FATHER’S DAY: With TV’s Ebuka Obi-Uchendu
I first met Ebuka Obi-Uchendu fresh off the Big Brother Nigeria season that shot him to limelight in 2006. Fifteen years ago could easily be a whole different lifetime looking back now, but yes, he was just as handsome, charming, smart, hungry for success, and driven by the desire to be much more than just a housemate on a reality show. Over time, our worlds would intersect with him and I writing for the same newspaper at some point as he pursued a career in media as a single, young man.
With time, he has become a household name and face, appearing in ad campaigns, billboards, anchoring tv shows, and hosting live events, Ebuka’s world has also expanded from that young bright-eyed and bushy-tailed twenty-something-year-old that I first met. He wedded the love of his life, Cynthia in January of 2016 at a high-octane ceremony held in Abuja (where his family is based) that drew the cream of entertainment crop from Lagos to celebrate with him and his then-new bride. Since then, they have welcomed two beautiful daughters Jewel who is now 4 years old and Ruby who is 2.
When I called him up to set up this interview and photoshoot- he agreed with very little arm-twisting on my part as he responded jokingly, “How can I say no?” I guess those days of humble beginnings still count for something after all! The photo session is a breeze as Ebuka does what he does best- bringing his fashion and modeling A-game to the table. In a little over half an hour, we are done shooting but not before his wife joins us and it’s a whole jovial affair. She playfully mentions that he bears a passing resemblance to Will Smith from behind and I see it immediately which sets off another round of jokes and laughter. In that moment I get a glimpse of what their life looks like and how Ebuka the brand, host, presenter has indeed become husband and daddy- the most important role of any man’s life.
Interview & Words by DOWNTOWN Editor – Latasha Ngwube
Photography by Tosin Akinyemiju
Interview Assisted & Transcribed by Kehinde Fagbule.
What was growing up like for you from the perspective of a father-son relationship?
So I had a very interesting relationship with my dad. There are 3 of us kids and I’m the middle child; but I don’t have the middle-child syndrome, maybe because I was the last born for a long time; I’m twelve years older than my younger brother. My dad worked in the Central Bank at the time and he got moved around a lot, so growing up, we lived in Lagos, Calabar, Yola, Enugu and Abuja. We didn’t always have to move with our dad because it became a lot, so at a point, my mum and us kids were stationed in Benin and he would come and go. So he wasn’t always around, but not because he didn’t want to, he was working. My dad is very traditional, very Catholic; I don’t know what that combination means *laughs* but it was an interesting sort of upbringing with him. He believed in traditional values, we went to the village 3-4 times a year, it was very important for him that we spoke Igbo growing up, we went to church regularly, and when I say regularly, I mean every day: morning mass. I was about 11 when we now moved to Abuja and everybody sort of came back and we stayed there with him for the longest before I left the family to move on my own. It was interesting as he had his ways of being traditional and whatnot but generally, it was a good relationship. He was there every time, even if he wasn’t there physically and I think that was what mattered most.
What are some of the things that you’ve carried from childhood now into fatherhood? With your dad, it was a father-son relationship, now you’re a girl-dad.
Fundamentally, it is knowing that your family is first; my father never played with that. Wherever he was, whatever the situation was, it was never in doubt what was a priority for him because like I always say, the children never asked to be born, so if you bring people into this world, the least you can do is make sure they are okay and he was very conscious of that fact. He was also very glaring about what mattered to him; how he treated my mum was something that- you know growing up, you don’t know that it matters but when you look back, you realise “Okay, this was what this was about.” He was very intentional with certain things in his own way. I mean time and culture changes but looking back, he was very intentional about making sure my mum was happy, my mum was priority and we the kids were very fundamental, so if it was a great school and he could afford it, he definitely did and by the grace of God, I think that’s why we have turned out the way we are, not so bad today. I look at my kids today and I always look far in the future: where do I want them to be? Are they going to look back and say “Daddy thank you for what you’ve done?” Because whether you like it or not, it’s a lot of pressure. People might want to pretend like it’s nothing but these are human being lives in your hands and a lot of what they’re going to become is going to be shaped by how you raise them whether you like it or not and I think about that a lot. So a lot of the decisions I make I’m very intentional about; I want them to be good people, I’m hoping they turn out to be good people and I want to build that foundation with them.
