By Tosin Akinola
Fast rising gospel singer, Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun, is set to take her music career to the next level. According to the daughter of the late relationship expert, Bimbo Odukoya, her new single is a means of thanking God for all what He has done for her. In this interview, Tolu, who was recently ordained as a pastor and who has also stepped into the shoes of her mother as a relationship counselor, talks about her passion for God and music. Enjoy it.
What inspired your new single?
It’s a simple song of gratitude. When I think about all what God has done for me, everything I’ve been through, how He has remained faithful, I think about how I can tell him how grateful I am. I think to myself, ‘how can I give back in return?’ The human way of showing gratitude is doing something; and I thought giving Him my heart would do it. My heart is the most important part of me as a human being. If I can give it to God, it shows how much I’m thankful for all that He’s done.
Is this your first single?
No, I had a single out in 2011 with Onyeka Onwenu. It’s titled, Gifted and Proud. We didn’t make a lot of publicity about it. It was mostly for my mother’s Foundation. But we did a video and the video had a lot of viewings on YouTube and also a lot of airplays on TV. I’ve always been singing. My mum actually prayed when she was carrying me in her womb that I would be a singer. So, I’ve been singing in church for a very long time. However, I think this would be the best time to dab into my ministry, because I do see music as my ministry.
What makes this the best time?
I’m married; I have children and at this point in my life, I want to do things that are tangible and meaningful. You might spend the rest of your life working, but how many people are you affecting by that? And I realise that when I sing or worship, I touch people and I turn people back to God. It’s my own way of ministering. I might not be the most eloquent person at preaching the word, but I believe when I sing, I get people to see God and feel God. As young women, we want to get married; I’m married. Then we want to have kids; I’ve had kids. I feel like I’ve laid the foundational blocks. I’ve done everything that I need to do humanly. This is the time to focus on my spiritual life.
How soon should we expect an album?
Hopefully, very soon. The challenge is that I’m juggling work. You know, I’m a mother, a wife and there is also church. I have a blog for women and relationships. So, I’m juggling a lot of things right now but I’m praying with the help of God that, by the third quarter of next year, there should be an album. But before then, you’re definitely going to be hearing a lot more from me. I’m going to be putting out as many singles as I can, doing videos and pushing out songs. I left a big gap from 2011 to 2016, and that’s not going to happen anymore. I think I’ve done the needful in those years; it’s time to really focus.
Why the interest in relationships?
I got a backlash on Facebook recently where people said I’m not my mother, so why do I feel I can talk about relationships? And it’s almost inevitable. I grew up in a family where my parents were very into relationships. My father would always counsel married couples. So would my mum. And you saw her on TV with her show, Single and Married. So, I have lived in that environment. Now that I’m married, it finally makes sense to me. Now, being married and understanding everything my mom used to say then, and what my dad still says, I feel I have a mandate to help single people before they enter into a relationship; to let them know that there are some particular questions they need to ask or talk about, some foundational questions they need to ask or blocks they need to build before they enter into this thing. It is almost my own way of guiding.
And also with the married women, everything I have learnt in my four years of marriage, I also share with them. Right now, young people are not staying in their marriages anymore. If it’s not working, they jump out. And that’s how our own generation has been sensitised. But one thing I’m learning, I’m very practical, and what people will see on my relationship blog is that I am very straightforward. I don’t really hide under the umbrella of spirituality, but I try to relate things practically to life. So, I understand it better and then I can actually do what it’s asking me to do. So, what I try to do is bring it down to our level, explain it in our own language and get them to understand; and try to make everybody happy.
Are you not bothered about people thinking you’re just trying to copy your late mum?
I can never be bothered. My mum was Bimbo Odukoya. I’m Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun. We’re two very different people. If I want to be like her, I’ve failed in my ministry because there can only be one Bimbo Odukoya and there can only be one Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun. I believe that I’ve been called to it. You know, there are things that people start, and after a while, you say ‘yes, this person was meant to do it’. It’s something that I naturally gravitate towards. And like I said, I can never be her.
What is different about you?
The way and manner my mother went about her things is definitely not the way and manner I will go about mine. The experiences that she had are not the experiences that I have. I have been blessed to learn under her. I saw her at home; I saw her in church. I saw who she was 360, so I have a view that most people don’t have. Seeing that and now being in the same situation is almost like I already know the right thing to do. I have to do them but at the same time, I have to justify them in my own way; in the way young people think today, because like I said, people don’t have time anymore. If it’s not working, it’s not working. But then, from a Christian perspective, I have to see why it’s not working. I then take everything mummy has said and break it down.
Now, I understand because I’m breaking it down. Now I realise that love is not a feeling. It is a decision. You choose to love. You choose to constantly love. You choose to forgive. You choose to make it work. It’s not about how you feel. What I do is, I try to point out to those who are coming in that, yes, you could have feelings. That’s good. But it has a lot more to do with your decision and your maturity in what you’re trying to get into. So, the way I would look at it and the way I would put it down would be totally different from Pastor Bimbo (Odukoya). Like you mentioned, some things are inevitable.
How much of your mum is in you?
If we go through genetics, it’s 50/50. But at the same time, I believe that people are called to certain season, certain time and certain people. My mum was called to a season and to a certain people. She also told me that, people she speaks to; I can never speak to. But people I would speak to, she would never speak to. At that time, I didn’t understand what she was saying. But now I get it. And, I see it as me giving back. I see it as something that I need to do. I always want to be that sounding board, giving them a reason to actually justify why they’re doing what they’re doing. I don’t want to judge anybody. Like I said, I’m sharing from my experiences, what I’ve been through, all I know and all I’ve learnt.
What is that thing that would make you advice somebody to leave his or her marriage?
I think physical violence is that thing that would make me advise one to leave. Because, if a person is dead, there’s nothing we are talking about. When there’s physical violence in any marriage, one thing I advice is separation. Let both parties calm down, let’s understand the root cause and know if we can compromise and reach a decision to move forward. Now, if we see that it’s not going to happen, we have to just pray because we cannot afford to lose a life. Physical violence is a no for me.