Exactly six years ago, for three days, October 8 to 10, 2014, The Sun Women Leadership Summit was held at the Convention Centre, in Asaba, the Delta State capital. The event drew women from all walks of life. The aim was to network and devise strategies to champion and move the cause of women forward. The event was organised by the Osun State Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, who at the time was Editor of the Sunday Sun. The Delta State government sponsored the summit. Women turned out in large numbers to interact, learn and benefit from the excellent and robust programme that featured various notable resource persons.
Interestingly, the summit afforded several women who participated in it to briefly get away from the routine and grind of their everyday life. Attending the three-day event was like a healing balm for many of the women. It was pure mental and physical refreshment as they were entertained with jokes by ace comedians, whose witty remarks eased off the women’s emotional stress.
For once, the women who attended the summit had themselves pampered by courteous staff of the hotels where they were lodged. And they did not have to bother about cooking meals, running their homes, etc. They simply enjoyed the short holiday. They slept and woke up to choose from an array of choice breakfasts. They networked, discussed politics, shared business ideas, fashions trends and inhaled the exotic mix of the best designer perfumes. They generally enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere that marriage and family obligations had long denied most of them. Honestly, I returned to my family from that trip refreshed and happy with the new things I learnt.
Let me be clear, marriage remains an institution ordained by God, but once in a while a woman needs to take a necessary break from it, get away, refresh and recharge her batteries. Taking a break has a lot of advantages.
The Thursday and Friday of the event were filled with thought provoking training sessions and networking opportunities. On Saturday we all went for a one-kilometer walk after Mrs Roli Uduaghan, wife of the then state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, had led us through a one hour aerobics class. That Saturday was a mind-blowing opportunity which several domestic responsibilities like morning school-run and the like wouldn’t allow the women to experience and enjoy. After the morning work-out, the women retired to their rooms, to prepare and assemble again in the evening for a formal dress dinner at the Government House. Hey, my dear reader, I know you are getting a little bit jealous. Please don’t be. Consider this: how many nursing mothers attend dinner parties? While several women rested in their hotel rooms, some of my colleagues – Christy Anyanwu, Florence Utor (The Guardian newspaper) and I chartered a tri-cycle and went on a tour of Asaba, on sightseeing. We did window shopping as much as we could, and ended up picking a few things each for ourselves. We also stopped over at an amala joint. But that turned out to a dud as what we were served was a caricature of amala. Really, the operator of the facility has great need to go to Isale-Eko for proper training on how to make amala.
Another beautiful opportunity to get away from the routine of my work came my way when my lecturer, big sister and friend, Prof Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, who became the first female Professor of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, sent me to represent her at a Media Summit in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The residential conference organized by United Nations Development Programme was held at Ibom Hotel and Resort Centre. Anybody who has been there can readily understand how I felt about the opportunity to experience the beauty of the hospitality facility. For starters, most journalists of my status then could not afford to pay N80,000.00 for a 4-5 -nights stay that came with a return flight ticket. After being in that city for 4-5days, I could readily appreciate what prompted the incumbent Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Onuoha Ukeh, who at the time shared his own experience in a piece in his column with the title, “Godswill Akpabio: See Uyo and Die” published on October 12, 2012. Incidentally, that piece now has an honoured place in his book entitled ‘The Powers That Be’. Take this excerpt from Ukeh’s piece: “As one of those who attended the last All Nigeria Editor’s Conference (ANEC) organized by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) in Uyo, I would say that I saw Akwa Ibom wonder. What I saw in Uyo has reinforced my belief that Nigeria could not only be transformed but also work. I have always said that it takes vision, drive, focus, courage and determination to make a difference and bring about change in Nigeria as a country or any state, as a component unit. I have seen the “uncommon transformation” as Akwa Ibom people call it and I believe.” You can just imagine how good one would feel after comig back from such a beautiful town with wonderful road network. Take it or leave it, Akpabio is indeed the lion of the Niger Delta.
Now the essence of women taking care of themselves has been overemphasized by various experts because a trained woman trains another waiting world. A woman cannot be at a summit for 3-4days without learning any new thing to improve herself, family or work.
For a woman, going away once in a while is very important, especially after all the multi-tasking of being a wife, mother, artist, painter, educationist, doctor, trader, administrative officer, nurse, midwife, journalist, etc. Clearly, she needs a break to function better. Don’t forget, she is the centre of her home. When she does her calculations from laundry to kitchen to school runs and paying bills, less attention is paid; the moment she touches her phone, complaint trails her from the children: “Mummy is always pressing phone.” Yes, mummy can press phone with guided wisdom, not to the detriment of her family
The truth is that a woman has the right to take care of herself and whatever makes her happy should not be ignored. If she is the type that loves fashion, let her express herself with quality fashion but with caution. A woman who rather buys clothes instead of paying school fees for the children is irresponsible. If she loves sports and can afford going to Wimbledon to watch Serena Williams live, let her go to experience the fun of it, responsibly – no away matches. If she likes to travel abroad for holidays, as far as the family can afford it, let her go, if it is to a Spa, let her go; if she enjoys travelling to attend the functions of friends and family, please fund the trip. A happy wife is a great asset. Some women like to wear new hair style, yes, let her be. If she is love drunk with you, give it to her to the fullest. Heavy women should not be castigated for their sizes. But what I am advocating is not applicable to irresponsible women. No such woman deserves to be pampered by her husband. Why invest in a cesspit wife?
I recall a scenario that played out at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), some time ago, when some women with advanced pregnancies visited the antenatal clinic. While waiting for their turns to see the doctors, the rotund tummies began to chat as they placed orders for suya (meat barbecue) and soft drinks. Spontaneously, friendships developed. Top of that discussion was the freedom and joy of being outside their home once in a while.
Men cannot deny the fact that behind every successful man is a super woman. When a woman has paid her dues, let her also enjoy the fruits of her labour. She should not nurse children into their own marriages before she could raise her head. Nothing stops her from attending a few days refresher course and come back to the warm embrace of her family. After seven months of family lockdown, now that schools have resumed, women can have a few days break in their homes. Sleep well, eat well, rest, go to Spas and enjoy themselves.
All holidays must not be at a conference or summit. This explains why the Easterners travel home at the end of the year to re-unite with their loved ones, rest from the year’s efforts and re-strategize for the coming year.
But then, holidays are not for irresponsible behaviours; neither should they be the time to catch up with old flames. Though once in a while responsible freedom is needed to keep the body and soul together, healthy and happy.