Your dad was a banker, your mum is a nurse, how did you get into Law?
First of all, nobody did what my mum did. My sister was supposed to do that, but she dropped it and studied Economics. My sister and brothers are both bankers and my younger brother studied engineering. I hated mathematics, so I always knew I wasn’t going to do anything relating to banking or medicine, it was it an option for me. However, like I said, as much as my parents were very traditional people, especially my dad, he was never one to force opinions on you. He was never the dad that said, “Oh you have to be a doctor” which is very interesting considering how conservative he was. So it wasn’t a problem; I just knew that when I was done with school, he was like “So what next?” I figured I needed to study something that doesn’t have maths but was prestigious, so it was my decision; to be barrister without having the maths and they were fine with it. They’ve never been ones to force anything that they’re not sure you’re happy with.
You’ve just emphasized on your dad being a traditional person. How much of that traditionalism made its way to you?
Like I’ve said, time and culture changes, and because I was born in a different time, there were certain things that I could not take as a whole. However, the one thing I definitely have from them is the pride in my roots. Anybody who knows me know that I am very proudly Igbo. I don’t play around with my heritage not shy away from identifying with where I’m from and that came from my dad. It was a thing in my house and it was very normal, then when I come out and see that it’s a thing outside as well, I was like “Okay, this is very normal.” Speaking the language, being around my people, traveling back home a lot and just identifying with where I’m from is definitely a huge part of it. Of course, Catholicism is something that I am also very proud of, even though the pandemic has made church-going weird; but before that, it is something I don’t play around with as well. I know that there’s a big distinction between spirituality and religion and I always have also tried to make that distinction, so I might have my reservations here and there with whatever it is, even with conversations with my dad interestingly, but I hold on to that as well. So yeah, generally, I’m not as conservative as him because like I said, it’s a different time; but I also think he probably would’ve been this way if he was born in this time because like I said, he never forces opinion on people, so he was shaped a different way but he also sort of had that mindset where he believes people should be able to do what they want or live their life a certain way, so I think I got all of that from him. He just manifested conservatism more than anything else.
Growing up, what was your ultimate career aspiration?
I wanted to be a pilot. I lived in Benin at the time, we lived in GRA behind the airport. Planes would take off right over us and I used to be so fascinated with the fact that this thing was hanging right ahead of us and God forbid it dropped on us *laughs*. I really wanted to become a pilot until I realised that you needed to know math *laughs* so that dream died. I was fascinated with newscasters too. TV presenting wasn’t a thing back then, it was people who read the news. It was these people who you just watch and you’re like “Wow! They’re so eloquent”, but I never thought about it as a career, I just liked watching the news and watching them read it.
Were you an expressive teen or did you keep to yourself?
I kept to myself. I was a very painfully shy kid even up until almost when I was done with the university. I was the guy who people knew but never heard because I didn’t want to talk in public, I didn’t want to be seen, I was very shy. I wasn’t very confident either and it wasn’t because I didn’t know my worth, I just was the guy who was used to being alone; just leave me alone in my space, that was me. When I was even going to study law, it was like “Which court are you going to speak in?” Even until I did Big Brother. In fact, me going on Big Brother was a dare from my sister who was like “You, who dash you?” because she thought with my personality I’d never do a thing like that. So I was a very quiet kid.
As a girl dad now, people say things like “My daughter is not going to date till she’s 30…” First of all, have you bought a gun?
Not yet, but I will *laughs* I’m joking. I have this conversation with my wife a lot. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I hear the “Oh daddy, this is my boyfriend” for the first time. It happened with my elder sister who is 7-8 years older than me. She’s married now with kids too. I remember one of the times that her boyfriend came around to see her those days, I was 11. I told him she wasn’t around and she was. It was more out of “Who is this one?” and this was me, an 11 year old boy, trying to protect someone who is a whole grown teenager. I know that time is going to come and I hope I can prepare myself enough by the time I get there and not get in the way of them flourishing enough because the world is a different place now. You need to literally put them in a bunker for them not to be able to fly with it; the world is in everybody’s palm. So I’ll just hopefully do the best I can when I get there. Hopefully I’m ready enough emotionally and mentally to handle that phase; but I mean I think it’s only normal, and I think it’s with kids generally because letting go is not very easy.
