By Bolatito Adebayo
Gbemisola Ope is the chief executive of Omega Events and President, Association of Professional Party Organizers and Event Managers of Nigeria (APPOEMN). In this interview with Sunday Sun, Gbemisola speaks on her relationship with her mum.
Tell us a little about your mum?
My mum is Omowunmi Abiola Ope, I know everybody says they have the world’s greatest mum. But honestly, my mum fits in perfectly into that picture and she is the world’s greatest mum. My mum became a single mum when I was three. My elder sister was six while my younger sister was just nine-months old.
To be honest with you I don’t know for sure but I know my dad loved women and I know he just packed his things and walked out of the house. At least before my dad died we had a good relationship, my dad walked out and my mum had to look after her three little girls.
What was her profession?
She wanted the best for us and gave us the best things she could afford. My mum was a nurse and I remember her working two shifts to take care of us. My mum sold plates, bags of rice, groundnut oil and shoes. My mum sold so many things. I remember one day she was coming from the market on Ikorudu Road Bridge and her car somersaulted off the bridge because she had too many plates in the car. She lost the plates but she survived. I remember when I was in SS1, she told us that everyone was going to Saudi Arabia to seek greener pasture, and that she needed to go too so that our lives would be better and I remember that all of us cried together.
Did you all relocate?
No, she left.
So, who did you stay with?
We stayed with our grandma; we were in the boarding school. When she left, she was only allowed to come home once a year for three weeks. The first salary she earned, she sent everything home to us and told us to do whatever we wanted with the money. My mum is strong; between my sisters and I, we have seven children, all born abroad in different countries and my mum was there for every single delivery. She was there for every single birth of her grandkids. Even till today that we are all married, she still shuttles through our homes. We still need her. She does my monthly groceries for my house. She cooks for my elder sister and I. Our freezer is filled up because of her. Of course, we can all cook and do all those things but she has been a wonderful mum to us all and those are the things she enjoys doing. As we speak she is going to be at my house tomorrow morning because someone has gone to the market and she has to cook the food.
What was she like when you were younger?
My mum was very strict and we thought she was wicked. But now that we are older we understand better and I think the values she put in us have helped us. When she was away we had friends that would invite us to parties but we never went to those parties. At least we could do it because she was away but we never did that because we always felt that mummy would catch us somehow. Our friends visited but they came at the normal time and left early. Moreover, my grandmother wasn’t very strict and we could do whatever we wanted but I think it was because of the values she had instilled in us before she left. That was why we were well behaved even when she wasn’t around.
What did your mum tell you about boys?
She never told us anything but when we started our period she would warn us sternly that if we talked to boys we would get pregnant. That was it. There were no boys’ talk but we knew we were not allowed to bring boys into the house. I think when she had spent about 10 years in Saudi she was a bit softer. But she is not soft because she is still very strict until today.
What does she do now?
My mum is retired but she volunteers at some hospitals in Lagos. She goes around immunizing kids
Where was she working before she left for Saudi?
She was in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and when she came back she worked in LifeLine Hospital. She left there and went to set up Outreach Children Clinic. Then she retired and right now she consults at the Pediatric Children Center Lekki in Agungi .
What does she like doing?
So, if she is not doing nursing things, she is cooking or shopping for us. She likes shopping. She likes to go and buy ankara. She likes playing Solitaire on her Ipad and playing with her grandkids.
Now that she is older what has changed about her?
Absolutely nothing! If you tell my mum she could sell a mug she is ready to go and sell. If she is sitting here and you tell her we want to share a cow tomorrow she will join the conversation and tell you, I will go and help you buy it. (Laughs). And she is still strict, she still talks to me like she did when I was 10 years old and I will have to remind her that mum, that’s not going to work. But one annoying thing she does is that she is very soft with her grand kids.
What is the greatest sacrifice that she has ever made for you?
It was her leaving for Saudi Arabia. She traveled because of us. For me, she left at an age, which for me I don’t think if I can because of my daughters. But she went because of us and not that she needed the money. I can’t remember my mum having a social life because in Saudi they were not allowed to go anywhere, they were in the hostel and they were away from men. She didn’t have a life actually and I think that’s why she is so attached to us. Now she is retired and she doesn’t really have friends may be one or two friends she met in Saudi but her friends are very few. She has church groups that she belongs to too.
What makes her sad?
I think it is when she feels we are not doing well. If you call her now and you sound low she will start panicking and the next thing she will be in your house and she will come with moinmoin and jollof rice. I think anything that has to do with her children, that is what can makes her sad.