During an exclusive interview on SaharaTV, Nigeria’s foremost female media personality and award-winning broadcaster, Funmi Iyanda revealed that she is quite different from women and girls around the world.
“I’ve never had a wedding day dream in my life,” Iyanda told SaharaTV’s Adeola Fayehun.
While millions of girls and women have already imagined their own elaborate wedding day ceremonies, schemed and sketched designs for a one-of-a-kind wedding gown and even compiled music playlists for the wedding reception festivities, Iyanda simply said: “I never thought to be married.”
“Part of the reason why I’m not married is because I haven’t found a person I can trust with my most vulnerable self,” she said.
The “vulnerable self” of Ms. Funmi Iyanda is open to interpretation, but the statuesque, charismatic media icon made it clear that she values the institution of marriage and welcomes companionship.
Iyanda, raised mainly by her father, --who taught her that her gender should not stop her from achieving whatever she wanted to-- says she defines herself first, as a person, not as a woman.
She understands the demands and pressures of women who work in the media sector and are constantly thrusted in the public eye. Her status as a single mother living in Nigeria may certainly compound the pressure.
“Nigeria, more than anywhere else, deeply frowns on the issue of single motherhood,” Iyanda said.
She explained that the father of her daughter plays a role in the life of her daughter.
But being a single mother has yet to slow her down.
As a well-respected figure in Nigeria’s media industry, Iyanda wears several hats as a producer, presenter, journalist, CEO of Ignite Media and activist.
Iyanda recently returned from Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania where she joined almost three dozen African women (with the likes of South African actress Rosie Motene and Congolese singer Barbara Kanam) for a 5-day hike on Africa’s tallest mountain. The symbolic trek, purposed to advocate the ceasing of violence against women, coincided with March 8 International Women’s Day,
At the end of the journey, Iyanda tweeted that she “almost died.”
“…most life altering experience of my life. still struggling 2 assimilate all. I can't walk and my fingers r still frozen so each word hurts.”
“…just came off the mountain. 5 days of hiking/climbing 10 hours a day thru rain forest, savanna, tundra den arctic regions, no bath”
But, women empowerment is not the only issue that Iyanda is ready to advocate. The self-described “product of Nigeria’s military era,” stood alongside fellow Nigerians at the anti-fuel subsidy removal protests in January.
“What was going on then was completely unacceptable…aside from the fact that Nigeria is a fragile economy there’s nowhere, nowhere in the world where you… would try to implement an economic policy that would mean a 117 percent or thereabout increment... It doesn’t work, you don’t do that…it’s a bit inhumane,” Iyanda told SaharaTV’s Adeola Fayehun.
Iyanda said that the Occupy Nigeria movement is a “pre-revolution,” an “awakening of the people.”
“Don’t go by what you see on Twitter alone,” she said. “If you get into a bus or a taxi in Nigeria now, they are discussing with you the infinite details, you know, of the budget, of political decisions, of policies that are being taken. People are taking more interest in how Nigeria is being run. I think it’s good. This is how democracy supposed to be practiced. It’s good for the leaders, too, because it makes them more conscious of the decisions that they take. I think if we had been doing this all through the time that we were experiencing the dictatorship and military government we would have gone a lot farther than where we are now,” she said.
So, where will activism and media lead Ms. Funmi Iyanda in the future? The possibilities are many, but for Iyanda, making a difference is all it takes.
"I would not have gone into the media if I didn't think that what I did could make a difference in our social landscape." Funmi Iyanda
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