Now with the kind of work that you do, how important is it for you to be positioned as something of a role model for your daughters in the entertainment work that you do.
Extremely important because they see me on TV now and they think it’s just the office. I don’t think it has registered to them that this is what my daddy does. So when they say “Oh daddy, look at you,” it’s normal to them. However, I know my daughters are going to grow and see things and read things; and thankfully, I’ve always shaped my career in a way where scandal has never appealed to me. So you know you would always hear the saying “Whatever news is still good news as long as you’re in the news,” I’ve never subscribed to that. I tell people that I have a morbid phobia for being in blogs; even if you’re congratulating or hailing me, I don’t want it because I always know how the conversation devolves in the comments and all of that. I’m the guy who wants to be able to control my narrative in a way that when they are able to understand what I do and see, they see what it is that I actually do against what the world has decided that I am. So it is very important to me. Even with brands I work with, the kind of work I do, how I position myself even as a social butterfly, I’m very intentional about how I’m seen because I know that they’re going to see these and hopefully when they do, they’re proud of what I’ve been able to do.
One of your daughters speak three languages. Who and how?
Jewel. Because they go to a French school. Jewel speaks English, French and Igbo. She also speaks Pidgin English better than my wife. That’s four languages *laughs*.
Where did she get her soft ear from?
I wonder, because I’m terrible with languages and I think my wife is worse so I don’t know where it came from *laughs*, but she’s really good. We intentionally took them to a French school because there was a whole plan of them being bilingual, so she picked up French. Back home, we passed instructions to domestic staff to only speak Igbo to them, which they do. When it comes to English, a couple of the domestic staff are not great with English, so it’s pidgin English they speak and it is interesting that at 4 years old, she knows who to talk to in what language. So sometimes we are downstairs and we’re hearing this broken English that looks like she’s in Benin and my wife is like “What the heck is going on?” *Laughs*. Then she comes down and switches to perfect English and goes to school, she speaks in French and then she’s with the nanny and she knows how to converse in Igbo. I find it fascinating and I just hope she’s able to hold on to it for as long as possible.
From what you can see, if you can predict both your daughters’ careers, where do you think they’re headed?
*Sighs* I always say my kids are going to work in NASA but my wife always laughs at me *laughs*. However, I find that Jewel (the older one) is very interested in lifestyle things which I don’t know what to make of. She’s also very opinionated and she’s also showing signs of interest in art: paintings and colours, I don’t know what that means, I’m guessing a creative of some sort; but I still hold on to my NASA dreams *laughs*. Ruby on the other hand is 2, we still can’t tell a lot. The one thing I know for sure is she’s extremely independent-minded; way more than when Jewel was her age. She does things because she wants to do them. She’s also a very pleasant person, she’s a people’s person. I don’t know what that means yet but we’re going to nurse it.
In your nuclear family of all women, how does it feel being the only man sometimes?
Fine! Interestingly, I didn’t know how many kids I was going to have, but the one thing I always wanted was to have a girl first. I think it also comes from the fact that in my own family with my parents and siblings, my sister was the first and it kind of made sense to me how she held us and still kind of holds us together. So I’ve always wanted a girl first and that wish came through. In my house, for the longest time, I talked about things being normal to me, there’s always women around, there’s aunties, it was a normal sight for me. Also, I never grew up in a home where it was an “Oh you must have a boy” sort of mentality. Of course, it will happen with maybe extended family or whatever but I didn’t really have that sense in my house. So with me, having girls in the house is very normal and okay for me. I don’t even think about it.
…But your wife says she wants a son.
*Laughs* well, we’ll see if that happens; but I’m fine honestly. With my two kids, I’m very happy with them. They’re showing me so much of God’s blessing. We were talking with an older family friend of ours and she says “You know what, one thing I’ve always wished for is healthy kids”. When you have friends or see families who are struggling with children who have health challenges, you understand that you don’t talk about gender; it’s not really that serious. What you want is healthy kids. My parents tell us today (there’s 3 boys and a girl in the family), my mother is always laughing and she’d ask “Who is now taking care of me now? It’s the girl.” It doesn’t mean that we’re not doing our part, but the one who checks up everyday, who’s like the family backbone is the one girl in the house, so all of that doesn’t really matter. I’m really happy with my family.
