Are you in the habit of rushing to work and equally rushing home because there is so much to do both at home and at work? Ever went to bed tired ignoring so many things in the bedroom and kitchen needing your attention, only to be interrupted a few hours later by the sound from your alarm clock? Do you always leave the house with more chores needing your attention that you carry part of your makeup/shoes and scarves to the office to dress appropriately later? Do you sometimes wish you could be in two or three places all at once? Are you a mother that works? Because if you are, then you'll appreciate and understand why there is a need to talk about how hard each day is for this superwoman called the "working mom".
Working Moms Nigeria is an endeavors to help women strike a healthy balance between earning a living and maintaining a good home.
22 February 2012
Working Moms Africa, The Access Media, Lagos: 2012, 84pp
At last, here is a gender-specific magazine for a gender-specific class! Most newsstands in Nigerian cities and towns have their own sheaf of all-women magazines for readers to choose from. For instance, there is Genevieve, Today’s Woman, Everywoman, Woman’s World and dozens more. But none of them is devoted entirely to celebrating working mothers as Working Moms Africa hopes to do. Judging by the content of this maiden edition, it is a welcome addition to the more popular publications on and about women.
Genevieve and Today’s Woman belong to a class of their own. Both of them are published by famous Nigerian women, Mrs Irabor and Adesuwa Oyenukwe. Mary Ikoku, publisher of WMA, is no less famous. A public relations consultant who was once media aide to former Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, she has since nursed an ambition to publish not just an all-female magazine but one that will take a holistic view of a certain class of women. This is what she has done with WMA. It is commendable.
In case you were ever in doubt as to the aim of this specialized publication, the publisher clears your doubt from the onset. “Are you in the habit of rushing to work and equally rushing home because there is so much to do both at home and at the office?” she pointedly observes in the editor’s page. “Do you sometimes wish that you could be in two or three places all at once?” Most married working mothers in Lagos and elsewhere in Nigeria where traffic is perennially choked will answer a definite yes to those questions.
But beyond that is the content of the magazine itself. Three quarters of the stories and articles are about working mothers: their day-to-day activities, how they balance their professional and private lives, their hopes and dreams. More important, the women cut across all classes. Thus, there is a cover story on Funmi Gbemudu, a renowned architect and first among equal of the known female architects and builders in Nigeria. Contrasting that is a piece on an otherwise unremarkable roadside bean-cake seller. In-between are snappy sketches of middle-class women, all of them working mothers.
How do working mothers really juggle between their careers and spousal duties without as much failing in either? That question is answered by a number of women interviewed by the publisher herself in “Walking the tight rope.” They are quite revealing.
Take, for instance, Nina Archi’s counsel to working mothers. An employee of an oil and engineering company in Lagos, she insists that working moms should “do as much preparation the night before so in the morning you just need to dress up and take off.” For Amaka Victor Nwosisi, who works with a leading telecommunications company, she says that “the fact that my children (four boys) can look up to me and learn from my experiences motivates me to work.” There are many more of such mother talk to engage readers.
Like most women mags, WMA has sections on women-related topics such as health, fitness, style and fashion, even nutrition.
Grace Eessen’s sisterly advise to working mothers to consider themselves first is not as selfish as you might think. First love, so it goes, is self love. With that in mind, readers can better appreciate Eessen’s take on motherhood. “Moms being what we are, want to give it all, making sure the home is functioning properly; kids are ok and daddy too,” she writes in her Mom 2 Mom page. “Meals are planned, cooked at the right time, laundry is done and ironed properly. We eat after everyone has, go to bed after everyone does and wake up first…But if you truly love your kids and am sure you do, do them a favour and put yourself first. It is only when you give attention to you that you can give more to your kids and husband too.”
Another plus for this first edition is the array of columnists, experts, if you like, readers will come across. Dr. Akinyemi Olaleye is a consultant obstretician and gynaecologist. Expectedly, he writes on abnormal uterine bleeding. Funmi Adeniran, a fitness counsellor, focusses on fitness, a growing concern among African women especially while the problem of indecision is decisively tackled by Nelda Chioma Efughi.
