Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun is the daughter of celebrated Bimbo Odukoya of blessed memory. Odukoya-Ijogun released few singles in 2011 and now she explains that she is ready to take her music career to the next level. In this interview with Ifeoma Ononye, the beautiful singer who recently got ordained as a pastor, talks about her passion for God, relationships, marriages, and family.
This recent song is not your first single, you had one with Onyeka Onwenu, what year was that?
Yes, I had a single in 2011 with Onyeka Onwenu. It’s titled Gifted and Proud. We didn’t make a lot of publicity about it. It was mostly for my mother’s foundation. But we did a video and the video had a lot of viewings on YouTube and even a lot of airplay on TV. I’ve always been singing. My mum actually prayed when she was pregnant with me that I would be a singer. So I’ve been singing in church for a very long time. However, I think this would be the best time to stick to my ministry because I do see music as my ministry.
What inspired your new single?
Well, it’s a simple song of gratitude. When I think about all God has done for me, everything I’ve been through, how He has remained faithful, I think about how I can tell him how grateful I am. I think to myself, how can I giveback in return? The human way of showing gratitude is doing something; and I thought giving Him my heart would do it. My heart is the most important part of me as a human being. If I can give God that; that shows how much I’m thankful for all that He’s done.
Is it a gospel song as well like the first one?
Yes, it is gospel and inspirational song.
What makes this the best time to release the single?
I’m married; I have children and at this point in my life, I start wanting to do things that are tangible and meaningful. Because you might spend the rest of your life working, but how many people are you affecting by that. And I realise that when I sing or worship, I touch people and I turn people back to God. It’s my own way of ministering. I might not be the most eloquent person at preaching the word, but I believe when I sing, I get people to see God and feel God. I know it’s now because I’ve done the necessary things. As young women, we want to get married; I’m married. Then we want to have kids; I’ve had kids. I feel like I’ve laid the foundational blocks. I’ve done everything that I needed to do humanly. This is the time to focus on my spiritual life.
Do you have an album?
No, but I have a single. In about 2-3 weeks I’ll put up a video. I am trying to put up as many singles as possible so I can put them all together for an album hopefully by next year.
Hopefully, very soon. The challenge is that I’m juggling work. You know I’m a mother, I’m a wife and there is church. Also, I have a blog for women and relationships. So I’m juggling a lot of things right now but I’m praying with the help of God that by the third quarter of next year, there should be an album. But before then, you’re definitely going to be hearing a lot more from me. I’m going to be putting out as many singles as I can, doing videos and pushing out songs. I’m not going to be quiet anymore. I left a big gap from 2011 to 2016, and that’s not going to happen anymore. I think I’ve done the needful in those years, it’s time to really focus.
Why the interest in relationships?
I got a backlash on Facebook recently where people were saying I’m not my mother, so why do I feel I can talk about relationships? And it’s almost inevitable. I grew up in a family where my parents were very much into relationships. My father would always counsel married couples. So would my mum. And you saw her on TV with her show, Single and Married. So I have lived in that environment where people are talking about broken marriages, what we should not do or what we should do. How a wife should behave, how a husband should behave and then, I didn’t get it. Now that I’m married, it finally makes sense. Sometimes, when you hear something, you accept it without any basis to really understand it better. Now, being married and understanding everything my mom used to say then, and what my dad still says now, I feel I have a mandate to help the single people before they enter; to let them know that there are some particular questions they need to ask or talk about, some foundational questions they need to ask or blocks they need to build before they enter this thing. It is almost my own way of guiding. And also with the married women, everything I have learnt in my four years of marriage, I also share with them. Right now, a lot of young people are not staying in their marriages anymore. If it’s not working, they jump out. And that’s how our own generation has been sensitised. But one thing I’m learning, I’m very practical, and what people will see on my relationship blog is that I am very straightforward. I don’t really hide under the umbrella of spirituality but I try to relate things practically to life. So I understand it better and then I can actually do what it’s asking me to do. So what I try to do is bring it down to our level, explain in our own language and get them to understand and just try to make everybody happy.