In society at large now, there’s more of an awakening to traditional gender roles. Do you find yourself in conversations where you have to educate other men on non-traditional gender roles. For example, do you cook at home?
I’m a terrible cook, so I don’t think even my family wants me to cook *laughs*. So that one is a no-no, I don’t like cooking. In my house, there are certain roles that might be defined but I don’t know that there are lines drawn in the sand on what you can do and what you can’t do. I go grocery shopping when I have to, I do things around the house if I have to, I clean up. It’s an unspoken rule and it’s also very important for me as well because my kids are growing up and seeing that “Oh daddy is in the kitchen today” or “daddy is washing clothes”, it’s not meant for anyone in particular. So having conversations with people around me, thankfully I have friends who think like me. The few who might not have in the past have also evolved to a point where they understand the position I am with me. I don’t come in contact with a lot of people who are that way. When I do, I try. And if I can’t, I move on because I know that sometimes things are so ingrained in people that it’s hard to keep them in the conversation, but for the majority of people who I surround myself with, I don’t know that those sort of things are an issue whether in their homes or in conversations we have because we’re all kind of understanding. The world is a different place. As much as people might say differently, we understand where we are heading and why there’s a need for balance to occur. I mean it’s cool that my wife is a better cook than me so I will never take that for granted. So I’d encourage her like “That your pasta the other day, can you make it again?” If I could cook, of course I would.
With each season, it gets even more incredible. Would a time come when you’d be happy to see your daughters in Big Brother Naija?
That’d be their decision to make. I went for Big Brother at a time when it was different from what it is now and I always say that it is a very mentally draining show as much as I’m the host of it; which is why I tell people. Thankfully before people go on the show, they have a whole session with a psychologist who talks them through what they are about to go into so they’re prepared; and even after they’re out. Which is why sometimes when the fans go into this “dragging-mode”, I’m like “You guys don’t know what these people are going through, it is very tough work.” Would I be happy? (about my girls on the show) I don’t really know. They need to understand what they are doing themselves before they can say “I really want to do this.” If it’s just to get famous, of course not, you are not doing that. There’s nothing worse than going on big brother just to blow and not have a plan for what you really want to go there and do or why you want to go there and do that. I mean I went for the money when I went because I needed it to pay for my Masters. It didn’t work but at least I had a bit of a purpose going in there. So I don’t know about “happy” until I get to that point but they must be sure they’re doing it for the right reasons.
How do you think your wife and daughters would rate you as a father?
If you ask Ruby, who is the younger kid, she’d probably rate me a 20/10. She’s obsessed with me and I’m obsessed with her which I love. She’s speaking a little but not enough yet to tell me how she really feels *laughs*, so I’m getting away with a lot. Jewel on the other hand is very opinionated. She’s very perceptive now so she reads moods and all of that. I mean I love her to death, everyone says we look alike and I can’t see it. So she’ll probably give me an 8/10 because a few times I’m the one to tell her “Stop that and sit down!” With my wife, since I’m the one speaking and rating myself for her, because I think we have a pretty good marriage to be honest. It’s impossible for us not to have some drama. I mean even this morning we had a back and forth over something very trivial *laughs*. Those would happen, but those are like opinions on things, not necessarily things that are fundamental to the marriage. Things like that when you have a whole 1-hour debate, sometimes with tempers flare and then 5 minutes later I’m taking food from her plate. So fundamentally, I think we have a good marriage as we don’t have that many deep issues that worry us. Because of that, I want to believe she’ll give me an 8/10.
Who is the stricter parent of the two of you?
