Body & Soul

Writing my memoirs was an emotional roller coaster –Onyeka Onwenu

Nigeria’s legendary singer, Onyeka Onwenu is known to set enviable records in every sector her talent and passion drives her to. Added to her list of careers, as a famous singer, broadcaster, an actor, rights activist and politician, she has recently added another feather as an author. On Nigeria’s Independence Day, October 1, 2020, the Elegant Stallion, as she is fondly called, launched her first book. Her memoirs, titled ‘My Father’s Daughter’.

 

Onyeka Onwenu explained that the book which contains over 450 pages, is designed to give inspiration to the younger ones, especially the younger feminine gender, since it encapsulates her low and high moments, through life.

 

Describing the book which she says unearths several bitter sweet emotions at a virtual pre-book launch briefing, she stated that just like the title of the book, she is indeed ‘her father’s daughter’. She explained that her father’s love for her was so great that it laid a good foundation for her being successful in life.

 

Speaking further about the book, she said: “It is a book of stories, about my struggles, challenges as a young girl growing into a woman. They are life lessons I learned which turned around to become my strength.”

 

The book addresses the challenges of being a daughter, a girl in a society and culture that limits potentials for the girl child. The stories also shows that I have no apologies being a woman. I believe that a lot of young girls will read this book and get inspired to be who they are born to be.” Just like many great men and women who saw the need to pen down their life experiences, Onwenu affirmed that she was inspired to write by God almighty, to use her story to encourage the next generation. This is why seeing the published book brought tears to her eyes stressing that it couldn’t have been possible by her own power. According to the music legend, the book is all about stories that she told and still telling her children while growing up into young men. She wanted to put these stories into writing so that they can have something to pass on to the next generation. She encouraged every human being, especially young people, to tell their life changing stories, praying that she will write another book when she is 90 and another when she is 100. “Don’t go back to heaven with these live changing stories that can inspire many people. Many have gone without sharing their stories with the world. Who says you can only write your memoirs when you are old.” For a woman who is viewed as successful in every chosen career, many may believe that there would be no room for failure in her journey, but she admitted with a broad smile that failure is part of human nature.

 

In the book, she said that the reader will find that the biggest lessons she learned from her failures. And at every step of the way, the book spoke about lessons learned.

 

Like every career, there is a challenge. And a new author, Onwenu said that her bigg e s t c h a l – lenge was getting a good editor for the book, while writing the book itself came with it’s own challenge. “I started writing it in bits and pieces. Writing some chapters opened up painful memories I thought that I was done with but had to deal with them all over again.

 

There are times I would stop writing and cry and at times, I would laugh. It was an emotional roller coaster writing the book,” she said Popularly called ‘Ada Mazi’ in her Arondizuogu home town, Onwenu did not just speak about the book. She Let people in about what is happening to her music.

 

She said that her music is very much alive. Though she is still stuck in their old ways of making music back then, she still sings and has a few songs like ‘Aumba’ on her YouTube channel. She also told young Nigerian musicians, especially female artistes, that she is open for collaborations if there is need to work with her.

 

“All you need is just to reach out. I am all for whatever that support women and women e m p o w e r – ment. I want every young woman to know that she is not just born to be ordinary. There is a purpose God gave to everyone and you have to live to achieve this purpose. Do not let anyone limit you.” Responding to a question about many women claiming to be feminists, the famous broadcaster said that people are just afraid of the word without understanding the actual meaning.

 

“The word everybody is afraid of. It is a good word that simply means that I am proud to be a woman and no apologies for being a woman. It does not mean that I am better than a man. It simply means accept me the way I am.”

 

Born January 1, 1952, Onwenu, who was eight years old when Nigeria gained it’s independence advised that the unity of the nation is not negotiable. She warned that Nigeria is fast approaching the precipice and begged leaders to do all they can to hold the country together for the young generation. “Nigeria is fast approaching it’s precipice. I beg our leaders to please hold this country together for the young generation.

 

Don’t leave this country worse than you met it. “Stop the corrupt practices and be the leader that you are called to be. If we destroy this country, we don’t have any other to run to. Other countries have their own problems so they won’t let you in,” she said. She charged Nigerians to play less on tribalism but focus on the positives inherent in the different ethnic groups that make up the country. “My children are proud Yoruba and proud Igbo. You cannot say anything bad about both tribes to their hearing.

 

This is how we should love ourselves because no tribe is superior or inferior to the other. Our strength lies in the diversity and the rich cultures. We should guard it jealously and not insulting and fighting each other,” she said

 

Lastly, the music icon called on the people of the South East, especially those in the diaspora, on the need to develop the region; which she said had continued to suffer marginalization and neglect. “It doesn’t take away whatever you are doing in Lagos, Abuja, or Port Harcourt. You are free to live and do business wherever you are but remember back home.

 

We are being marginalized for a long time. And our people have always done things for themselves. “We built the Imo State Airport. I was part of the process. It remains the only airport in the country that was built by the citizens and handed over to the Federal Government

 

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