Toke Makinwa’s new book; “On becoming” has been the talk of the town since it’s release last weekend. The tell all book goes into astonishing detail of the media personalities public marriage to fitness expert, Maje Ayida and his shocking philandering ways which resulted in two children outside their marriage and the resulting public humiliation Toke suffered as a result. We know, it sounds like a Jackie Collins novel but it isn’t. It’s real and she wrote all about it.
At only 141 pages, the book is a relatively small and quite easy to get through. The drama ensues from the first chapter with Maje’s confession “She’s nine months pregnant”. Toke describes in detail how she breaks down, tossing and turning on the floor, unable to comprehend how her husband has stepped out on their marriage and had a baby with someone else. The tone of the book is very conversational and you get the feeling like you are being told some gossip, you really have no business listening to.
But let’s face it – everyone loves gossip and so it is quite easy to get hooked. The surprising and refreshing part of the book however, is when Toke goes away from the specific details of her marriage and touches on her childhood memories, the loss she experienced early in life from losing two of her parents which understandably shaped her into the insecure girl she became, looking for love anywhere she could find it.
In the book, we finally meet the real Toke – the human Toke – the scared girl who made a mistake by falling for the fantasy of love and how she broke down to rebuild the pieces back together to ‘become’ the woman she is today. If you want the word for word
tea details – we suggest you buy the book.
But here are 10 useful things we learnt from Toke’s experience.
The flags are always there. They are bright red and you see them like you see the sun every morning. But for some reason, we always want to ignore the flags and pretend they are not there. Toke saw the red flags with Maje from the very beginning. She found women’s clothing in his apartment, female ID cards, women side-eying her in Restaurants, friends and family warning her about him. But she made excuses for him and believed his lies. The flags are always there, you just have to decide if you want to ignore them or face them.
This may be the single most important take out we got from the book. Toke made a point to make sure she never relied financially on Maje and this probably allowed her to finally get a divorce. It’s so important to have your own money so no matter what happens, you always have a way out. It’s important for you, it’s important if you have kids and it’s also important for your husband to know that you can take care of yourself – if need be.
Toke grew up in a strong Christian home and her strong values are definitely what saved her. In the book, she talks about the power of prayer and how she wouldn’t have survived the humiliation and heartbreak without the Grace of God. Many times, we look to people for advice when we are going through hard times. But more often than not, faith is really the only thing you need to pull you through tough times.
There is always that voice. It’s not always loud, but it is there. Many time, like red flags, we like to pretend that we can’t hear the voice inside – the one telling you exactly what you don’t want to hear. We can all save ourselves some heartbreak, if we just listen to the voice inside.
Toke should have never written a book. Toke should have never left her husband. Toke was a fool for staying. People will always have something to say. You cannot win by trying to please other people. So, do what is right for you and keep it pushing. The world will adjust.
“Nigerian women have mastered the game of shame. Society shames us, the media shames us, our families shame us, and then we have to go ahead to heap whatever shame is left on ourselves”- Toke Makinwa
Chapter 9 is titled ‘Shame’ and it may be just the most poignant part of the book. Toke talks about the shame she dealt with from being a once ‘relationship expert’ to having a public divorce. The shame of failure that is branded on women (by other women and men) is something that is prevalent in our culture and really must stop.
She came from humble beginning. She lost her parents at the age of 8. But she didn’t let her past define her future. No matter where you start from, you never know where you will end up – so keep pushing.
At the end of the day, thats all you can really do. Hate her or love her – she is standing in her truth. Maje may have a different truth and he can very well stand in his if he wants to (just please don’t write a book – TV interview perhaps?). Toke took all the negative stories surrounding her life and decided to tell the world her version of events and stand in her truth, no matter how ugly or how sad – it’s hers. And that’s a beautiful thing.
When are you going to understand that you need to decide things for yourself? Just because marrying someone will make your mother happy, does not mean you go out and marry someone. We need to start putting ourselves first before other people in order to truly be happy.
Toke finally took responsibility in the last few pages of the book. She took responsibility for her part in the failure of her marriage. She owned up to her flaws, insecurities and humanity. A lot of the times when bad things happen, we tend to play the blame game and rarely own up to the fact that we must take accountability in order to move on from the situation with a clear conscience.
“I have good days and bad days and those in between. I keep learning forgiveness. I keep growing in faith and I will continue to follow the light”- Toke Makinwa