Aju Elumelu James is multi-talented. She spent her teenage and adult years in the United States of America but she has totally returned to Nigeria to pursue her dreams. Her passion now is Love Connection whose focus is matching eligible male and female professionals so that they can meet connect and play games. She spoke with Sunday Sun recently.
Are you an artiste?
Life as an artiste was very good. I went round the world and I am a friend of the Gambia and the place became my second home. As usual, Gambians fell in love with me. A lot of times, when I go there, I have to sneak in. Besides, in America, the wife of Martin Luther III supports whatever I do and I go around talking to kids encouraging them. Life as a princess has been good too. Both my parents come from royal families. Interestingly, during the time that I lost everything, I never lacked anything. I was struggling but I was never broke. As a princess, you were not supposed to work but I did. That was part of growing up and every summer I worked. I was not ashamed and that has really built me. You have to start small and grow big. If you do not start small, you leave a vacuum and when you get there, you are going to fall. My father used to say “go through that narrow way that is tough, it is better than the broad way”. Unfortunately, that is not the focus of our youngsters these days.
Recently, you were appointed ambassador of peace. How does that make you feel?
I was sitting down one day, trying to sort my mail and I saw a letter telling me that I had been appointed ambassador of peace and I didn’t know where it came from. That particularly stunned me. I later found out that it came from a doctor who had understudied me from America. He sent my name and then tracked me down to Nigeria. It just blew me away with the new thing that I am doing, the love connection. It just all ties together because part of what I am offering is relationship counseling and the HOD of the Department of Conflict Resolution offers us free counseling for couples and we have arbitrators and alternative dispute resolution people.
I didn’t even celebrate it, my family wasn’t told and that happened in February this year. I just held on to that but right now, it is resonating. It is not that I am ungrateful for it and I am going to use it to do some good. So, I am grateful to the Universal Federation of Peace. About five years ago, I did a reality TV show called Aju Reality Show. Unknown to me, it was expensive to air shows in Nigeria. After that experience, I decided to create something. Interestingly, all the jobs that I did in America came out of a need. I usually find a vacuum and created something.
What’s your greatest source of inspiration?
While I was going through the change process, I was looking at what was going on. It is usually easy to just sit down and criticize what is going on and we know that everything that is going on in our society is economic. What we have now is a situation where our youngsters are fending for themselves. They have become parents to their parents. We have a situation where parents are no longer authoritative because the young ones are the ones fending for them. Here you cannot tell somebody to stop what they are doing. Some parents also say “hey your mates are building houses, your mates have big cars , go and do what your mates are doing.” What we have now is a situation where our young ones have no conscience. Back in the days of yore, when we graduated, you see that young boy, who was your boyfriend in school, you hold his hands and you guys do stuffs together. You get together, struggle together and you get to where you are together. Now, I see young girls driving Range Rovers and doing all kinds of things, dressing immorally and this is a serious problem. It is either I sit on the sideline and just complain or do something. But what I have done most of the time is just to call these girls to order and admonish them to do the right thing. A girl approached me recently and said that I disappointed her. Then I asked her what I did wrong. She said she was roaming and sleeping around and she heard my speech and it turned her life around. So, she felt that I should have reached out to more girls and helped them. I took that to heart and I truly apologized to her. So, I said to myself, I must do something to save our girls.
What’s your motivation for connecting singles?
I have matched many couples across Africa, America and the Atlantic. It is something that I am gifted in or should I say that I’m deft in the art of matchmaking. It’s just God-given and I want to use it to help others. Apart from this, I have a pool of physicians that people consult for one health challenge or the other without charge. They actually have access to these physicians pro bono. Then I have relationship counselors. I work round the clock, I don’t care if people call me late in the night, it happens over and over again. Even when I was younger, I resolved conflicts between adults.
Why do you think this is important now?
Those that have talents I showcase them and I have those that I call platinum celebrities who need to be matched. So, my page encourages them to do what they want to do, write what they want to write to get suitors. Marriage is a an institution ordained by Almighty God. Another thing borne out of this need is that some people now just want to have children and not get married. That is not our society and we are trying to emulate other societies. What truly holds Africa together is the institution of marriage, where no matter how old you are, you cannot do what you want. Someone is always there to censure you. It is mostly your parents, the elders. It is a combination of tradition but right now, people are throwing in the towel. They do not see the need for it again but we want to continue with the institution of marriage. Yes, marriage is tough but the point is that our young men have given up. The men that I have interviewed are saying our girls are expensive and they cannot afford them.However, because these girls can afford most things, they have remained singles. I also interviewed the girls and they questioned why they should help their male counterparts only for them to fall in love with someone else. It has got to a point where we really have to dialogue; everyone is actually saying something reasonable.
What do women complain most about guys?
So many women have helped men and then they get used and dumped. However, it’s not always true . I think that if you help men, even if another woman comes along the line, the man would say “no, I have a woman who slaved for me.” Therefore, I strongly believe that to get a true connection we must trash out all our idiosyncrasies. The project is in three phases and it includes the online dating which is computer based and global. It is called Buyer beware and you have to be sure of what you are buying. Then we have the second phase which is live interaction.
I am breaking out in phases and the first phase is very crucial, it is personal. My first is to bring professionals of marriageable age together. So that they can meet themselves, connect, play games and eat. During that period, there would be interactions. You must know what you want in a person and during the period there would be someone that you are attracted to. At that point, you cannot limit yourself to one person but when you have found who you want to connect, you date gradually and if you see he/she is not the kind of connection you want, you drop them. Some people would actually be lucky to connect and like that first person they meet. Now, I am getting calls from all over Nigeria, from Calabar, Abuja and places like Nasarawa from both sexes.
What would you say is the reason men are reluctant to marry earlier than they do?
Sadly, it’s due to economic reasons. Overseas, you don’t see that, a lot of people who get married over there do not have money but they have jobs. A man does not have to be rich, but once he has employment and potential, it is okay to get married. Right now, you need two incomes to make it in Nigeria and everywhere in the world. So, why don’t you have a reality check? My advice to women is that they should drop all those ostentatious things and meet men halfway. Money is not as important as happiness, meeting a man that would love and cherish you. That to me is the ultimate. When I was getting married I never thought of money. I loved my fiancé and he loved me and that was it. Then we worked. However, I must say that the changes in Nigeria are tough, making folks realize it’s no longer business as usual. For some men, they say they want to make money and be rich before they get married but you can’t do that now.