Oh, I. Before we had kids, my wife swore that it was going to be her and I was going to be the softie. I was like okay we’ll see. The kids even know. It’s funny I’ve never hit them, I don’t spank them or anything, but I’ve had maybe one or two yelling sessions and I’ve had a lot more conversations than anything else. However, for some reason, anytime I yell, there’s some shaking and I don’t know how I feel about that because I also don’t want to alienate them to a point where it’s like daddy is not that cool. So I try to balance it out as much as I can but I’m definitely tougher than my wife. My wife is more about bringing you to cuddle you.
What surprises you the most about yourself now that you’re a dad. Like when you look back and you’re “Ebuka the baby boy” barely 5 years ago and now you’re the father of two.
Yeah. A lot of times the kids are playing and I looking at them thinking “Wow! I actually have two children” *laughs*. It happens a lot and Jewel will catch me then ask “Daddy why are you looking at me?” *laughs* I also constantly just wonder if I’m doing this right. Hope I’m doing this parenting thing right. What surprises me the most is I actually thought I’d be a hitter or a spanker. I didn’t know think I’d do it often, but I thought I’d have more reasons to do it; I’ve never had a reason to do it. I don’t know if it surprises me but it’s interesting now, how whatever money I make, one of the first things I think of is family before the baby boy life. It’s interesting to me now that I get paid or do a deal or whatever it is and I’m thinking “Okay, family, what’s the plan with this and that?” before I start thinking about my own flexing or whatever. Maybe it’s not surprising but it’s interesting how that has shifted.
Cast into the future. Describe the ideal young man for your daughters.
Eh! God forbid. I don’t think I want to do that. When we get to that bridge *laughs*. I’m actually honestly not ready for that conversation. I don’t know how that’s going to go. So I don’t want to picture it. Maybe when they meet in NASA, maybe it’d be another astronaut *laughs*.
What’s your favourite thing about fatherhood?
I’m very centered now. I wasn’t particularly the most all-over-the-place person before, but I’m definitely way more centered now; my life has more meaning to it where there’s a purpose for why I do what I do. I’m responsible for people’s lives so I’m more intentional about how I act, the things I do, the things I choose, which makes me a much more centered and grounded human being. So yes, I really appreciate that. I had a good life as a single person but now I have an even better life and it’s all because of all the family has brought to me and I don’t take that for granted.
Did you witness the birth of your daughters?
Both of them.
How did you feel?
I always say – especially with the first because it was the first – in my 38 years of life, it is the most humbling thing I’ve ever seen. I thought I knew what to expect until the journey started and the whole 14-16-hour labour period of my wife and the pain and the hospital, going into labour and watching a human being come alive. I was speechless for a very long time because I was just wondering wow life is really really interesting. Second time again, I kind of knew what to expect but it still wowed. I tell my wife every time: women are superheroes. It’s mind boggling; the transformation, the beauty of it at the end of the day and a whole human comes alive. Most humbling thing I’ve ever witnessed.
Is it safe to say that you’re a feminist?
Yes, but I also hear that there’s different kinds of feminists, so I don’t know what kind I am… And I said “I hear” because I’m not the most versed in this topic and I don’t want to take ownership of it. I believe in the equality of men and women and I think that’s the fundamental root of feminism. I don’t know what other parts there are but equality? Yes.
Do you see yourself maybe one day, being the center of a reality TV show around you and your family?
I doubt it entirely. My wife is not the most excited about things like that, so I don’t know that she’s going to be the type to open our life to the public. I’m also very protective of my family generally because I always say they didn’t choose this life, I did. I’m the one who asked to be famous or be a celebrity or be on the TV, they necessarily didn’t. So my kids in particular, I also want for them to form their opinions on what they want to do. Yes, being on the TV might not necessarily be the worst thing that happens to them but opening them up to public opinion and scrutiny at a young age, I don’t know if I’m ready for that and what it could turn into. I mean we know what happens on social media now. There was a celebrity who posted her kid’s picture online a few days ago and I was seeing some of the most insensitive comments about a 1-year old. So I don’t know that I want to do that to them because you can’t control what people are going to say. I doubt it very highly.
In hindsight, are there things that you did in your youth that you weren’t necessarily proud of but when you look back now, you see them as the defining moments that made you who you are today?
