Mrs. Abimbola Olawuyi, widow of Chief Kolawole Olawuyi, the famous television and radio producer tells YEMISI ADENIRAN about the challenges of life without her husband in the last 20 months, her
source of strength so far, how she has been able to sustain her husband’s programme and her plans for the future.
For how long do you intend to wear your low-cut? Was it shaved as part of widowhood rites?
Not at all.This appearance is not part of widowhood rite, I chose the style immediately my husband died and it is one new look I intend keeping for a very long time. Nobody asked me to shave it, I did it by myself to honour my late husband and to instil an entire new life that fate has brought upon me into my system and everyone around.
Anyway, you still look very cute. What is the secret?
No other secret but God. It’s just by His glory and of course with the support of my in-laws, relatives, friends and church members. I cannot but look this good. More importantly, I must confess that what actually has worked for me this far is the fact that, I have positive attitude towards life. As far as I am concerned, life must go on regardless of whatever must have happened at any particular time. I remember the story of a woman, a literate woman for that matter who died recently just because her husband died unexpectedly. You won’t believe that this woman, an headmistress of a school, went ahead and hung herself. That was a person with a poor attitude towards life. She wasn’t optimistic. The step she finally took worsened the situation for the children – about four of them. They are simply rendered helpless.
When my husband died, it was a big blow, and in fact it still is but, what could I have done? I never tried questioning God because I knew He knew what he was doing when He took him away and I believe He wouldn’t abandon us and He has since been backing us up.
Well, it’s been over a year now that he died. Can you describe how the journey has been?
Honestly, I will acknowledge that God has made Himself real. I have tasted Him and have seen that He is a delicacy. Because humanly speaking, it was like an uphill task at the initial stage. The question that kept on rioting in my mind then was “would this programmes- N kan n be aspecially continue? How far will it go? But God has been very good. Our sponsors have also been steadfastly supportive and highly faithful. Even after my husband’s death, they remained loyal to him.They believe in me and threw all their support behind us. When the programme kicked off continually after his burial, it was like a dream to me. I couldn’t believe it will come this far. But, I thank God for the kind of sponsors we have. They are honest and God-fearing, otherwise, if they had delayed for just a month or two, the story wouldn’t have been the same now. They have made the journey very easier, I mean they are the ones who keep on providing money for us. Members of the staff have also helped in no small way. All of them stood by me and the job inspite of the untimely death of their boss. Out of all of them that I took over from my husband, only one of them left. He was not sure we would be able to continue the programme. His fear about the patronage was that it would drop over time. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been so. He had expressed his shock over the turn out of events and actually regretted leaving in the first instance.
Last year, a post-humous birthday was held on behalf of your hursband and you promised to make it a yearly thing. Why didn’t you fulfil it this year?
This year, we celebrated his one year remembrance at Sheraton Hotel instead of the post-humous birthday. It wasn’t a very loud thing but at least more colourful than the post-humous we held last year.
What has been the challenges of running this programmes with your responsibilities, especially now that you are left with co-ordinating the two (career and motherhood).
Apart from having to move from my former office to his own, there has not been any big deal about it. I am familiar with this particular terrain since when he was alive. We have been together on this job since 2002 and that was why running it hasn’t proven any difficult since. With our hard working and focused staff members on ground, supportive in-laws and understanding children, co-ordinating the home with the work on ground has been quite some fun. Besides, only my last born is at home, the remaining three are in boarding school and only come home when their school vacates.
Do you also go out to scenes of stories you bring on air?
Yes, I do. In fact, I just came back from one recently. I have been doing this like I said earlier, while he was alive and I have had to face some gory scenes that even my husband didn’t face while he was alive.
Can you share one of such experiences with us?
There was a case of a dead man whose death was controversial and we had to exhume the corpse. I followed the crew to the place of occurrence because he was ill that time and was indisposed to go. I was with them when the dead body was dug out and we took it to the hospital for autopsy. When I came back, I was bragging to him that this was one experience that he had not had in all his years on the job. There was also the case of another man who was killed and was hidden by his muderer.
Somebody hinted us and we went there. Before we took off, I had advised my husband to allow us go with a police-man for the sake of security. He consented and that saved us from what would have been a dangerous assignment. By the time we got there and we started searching, the culprit remained calm and unruffled making the whole task more difficult. We couldn’t locate anything until we got wild and started checking through even clothings. We finally discovered the dead man under a heap of clothes. The muderer could have escaped immediately or even attempted attacking us but for the police officer that was with us. He was promptly arrested and the dead man was deposited in the mortuary.
Are you saying the road has always been smooth all these while?
You see, it has been very rough but what I am saying is God has always been helping us to cope adequately. The staff members are all experienced and actually do not need much of supervision before knowing what to do. Yes, there has been situations where our programmes have pulled up court injunction on our T.V stations and the stations have almost decided on turning their back against us, but, we have been able to surmount it all the same. Whatever these challenges may be and in whatever form they have come, I usually see them as stepping stones and never consider them as any problem.
