By Christy Anyanwu
Ejiro Amos Tafiri is a fashion designer who in her six years in the business has become a name to reckon with in Nigeria’s fashion industry. Recently, she launched her flagship store and school of design, Atelier, in Ikeja, Lagos. Her mum, a retired immigration officer, works as Head, Human Resources of her fashion outfit. Ejiro spoke with Sunday Sun about her mum lately. Excerpts:
Could you tell us more about your mum?
My mum and I fight a lot but she’s my best friend. She’s very loving and everybody loves her. She’s warm, bubbling and very soft. While growing up, I always said I didn’t want to be like my mum, because she’s too soft and too forgiving. I like to be forgiving but I don’t want to be like her and that part of her I could not shake off. She raised us to follow what God says. You can’t swear, you cannot say any foul words and even when people hurt you, “they hurt you because they don’t know what they are doing.” Just like what Jesus Christ said to the man on the cross. “When they say awful things to you don’t wish them evil and don’t take it personal”, she’ll say. We’re Catholic and we’ve been taught “you don’t pay back evil for evil”. She’s very protective of us and doesn’t want anything bad to happen to us. She will rather sacrifice herself. My staff loves her and my friends love her.
Is there any other memorable thing you recall about her while growing up?
My mum sacrificed so much for me even when she didn’t understand why I was doing somethings. Even though my choice of fashion designing wasn’t making her happy, she would rather see me happy. I did the most outrageous assignment when I was in school. My assignments were always expensive because I liked to do them nicely thinking if I was in school in New York and my parents were rich and they gave us this assignment, I would do my best. I always pushed myself and my mum always provided the money for my assignments somehow. While I was at Yaba College of Technology studying Fashion Designing and as a student in Queens College, my mum really tried a lot for me. We were not financially stable at a time but my mum went the extra mile to satisfy my brothers and me. Financially, emotionally, and spiritually, she always gave all of herself. I love her for it and I almost despise her for it.
What makes your mum special?
I have several things to say on that but the most important is the fact that my mum went to university late. She enrolled when my two brothers and I were in the university and I’m very proud of her for doing that. She did her teachers training and obtained her certificate. Even when she had to work 24 hours at the border in Idi Iroko, even though she had crazy schedules, she still went through school, same time we were schooling. My dad had a stroke and she held the family together. Thinking back, it’s like she’s very amazing. Now we work together, we are colleagues. She calls me her boss and I don’t like it.
What was the advice she gave you about boys?
She was mean. You can’t even talk to boys. I’m her only girl and she was so protective. Even though it was annoying at a time, I’m grateful. I learnt a great deal of self control and that has also helped me to be the woman I have become. If I could keep it together all these years till now, there’s nothing I can’t do. It makes it impossible for me to bow to peer pressure. Early sex, early pregnancy were never options. She’s still like that now. If someone is looking for me, she’ll keep asking what the person came for and I’d tell her I could actually defend myself, I can take care of myself. She’s very protective. We are best friends. I can talk to my mum about almost anything. She’s like my friend. If we don’t talk, we don’t feel comfortable.
Do you still stay with your parents?
As an entrepreneur, I need time to think; I need space to think. Since my mum was in the Immigration Service and my dad was an SSS operative, everything in my house was routine. There’s time to cook, time to eat, time to pray and all that. I wanted to come home and not be told to cook dinner and neither did I like being woken up to cook breakfast. I need time to think. I moved out of the house to the next street some years back, but my mum still comes to my house till tomorrow. Now, I wake up and cook breakfast when I want. I can cook and freeze it, if I want. You know how mothers do, fix your bed, etc.