There are probably a few things but I don’t know how defining they are or whether they were good or bad. For example, I went to secondary school from primary 4. So I got into secondary school when I was 9/10 years old, I was really young. My parents were completely against it because they made me write the Common Entrance Examination whilst I was in primary 4 and the whole idea was to write and understand how it works so that in primary 5 or 6, I’d go to secondary school. I wrote it in primary 4 and came out with the best result. Then I was like I couldn’t have the best result and go back to primary school. I fought and cried and they thankfully said okay. Then I got to secondary school, I was the smallest, youngest and everything little in class and for a long time I thought it was a terrible decision I made. Thankfully, bullying wasn’t so crazy but it happened a lot because they always picked on the little guy. Generally however, I think there were times then that I think I might have made a mistake but I also couldn’t go home and say it because they’d be like “We told you so”, so I held back a lot of that. I look at it now and I know that it definitely shaped me, not necessarily because I went through life fast but there are also certain things I experienced with the kind of people I experienced it with because they were older than me so my thinking was a lot more mature than it should’ve been. I always thought ahead of myself because I was hanging with people who were 4-5 years older than me and those were my classmates, my “peers”, because of how early I went to school. I look back at those times; a lot of life-long friendships were formed then that I’m still very cool with now because of the way they reasoned and the kind of conversations we have built overtime. So probably it would be that because I remember I regretted doing that but I look back and I’m grateful it happened because something came out of it.
Are there any contemporary fathers, maybe even within the entertainment space, that you enjoy their parenting style or talk to or exchange ideas with?
It’s still in my circle. A lot of my friends are still in the industry, so there’s Tunde, there’s Banky, there’s Olamide, Segun, these are people who are all dads now as well. We talk a lot. It is also interesting because we’ve had a group chat from BBM days down to WhatsApp. It’s probably been 12 years now that we’ve been chatting as a group of people and it’s interesting how our conversations have evolved now. Half the time on our WhatsApp group is baby pictures and cute pictures of our children so it is always like “Look at these old men” *laughs*. So we do a lot of talking which is interesting because we also have kids in different age groups. Segun for instance has early teenage twins, we have me who my kids are just starting to bloom as toddlers, we have Banky with a baby, so we’re in different phases, and then have people always asking for advice “What did you do when this happened? Or what should I expect”, we have a lot more of those conversations and I think that really helps; sharing tips and ideas, understanding that okay, this is not completely unusual that this is happening to you, so I think this is more for me in that circle than anything else. Looking from a distance, out of the circle, I always say things always look shiny when you are afar but when you look deep, you realise that there’s really not a lot to admire here. So I don’t know that there’s anyone else that I look at and I’m like “Oh! I’d want that” because I don’t know what’s really happening. You only see the glossy pictures and the events, packaging, so it’s hard to say.
In financing the family aspect, tell me an anecdote of a typical day in your life as a dad.
My body clock unfortunately wakes me up at 5:30 AM, no matter when I sleep and it drives me nuts. 6 – 6:30 AM, the girls are definitely in the room bouncing on the bed, it doesn’t matter if you’re awake or not. They then try to cuddle up with you for another 20 to 30 minutes before going to take a shower. By then I’m up from the bed as well as they get ready for school, I’m making my coffee and breakfast. When they’re going to school, I would have had breakfast, hit the gym, come back, and do my work. When they come back from school, if it’s the day I’m working from home, they’ll probably meet me at home. They have swimming classes once in a while; if I’m available, I drive them to the swimming class which they are doing amazing at by the way and I hope they go to the Olympics someday. Maybe that’s the one that’ll be bringing tennis money by then *laughs*. So we do swimming classes, come back and then what I try to do now is have a lot of conversations with Jewel because Ruby is still forming her words more. She gets very inquisitive, which I like, even though it gets very annoying sometimes because one question leads to ten million others. Also she’s now reading, so we have some of these papers and pages around then we read them together till I get tired and order her to go take a nap. Then I have my breaks when I watch something on the TV or spend time on social media or whatever the case may be. Typical day as a dad may be completely different from my typical day because there are times when I’m out of the house 10 to 12 hours and I just see them before they go to school and not see them till the next day, so it depends on how my work schedule works.
Share with us a “kids say the darndest things” moment.