When you look at your late husband’s countemporaries who also died around the same period he died, I mean the likes of Gbenga Adeboye and Toba Opaleye, you are the only one keeping the flag of your husband’s dreams flying, the rest are not. Is this due to some oath or promise you made to him before he died?
He never knew he was going to die, he wasn’t expecting it too. There was no time for making or swearing to any oath. We have been doing this job together and I know that this has been what he loved doing most-helping the less privileged or the cheated obtained the dues and being their voice. I couldn’t but continue because I believe in his dreams and I share from his feelings. About the other women you mentioned, I cannot speak for them. This whole lot is about interest, belief and vision. What I believe in may not be what they believe in. Besides, what actually worked for this course was the fact that my husband carried me along while he was alive. Otherwise, this is not a kind of job that a novice can just grab and make any headway with. He made me to believe in the fight or in the passion for others and this has helped me to forge ahead effectively in his absence.
There is also this rumour that your husband with these contemporaries of his mentioned earlier, died around the same time because they belonged to the same cult. Is this true?
It is not true at all. Gbenga Adeboye died a year before Kola Olawuyi’s death and I must be frank with you, he was never a close associcate of any of them. They were never close. Specifically, I must also stress that my husband was never a selfish person. He was a carefree person, even when I was scared of the kind of programme he was doing at the initial stage, he cared very less. There was a time I told him to join the prayer warrior group in our church, because of the demands of his job. He merely laughed and scolded me for nursing a bad thought within me. He didn’t believe in people getting fettish to avoid being killed. There was no single incision on his body and you know he was very light-in-complexion. He was not even a member of FIBAN which could have been a common ground for them.
But why was his stories always mysterious?
Life itself is a mystery and you will agree with me that we live in a mysterious world. He only tried to delve into an aspect of life that touches everyone. He was a bold person and his programmes were the type that got people glued to the radio or television.
How did he source his stories?
At times, people come to alert him about an unfolding event like the ones I mentioned ealier and he would rise up to investigate them promptly. This is the line we are toeing till now and we thank God because patronage has been very high, if not even more than what we were having before. It was his boldness and courage that set the programme on its strong feet and that foundation is what is currently working for us.
Was he born-again before he died?
Oh yes, he was. Although I was the first to give my life to Christ, he did at UNILAG in 1996.
What actually attracted him to you and for how long did you court before marriage?
Our courtship lasted 16 years. We were in the same secondary school, although, he was a year ahead of me. We didn’t start a serious relationship until years after we left the school. He proposed to me precisely in 1987 but, honestly I didn’t take him seriously. We wouldn’t have been married but for the genuineness of his love for me. Many times, the more I rebuffed his love advances to me then, the more he persisted until we finally got married in 1994. He endured all and that actually got me hooked to him. I loved him and I still love him, I have no regret marrying him though our marriage was shortlived.
How has the kids been coping?
It has been extremely hard for them. They get emotional easily at times even at the mere sight of their father’s picture in the newspapers. They keep on bursting into tears over little things. Consoling them has been hard but I have had to be strong for them at the expense of my own feelings too. We all do get emotional at one time or the other because his death didn’t even allow him say good bye to us. It was too sudden but, we have to continue from where he stopped and we know that is the only thing that can make him happy wherever he is. Frankly speaking,God has been helping us.
What would you want your husband to be remembered for?
I wish that he would be remembered for his contributions to broadcasting. He set the pace for investigative journalism and actually improved on the strategies. It is no longer the one-way type that received no response, it is now made two way and very real. It is one exercise that has helped in curbing interpersonal crime in Nigeria especially in this part of the nation. I also want him to be remembered for his rare love for the masses and wish that rich Nigerians would also extend their wealth to the needies as they call on them.
What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself where God wants me to be majorly. My aim is that the Olawuyi Akande Kolawole (OAK) foundation which is recently established to assist widows and the less priviledged will become an NGO that will be on television and extend to all and sundry in benefit. But, of course I intend taking one step at a time.
Did he have a pet name for you while he was alive?
Yes, He was the only one who called me Taiwo and since his demise, there is no one to call me that name again.
Do you intend to re-marry in the future, at least for companionship?
What companionship? My four children are enough company for me. Above all, I have a new husband now and that is God Almighty who is the husband of all widows. He has brought worthwhile people around me, he consoles me, provides for me and hears me whenever I call on Him. Is there anything better than that? Besides, I don’t want to lose His attention. I wish above all things to see Him before and after I die. I am contented with Him (God). He is my new husband that can never die.
How far have you gone with his unachieved dreams?
I intend to stand in the gap for every of his wishes that he couldn’t realise. Although we had a plot of land before he died, I have already acquired another one which I will soon begin to develop. We would have taken off before now, but I want to avoid a situation where the job may have to stop half-way for lack of fund. Whenever the home is ready which is very soon, we would invite you for a mini get-together. One dream he kept closest to his heart is his kids’ welfare. I have the responsibility of taking them to the level their father wished them to be. My plan is to sponsor them to countries outside Nigeria as part of the exposure their father wished. I wouldn’t want a situation where any of them will have to say “Had my father been around, this wouldn’t have happened.” That is why I didn’t change their schools and God has been raising people up for us.