OLORI Sekinat Aramide Elegushi is the wife of HRM Oba Saheed Elegushi, the youngest king in Lagos State. A graduate of Accountancy, Olori Elegushi has a rare talent with home design and decoration. She runs the Queens Park and Lounge, a family leisure beach, and also has huge investment in the fashion industry.
The mother of three, who clocked 40 recently, shares with Adetutu Audu on her life, marriage and sundry
What does being 40 mean to you?
It means so much to me. I have been reflecting a lot on how I feel about turning 40. It is an age that seems to represent maturity and a more defined responsible living. I have observed that many people dread their 40th birthdays, as if losing one’s 30s is something to be mournful about. At 40, I see life differently now. A wise person once said, “We should not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” So, for me, attaining the age of 40 is a privilege and I am grateful to God for giving me the grace to celebrate that age in sound health and with my loved ones.
It is a popular saying that life begins at 40. For you, would you agree with that saying?
No, I don’t believe that life begins at 40. It is a cliché that has been over-flogged for many decades. Youth, itself, is a state of mind, not a physical condition, so, you are as old as you feel. Deep inside, I am still the vivacious young girl that I was when I was in my mid 20s and 30s. More than that, though, if given the choice, I don’t think I would want to turn the clock back. I like who I am at 40. I am growing into my own woman. I am stronger and wiser, more comfortable in my own skin and certainly more confident than I was when I was in my 30s.
What lessons has life taught you at 40?
It has taught me a lot. We tend to take so many things for granted, even the most insignificant of things. I have come to see life more as a gift and each day as a blessing. Life has taught me to be more grateful for the things I have. Now, I am more conscious of living a healthy life. The moment a woman crosses the 30s line, maintaining a good health should top the list of her priorities. So, I am going to be paying more than a cursory attention to my health. Also, life has taught me to be more active in my attitude to kindness. I have come to realise that one gets a lot of fulfillment from being genuinely kind to other people.
If there is anything you want to change about yourself, what will it be?
I don’t think I would want to change anything about myself. I believe that an important aspect of personal development is accepting who you are and loving all aspects of yourself. Of course, there is always room for improvement. But if I were to change anything, it is that I would like to be more focused on whatever task or project I am doing at a set time. I tend to do several things at the same time. This makes me get bored easily, and tend to suspend or extend what I am doing. I need to motivate myself more to finish tasks as fast as possible. I have times when I get side tracked. If I wasn’t sidetracked and never wasted any time at all, I would surely achieve all of my goals on time.
Growing up, what were those things that shaped you into who you are now?
I have not lived life long enough to objectively pick the experience that has ‘most shaped’ who I am. Who I am is constantly evolving every second of the day because new experiences are happening every minute. All experiences are potentially life altering. Sometimes, experiences that seem unimportant now can have massive effects on our lives that we may not be aware of and only fully understand and appreciate years later. But I must say that love has shaped me into the person I am today. Not so much the romantic kind of love, but the genuine love from my parents, husband, children and friends. The love I have for other people and the love they have for me has shaped me into the person I am today. Life and one’s experiences will definitely keep shaping one constantly. But the greatest impact on my personality is affected by my family – especially my parents and husband.
What are your greatest accomplishments from the previous years?
I don’t believe my previous accomplishment should be defined by my past. The future is out there for everyone to conquer. The road ahead is wide open; just make sure you are well-positioned in the driver’s seat. So, when I think about my greatest accomplishments, I think about where I am today, I think about being alive and I think about all the good things in my life and the happiness I can bring to the world around me. What are your wishes for the upcoming year?
I want to be able to reach out to people more often than before. I have discovered that there are so many people around us who need help. I believe we should always strive to remember them. We need to remember those people at every corner, every crossroads and every intersection. Remember that what you take goes with you when you are gone, but what you give is immortal.
What is the one piece of advice you would you give your future self?
That will be to invariably have more experience, a greater perspective and more wisdom. I have told myself, never to accept something as truth simply because someone, or everyone, says it is so. Instead, I will use the information available to me, and the wisdom and experience of others, and then trust my own intuition and decide for myself.
What are some of the important decisions you made that you learned from?
There are a whole lot of such decisions. The most important ones were to get educated, get married and have kids, after I graduated from the university. But I think the most important decision anyone can make is really to choose happiness. This includes deciding how you react to life, even though you can’t always control what happens to you. That way, no matter what happens, rather than have any regret, you can always look back on those decisions as just needing to be made and not something that will take away from your life.