Are you not bothered about people thinking you’re just trying to copy your mom?
I can never be bothered. My mom was Bimbo Odukoya. I’m Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun. We’re two very different people. If I want to be like her, I’ve failed in my ministry because there can only be one Bimbo Odukoya. There can never be another one. And there can only be one Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun and that’s me. I believe that I’ve been called to it. And I’m a very strong believer that time will tell. You know, there are things that people start and after a while, yousay yes, this person was meant to do it. It’s something that I naturally gravitate towards. And like I said, I can never be her.
What is different about you?
The way and manner she went about her things is definitely not the way and manner I will go about mine. The experiences that she had are not the experiences that I have. I have been blessed to have learnt under her. I saw her at home; I saw her in church. I saw who she was 360, so I have a view that most people don’t have. Seeing that and now being in the same situation is almost like I already know the right thing to do. I have to do them but at the same time, I have to justify them in my own way. In the way young people think today because like I said, people don’t have time anymore. If it’s not working, it’s not working. But then again, from a Christian perspective, I have to see why it’s not working. I then take everything momsie has said and break it down. Now I’m understanding because I’m breaking it down. Now I realise that love is not a feeling. It is a decision. You choose to love. You choose to constantly love. You choose to forgive. You choose to make it work. It’s not about how youfeel. What I do is, I try to point out to those who are coming in that yes, you could have feelings. That’s good. But it has a lot more to do with your decision and your maturity in what you’re trying to get into. So the way I would look at it and the way I would put it down would be totally different from Pastor Bimbo.
What is that thing that would make you advice somebody to leave his or her marriage?
I think physical violence is that thing that would make me advice one to leave. Because, if a person is dead, there’s nothing we are talking about. When there’s physical violence in any marriage, one thing I advise is separation. Let both parties calm down, let’s understand the root cause and know if we can compromise and reach a decision to move forward. Now, if we see that it’s not going to happen, we have to just pray because we cannot afford to lose a life. Physical violence is a no no.
What is a typical mom chores for you?
Becasue I’m a working mother, I always wake up first before everybody in the morning obviously. I try and get eldest of my children ready for school and go back to the room. By the time I am back in the room, Mimie is awake jumping and trying to get out of her court, take her out of her court, take her to her daddy. Taking care of them is very interesting. While taking Bella to school, we pray in the car, make some ryhmes and recite our memory verses and try to encourage her. By the time we get to school, I drop her off and in the afternoon her nanny will go pick her up at school because I work and I am always rushing to get back home and the most interesting part of my day is when my baby runs towards me and give me a big hug and then five minutes after getting home the headache starts, Mommy I want this, Mommy I want that and it’s a pain you enjoy somehow because when they go to their grandma I miss the noise, I miss the bugging, I miss the headache. It’s amazing you know, you just have to ask God for patience, because God is actually showing you how He sees you, so you just have to be patient and it has actually made me patient, my kids have made me more patient. I never really liked children when I was growing up, I didn’t even carry babies, I always used to think kids were just a bunch of wahala and stress till I had my step brothers, so I started carrying them, play with them so they kind of got me ready for my own children; so they came I was more embracing and that motherhood thing came, it was fun.
How do you serve your girls and what makes them special?
My first daughter looks more like my husband but acts like me. In my next video you are going to see her performance…she knows my song from like A-Z and she was actually doing the whole song more than me. She sings, I prayed that she sings, she’s bold and a very lovely person. My second daughter is very tough, she does not cry a lot, but I don’t understand how she will know that you’re giving her an empty bottle. Like you’re a baby. She’s so intelligent, she likes to sing, I think they have my eyes, the second actually looks like me but behaves like her dad. She’s very quiet like her dad, doesn’t smile a lot like her dad, and she’s more like him. My first child doesn’t look like me but she behaves just like me.
Speaking of parenting, who is stricter, you or your husband?