Jewel is very quick-witted. She has quick comebacks where she mumbles something and you ask her what she said and she goes “I wasn’t talking to you”. These are things I know I could never have told my parents *laughs* but then you can’t hit her because she actually wasn’t talking to you, right? So was she wrong in saying that? You know it’s like you also want to do right by her because are you going to yell at her for saying she wasn’t talking to you because she actually wasn’t talking to you.
Despite Nigeria gradually stepping away from archaic beliefs of a male child being better than the female, it’s still very much a conversation. What is your honest opinion about this?
My honest opinion is that: screw the world for thinking that; and I’m being very honest. Anybody who knows me knows that this thing doesn’t matter to me because I’ve seen life enough where whatever the gender was, each one could actually be the one who excels or bring this famous light that Nigerians look for into the family, while the other one who you thought was going to be the shiny light ends up screwing up the entire family so I’ve never been one to bother about things like that. I’ve seen too many examples of great women being the ones who excel after you’ve waited for a son for so long. I don’t think these things honestly matter and I’m thankful I’m that way, that it doesn’t matter to me. Up until Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the last 3 or 4 American presidents were all girl dads and it didn’t limit their chances of becoming presidents. It didn’t change that they became great people, neither did it change that their children became great people. So I just find this thing ridiculous. I don’t think they will ever go away and it’s not just a Nigerian thing. You have people in China when they had the one-child policy and pregnant women were having scans and getting an abortion after discovering it’s a girl. There’s a story of a woman who had 6 abortions because she wanted to have a son as her only child. So it’s a thing everywhere. For me, I’m just thankful that I’m not that way. I mean if God blesses me with one, I’m fine.
How important is it to you to instill those values in both your daughters and in the society at large by your actions?
Oh extremely. My children don’t have a choice because they are going to live it with the way my wife and I are going to conduct ourselves and our lives, so it’s inevitable that they understand that you go through life with the knowledge that you are your own person and you are good enough. Because you’re a woman doesn’t mean that you can’t do certain things or be certain things; and the fact that the other person is a man doesn’t automatically make them the enemy either. So those are the things that we’re going to hopefully instill in them. Society at large, I do my part. I’m not one to force my opinions on people and I also understand that a lot of things take time to change. I’m not the type who’s going to carry placards and move about, I believe in also living and people seeing in your life what you represent, which is what I do. So for example, on social media, my opinions are usually very clear. I may not be blatant or vehement about it but you understand where I stand with each topic and I believe that’s all that matters. So yeah, it is very important to me because I have a mother, a sister, a wife and daughters and even without having those, I exist in a society where women exist and I don’t think that is a conversation that should still be debated the way it’s been.
I’ve been keeping this conversation within the frames of fatherhood. Big Brother.
Do I feel like a father to the housemates? *Laughs*
Do you feel like a father to the housemates?
No, of course, I don’t.
More like a big brother then? No pun intended.
To some. And I always say this to the housemates: my tent is extremely open, but I also don’t force anybody into the tent, so for people who understand or feel the need to reach out
So for example, I know that you and Mike have quite a good relationship. I saw a video of you and your wife visiting him; he just became a father not quite long ago as well. Do you feel like you’ve given him a few tips on fatherhood?
Yes, he’s reached out a few times to ask questions and of course, I give him answers. I’m not a cagey brother in fatherhood, so I share my experiences on what I know. I don’t have an issue with things like that. Like I said, anybody who reaches out, no matter who you are, I always respond even when social media thinks “Oh Ebuka hates this person”, things are not that deep for me.
More kids on the cards for you?
Err… No. My wife and I are still having that conversation. I’m fine with two kids but I’m also open to more kids, so it’s not a closed door. However, if it closes now, I’m extremely okay, but if we’re going to have one more, I’m comfortable with that as well. So it’s probably a yes and no from me.
Will you get a vasectomy?
Why should I? I mean I’m not trying to not have kids anymore for my entire life. It’s not that deep for me.
But they are reversible…
I don’t want to be able to find out. I mean it’s not like I want to have a gazillion kids but why do I want to just end that possibility? I could be 80 years old and just be like you know what… If madam is still very able to *laughs*. What if the kids are grown up and gone and we’re a little lonely *laughs*