Even male spouses get their say as well, as they recount their experiences of coping with working partners. And then, there is the kiddy corner, this time funny things youngsters do. In a way, it brings to mind the one time popular programme, Kids Say, anchored by African American comedian Bill Cosby.
WMA is not just about the lighter things that concern women or children. There is serious stuff, too. Dr. Goomsu Afiong Obasi is sure to have a lot of working mothers thinking in her contribution entitled “The Remake of the Post-modern Woman.” What is the role of women – married or not – in a post-modern, global village?
If you think WMA is all about women, you’ll be wrong. A male contributor tells readers of his experiences as a single father, taking care of his only child at home and doing school run. And talking about kids, several pages are devoted to them. There is a useful article on child depression, a rare topic for discussion in a Nigerian publication.
For a magazine that boasts coverage of issueson African women, coming out four times a year is somewhat insufficient, considering the enormity of challenges/ problems womenfolk in Africa face daily. Also, there are no interviews on women from the rest of the continent. Where is stuff on women in the horn of Africa? What about their counterparts in other parts of the continent – east, west and south Africa? There is a gnawing feeling that Working Moms Africa should really have been Working Moms Nigeria.
Even so, WMA will have a shelf-assured life on any coffee table in most homes. Besides, this first edition is sure to hold readers attention for long, far longer than existing magazines of similar genre. For one, there are several publications on and about women as there are different shades of mascara. While a few hold and rivet your attention as an elegantly dressed beautiful woman walking down the street, some are as forgettable as a dowdy dowager since past her prime. With this edition, WMA will not lose its readership anytime soon.
On Friday, January 27, 2012, Tola and Atinuke Omotola lost their daughter to an alleged mistake that could have been avoided. The family says dealing with the loss has been very challenging and urges the Lagos State Government to ensure that those responsible for their child’s death are brought to book, MOTUNRAYO ABODERIN writes
The worst news any mother can receive is that her child is dead. Thinking about the fact that the little girl she nurtured from the womb is gone is indeed painful.
For Dr. Atinuke Omotola, a young mother, losing her two years and five months old daughter, Simisolaoluwa, to an alleged mistake that could have been avoided, hurts more.
On January 27, after school, Atinuke’s two children were transported from Goldenbunch School, Yaba, Lagos, by the school bus. When the bus arrived at their home, her house help was outside waiting to receive them. After the first son alighted from the bus, Simisolaoluwa (otherwise called Simi) also did. But the house help did not know that Simi’s uniform was stuck in the door of the school bus.
In a split second, the bus driver drove off, dragging Simi along. Neighbors said the tyres of the bus climbed on Simi’s head,.
Narrating the ordeal to our correspondent who visited their home in Yaba last Monday, Atinuke said, “Life has been quite hard. The incident happened on January 27 but it feels like yesterday. That Friday, we all woke quite early. I got my two kids ready for school, made their breakfast and lunch. I told my daughter that she looked like a princess, and that I would always love her. I never knew it would be the last time I would set my eyes on her alive.
“When we got to their school, Goldenbunch School at Omoyele Street, Yaba, I carried her down from the car, gave her a tight hug and got into my car. For like a minute, I just sat in my car, it’s like I did not want to let her go,” she said.
Omotola said at about 1.23pm while in the office, she got a call from a neighbor telling her that her daughter was dead.
“My phone rang and a woman who identified herself as our neighbour said that my daughter had been involved in an accident and that she was dead. Immediately, I cut the phone. I thought it was someone playing pranks. I called the number and she picked up. I asked if she was serious and she said yes.
“The first few seconds after the call was as if I wanted to faint. I kept telling myself no, not my little girl. I called my husband and told him the news. I did not even wait to hear his reply. I rushed out of the office and drove to the hospital where they said she was taken to by another neighbor. On getting there, they said she had been referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. I then drove down to L.U.T.H,” she said.
Atinuke said when she got to the ward where her daughter was, she was already dead.
