By Christy Anyanwu
Funmi Ajila-Ladipo is the President,Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria(FADAN). She reminisced on her late mum, Lucia Aweni Ajila, recently recalling that she taught her sewing.
Could you tell us about your mum?
My mum came from the Tolani family. Her father was rich but never spoiled her. Her mother was Fulani. She lived in Ekiti and Lagos but she schooled in Canada. My mum was a very hardworking woman. She studied Computer Science, was a caterer and sole distributor of Avon Cosmetics in Nigeria. She was the first child of her parents. My mum was very beautiful, hard working, very smart, outspoken, but she also feared God. She taught us a lot about God. I learned sewing from her, as she was the first person to notice my flair for fashion designing. Long time ago, when I was young, somebody told her I was going to be a tailor. That was what she said. My mum also was a woman of very sharp instinct. She could distinguish right and from wrong easily and was a disciplinarian. She was also a teacher. She baked a lot too and as a matter of fact baked all our birthday cakes. She was a great entrepreneur. She cooked, sew and made all our Christmas clothes. She was a fantastic mother. She was a fighter. She fought till the end as she had health issues. For eight years, my mother was on the wheelchair, because she had stroke but she fought it. She was a great woman.
What did you learn from her?
I learnt home keeping, hard work and empathy from her. My mother was a devout Christian. She was neat and thorough. You can’t make clothes for my mum with loose threading coming out, you have to knit it. She fed us rich and proper diet. We had our eggs in the cup and ate it half boiled with custard. She taught us etiquette too. We ate our breakfast like kings on the table and in the afternoon, we ate moderately and for dinner we ate sparingly. My mother was health-conscious. One of the things I learnt from my mum is to make garlic part of my diet. You must always have garlic. She gave us garlic and ginger and knew the nutritional value of our diet. She believed in a very strong family as some of her relations as well as my father’s lived with us.
What was her attitude to chores and househelps?
Unlike these days that we leave everything to househelps and the housegirl is almost like madam, she knew and performed every chore in the house. She taught us that we shouldn’t leave our home to the housegirl. I have only one house girl and we make sure we clean the house in the morning. Even when my kids are at home, all of us do the cleaning. I tell my housegirl, I’m in command and I’m in control of my house. I don’t want the housegirl taking control of my house or my home. Even if I’m going to sit down, I make sure it’s what I want her to do that she does. Housegirls are just supposed to assist and not take over. I found out that in most homes they take over. My mother never allowed that. Sometimes, she didn’t even have househelps at all. She made a roster of chores for all of us.