From all indications, Mrs Bola Folarin-Williams, a serving judge at the Ebute- Metta Chief Magistrate Court is an assertive and expressive mother of three. She lost her husband to the cold hands of death early this year. In a chat with JOHN CHIKEZIE, Folarin-Williams believes that God has set her apart to make positive changes in the society
How do you cope as an administrator of justice, a mother and as a wife?
I must confess to you that it has never been an easy task. Coping has not been easy physically but God has remained very faithful in strengthening and leading me through the hurdles. Nevertheless, the task is a difficult one.
Let me explain why it is a difficult task; for instance, when I decide to wake up as early as 4am daily and fail to do so, it would affect everything in the house for that day.
Therefore, I need to wake up on time to get my children ready for school, drive through Ikorodu road in order to resume work early at my office. Joggling through my work and my role as a mother has totally been God’s grace. Sometimes, I do not even know how I successfully go through each day. Funny enough, often times when it is a Friday, I smile heavily with a sigh of relief and I feel so grateful that I’ve made it through that week.
For a woman, especially a working mother, it is not an easy thing at all but somehow we’ve been able to pull through. Even now as a widow, the work is heavier but Christ has remained my strength and comfort.
I have a problem with sleeping early because sometimes I sleep as late as 2am in the morning.
Most times, I am awake still trying to joggle between office work and domestic chores. Remember that I still need to wake up at 4am to begin or continue from where I left off. So that’s basically how tough it is with most working women. Honestly, women go through a lot but one amazing thing is that you would still find them standing and smiling.
How do relate with the male counterparts on the job?
As for that part, I can tell you that what a man can do, a woman can do much better. It is so unfortunate when the society tries to paint women as weaker vessels, because I do not believe in that ideology. If you observe, in many homes, women are the breadwinners. Honestly, I wish I could explain that trend. I am not saying in all or most homes but it is evident in many homes.
I have no problem in a man acting to be more superior but I would boldly tell you that what he can do, I can do better. I have structured myself that way even while my husband was alive. My husband really took care of me and I can testify that I had a wonderful marriage.
I have remained a hardworking woman. When my husband went to be with the Lord, it was not easy at first but gracefully, I was able to cope and learn to do so many things almost immediately. I can drive and do some basic mechanic repairs. I loathe laziness in all honesty. I do not have issues with male counterparts because I can strongly do whatever they can do. I have never felt inferior around them. I have built my self-esteem long before marriage.
On the contrary, I’m not saying that women are competing with men because that would be going against the scriptures. The right order is that man is head of the home and that is what I vehemently believe in. Therefore, no woman should dare compete with her husband even if she’s the breadwinner. Doing that would be a sin against God. And I believe in the order of the home as ordained by God and I frown at women who carry themselves as superiors.
What is your reaction to the typical African ideology that women belong to the other room, as such, should only be seen and not heard
Hmmm! I think this other room phrase started shortly after the president, Muhammadu Buhari said that his wife belongs to the other room. That speech thereafter skyrocketed and became a trending ideology. The pertinent question is “why should women belong to the other room?”
Honestly, I wish I knew the context to which the president made that assertion, though I would not want to delve into that. But if the other room refers to the bedroom, then that can never be the place of a woman. It can never be because women are more valuable and important than that; even if the woman is a housewife or help. Most times, what the woman does at home is much more than what the man does in the office.
Women work round the clock. Especially when there is a child or baby involved, their work begins immediately they wake up from bed in the morning. Even the husband is the baby number one. Women take care of their husbands alongside the children. When the man is at work, she is at home cleaning, cooking, taking care of the children while waiting for the man to return and receive a fair share of attention.
A man’s work might end for the time he leaves his office and retires home to rest but a woman’s work never ends. She works even while others are sleeping. Therefore, a woman’s place can never be in the other room. That is impossible and a wrong perception about women. And if that’s the basis for asserting that women cannot be heard, then that is totally absurd. If you carefully observe in the society, you would find women in many big and high positions just like the men. Check within the banking, administrative, business, educational and political sectors, you would find successful women.
What is your concept of women gender equality?
If some women think that gender equality means being equal with men, then I would say it is very wrong. This goes against the scripture, which says that the man is the head of the home. I am yet to know how the issue of gender equality was raised or the grounds which its supporter advocated. But if that’s the contention, then it’s a false advocacy. I equally know that women are important and ought to be honoured and valued but not in the manner of measuring equality with men.
Women ought to be heard. I believe that the idea of gender equality should be on the advocacy of providing equal opportunities for the empowerment and actualization of every woman. However, I do not support the notion that a wife or woman should be equal with her husband/man. But if you give a task to a man and give same to a woman, she can equally do well. In the society, women are equally important as the men but in home setting, men are the heads.
