The name Olasumbo Ayodele may not be as popular as Quincy, but both belong to the same person. Anywhere there is a talk about slimming, there is always a generous mention of Quincy. It’s a household name for overweight people. Quincy, a one time banker, moved into herbal medicine practice, and she has been living happily ever after. In her medicine chest is the widely acclaimed Quincy herbal slimmers. In this interview with RONKE KEHINDE, she talks about her journey into herbal medicine, the challenges involved, the most memorable days of her life and how Quincy became greater and bigger than Olasumbo Ayodele.

Tell us about your journey into herbal medicine?

I have always been in herbal medicine since my childhood, because my grandfather was a practitioner of herbal medicine. My grandmother was one. I was born in the village. I lived in the village and I still live there up till now. I grew up with herbal medicine, I’ve been exposed to herbal medicine since the time I knew how to call daddy. That was back in my village in Olorunsogo, Abeokuta, Ogun State. The journey started from there. I was sent to school. I finished and I started working like a normal human being. But when you talk of medicine or treatment in my family, it must be agbo (herbal drink). Even when you are pregnant it must be agbo for us in the family or nothing else.

My father will not care whether you marry an accountant, a medical doctor or anything. For his female children, he will warn the husband that, look I brought up my children with agbo, that is what he told my husband. That was how we finally lived our lives when I got married in Abeokuta, and we finally moved to Lagos after marriage. I’ve never lived in Lagos before. My husband brought me here. My father warned him that let me let you know that ‘I brought my daughter up in the village by using traditional medicine; now that you are taking her to Lagos don’t go and pollute her system with any other form of medication apart from herbal medicine’.

It has always been something with me from that age, it’s just that I didn’t plan to take it as a profession. In those days you cannot wake up and say you want to be a traditional medicine practitioner. No. I went to school normally. I graduated, and I worked in a bank. The only thing is that when I was in the bank I was always advising my colleagues on what to do when they were sick. Most of them were always laughing at me. I did not even understand why they were laughing at me, because if you are ignorant of something, and someone was telling you that you should take agbo for what you are suffering from because that is what will heal you. In the case that they did not heed my advise, I will go to Elewe omo (herbal medicine seller) and buy the things and bring to the office for them. Some will take it and some will not take it. That is how the whole journey started. I found myself practising herbal medicine, and I had to go back to school for it. Here I am answering God’s call, because it’s a very different profession but it’s a unique one.

Did you enjoy working in the bank?

It was a nice, fantastic job experience in the bank. I enjoyed the bank, the power and everything that was attached to my position. I was the personal assistant to the MD, and Mrs. Ayodele was a very powerful woman in the bank in those days. That was at Society Generale Bank. I was working directly with Baba Saraki and his son, the current governor of Kwara State. That made me to have that power and of course the knowledge of the job. I was given so many responsibilities and I did not fail in any, because I was very hardworking. I had everything good in the bank. I had no regret working in the bank at all. But when God wants to use you, you cannot dodge him. That is what the Bible says. Jonah dodged, he was caught. Samuel was trying not to understand the call of God, but he was still captured. If God wants to use you for humanity, you cannot dodge. I am talking from experience. You can try to be wise, you’ll say it’s not true. When he actually captures you, he will set the path for you to get there. He will establish you, even the sky cannot limit you. That is the story of my life.

Are you a Christian?

I am a Christian, I go to The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

What are the peculiar memories you remember while growing up in Olorunsogo Village?

A lot, I didn’t grow up with my parents. As at that time I was in the village, my parents were in England. I grew up with my grandparents. I had very nice memories growing up in the village. It was a nice thing living in the village as a child. We have no knowledge of the outside world. There was no fear, there was no bill to be paid. No fear of anything, we could forget ourselves outside in the evening after having dinner and sleep off, until my grandmother would come and pick me up to enter the room about two o’clock. Not because of thieves or kidnappers but because of cold, so that you can have some warmth in the room.

In the village, I learnt that you cannot have your dinner not later than six in the evening. There was no clock when I was in the village, but there was a way we used to know time by using the sun and the moon. When you look outside in the morning and the sun is rising, you will know that, that is very early in the morning. I still do that, it’s just that in Lagos you cannot tell where the sun is because of modernisation. When it’s around 11, 12 you will know where the sun would be. And when it’s at the center you know that, that is one in the afternoon, and when it shifts, that is 2p.m. when they ring the bell for us in school to start coming home. That is how we used to know the time.

By 6p.m. when the sun was about setting, our dinner was ready. All of us would gather around the mat, we would all eat. After eating, my grandfather would tell us tortoise stories, and other stories and a couple of histories about his generation. He used to tell us the history of Sodimu family, where he was bringing us from, where he used to live. Even though all of us were young, when he passed on, it was that history and all the things he used to tell us that made us to still hold on tight to being the head of our village in Olorunsogo. If he had not told us the history of how our generation came to that village I wouldn’t have been able to fight for the heritage.

