With @LagosHouseWife Rayo Abe has built a platform and community for women to connect, share resources and engage opportunities for business and family living. In this interview she talks about her journey so far, shares her thought on some critical topics and lets us know what the future holds for the LagosHouseWife brand.
- You wear many hats as author, media influencer and a professional ‘House Wife’. Tell us about yourself and your journey so far?
I evolved, lol. Truth is I look at what I do now and it’s really different from what I thought I would be when I was a child. The only constant is writing. As a child I hated cooking, in fact I hated every household chore. But I’ve always loved reading and writing. I used to write short stories all over my school notes and I remember getting punished a lot for that by my teachers. Till secondary school when I got a wonderful English teacher who nurtured and encouraged my writing. I ended up studying English Language in the university of Ilorin and that was where I discovered my writing style using Nigerian English.
Love of cooking came when I did my NYSC and worked with Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. I didn’t work in the kitchen but I would spend hours poring over the menu and researching all the ingredients. That was how it started for me. Both my writing and cooking are what combined to create LagosHouseWife. That and the fact that I never liked working outside the home. I still hate other house chores though.
- As someone who has become quite an authority to mothers and households generally, what are your thoughts about how Africa can leverage good family values and active citizenship to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa?
I believe the family is what makes a community, a country, and the world. Let me take you down history during the era of our forefathers when the whole family was one unit – either extended or nuclear. One thing they did was spend a lot of time together – farming, fishing, selling etc., whatever the vocation of the ‘man of the house’ was what the whole family did together. This fostered unity, sharing and understanding.
Am I saying we should all do the same thing now? No. But we should take that value of spending time together. Living separate lives has damaged a lot of families and in turn affected the African society. Values have been eroded, family unity has taken a back seat. We need to change that.
- Gender equality is a global concern, even in Africa. It was a priority in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and continues to be so in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), how can women empowerment programmes be leveraged to achieve this goal?
Here’s the thing, it’s impossible for any development goals to be achieved if the female gender that are approximately half of a nation’s population, is not empowered. That will be like saying 50% production for 100% consumers, which is not feasible for development. By empowering women from grassroots to all levels you are ensuring optimal productivity.
- With a 63.8% figure, Rwanda currently ranks number one (1) in the world in female participation in legislature and leadership, how do you imagine this result can be replicated in other African countries?
Very Simple, by empowering women. By making workplace laws that enable women to keep working and growing their careers and not be forced to give up careers for their families, a choice that men do not contend with. Let’s also not forget to educate men to understand that women are human beings with functioning brains fully capable of leading.
- Prior to being LagosHouseWife, you had attempted and succeeded at various ventures, including publishing a book. How have these experiences impacted the work you do with LagosHouseWife?
The greatest impact is on my writing, it taught me to be able to connect with my audience and being able to think creatively and project that into words that people can also visualize. I’ve had lots of people tell me when they read what I write, its like they can see what I’m describing or saying. That is a skill that was honed by having my books critiqued and edited.
- What are some of the peculiar challenges that you encounter in your work, and how are you able to overcome them?
Contending with the volume of messages and requests I receive daily, this is still an ongoing challenge but for now I have been able to handover most of the business aspect of LagosHouseWife to my management team.
The second challenge is finding employees who can connect and grow with the vision. This has still not been solved.
- Across the continent of Africa and beyond, there are passionate young people who are frustrated by the existing systems in their different nations. What would you say is the best way to galvanize youth effort across the continent to drive positive outcomes across Africa?
Frustration is in itself a strong “galvanizer”, after all necessity is the mother of invention, lol. Though this is not a recommended way because as we know frustration can also lead down the wrong path.
One way to address this is to get the youths involved in government, their voices should be part of decision making in policies that will affect them.
We also need to come up with mentorship programs for the youths, that will inspire and motivate them to be a positive impact on the continent.
- A lot continues to be said about the rise of Africa, the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative it is called. Do you agree that Africa is indeed rising? If so, what are the changing realities, scenarios and events that inform your conviction that Africa is indeed a continent on the rise?
The fact that we are having this discussion is testament to the fact that Africa is indeed rising. The more we say it, the more we believe it; the more we believe it, the more we act it.
On one scenario we can point to is the emergence of small businesses especially by women across the continent. 85% of my followers are women and almost 75% of this demographic run their own businesses, either full time or in addition to paid employment. And I’m still receiving messages daily from women asking how they can start a business. To me this is huge and one of the greatest signs of Africa arising – Women Empowerment.
Also take a look at the emergence of the agricultural industry. I’m already seeing a near future where Africa will live up to its potential of feeding the world. That is definitely Africa rising.
- You have a lot of people, women especially, who draw inspiration from you, what advice from your experience so far would you like to share with them?
Let me borrow a quote from NIKE “Just Do It”. Do it afraid. Do it with what you have. Do it with what you don’t have. Do it one day at a time. Do it without experience. Do it not sure of the outcome. But Do It!
- What should Africa look forward to from you soon? What is the next big thing you are working on right now?
Having a TV Program. Working on a platform to showcase female small business owners. I’m also working on having a funding for female entrepreneurs, especially Stay at Home Mums who want to have a thriving source of income.