Domestic violence is still on the increase, what do you think is the cause of this?
Honestly, it’s so sad. The trend now has shifted since it is no longer just men violating women but women abusing and killing men; like a story I read on the internet about a lady who killed her husband by cutting him on his private part. One important virtue, we must have at our finger tips during marriage is patience. This is because we tend to easily get provoked by our spouses but the best approach is to walk away.
Let me share a story I read some time ago about a lady who came home to find her husband sleeping with a young girl. According to the writer, she came back from work earlier than her usual time to find her husband with a girl (apparently a neighbour’s daughter) inside their bedroom. She was the breadwinner of the family while her husband had lost his job.
She said that when she was approaching the house, she saw her neighbours all running inside their apartments and shutting the doors and windows. So immediately, she knew that something had gone wrong in her home.
However, in order to avoid the neighbours from watching a typical Nollywood movie from her home, she decided to take the backdoor instead of the front door. While she was approaching the back door, she began calling, “honey, am back. Please open the back door I don’t want to use the front door,” She wrote.
She took the back door to give room for whosoever the husband was with to easily escape in order not to create the scene her neighbours had hoped to watch. She also admitted that she heard the front door open and she knew it was the girl leaving the house.
When she got into the house, her husband began yawning as someone who just woke up from a deep sleep.
She thereafter greeted him warmly with a kind smile and acted oblivious of what had transpired. The next morning while sweeping their bedroom, she found the girl’s earrings on the floor (apparently it fell off during her escape). The lady wrote that the next thing she did was to return the items to the girl (who happens to live next door).
On getting to the girl’s apartment, her mother almost fainted when she opened the door. “Maybe she felt I came for a fight or to embarrass her daughter,” the lady wrote. But she told the woman that she only came to return the items her daughter dropped on her matrimonial bed.
The lady further wrote that she took those decisions because she didn’t want her other neighbours to watch a fight episode that they would always gossip about. Secondly, if she had reacted angrily, maybe she would end up in prison. She further advised other women experiencing same and said, “If you cannot endure or tolerate such men, please walk away from the marriage.”
Trust me, I agree with her. God hates divorce but if you know that you are in a violent marriage, please pack your bags, go back to your parent’s house and stay there for a while. I’m not saying run straight for a divorce. No, but go there until things cool off.
Lack of patience is still part of the factors of domestic violence. Other factors could be traced to economic situation of the country where most men who have lost their jobs and cannot cater for their families, are raged in frustration.
I believe that women should be able to bear with their husbands whenever they are facing financial crises. Especially if the man has no record of a violent character, do not become the person creating the fights. Do not be the one accusing him of not bringing in enough money for upkeep especially if he is not the lazy type. For us women, we need to be extra patient with the men. Even if the man is lazy and has refused to work, please do not start a fight because it could result to death.
What is responsible for the rapid increase of divorce cases in Nigeria?
Most times, it is the inability to manage the crises in the home by the couple. Every marriage has its own difficulties. I remember on the day of my wedding, my father’s close friend, who was the chairperson of the reception, approached me and said, “Your mother has succeeded in her marriage and I know you would succeed in yours.” My parents would be 50 years in their marriage December 26. They are both 79 years old and very much active. We would always tell my mother that she deserves an award. Every marriage has its trials and the in-laws should never be a part of it; they should mind their businesses and stay in their homes. Ultimately, a woman has the biggest role to play in any marriage.
Before my husband died, I have been married for 19 years and nine months. My marriage clocked 20 years in May, 2017. I enjoyed my marriage to the fullest because my husband took great care of me. Every woman should be able to manage the crises in her home, especially once it is not the violent type.
Even if you find out that your husband is having extra-marital affairs, it’s not the end of the world. If you discover that he is cheating, all you need do is to go to God in prayers unless you want to give your house to that person. Get someone to talk to him maybe his parents or pastor or a relative that he listens to. Do not let these useless girls take over your home. Truthfully, you will win such battles on your knee not with your fist.
How can a woman be assertive in a male dominated environment without paying a price for it?
Let there be one million men, I would still be able to shine by the grace of God, without being prideful. In a male dominated whatever, I can still stand out as a woman. Women should learn to build their confidence from day one as a human being. You do not wait until when you are tested by challenges. Study the word of God richly and work more than you are being paid in any job.
Learn on that job daily and refuse to be a woman who sits lazy watching movies or gossiping about others. Be a woman that never stops learning and learning to improve her. Build your self-esteem and confidence to do exploit. It is shameful for a woman to be lazy.
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