Tuesday, March 3, 2015 11:22 am
On Wednesday, 18 February 2015, family members, friends, close associates gathered at the Agodi Park, Parliament Road Ibadan, to celebrate the 50th birthday of Buki, wife of veteran journalist, Tunde Fagbenle. Present at the occasion were a former General Manager of Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, Chief John Fademi; the corporation’s Chief Operating Officer, Yomi Layinka; former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Lagos state, Dr. Femi Olugbile; Taiwo Adedoyin; ex-Super Eagle star player, Segun Odegbami, and Oba Femi Ogunleye of Akinale in Ogun State, among others. Buki spoke with GBENRO ADESINA about her life, family and profession
How is life at 50?
Life is really good. I have a wonderful family. I am surrounded by loved ones and sincerely, I am truly blessed.
What do you mean by truly blessed?
I have a wonderful husband, wonderful children and God has been so good to us. My children are excelling in their chosen fields. My first son, Bolatito, 25, a graduate is doing well in the acting world. He produces films, acts, and writes songs. My first daughter, Temitope, 23, is a graduating student of Anthropology in Harvard University, USA, a basketball player who has represented Great Britain in Olympics and other world sporting activities and won many medals. Another daughter, Omotomirera, studying in Lafayette University in America, and two wonderful little boys who have just started school here in Nigeria. God has blessed this home with good children.
What was life growing up?
I was born into the family of an educationalist, the late Pa David Adekoya who originated from Asigidi, Ijebu-Igbo, a former headmaster of St. Paul’s School, Breadfruit, Lagos. He was very passionate about education. He brought many of his relatives to Lagos to train them in school. He was a giver. My mother, the Iyalaje of Agunboye, is late Chief Mrs. Phebean Adekoya of Oduntan’s family, Ijebu-Igbo, a very successful business woman. I am the last born in the family of four. I grew up in Idoluwo Street, Lagos.
I started my educational career at Holy Trinity, Ebute Ero, Lagos and later crossed to Mayflower Junior School, Ikene-Remo. I attended Molusi College, Ijebu Igbo where I finished in 1980. My dad died shortly before I finished my secondary school education and I was so overwhelmed by grief. Afterward, my mom sent me to the UK where I had my A ‘level, OND in Mass Communication, HND/B. Tech in Business and Journalism from London College of Printing, two PGDs, one in teaching and another in Development Economics from the South Bank University and the Polytechnic of North London respectively; and a Masters in Development Economics.
You lived a substantial part of your life in the UK and now just settling in Nigeria, could you compare life in the two countries?
Well, I just came back home. Life in the UK is a sojourn. It was an experience, something I had to go through. I have been there since I was 15 years and all together lived there for 35 years. There is no place like home. Coming to Nigeria always excites me. I want my children to be brought up in our culture, customs and traditions and to experience what I went through when I was growing up. I brought my first three kids in 1995. General Abacha chased us out and we left in 1997. The last two, I want them to be enmeshed in our culture and that is why I have brought them back home to go to school and develop here. Life in Nigeria, as you are also aware, is something else. We have had the generator on for two whole days and nights because there is no electricity to power the fans and all the air conditioners at home. That will not happen in the UK.
What business did you have with Abacha that he had to chase you out of your father’s land?
It was my husband, Mr. Journalist, whose love for Nigeria would not allow him to celebrate mediocrity. He was too vocal and radical for the Abacha government. He left home for England. As usual, whenever he travels, once he gets to his destination, he calls but this time, he didn’t call. A day later, panic started. We started looking for him. Later, we heard that he had been arrested at the airport and taken to an unknown destination. Thank God that some helpful family members did their best to secure his release. After his release, he left the country and after a year when I couldn’t cope with the stress of running the home alone, I returned to England.
What does it take to be a wife of a journalist?
A lot of patience, empathy, managing resources because they are not well paid. Journalism is full of craziness and excitements. It is a thankless job. I don’t have the luxury of being in bed with my husband most mornings as he starts perusing the papers very early in the morning. He is up and glued to his laptop. But I understand because I am also a journalist. I practiced in England. I have a Herbal Clinic column in Leadership Saturday Newspaper.
Can you allow your children to practice journalism despite the poor pay?
Yes, if he or she has a passion for it.
As someone who has practiced abroad, could you compare journalism in UK and Nigeria?
There is much difference. In the UK, there is much sanity, accountability, and appreciation of journalists. As a good journalist, you are valued very much, you command a lot of respect and you have reasonable financial rewards. Here in Nigeria, the situation is different.
How did you meet your husband?
We met in 1989 at a journalistic function in London. I was invited by a friend to the launching of a newspaper called Nigeria Home News, a newspaper for Nigerians in Diaspora, which my husband launched. The launching was at the residence of Uncle Rufus Orisayomi in London who died on my birthday five years ago. Uncle was the go-between, the “Alarina”. Tunde looked at me and said hello and I responded casually. But he was tall and handsome. I had a relationship then. I wasn’t interested in him but in his brain. From the launching, I went to a friend’s house where I passed the night. As soon as I got home, I got a call from Tunde and he asked me to accompany him to Jazz Club that night, the offer I turned down.
Then, he said what about tomorrow and I told him he could come if he wanted to follow us to church. In the morning, he came with Uncle Rufus to pick us up to go to church. In the service, the pastor preached against fornication. He is a very intelligent and caring guy. In the evening of that day, we actually went to the jazz club.
During the time we dated, I made sure that there was no sex because I was more interested in knowing him. One day in his office, he said to me, look, you can’t work for me and be my girl friend, you have to choose one because I don’t date people I work with. We dated for nine months without sex. We were sleeping on the same bed but I never allowed him to go beyond cuddles and kisses. I was a very strong Christian then. Some months later, he went to America without telling me. Nobody knew where he was. He came back the next day and I challenged him asking him why he travelled without telling me. He replied by telling me that he owed me no explanation about how he lived his life because as long as I wasn’t allowing him to have sex with me, we were not lovers and I didn’t need to know his whereabouts. That was a real shocker!
We had our marriage here in Nigeria in 1990. Bolatito was our first child who was followed by Temitope, Omotomirera, Boluwatife and Tanimola. I had reached my menopause before I had Tanimola, so, I wasn’t expecting him. I actually wanted to stop at three before others came with the interval of seven years between each other.
Apart from journalism, what else do you?
Actually I have another degree, a B. Sc. in Medical Herbalism