See excerpts from Segun Arinze’s wife, Ann Njemanze’s recent chat with a reporter.
Who is your mum and what does she do?
My mother is Mrs. J Njemanze. She is a multi-talented woman who has done extremely well by every standard. She started as a teacher in a primary school in Port Harcourt, Orogbum Primary School precisely, and was also a secondary school teacher. As the years went on and my father was transferred to Lagos State, mummy became a banker even as she acquired more education from Lagos State University. Subsequently, she incorporated a primary school in Isolo. She is still a businesswoman. I think she prides herself in merchandising; dealing in household items she imports, clothes and land.
When was the last time you visited her?
I saw her before she took this long holiday to Canada to visit with my sibling, bond with her grandchildren and generally do a spiritual thing, as she’s prone to doing. It’s the Lord.
Would you say you are close to your mom?
Oh, I am very close to my mother. I happen to be her first child, so I got the biggest love and the biggest discipline. Now, she ran the house and we were expected to be perfect. Perfect and clean at everything including at play. Mummy expected me to lead the gang and she made that clear. If I performed below expectation she would give me this long talk and at that point, I would wonder what happened to “kneel down” or “face the wall”. She is a good Christian and never mixed it up with religion. She taught me to be brave and courageous. I don’t think my mother gave up in the face of difficult circumstances. She is a voracious reader and never forgets anything. She will always be my best buddy, my partner in all after my father. I would discuss men with my mother after I must have hinted my daddy.
Could you describe your upbringing?
Mummy would never coat the truth. These days, the dogma of the Catholic faith has taken a better part of her, so when we discuss, it always ends with “Trust the Lord with all your heart.” As a child, I was obsessed with perfumes. I actually thought they would not be available by the time I became an adult so I would practically pour her perfumes on my body and clothes, then the repercussion would follow “Oya on your knees, hands up and face the wall.” This would come when my father is out of the house and then that ear pulling. Kai, she was quick, always quick to say, “Shakara, come here, your father is out now, I will deal with you!” She is a disciplinarian!
What actions or steps did your mum take, which showed that she loved you?
My mother loves me. Apart from bringing me into a beautiful world, and nurturing me, she’s quick to defend my actions. I can almost say that she’s my best friend and she would bathe me even today…if I asked. My mummy taught me to understand that life is not constant. She has seen me through thick and thin. There is so much she does as my mother that still shakes me to my very core and I know that even if I don’t pray, my mother is still praying for me. So, constantly I have a word in heaven for me. What can be better than that?
What makes her happy?
My mother is happiest when she sees her grandchildren around her. She lives to see that all her children are healthy and making good decisions about life. She’s very proud of us her children and she boasts about us to anyone who would listen. She finds greatest pleasure in sowing seeds in church for us.
What character traits or habits did you inherit from her?
Resilience. My mother was and still is dogged. My siblings and I imbibed this from her. We start and we see situations through. I may have imbibed her aggressive nature a bit and I have the bad habit of not visiting people, as I should. I’m not sure whom I got that from. She is always quick to tell me to remember that I am my father’s first daughter and she’s a pillar of support for my children and me. She’s my best buddy and you should hear us gossip. You would think we’re mates. Truly one cannot replace a mother. She’s granny, mummy and the best amongst the best.