions were being gradually relaxed, something significant happened to me; I lost my mum recently and she was the ministry’s matriarch. She was just 64. So, for this year, there won’t be any onsite major meetings.
You say you’re a strong advocate for mentoring and networking, how key are these to women’s growth in totality?
Truth is no man is an island. When we are by ourselves, we may be oblivious to the many opportunities out there, but when we come together in a non-competitive environment, we can collectively harness our strengths, such that the weakness of one individual doesn’t seem to matter. I like to say one candlelight in thick darkness cannot make much of a difference, but imagine bringing several candle lights together, then the impact of the lights can be felt. We are called to be light, but we shouldn’t shine alone; that’s how I see its importance in relation to our growth.
What are some ways you are helping women live up to their full potential?
By speaking to them and awakening the queen in them. Many women, because of their past experiences and stereotype, have an untrue identity of themselves. One of our focus is on the issue of identity and seeing yourself as God sees you. We are not defined by our past, present, not even our future.
Experts have said most societal ills are a result of family breakdown. As someone who preaches strong family values, what can we do in this regard?
The family is undoubtedly the first and most important nurturing system for every individual. It is very important that the right values are taught at the family level system, but this is not to say people who come from dysfunctional family systems are doomed. I have seen quite a number of people from very faulty family systems that have been able to challenge themselves and live beyond their own experiences and pass down better values to their own children. On the other hand, I’ve also seen people from relatively balanced families that aren’t living the part.
So, I will say, as much as it lies within every individual, ensure you avoid situations that may lead to the breakdown of your family and this will have to begin with your choice of a partner and your commitment to your family. If you are from that kind of background or find yourself there, it is not the end of the world; you can rise and it will truly be said concerning you, ‘you don’t look like what you have been through’.
As a Next-Generation Female Leader, how can we better develop and empower the Nigerian woman?
Education because an educated mind is an empowered mind. Illiteracy destroys and is extremely limiting. When I say education, I don’t mean just the education that goes on in the four walls of a classroom, but also the one that enriches the mind of the woman so that she can go forth and excel in any area she chooses.
You recently published a book, Undaunted, tell us about it?
My book, Undaunted is pretty much a documentation of the major events of my life until the time I wrote it. It is not a story of self-indulgent expose, but an illumination of the power of God to heal and restore for the praise of his glory. I wrote the book to send a message of God’s love to everyone who has had it rough; who is not afraid to show their scars to heal, encourage and bring hope and alignment to others.
For so long, the church has put up a façade of perfection and relied on carefully crafted speech designed to portray Christians as a flawless bunch. As time goes on, the cracks and loopholes begin to show and people become disillusioned because of the opinions that have been formed. The tide is however changing and God is looking for people who will not downplay the power of the gospel to heal and deliver, but through their imperfections, point people in the direction of the one who has all the answers. God doesn’t need ‘superheroes’; instead, he needs people like Jesus who are willing to restore others to fellowship with the Father.
The good news of Christ bringing salvation is enough and has all the power to rekindle a desire to seek God. It is important that God is not misrepresented to the body of Christ among people who are going through issues like abuse, drug addiction, and the likes but feel they are alone in their struggle. Some of these people are insecure and have a poor self-image because the church has kept quiet about the issues they were saved from, contributing to the shame and secrecy that satan and our silence attaches to these victims. The book is for anyone that wants to walk with God, know Him for themselves, and live in the liberty and freedom that the truth gives.
How do you manage with a full-time job, running a business, your ministry, speaking engagements, and other things you do all at once?
Like I always say, you will always be graced for your race. Now that you have asked again because I get asked this a lot of times, I will try to put it down on paper, but I’m graced for this. I can’t under-estimate the power of my amazing support system; my husband, my beautiful mom (God rest her soul), and my team of staff who over time, I have come to understand their capacities and can delegate what can be delegated. Also, I have learned to live my life being led, I don’t do things because ‘it’s a great or brilliant thing’ to be part of. I do only the things God will have me do per time, that way, He supplies the strength.
COVID-19 has affected many businesses, especially female-owned businesses. As someone in finance, how can they navigate this period?
It’s been a really tough period, but one thing I know is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. All of this will soon be over and thereafter, will come several opportunities. So, they should hold on because only the living has hope. They should also protect their mental health; this is very important.
Tell us something you did that has influenced your career positively?
I would have to say consistency. I see many people in my generation, they are quick to resign a job because of temporary unfavourable conditions, but situations are usually temporal and evolving. Things might appear bad today and tomorrow, they will be different. Don’t make permanent decisions based on a temporary situation.
What are some challenges you have faced on this journey and how did you overcome?
I will speak of one major one, and that was when I was having my children. I had barely joined the bank when I had my first and in a couple of months, I was pregnant for the second. It was such a demanding period for me, but I understood it was temporary. Though being a young wife, mother to two boys under two years, and coping with my demanding job at the time was a lot, I look back today and I’m thankful that I kept showing up and never gave up.
Who do you look up to and what keeps you going?
I look up to Jesus. Though I have a couple of people who inspire me, top on that list was my mom, but ultimately, the goal of my life is Jesus. I have come to realise that many times, people are inspired by others but don’t realise when they start comparing their lives to those that inspire them. So, they measure their own progress with the lives of others and undermine their journey because their goals and standards are someone else’s.
In your opinion, how best can we support women and provide opportunities to enable them to thrive and break out of poverty?
By encouraging female entrepreneurs, giving loans and support to businesses run by women. I believe women make good managers; God wired us with a nurturing nature. Hence, women need to be given the right support and you’ll see them thrive beyond expectations.
What last words do you want to leave for readers that have been inspired by you?
Fight the enemy called fear and I’ll once again quote a portion of my book. Fear is one major factor that hinders us from launching into the deep. We’re scared of our personalised list of ‘what ifs.’ You’d rather keep to yourself than face ridicule; you struggle with food for fear of weight gain, you are afraid of dating for fear of being rejected, you would rather compromise on your standards than speak up for fear of being the odd one out and so on and so forth. You discover that it’s an unending roller coaster of emotions for you and the enemy sits and watches, feasting off your naivety and smiling in victory after having succeeded in preventing you from living your best life. Get rid of fear; stand alone if you have to, but ensure you’re standing in the right. Do that thing you’ve been afraid to; don’t allow fear hold you back.
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