By Nkechi Chima Onyele, Abuja
Renowned broadcaster, Vinmartin Obiora Ilo is Chief Executive Officer, CEO of Signature Communications, and Executive Producer of O & M Show.In this interview with Sunday Sun, this media guru bares it all on his childhood and being nurtured by an embodiment of motherhood, among other interesting issues.
What was childhood like?
Indeed, it’s a story of my mum being the best! I grew up in a home where strangers, friends and relatives lived in harmony. Though, I didn’t grow up in an affluent home, but by the grace of God we were comfortable. My late father was a headmaster, while my mother was a teacher. My mum didn’t leave the responsibility of a stable family solely to our dad. Rather, she was a helpmate who contributed financially and morally to support her immediate family. I remember vividly during the war, they didn’t conscript teachers, until they started recruiting them, which limited what the men could do, unless they wanted to go to war. We left our station where she was teaching and ran to our town, Achi, Oji River, in Enugu State when the war broke out and we continued to Aguata, Umuneze precisely for safety. My mum abandoned teaching and embraced trading to take care of her immediate and extended families. Fortunately, my uncles who were conscripted to the warfront were released through my mum’s intervention.
After the war, my mum continued trading since she was doing well financially. She was reabsorbed into teaching, two years later, because of her passion for the profession. Upon retirement without pension and gratuity, she strove to make ends meet for the family. In fact, my parents struggled to sustain me as a young boy in secondary school to pursue my dreams. That was why I started working immediately after my secondary education to support my education and beloved family.
How old is your mum?
Roseline Akunne Ilo was born in 1940; she is 77 and still counting by the grace of God
How old were you when the war broke?
I was two years old. I was born 1964, while the war broke out in 1966 and lasted till 1970.
As a child you experienced war, could you share your experience?
I must appreciate my mum for providing food and water for us. I saw children giving up the ghost because of malnutrition and hunting for grasshoppers to eat.
How is your mum coping with the demise of your dad?
She is not finding it funny living without her soul mate of many years. In fact, she suffered stroke one week after his burial and for a week she was in coma. Though, they had their differences as couples, but their love was enormous. In fact, my parents were a perfect couple. My mum was entirely submissive to my dad until his death. She got to the pinnacle of her career as a headmistress. My mum had a joint account with my dad.
How would you describe your mother in one sentence?
My mum is industrious, kind, caring, God-fearing, loving, intelligent, brave, generous, disciplined, beautiful, tolerant and a role model to young mothers.
What do you cherish about her?
We had a natural bond as her first son. I remember how traumatized my mum felt when I was ill in 1989. This exposed the family to trepidation having lost my sister to the cold hands of death. We were six in the family, but my mum loves me profoundly. She would always say “If I need to sell my Georges or wrappers to make life meaningful for you, I will”. I saw a selfless woman who even in her old age cared about her children and others.
What lessons did you learn from your mum that you inculcated in your children?
Fortunately, my mum is alive and she has passed on some her virtues to her grandchildren. The worthiest virtues I have learnt are love, kindness, selflessness and respect for others regardless of status.
Her golden injunction was “You must do unto others as you want them to do unto you”. Also, my parents taught us contentment; what we didn’t have, we never hungered for, what we had, we treasured. They taught us hard work and selflessness for survival. My parents never had a car, yet it didn’t make me feel inferior. However, my humble self bought the first car my parents drove.