BY CHRISTY ANYANWU
Nkechi Ali-Balogun is a foremost Public Relations practitioners in Nigeria. She was also one of the judges of an award for journalists, organized by Nigeria Breweries Plc recently. Meeting her in her office on Wednesday, she didn’t hide her pains over the loss suffered by Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton at the just concluded US preidential election. In this interview with Effect, she spoke about women, what life has taught her and why she’s still delectable at 60.
What’s your reaction to the just concluded US election?
For me, today is one of my saddest days. It hits me personally and it confirms some of my fears that women are not ready to push forward, because if all the women had voted for Hillary, I’m sure she would have won. I tweeted this morning that Hillary’s loss was a call for a reassessment of the so called female power and synergy. We want to know, do we really have this power? Can we synergize, are we serious about crashing the ceilings to a point that we will take charge? I was looking forward to Hillary winning because that would have set a new world order for women. We lost it again. She worked very hard, I’m still very proud of her the margin was so minimal. My mind now went back to Sarah Jibril, when she also went to vie for president of Nigeria. The only person who voted for her was herself. Yet, women are clamoring for change, for gender this gender that. We have the power in our hands but we never use it and when we do, we are so divided, so disunited. I don’t feel that women put others down, I just feel that we haven’t risen to the level that we can say if we perish, let us perish. We haven’t come to that level and its sad.
With this election, what message do you have for women?
The message is that we should keep fighting. We haven’t brought out our best. Our best is yet to come; let’s keep doing it. Maybe one day, we will actually be able to take charge. We have all it takes to take charge but we need to urgently and critically make quality decisions, make up our minds that we want to take charge. Then, let us return to the drawing board and see what we’re not doing right, see how the men do it because the men are not as critical of themselves as we are, of ourselves.
Do you believe in the slogan that women are enemies of themselves?
We are not enemies of ourselves. That is a slogan that men started and women swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. We are not our own enemies. You must understand how the woman is made. A woman, unlike a man don’t just take things for granted, women are very critical minded because of the role they play. God made them helpers, and they want to assist, measure, evaluate, understand and convince themselves that this is the way. Don’t forget that we are mothers, we are in the business of instilling values, so a woman does not just go because people are going, she wants to find out what value is she putting into this and who is this person that she’s supporting? We are builders and in building, we want to lay the right foundation. But I think a time has come when we have to critically analyze this view because sometimes, there are things that we must let go so that we can actually crash that thing. So, we are not our own enemies, in trying to make sure that we instill the right value, in trying to make sure that we don’t make a mistake, we always question the statuesque, we always want to try to find out, is this the right way? In trying to do that, yes, we could step on toes, yes, we could hurt some people and it’s not a female thing really, it’s who the best person for the job is? That is the question. I’m talking from my own perspective. I remember, when I was still working in the bank, I interviewed a lady, later she is pregnant. She expected me to start pampering her because she’s pregnant. I believe that if you are pregnant you can’t work, you stay home. Pregnancy is not a disease and because she’s a woman and I’m a woman she sees it from the perspective that is because I’m a woman and women don’t like themselves. We don’t just accept anybody because she is a woman. We want to see whether the woman has all it takes to be what she’s requesting for.
What lessons have you learnt in life?
Life has taught me that no condition is permanent. For instance, wealth, riches, positions are no body’s private property, they go round. When it’s your time, when it’s your season, grab it and make the most of it. Life has also taught me that you cannot make it if you are not hardworking. Whether you are a man or a woman. Life has also taught me that you can’t do it without God. Life has taught me that without God, you can’t make it irrespective of who you are and where you are coming from. There has to be a greater force and that force is almighty God. So, without him, you cannot survive. Life has also taught me that whatever we do in this planet is temporary and for us to leave a legacy, we must leave behind a legacy of lifting people up. For, there lies the blessing. A legacy of empowering people, putting smiles in peoples faces, lifting them up when they fall, being there as a pillar of support. That is what makes life tick for me. Otherwise, life is meaningless.
You don’t look 60 years, what’s the secret?
Good look at 60? It is God. The only thing I do is to nurture what God has given me. God has given me a youthful face, god blessed me with a good body but I do do things to make sure I don’t lose it. But all others come from God. Looking beautiful is not my making but maintaining and sustaining what I have, I do a lot. I have a tendency to be very big but I try as possible to make sure that I’m not too big, I’m manageable. I’m not what you consider out of size, I try to comport myself. Health wise, I’m very conscious about my health, I’m very much into well being and I don’t have excesses. I try to curb my excesses. It’s not easy. I’ve watched my weight from my secondary school days and I’ve been able to maintain it.
Sometimes, I’m completely out of shape but I struggle and I come back not shape. I love life, I love to eat, I love to drink, I love to platy but I try in between to strike a balance. But most importantly for me, my heart condition. I make sure my heart condition is always good in the sense that I don’t bear grudges, I forgive easily, I don’t keep malice, I don’t let things stay in me, I try to let go, whether you are my friend, husband, or my children, if you offend me, I’ll let you know that you have offended me, I will forgive you but if you are somebody I have to move on, I just move on but I have forgiven you. I don’t bear burdens in my heart. Those are the little things I do.
What is style for you?
Style, for me is defined and determined by two things. Who you are, your purse. If you are conservative, you would see yourself moving away from the glamour. I’m a bit on the conservative side when it comes to dressing. Once in a while, I do glam, glam but I’m not sure you would call me glam. I dress within my budget. I dress within the much I can afford. Lagos is setting the pace of fashion, it’s so nice, it’s so beautiful but if you are not careful you will be in serious debt. I know how much I earn and I know that style can be very expensive. So you have to be able to carve a niche for yourself and define your style within the ambience of what is suitable for you, suitable for your body and suitable for your purse. And of course, decent enough to be accepted within your circle of friends.