interview

“I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL COUNSELLOR”

 

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Onome Francis is one person that I’ve always found interesting. I was so sure she was going to be a miner and then write all about gems. She comes out of her shell and talks about herself; she’s more of a listener than a talker. Here is what I found out about this ardent video game lover:

Tell me about yourself.
My name is Onome Francis, I was born in Warri, Delta state and I grew up in Lagos. I am a graduate of Biochemistry from Lagos State University. I love writing and I have been doing that from an early age; since I was 8.

What other hobbies do you pursue with the passion you have for writing?
I love reading, different types of books. My favourite foreign writer is James Patterson, while Chinua Achebe is my favorite locally. I also like surfing the internet. I also love traveling, adventures and meeting new people.

You have a blog that focuses on relationship matters, how was it born?
Well, i realised that there are actually a lot of people that have issues, especially relationship issues bottled up inside and some of them spoke to me about them. I guess it’s because I’m a good listener, because I am definitely not a professional counsellor or relationship expert. But sometimes you don’t need a relationship expert, you just need to talk to someone about it and hear their perspective. I also do the same when I have such challenges. So I thought,  “okay, I like writing, I’ve heard relationship stories,  why not create a blog dedicated to that and see what happens?” And that was how the blog came about.

onomes blog

Has the stats from your blog encouraged you to continue blogging because at the back of every bloggers mind is readership which translates to stats.
Yes it has. I have a lot of readers from around the world and it encourages me not only to keep going but to make sure I put my very best into my content.

Most bloggers/writers I know are fashion conscious, what does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a popular way of dressing and I often like to go with the latest trends. However, I also think the way one dresses gives a hint of their personality. But if the latest trends don’t appeal to me, I wouldn’t go with it. Generally, I like classic looks, looks that don’t go out of fashion.

Are you planning to write a book or what are you going to do with your writing skills?
Oh yes, I would love to publish a book soon; a thriller, and I want to collaborate with the talented Miss Damilola Olaniyi. It would be brilliant,(winks)

so watch out!

I’m flattered, thank you. So far with your ‘agony aunt’, do you think you have been able to help some?
Yes I do. I have received feedback from readers who said they found my stories and advice interesting and helpful to them. I hope to reach out to more people as time goes on.

That’s great. So what else should we expect from you in the next few years?
More from my writing, because I can never stop writing. Books, blogs, leaving my mark in the world of literature and I can only get better. (Laughter)

Good, we would look out for you. Advice for young talent?
My advice for young talent is, keep doing what you have a passion for, practice makes perfect. Believe in yourself and give your best. Never, ever give up.

I must thank you for making the time to talk to me.
Thank you for having me.

My pleasure.

Contact details: 08022955312,  francisonome@gmail.com, 7A6DB74C
http://www.relationshipsandadvice.wordpress.com

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IT’S MORE THAN JUST FASHION!

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It was a windy evening when I met with this designer whose clientele remain anonymous for security reasons. I had heard him relate how he was being frisked by security to reach some of his clients. Some of his stories bother on being hilarious, he being a natural jester. I decided to ask about his foray into fashion and here’s the excerpt of our interview.

Tell me about yourself.
I was born in Lagos where I had my primary education. I had my secondary schooling in Port-harcourt, Rivers state. I had my first and second degree from University of Abuja. I am the fifth of nine children, the second boy. I am a native of Bayelsa state, Sagbama local government.

How did you get into fashion industry?
I went into fashion during the prolonged ASUU strike of 2002. I was tutored by a designer who was then sewing for the Obasanjo’s and since then, I’ve been on a roller coaster.

Okay so would you say that you’ve carved a niche for yourself in the fashion industry? There are so many dress makers…
Yes I have. My styles are unique and my clientele, wide. Most of my old designs are currently in vogue for men’s fashion. As old as eight years ago. So I can rightly say I am a pacesetter.

What makes your establishment different from others?
Originality. We have learnt to think outside the box. We have had twelve years to do that. We keep things fresh!

Wow! Twelve years…
Yes, PCL (Perali Clothing Line) has been around for twelve years.

Where do you see your establishment in the next few years? Say five years…
Like the dakova of those days, Perali will be a household name.

Along the way, it can’t have been smooth all along. What challenges did you face?
You’re right, there has been challenges. Getting capable hands to assist is the major one. I practically have to retrain my work force. Again, the issue of capital is another. Fashion is capital intensive and getting people to invest is like learning to walk on tight rope. (laughter)

Kudos, you braved the challenges. What personal philosophy do you live by?
For me the word IMPOSSIBLE doesn’t exist. All in all, I have God to thank. Besides I don’t see myself as being there yet, there’s still a lot more to achieve God giving me life.

How do you relax?
Watching movies, swimming and hanging out with friends.

