Olubunmi Ajai Layode (JOPA’s daughter) is a social media influencer.She is a domestic violence survivor and founder of Greenlands Assistance Haven Foundation. Her foundation caters for victims of domestic violence. The foundation provides emergency shelters and financial empowerments for these victims. Olubunmi recently wrote a book titled ‘Leaving to Live’. It’s a book that recounts her 7-years of harrowing experience as a victim of domestic violence. In this interview, she shared with us her relationship with her mum and many other issues.
What’s the name of your mum?
Her name is Dorcas Iyabode Ajayi.
What was she doing before her death?
She was a civil servant, she and my father worked at Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and equally she had a business of her own too, a poultry.
What was your relationship like with her?
Growing up at first, I was a slow child, sluggish, an introverted child but my immediate younger sister was very intelligent, bright and smart. I think she was frustrated with my behaviour. My mum used to call me a fool because she believed I was dull. However, I was my father’s favourite child but my mum always let me know I was a fool. I never loved my mum initially because of the way she made me feel. She was harsh and very tough. I sometimes prayed that a car would hit her, so she could die.
But she changed totally and she gave me freedom when I entered University. It was later that I realized that she was just worried about me and wanted me to turn out right. Hers was a test love; it was when I got to the University that our relationship improved. She became more like a friend and a sister. She started teaching me how to relate with men. She allowed me go to parties and get on with my life but she died soon afterwards.
What was your teenage relationship with your mum like?
It was tough, very tough. My mum was a disciplinarian.
What did she tell you about boys?
At age 11, then I was in form one when my period started. She said I should not allow boys to touch me because if they touched me I would get pregnant. That was all the sex education I got when my period started. I remember when I started my menstrual period, I was staying with my grandmother then, when I woke up to see the blood stains and I thought I had injured myself. I ran up to my grandmother and she started laughing. I was stunned and couldn’t understand why she was laughing. She informed my mother and they cooked chicken for me. After I had finished eating the best part of the chicken they both called me and told me I have now become a woman that I shouldn’t allow any man to touch me. For many years that was the sex education I was armed with and you know back then, I was schooling at the Our Lady Of Apostles, Yaba, and we lived in Isolo. So, I had to take a Molue from Isolo to Mushin. While on the bus I wouldn’t want any man to touch me and that time was hard because Molue was usually very tight.
I would be so frustrated that I didn’t want to get pregnant because my mum would kill me. And in the Molue bus, people would be there just saying what is wrong with this girl? However, I had a secret boy friend my mother didn’t know. He was in A’ level then and I was just in form three when he finished his A’ Level and was going to America. He was doing his send off party and I told my mum that I had a party to attend. I couldn’t tell her that it was my boyfriend’s party. I said it was close by, just in front of the house.
The party was going to start at 7pm but you know parties don’t start at 7pm. It was a night party. People didn’t start coming until like 10.00 pm. So I decided I would leave home by 9:30pm but my mum said I had told her the party was for 7pm. I had no choice but to go to the party early and I was the only person at the party at that time.
Then people started arriving at 9: pm. It was at that time that my mum came to call me out from the party. She sent the mallam to call me. I was so embarrassed.
What was her favourite food that you enjoyed most?
I can’t remember her favourite food but the food she made that I enjoyed most was vegetable soup (edikaikong). I never ate that calabar vegetable dish anywhere. It was my mother that prepared it first for me to eat. She cooked it like a yoruba woman. She put lots of palm oil in it, just like efo-riro.
When did your mother die?
She died on her 46th birthday. She was ill, she had breast cancer. She got married on her birthday and died on her 46th birthday. My father’s sisters were saying she had ‘familiar’ spirit, that she was possessed by marine spirits. She got married on the day she was born and died same day. It was a bitter, sweet day for all of us. It would have been her birthday, wedding anniversary but it turned out to be her burial ceremony.
What do you miss most about her?
Everything. Our love was as if it should not end. My father was in Nigeria and I was in England. If my mother was alive she would have been more proactive in our lives. When my ex- and his mother ganged up against me I missed her. At that time I felt they treated me badly because I didn’t have my mum around to support me . Now that I am older, I miss her a lot. I would want to share so many things with her.
What features did you pick from her?
That should be my skin. My skin is very lovely; she was beautiful inside out. She had the most beautiful skin. I took that from her.
What is the greatest advice she had given to you?
My mother told me that if a man is tired of a woman there is nothing a woman can do to please him. That is something that has always been in my sub-consciousness. Even with my ex- partner, I would remember what my mother told me. No matter what I did to please him, he was never pleased with me.
What was the greatest sacrifice she ever made to you?
She and my father sent us to very good schools even though they were not too influential. Being a parent now, I know the sacrifices they made to have sent us to very good schools. I thank her and my father for that.
Another thing, no matter how much she beat us at home, she would never beat us in public.