Me. My husband spoils them. I am more like the disciplinarian. I believe kids will always be kids so I try to give them rules, because when I try sending them to bed he’ll be like leave them, so we always almost get into fights. Trying to balance everything. You know before you don’t want your husband going anywhere. Now I tell him go out so I can take the kids to sleep because if he’s there you can’t take them. One thing I know about my husband, he loves his girls, he can do anything for them. They are number one he’ll just lie that I’m number one, he absolutely loves his girls them.
So what virtues are you passing on to your daughters, especially your old daughter?
I think the first thing is respect for everyone. I am trying to make sure she understands that she has to respect people and be polite. Also ensuring she says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, she’s just three anyway. Also, sharing and loving people, she loves people naturally anyway but my husband is a bit afraid that she’s too nice. I don’t think so, I think being nice is good, it’s better she’s nice than not nice at all and then the things of God. Like now she calls herself pastor Bella. In fact if I am in church and I am on stage, before you know it Bella, she will climb the stage once she is in church. She just loves limelight. Oh mommy you can sing, thank you mommy for me and all that. I also try to get her read her bible, praying. She prays at times and I can barely hear what she’s saying but I know she’s praying and that’s some of the things we actually picked up from our parents while I was growing up. They got us reading memory verses, watch nice Christian cartoons. So, when I take my kids to church, I take them to Sunday school where they can learn to understand Jesus Christ. Even me now, she trains me, I’m someone that likes to hiss any small thing I hiss, so anytime I do it I’m like… oh my daughter. So, me, myself I have to control myself because if I hiss, she’ll do the same too.
What do you do in your leisure time?
Most, times I love to bond with family. Their grandparents are always happy to have them. Or I go to church, when they’ve had their baths, on weekends we watch TV together.
So what are those qualities your mom taught you in terms of marriage that has been with you till now?
I think it’s about God. One thing my mom used to say is that the Holy Spirit is your best friend. She prays every morning for the Holy Spirit. If there’s one thing my mother taught me, the Holy Spirit is your best friend, he’s your lover, if you are down he’s always present. It has never failed. Also, back in the days when my mom would dress up and look nice for my dad, I’ll be like ‘what’s wrong with this woman’. But now I have realised that it’s an effort you have to make. it’s something that you have to do. So now I find my way around it. It should be something you have to put in your reminder. I have husband now and he is one of the most important people to you. So for me and my children it’s very important.
You know, for most women, once they get married and have a kid and feel there is no need to dress nicely anymore?
First of all once people see me they see my husband. So I must always look good. Secondly, for my husband, you don’t know what you have until you lose it and at times, we need to look at our husband from the eye of another woman. One time I was on Instagram and there was this lady with a thong and dancing, the video went viral and I’m sure men will definitely see it so as a wife, if that thong will make you get your man back. Better wear it for him because the distraction out there and if you drop the ball then that’s all. Men are judged by what they see. Some women will say my body can’t do that. Don’t think like that, your husband loved that body before he married you. Fat, big, skinny. You need to believe in what you are carrying. The man wants to feel like you’re making an effort so you have to make an effort with your husband. When I start doing sex talk with some women, take for instance, you married a man whom you know wants sex every day, you have to give him sex every day because that’s his appetite. So for me my advice to women is do the best you can with your husband. Once in a while leave the kids at home and go out. You need to remember those good memories, make an effort and bring him back. Women, do the best you know how to do.
I know you’re a pastor and music is also your calling, how do you cope with both?
Honestly for me, ever since that title came I see a lot of things differently and you know being a pastor there are so many do’s and don’ts. People are watching and all but as soon as it happened something naturally just changed and one thing I thank God for is my husband, he’s been so supportive all the way, he’s so happy about it and that makes me open to the whole possibility. Like I say God doesn’t call the qualified he qualifies the call. So I then know it’s not by me. If God deemed me fit for the post He will. Honestly, in my heart I am so expectant I am so opened and you know it only I believe it only gets better by generation. If my parents could do as much as they’ve done I believe God that by His grace will do better.