What are the challenges involved? Have you ever encountered any challenges in the course of your duty?

When I started talking about herbal medicine in the nineties, I encountered a lot of challenges. It was very strange at that time for anyone to talk about herbal medicine. In the nineties, if you talk about herbal medicine, they will categorise you as a witch or Mami water. They will say; she is even light in complexion; she is a spirit from the water. But I persisted because I knew that what I was talking about then had nothing to do with the spirit.

I was only talking about the medicinal usefulness of our plants and the herbs which we have in abundance in Nigeria. In those days, religion does not allow people to separate treatment from belief. They were not able to separate tradition from belief. They were mixing everything together. I persisted that tradition is different from your belief. In some cases belief can be inside tradition. Your belief in God or any other thing is different from tradition. I persisted by explaining to them that medicine at all is not even a belief. You can bring your belief to make medicine to work, but it’s not dependent on belief.

When we are talking of medicinal properties and their uses, it has nothing to do with your belief. It’s just the knowledge that I know about the uses of these plants and herbs that I’m telling you. Try it and see whether it works for you. It worked for them. I said put your belief aside.

In some cases, you can ask God that “Please Jesus let this thing work for me”. That’s when you can apply your belief, but don’t say because she is talking of herbs and I’m a Christian, I cannot drink agbo, then you’ll just die. Since she is talking about the medicinal agbo, if she is talking about the medicine of agbo why can’t you just try it. In as much as I am not going to say come let me chant incantations on what I’m giving you. No, you’ll take whatever I’m giving you with the knowledge of the thing. I will tell you what you are taking. Or in some cases I’ll tell you go and pluck it yourself. If you say I put spirit in my own, what of the one you are going to use, are you going to put spirit in that one too. That’s how God has helped me to conquer that challenge. Apart from that no other challenge. Now, everybody is proud to be associated with Quincy, because I did not stop talking.

The Bible says my people perish for lack of knowledge. I did not let my own people perish for lack of knowledge. I kept on educating them, I was on air, in the papers, in interviews like this, telling them the difference between your belief and medicine. I thank God that He has made everybody’s eyes to be open to nature and they now know the importance of medicinal herbs.

What would you consider your greatest achievement so far?

Well, I’ve not reached my peak. God is yet to do that greatest thing I’m waiting for, but if you are talking of achievements, I will thank God for how he has taken us so far, because I will say categorically that God has made Quincy Herbal Slimmer to be bigger than me. That is what I’ll always told God: That Quincy is bigger than me now. I ask him, what do I do? But God has helped us not only to be able to manage what is already bigger than us, He himself is in the business managing it for me. I did not know that Quincy would be this big, now that it’s bigger than me, God should continue to give me the strength and the wisdom to be able to cope with what He has started. If that is an achievement I thank God for that. But the greatest one is yet to come.

What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for Quincy to be this popular?

I have sacrificed a lot, like sleepless nights; working round the clock there is no free minute at Quincy herbal slimmers at all. As I’m talking to you, some people are waiting to see me. I finished all my appointments in the office. If I get home I’ll be working. I’ve sacrificed a lot of my time, energy, strength and the greatest sacrifice is my family. They are in this with me – my husband, my children. It’s like I’ve given everything back to humanity. I don’t have a time of my own anymore. I’ve no friend, my job is my friend. I am not regretting. If it’s a call, I’ve given everything up. No social life. No time to socialise anymore. It’s either I’m at Quincy, in the factory, in the village, in the bush, with client at home, or abroad or on the phone talking about the job. On air, interviews, that is my life now. In the past, I used to have other lives, like partying, going to clubs with my family, but right now I’ve given everything up.

What are you passionate about?

I have a lot of passions though, but the greatest one is for older generation.

How do you mean?

I mean that I like looking after old people, elderly people. I have great passion for them. Maybe because I was brought up by my grandparents. I have a particular passion for anybody that is elderly. I can sacrifice my life to make them happy. To keep them alive, care for them, cut their nails, do their hair, wash their clothes. Even if they have their own children, if you allow me to look after your elderly ones, he or she may forget that I am not his or her daughter or grand-daughter. It’s one of my passions, but that is the greatest. I have passion for so many other things. I have passion for young people too, who have ideas of how to start their life. I started very early in life too. I like to encourage them to start up with anything they have. I like to counsel them.

When did your grandparents pass away?

My grandfather passed away in 1997. My grandmother passed away in 1995.

Where are your parents now?

They are alive, my father is in my house.

How many are you in your family?

We are five, three girls and two boys. I am number two. I am the second daughter.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue to make Quincy the household name in the world. Just as Macdonald is to eateries, let Quincy be to slimmers. Just like we have Coca-Cola as the leader in soft drinks, let Quincy be the leader to anybody that is overweight. That is my mission and God will take us there.

