Clement Mudiaga Enejemo is a frontline Nigerian fashion designer popularly called Mudi. His brand (Mudi Africa) has been in existence for the past 26 years with outlets in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Nairobi, Abidjan, Accra, and Johannesburg.
Speaking with Sunday Sun at a social event in Lagos before COVID-19 he talked about his mum as a source of pillar to his career and mindset as a successful entrepreneur.
Could you tell us a bit about your mum?
My mum’s name is Margaret Enejemuo. She’s 85 years old, she’s still very strong except for her arthritis due to old age. My mum believes so much in hard work. She’s a disciplinarian. When we were young she was running a restaurant and she kept drumming it into our ears that hard work pays. That is where I got the doggedness to keep forging ahead in creativity with the Mudi brand. I learnt so much from her as an entrepreneur.
What are the things she taught you that you still uphold?
Moral values, contentment; she’s always telling us to be content with whatever we have. Most parents have called to teach their children moral values because they are so preoccupied chasing money. Even in schools these days no moral values and after getting a degree. She also taught us to be humble in life. That proper upbringing is what I inculcate in my children’s life too.
Did she at any point influence you as a fashion designer?
Yes. When we were growing up my mum made sure we dressed well. We are from an average family, but we look like children from rich homes. Back then, she was among the best dressed woman where I came from in Ughelli, about 10 minutes drive from Warri, Delta State.
What’s that favourite meal of your mum you like so much?
I love her Banga and Starch.
What do you like most about her?
I like her flexibility. She did not interfere with our relationships. My siblings and I got married to our choice of spouses. Once you are happy with your choice she gives her blessing. She’s civilized, though she didn’t go to school, but she’s smart and cultured. My mum believes so much in hard work. When we were young she tells us that hard work pays.
As a graduate how did she feel when she knew you want to go into fashion? Mind you it was called tailoring years back?
She didn’t say anything. As far as I’m happy with my choice as a tailor she doesn’t mind. Though some of my friends were calling me a joke. Thinking how would I make it with sewing clothes. For me, what you want is what you go for. I have the determination that it is possible to achieve what I’m doing and be successful. I have that feeling right from when I started apprenticeship in tailoring as a graduate.
Did your mum beat you when growing up?
Yes. The one I will never forget was the day I stole pepper fruit from her bedroom. I ran out of the house to play football with friends. When she came back and found out what I have done she was very angry. She flogged hell out of me. I can never forget that day.
How many children have your mum?
She had 10 children. Three died, so we are seven children of hers now.