She said, “I could not believe my ears. I cried my eyes out. Being a doctor, that desire to examine my late daughter to know the actual cause of her death was so strong. When I checked her body and her arms, I saw scratches. That means she was dragged by the bus.”
Atinuke said that she kept asking, ‘Who was the nanny in the bus? Who was with my child? At this point, I was informed that there was an 18 year-old nanny in the bus.
“When I met the girl and questioned her, she said she was employed on the Monday before the accident happened, and that she was not a nanny but an assistant teacher. I asked her why she did not get down to ensure that my children got down from the bus safely which was to be the job of any adult in a bus with 10 children; but she had no response. I noticed that the clothes she wore was clean, that means after my child was removed from under the bus, she did not even bother to carry her.”
She added that during the ordeal, she did not get any phone call from the proprietor of the school. “I did not hear from the proprietor of the school at all. When my husband and I returned from the hospital, members of staff of the school came to shed crocodile tears in my house.”
Atinuke said she was angry at the fact that the proprietor might have wanted to save money and so opted to get an assistant teacher who would also act as a nanny.
“At least, I pay N50,000 as transportation fee on each of my children per term. That should be enough to employ an experienced nanny to take care of pupils,” she lamented.
The father, Mr. Tola Omotola, said that dealing with his daughter’s death has been challenging. “Sometimes when I’m sitting in the parlour, I imagine her running out of the room screaming dad.
“Last Friday, while driving to Redemption Camp, my son asked me where we were going, I said Redemption Camp, then he asked if we were going to see Jesus, I said yes, then he screamed and said that means we would see Simi. I went cold. Because we had told him earlier that Simi went to be with Jesus.”
Omotola, a banker, said his daughter died as a result of negligence and carelessness, and urged the Lagos State government to address the issue. “The school needs to take responsibility for its action. Simi’s death should be taken as a serious issue.”
Asked if he would press charges against the school bus driver, Omotola said, “The school has already handed the driver over to the police. But I’m displeased with the police. On Saturday, the police kept calling our phones, asking us to write a letter for the release of the driver. They said that the driver was not feeling strong health wise, and that his wife had just put to bed.
“We told them that their behavior was in-human, and that they did not even consider that we had just lost a child and needed a little privacy. We weren’t the ones who put the driver in detention, why should they be disturbing us?”
The Director-General, Lagos State Safety Commission, Mrs. Odebunmi Dominga, said, “I sympathize with the family who lost their toddler to the alleged negligence of the school bus driver that is supposed to take care of the children under the management of the school, I assure them of the position of the Lagos State Government with the Safety Commission, harnessing and synergising with all the safety structures that have already been in government. We assure them that the issue of safety will be moved to the forefront to become a lifestyle in Lagos State.
“From now onwards, every school in the state, including day care or nursery that will be having children in their custody, must think about the safety of the children thoroughly, and make sure that the management system which they use to operate in the area of safety complies with government’s standard. They should assess the risk these children can be exposed to, assess the dangers that are likely to occur, and put certain structures in place to avoid tragedy,” she said.
In response to question on action that would be taken against Goldenbunch School, the DG said, “For the school, the Lagos State Government together with its Legal Department will deliberate on the next action to take, but government will not take the issue lightly with the school, and this issue will not be brushed aside.”
The Proprietor, Goldenbunch School, Mrs. Modupe Ogundinmu, who was at the Lagos State Safety Commission to file an incidence report, said she was really sober about the tragedy.
Meanwhile, the Principal Consultant, School-run Consult, Mrs. Bisi Akin-Alabi, said she had personally made several efforts to ensure that safety measures were put in place in schools. She advised parents to take the safety of their children as a serious concern.
“Schools should have the right insurance. That is, there should be an insurance scheme attached to every child. If the school involved had every child insured, then we would be speaking to the insurance company now.’’
Akin-Alabi enjoined schools to be more mindful of their policy and recruitment policy, adding that an 18-year-old for instance should not be employed as a nanny.
“No one can protect your child more than you can. The school has a role to play, but you as a parent has more serious roles to play. Last year, my son almost lost his left eye when one of his friends threw a dagger at him,” she said