Share with us some of the most memorable days of your life.

The day I got married and the day I had my first daughter who just got married. Everyday is memorable to me. The day I had my first client at Quincy herbal slimmers is one of those days. There so many other of such days.

What is your phobia?

I hate open market. I like going to supermarket but not open market like Idumota or Balogun. I can’t stand it.

When your daughter was getting married didn’t you go to Idumota?

I contracted it out. Maybe for the past 20 something years I have not been to Idumota.

Is it because of the crowd?

Because you have to be going about in the sun pricing something, and they will look at you and inflate the cost and you have to start pricing. You go from one store to the other. I get easily bored. I prefer calling them to bring it.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a very simple person. Easy going, accessible. My father taught us to be very simple and he brought us up that way. There is an adage that he was always telling us: ‘Simplicity costs you nothing, but it buys you everything’.

Are you a book person?

Yes I read a lot.

Can you tell us the type of books you read and the name of the book you read last?

Natural health books. The last book I read is ‘Names and uses of 101 herbs and the prevention’.

What type of perfume do you wear?

I collect perfumes, but I like Angel.

I’ll like you to go down memory lane and tell us how you met your husband?

I met him in my house. He had been passing. He came to do a project in Abeokuta through our house several times. We’ve been seeing him as a project manager for a particular sub-station along our house. I never thought that this is the man I will marry. Anyway he approached me and I told him ‘ah, you can’t talk to me o, go and talk to my father, whatever my father says. That is the law in our house. Don’t talk to me o, you like me ke, you want to kidnap me, go and tell my father. So, he went to my father; he told him his intention, they both discussed. My father went with him to his home town in Kogi State. He met with his parents. He did the normal investigation, even before telling me. When he now finished his investigation, he was satisfied and convinced. He came back and now told me this is the man I want you to marry. That was how it started.

What are the qualities you saw in him?

My father saw all the qualities. I was growing up. I knew that he was well educated, he had a profession. That is number one quality. You must have a profession before you can marry any of us. He had a profession. He had future; he is kind, friendly, loving, easy going and he is not a bully. He’s such that he will allow you to be what God wants you to be; he will even lead you there. He’s not one of those men that will say I cannot allow my wife to be this or to be that. He has passion for success for everyone. I will say I married my brother, my friend, my lover, my everything.

Let’s talk fashion. Are you a label freak?

No, there is even no time to go and buy clothes. I wear what fits me. I don’t even know the labels

What habit do you wish to change from?

Collections of perfumes. I’m sure what led me to that habit must have been Doctor Saraki. When I was working with him, he used to buy expensive perfumes for all of us, even for his son. When he travelled, he will buy perfumes for all of us in the office, give all of us in the office, that made me to get used to it. It’s like I cannot wear just any perfume except the ones that has names. When I grew up and I know where they get it, it was like ‘oh, so this is where they get these things’. That is when I started and it has become a habit. I have perfumes everywhere and I can only use one at a time or even mix it. And I cannot resell it. Whenever I travel I will say I am not going to buy perfume, okay, I will pass through the perfume shop and I will not know what will push me inside that shop, and I will end up picking one or two. I think it’s a bad habit and I’m praying that God should help me to stop it. I don’t want to have something I cannot do without.

What would you say is your most expensive fashion item?

I am not a fashion person. I just wear what fits me. Maybe my perfume.

What about your jewelry?

I am not a jewelry person, I have them but I don’t wear them. Like I wore this earrings and I forgot to wear the chain. I don’t have the time to be looking at what chain goes with this earing.

What are your favourite colours?

I like dark colours. Black, brown and sometimes white.

How do you unwind?

I think I unwind in the office, when I see my client lose weight, because I enjoy what I do.

What is your philosophy of life?

Life to me is a journey, you have to pass through it with wisdom and understanding. My philosophy is take each day as a journey and be wise.

How long have you been married?

Twenty six years.

I want you to advise ladies on how to keep their men?

If you want to have a successful marriage you should learn to submit completely to your husband. Your life is in his hand, he can do it anyhow because you’re already married to him. He also has his life also in your own hand as well. If you are trying to hide from your husband, it’s like you don’t have a hiding place and that will create problem. Just submit to him, know that whatever you are doing is to support him, you are not on your own. Anything you have is to support him; you must learn to always support him. That is what the Bible says. No matter who you are. Even if you are a Minister and your husband is a cleaner, you have married him. That Minister’s job you are doing is for him, not for you. My own advice, from the way I’ve been able to do my own, because I’m a happily married woman; I am happy in my home. I have no problem, and I thank God. I am submissive, my husband is my second god on earth. Whether he places himself like that or not, you have to submit yourself. You have to surrender to him because he’s the head of your family. If they can take it they can be as successful as I am.