A date with Real Housewives of Abuja
The Real Housewives of Abuja (RHOA), is the eighth version of the hit format in Africa now airing exclusively on Showmax with new episodes dropping every Friday. The new series follow the luxurious lives of six influential and successful women in Abuja. The women – Arafa, Comfort Booth, OJ Posharella, Princess Jecoco, Samantha Homossany and Tutupie – portray their opulent lives, relationships, family and businesses within the powerful city of Abuja and beyond. In this virtual interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, they speak about venturing into the reality show.
‘RHOA has been known to help push brands and businesses’
ARAFA UKONGA is an Abuja socialite, a dancer and fashion enthusiast who owns a ready-to-wear fashion house, Selara Lifestyle. The half-Tanzanian and half-Nigerian (Calabar) is a graduate of Theatre Arts and French and a holder of Master’s degree in International Relations.
How did you feel knowing you will be part of the show?
I felt good, I have known about the franchise so it was good to want to be a part of it been that my family has been in Abuja since the 80’s. So I consider myself one of the real Abuja OGs so it felt good to be on the franchise and represent.
What does it mean to you to be a Housewife of Abuja. Do you think anything makes you unique to be a part of this franchise?
I don’t think anything makes me unique to be part of the franchise. Anyone could have been picked. In my journey it was important for me to be part of the franchise because as an entrepreneur, I’ve businesses that I would like to put out there and RHOA has been known to help push brands and businesses. Definitely it was an opportunity to put my business out there.
‘I’ve never been in front of the Camera before, I’m a really shy person’
SAMANTHA HOMOSSANY is a wellness entrepreneur and Creative Director of Zohi Taglit, a contemporary luxury women’s wear brand. The style enthusiast who is married to an Abuja-based Israeli millionaire is also the founder of ASTA Foundation, a non-profit organisation aimed at empowering vulnerable women and children.
What was shooting like for you, can you share the challenges or excitement that you came across during shooting?
Shooting for this was totally a new experience for me; I’ve never been in front of the camera before, I’m a really shy person. It was a learning process for me. I got to do things I would not think of doing so it was a good experience for me.
You’re married to a busy businessman. How do you manage family and career being on a reality show?
I have always been someone who juggled work and relationship, so it wasn’t a big deal. The most important thing are my children and I always want to make sure that they are fine and well taken care of. It was okay for me to juggle all of it and have a balance.
What has been your highlight since the show started?
Being a reserved person, the highlight for me is meeting with different women and spending time with people that I don’t have a close relationship with.
‘I’m very extra, i love to be different’
PRINCESS JECOCO with real name, Princess Umeh-Ubaka, is a lawyer, content creator, and hotelier. She is the managing director of the Sefcon Group of Hotels. The graduate of Law from the University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom also holds a Master’s degree in Oil and Gas Law (LLM) from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Her love for culture earned the Borno-born influencer a position as the President of Umu Asa Cultural Association, established for the preservation of the Igbo culture.
What has been your highlight since the show started?
The highlight for me was getting to do the really fun things. We explored different and new places in Abuja. Though I’ve been in Abuja for so long, I had not been to some of these places, so it was a kind of adventure for me, and I love adventure, so it was fun for me. I also connected with women you’re not entirely friendly with but now being friends.
How has being a legal practitioner shaped your scope towards life and what effect did that have on the show?
I’m not practising, but generally my background in law has helped me in being open-minded about things and being outspoken.
What is the hardest part of being in front of the camera?
I feel like when people are watching, you have to put up an act, not that it is unnatural but it is just different. We all don’t have acting backgrounds so it was not easy. We spent hours shooting because we had to shoot some scenes more than once. The timing was hectic has hell; my business was out in the back burner when we were filming this.
Tell us about your fashion sense?
I’m very extra; I love to be different, very eccentric kind of style.
‘I am very open about my life’
TUTUPIE SHERIFF is an event curator, a trained chef, and the Creative Director of Urban Day Party. The Borno State events organiser speaks multiple languages, including Hausa, Turkish, and basic German.
Critics are of the opinion that opulent and busy lifestyle may not qualify to be a traditional African housewife.
How do you balance your career and your home front?
It is literally for entertainment purpose because I am such a fan of the real housewives franchise for almost 15 years. I started with Housewives of Atlanta so I know that half of them were not even housewives when they got on the show.
How do you inspire young women to aspire for greatness?
To be honest, just be you, don’t fake it; keep it real. I’m somebody that is very open about my life but the main thing is I’ve tried to be real to myself. So, I feel like every young girl just stick to your story, be you and they will adjust.
What makes this show unique, why should I watch the RHOA?
Not to bring the real housewife of Lagos down but these are people who already have their faces on the map. In our own rights, we’ve our own thing too going on but the fact that people are glued and interested in finding out the lifestyles of these random girls that are not supposed to be on the show is what makes it unique.
‘I went into RHOA to create sisterhood’
OJ POSHARELLA whose real name is Ojoma Sule is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Posharella Group of Companies, a flagship for numerous enterprises, including Posharella Life Foundation, Posharella Beauty, Posharella Gems, and Posharella Design. With Posharella Life Foundation, she helps physically challenged people and malnourished children. Born in Kaduna State but hails from Kogi State, she has a degree in Business Administration from the University of Abuja.
There are so many ills in the society that center on a lifestyle especially about living fake life. How is the RHOA addressing any of these issues and encouraging young people to live their truth?
I feel like everyone has set a path and everyone knows what they want to do but I believe in authenticity. I’m a very real person, I’m very open, I’m very honest, I encourage people, I inspire people and I love to mentor. So I just put out what it is and I believe that anyone who comes across me would get that, be it just a little chit chat, be it where I’m speaking to a lot of people, the people that I groom, I just say be true to yourself, there’s nothing in this life; there’s no competition.
What was filming with the rest of the cast like?
I went in to create sisterhood, bond and cheer everyone on. I was really not in scenes where they had fights and squabbles, but I felt disappointed in some people because they said a lot of things behind the scenes. For me it’s really not a happy place, there’re some people I feel I’m good with, and there’re some people that really disappointed me.
What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in the pursuit of achieving the set goals of your NGO?
It has been challenging because I don’t have support in terms of finances, I have to do everything from my pocket. Even when I travel, and do outreaches, it is mostly from my pockets. But I’m trying to do it differently this time. I hope that this time I have a voice and a platform to engage with a lot of people so we could do things better.
How do you relax?
I relax by just travelling to an island and cooling off my head, being around people who embrace me and see me as who I am.