Shortly after she won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria 2014 pageant, Adaeze married Nigeria’s international footballer, Joseph Yobo, in a celebrity wedding that was the talk of the town. Today, she is a mother of three adorable children, who is a vibrant and very outspoken person. In this interview, she talks about her mother who is a lawyer, politician and philanthropist.
Please tell us about your mum.
My mum’s name is Abigail Igwe. She lives and works in Abuja. She’s a lawyer, a businesswoman and also has interest in politics. But ultimately, she’s a philanthropist. She has a foundation, De Zionist Elders Foundation, which she established five years ago before my sister and I joined her. The foundation is so close to her heart. She is presently constructing a home for the elderly in Anambra State. She has loved to help old people. When she started she used to go to the suburb, to share relief materials to them.
You were a beauty queen. What role did your mum play in all that?
My mum literally pushed me. It was something that I had always wanted to do as a child but at some point after secondary school, during the transition from secondary school to the university, I spent one year at home and added weight and lost interest in my dream of becoming a beauty queen. My mum knowing that it was what I wanted to do from childhood saw the advert on TV and asked me to go for it. But I felt discouraged by the fact that I had added weight. My mum went ahead and got me a trainer and I started jogging every morning on the street in Abuja to lose weight. She motivated me back into my dream. She took me in the hand and was there for me all the way to my winning the crown. When I want to give up in the camp, when other girls were discussing who would win and all that, I would call my mum and she kept talking to me. She spoke words of encouragement every time I called her, saying that I would make it, that I was the best, and had what it would take to succeed. At a point, it was only my mum’s voice I was hearing all through the camping and during the contest till I won the pageant.
You look good and like good things. Did you take that from your mum?
Yes. My mum has a huge influence in every area of my life. My spiritual life, fashion sense and everything. She has been like my best friend. Growing up, it was just her that I knew. From the way she took care of herself, the hygiene, her obsession for washing of hands regularly, her hair and makeup. When I was younger, I even made fun of her about some of the things she did, in terms of fashion and hygiene, but now I have realised I’m doing all that without even knowing. I have taken to her fashion and beauty sense. I would say she has a great influence on that aspect of my life.
You married early, before 23, shortly after winning the MBGN pageant and completing your reign as queen. How did she feel?
I got married at 20. My mum’s concern was that I had to finish schooling. When I met my husband I told her immediately. When I got pregnant I found it difficult to tell her, thinking I had let her down but she got over it and supported me all through. I didn’t believe it would be that easy for her to support me knowing that I didn’t finish my school before I went into marriage and that was my mum’s ultimate dream for me. She wanted the best for me. In fact, she was the one that did the decorations and she danced and danced on my wedding day. She was so happy.
When you achieved her dream as per your education, how did she feel?
She also encouraged me to start my university education in Turkey after I had my first son. I was confused at first because of the language barrier but she kept insisting that I should find a school there where English is used to teach the students. She added that I would feel good, would be able to tackle challenges of the world more and also feel more confident as a graduate.
Which of her favourite dishes did you eat while growing up, and which you still love till today?
Growing up, the food that I liked a lot was her oha soup. It became my favourite soup. But oha soup wasn’t her favourite soup. She cooked it for us and I loved it. My mum favourite food is anything that has vegetable and fish.
Advice did she give you that you still hold on to?
She taught me to put God first in my life and that is what has kept me going in life. My spiritual life is my identity. Sometimes, when I pray, I thank God for that particular gift that my mum gave us. If that is the only thing she gives me, I’m set for life. The gift of teaching me to be prayerful is what I intend to give to my children because it’s a gift that money cannot buy. That gift, consciously or unconsciously, has been guiding me through life. I always come back to my spiritual life for answers, for direction and all that.
What aspect of your mum’s lifestyle do you admire most?
As a little child, my mum was always working. My mum is an achiever, even with her four children. She was pregnant when she was in Law School, and still remained focused. She ran for House of Representatives election at the age of 30 in Anambra State, and she won. But the demise of Abacha obstructed that. Back then, seeing her waking up every day, working hard for her campaign, as a wife and a mother, always moved me as a child. At the time, she was still with my father, not yet divorced. I wanted to be a hardworking person like her. Even with all that she also maintains a humble spirit. My mum was also a Director in Anambra State Water Corporation. I’m a family person. My responsibility as a mother and wife is very important to me. Growing up, we were very close as siblings. That’s what my mum and dad taught us. My dad talked about family being together. I can’t have a conversation without talking about my husband and my children. My mum is very social but more homely.