As you look back over your life, what will you describe as the major turning point experience that changed the course of your life?
It is motherhood. The birth of a child, filled with pain and emotion. It was the most momentous turning point for me. Becoming someone’s mother meant that my role in the world had changed—I wasn’t just the same old me trying to be a new, improved version. I was a mother, really and truly, and the question was, what kind of person or what kind of a mother, would be reflected in my child’s eyes.
What would you say are the major values or principles that you live by?
I live by the principles of fulfillment, humility, giving and forgiveness. As I get older, I am driven by the passion to create a more fulfilling life by paying attention to the good things, not the bad things; by celebrating the positive stuff, not whining about the negative stuff and by working on things that I love, not doing the things that I hate. As for humility, it is one virtue that was inculcated in me from childhood, and one I also learnt from my husband. He always tells me that humility will earn you more respect, acknowledgment and recognition than arrogance ever will. There is no need to be a show-off. If you are really good at what you do, it will automatically show through your accomplishments. And being generous doesn’t deprive you. When you are generous to others, you subsequently receive more into your life. Rather than think about what you can receive, whether from people or from the universe, think about what you can give to others. And forgiveness is not about forgiving other people. It is really about forgiving yourself and shedding emotional burdens.
You married your childhood sweetheart. 13 years down the line, the bond keeps waxing stronger. What is the secret of your success in marriage?
The secret of my marriage is God and rest of mind. My husband showers me with love and gives me peace of mind. He makes me happy always. My happiness is of paramount importance to him, and he has never given me a reason to doubt his love and commitment to me and the children.
Your husband, Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi, is reputed to be the youngest king in Lagos State. What is it like, being married to him?
(Smiles) One thing I will tell you is that, even before my husband ascended the throne, I had always considered myself as being blessed and privileged to be married to a man like him. The issue here is not about being married to a king. Rather, it is more of being married to a man who understands me and who completes me. So, this makes me feel grateful to God, because He has made it possible for me to enjoy that privilege.
Is there something that you had to sacrifice for the throne?
I didn’t have to sacrifice anything for the throne. May be a little bit of my private life and being more accessible to people.
How has being a queen affected your dress sense?
Being a queen has not affected my dress sense in any way. My style of dressing is still the same. I still dress the way I used to do before I became a queen. Maybe, the only way it might have been affected is that I can no longer leave my hair bare. I have to cover it with headgear or wrap most of the time. And I have to dress with elegance, while remaining conservative at the same time. Nowadays, I wear more of traditional outfits most of the times. But I still wear my jeans and other casuals.
Can you describe your personal style?
Well, I believe a woman’s personal style is an expression of her spirit and character. There is nothing wrong in finding a look that suits you and sticking to it. Every woman of style should be consistent in whatever she wears. And that means keeping to the basics and getting creative at all times. I enjoy experimenting with bold and creative designs, and I learn a lot from the designers I patronise. So, consistency defines my style. Vibrancy also defines my style. I love playing with bright colours and this habit is evident in my style of dressing.
What are the fashion items you can’t do without?
I can’t do without my perfumes, and I have my signature fragrance. In the last couple of years, I have come to love the Oud fragrances. I try to keep a sizable collection as well. I love Oud because it is such an incredible fragrance and the base smell always stands out beautifully. It is also one of the longest lasting fragrances one can ever wear. I love good bags also, but nothing beats my addiction for Oud perfumes.
You studied Accountancy but have huge investment in the interior decorating and hospitality sector. Which one is the most fulfilling for you?
The three give me fulfillment. Accountancy is my professional background, while interior decorating and hospitality are what I developed a passion for while growing up. My training as an accountant has helped in enhancing my entrepreneurial skills in interior decorating and hospitality businesses. So, the three go hand in hand, but I am more at home with interior decorating and hospitality.
You have a foundation for children within your kingdom. What inspired your charitable side?
It is inspired by my attitude of gratitude to God for the gift of life. I feel grateful whenever I fulfill a need. I am reminded of how blessed I am to be alive. As you give and reach out to other people, you can’t help but feel grateful for the blessings in your life.
You are an advocate for women and youth empowerment. Are you satisfied with level of women and youth empowerment in your kingdom?
Yes, I am. But there are still a lot of areas to be covered and we are working on carrying out more activities, which will add value to the people. I am involved in the International Women’s Society (IWS) Skills Centre in Ikate. The centre has trained thousands of students. Last August, we had our 17th graduation ceremony, where over 120 people graduated.
Credit: Nation Newspaper