Any encouragement for young entrepreneurs interested in fashion?
Love the job, rewards will come later! At Perali, it’s more than just fashion, it is our way of life!

Contact the designer: pereali@yahoo.com, 0806 521 5071

CHAPTER 7: The Inspection

I turned the card in my hand repeatedly looking at the name and all the phone numbers on it. I only wish I could read something on it other than what was printed on it. Unfortunately, the e-mail addresses and phone numbers said nothing to me. The driver finally handed me his phone and he still did not say anything to me. He was mute as a statue and I wished he would at least hum a tune so that I would… I did not know what I would do. I dialled the first number on the card and a woman picked it up sounding very polite as she transferred my call to his office.
“Good afternoon sir”, I said.
“Yes?”
“It’s me Tokunbo.”
“Yes, go on”, he sounded distracted.
“I’d take the job sir.”
“Oh yes, the job. I knew you would make a wise decision. Alright dear, give the phone to the driver”, he said. This man must be very forgetful I thought as I handed the phone to its owner, pointing to indicate the boss was still on the line. He answered in monosyllables and finally dropped the call. Then he spoke to me for the first time since I entered the car.
“Let’s go”, he said shortly and stepped out of the car.
“Thank you for letting me use your phone but where are we going?”, I asked without standing. I didn’t grow up without Lagos sense in my head! He just stood watching me till I finally stood up from the car.
“Canteen”, he answered finally with a look of impatience. I closed the car door and I didn’t see him press a remote but I only heard a ‘click’ sound. This was the first time in my life that I stepped into a private car. All my life I had hopped buses but it didn’t bother me.
Oga won’t you lock the doors?” I asked as I trailed behind him.
He did not reply as he walked in front of me unhurriedly. Alright, I told myself, I would ask no further questions. He did not appear hostile nor did he appear friendly and I could not place him. He also did not talk a lot maybe just when necessary. We got to the canteen and he picked a table at the farthest corner. As soon as I sat he stood up to get food and I tapped my foot under the table praying that he would not order beans as part of my food. Thankfully he got me rice and plantain with beef and I said a silent prayer in my head. We ate in silence and returned to the car to wait for the boss.
The kind old Samaritan strolled to the car and I had the opportunity to observe his features. He had a pot belly that made his buba and sokoto fit. I sat in front on the drive to my new house abi oga’s house praying that I was safe. The driver clipped my seat belt which was foreign to me and I held on to it tightly for fear that it would choke me. I saw him smile from the corner of my eyes for the first time and I turned my head to look outside the window till we got to the house. I waited outside while the boss went in and he sent for me shortly after.
“Good afternoon Madam”, I greeted with a curtsey. She looked at me from head to toe before responding.
“Afternoon dear. How are you?” she asked. She was well dressed in light pink lace and her dress was shining with studs. Her perfume was sweet too and I smiled as she gave me the once over.
“Fine ma.”
“Go and drop your bag in the first room by your left just down that hall. I’m waiting for you here”, she pointed and I left them alone.
I was wondering what to make of her. She looked distant and yet I was not so sure. I knew she was going to interview me.
“What is your name?” she asked when I had returned.
“Tokunbo Toromagbe ma.” For sure her husband must have told her but I did not turn to see the expression on his face as he sat watching quietly.
“How old are you? Have you done this kind of work before?” she asked before I could answer.
“I’m twenty-two. I have not ma but I can work.”
“What kind of work did you do before now?”
I hung my head because I did not want to see the expressions on their face. “I sold ewa agonyi in my area.”
She was quiet and when she did not ask any other questions, I raised my head and found them staring at each other. “Come closer”, she finally said.
I moved close to her and my palms where sweaty where they were folded behind my back. I was confused when she stood up. She turned on the light on her phone although the lights in the parlour were all on.
“Open your mouth”, she said.
I stood watching her. “Are you deaf?” I opened my mouth and she examined my teeth, I wondered what she was looking for. Was she a doctor? Was she normal? I thought. When she was through inspecting my teeth, she looked at my face closely without comment while her husband still watched.
“Follow me”, she said when she had finished her inspection. She re-tied her wrapper as she went down the hall. She opened the room where I had dropped my bag and I closed the door behind me, standing close to it. She sat on the bed and I watched her movements wondering what she was going to do.
“Do you have any tattoos?”
“No ma”. This would count as a weird interview because I thought she was going to check my bag. I could leave the next morning since it was evening already, that is if I did not like it.
“Remove your scarf”, she instructed. I pulled it off and she just stared at me.
I wonder what she saw and then she stood up from where she sat on the bed and walked toward me. I thought she was going to touch my hair but she stretched a little above my shoulder to turn on the fan and sat back on the bed.
“Now I want you to remove your clothes”, she said so softly that I almost did not hear her. I shook my head. I must have walked into a horror movie…