To Mrs. Ify Anazonwu-Akerele, Director General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping who also doubles as President, Women In Shipping And Trading Association (WISTA), marriage to someone outside one’s tribal group could be fulfilling. She speaks with TOLUWANI OLAMITOKE on her job, activities and what makes a good home. Excerpts.

Despite efforts made by Women in Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) in getting women involved in the industry, their participation is still low. why?

As the president of WISTA, I will say the fact remains that the industry is male dominated. But this is not to say that women are not involved. We have an annual international conference where powerful women in the industry come together to discuss issues based on moving the industry forward. I acknowledge there are tough areas of the business but there also mild ones. our male counterparts have been supportive. They don’t see us as a threat. The industry is an area in which if you are strong, you will make a headway and your mark.

As a career person, what role has your marriage played in your rise in career?

In the early days of my marriage, when the children were young, I was able to separate home from business. Now the children are old and as such, I have more time for the job. What you make of your home is very important. I will advise every woman to make her home comfortable and make herself available for her husband.

A career woman and every woman indeed needs to take her husband along in whatever she is doing. A wise woman will make a bit of sacrifice, go the extra mile, because she’s the neck of the home. the home depends and rests on her. I was the old- fashion type and was out to ensure the children got the needed care and attention unlike what we have now.

Many women are eager to get to the top of their career and also acquire money or wealth at the expense of their homes. Unfortunately, after achieving these dreams, they come back home, but the homes are no more there. They end up being strangers to both their spouses and children. Women are multifaceted and as such, should learn to create a balance between home and work. Total dedication to career comes up when the children are grown up.

You are an Igbo woman and must have had hundreds of Igbo guys around you. Why marry a Yoruba man?

My marriage, no doubt, was God ordained. When we met, the fact that we were from different tribes wasn’t an issue to me. The most important thing to me then was that I prayed to God for a husband and He gave me a man who I love and felt I could share my future with. I made up my mind to go for it regardless of the tribe difference. I will confess that looking through the years, my in-laws have been good to me. The family is closely knitted, they are one.

Didn’t you encounter any resistance from your parents?

No. I remember my mother asked me if I could carry on with the relationship despite the difference. I assured her that all was going to be fine. And thank God, today, I have no regrets.

Your spouse is from which state in the SouthWest?

He is from Lagos State, but originally from Oyo State.

Did you have a problem communicating in Yoruba language?

No. although I am from Enugu, I had my tertiary education at the University of Ife. There, I had many Yoruba friends and as such picked up the language.

What efforts did you make in learning to cook some of the foods in the South West?

I learnt to make efo riro and ewa aganyin. I find these very delicious.

What of pounded yam?

I don’t like pounded yam and I don’t pound

A lot has been said about trust in a relationship. What’s your take on this?

Trust is the foundation of a relationship. Building trust in a relationship is the greatest key to developing intimacy. Trust takes time to build, but can be torn down very quickly. unfortunately, some couples live on lies which is not nice.

What is style to you?

Style comes from within, it’s deep down within you and you will know you are looking good in whatever you come up with. I believe it’s basic sense of insecurity exposing self so as to be accepted. Style is appearing or looking not flashy or extremely vulgar. My daughter is 25 years old and she knows how far she can go with fashion. I taught her to be confident and create her style, but this shouldn’t be that which she would not be comfortable in or will make her look outrageous.

Do you have a preference with regard to wears?

I’m pretty conservative but I like corporate wears. At times those that match my taste can be quite expensive. We have nice prints here in Nigeria which, if well tailored, appear nice on one. I wear these sewn into skirt and blouse or with jacket. I also like up and down.

What is it you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing?

Top revealing wears, very short wears and bikinis.

What would you splurge on?

Bags, jewelry and food. I love bags made by Channel and I can afford them.

How do you unwind?

I walk a lot. I walk about four times a week. I watch films that are in series and read a lot. I also attend socials at weekends.

Favourite car?

The Range Rover in vogue, but I can’t afford it.

What would you look out for in your daughter’s fiance at the first meeting?

I will like to know if he is confident of himself and if he is truly God fearing.

How can a relationship be spiced?

I believe one has to be sensitive to the husband’s mood. Aside going out visiting places, there a games like ludo, scrabble, cards and even ayo which can be played at home. You will discover these are fun and are interesting ways of replenishing one’ss union. Friends can also engage in such games to boost their relationship.

Your educational background?

I started schooling in the East. I attended Queens’ School, Enugu, then the civil war broke out. I travelled to England and was there for 12 years. There, I attended boarding school. On returning, I gained admission to University of Ife and later University of Lagos where I studied Sociology, International Relations and Corporate Administration.