Tina Mba is a mother of two (a boy and a girl). This pleasant lady tells http://nigeriafilms.com how she was once in a relationship that nearly took her life and because of that ugly experience she says she is not missing marriage one bit.
Can we get into your world?
Im Tina Mba, Im definitely female and definitely Nigerian. Im a mother of two, Im an actress. Im Igbo from Enugu State. Im a Wa-wa woman, (laughs).
In olden days if you called a Wa-wa woman Wa-wa she would be annoyed but now you call yourself Wa-wa which is somehow derogatory?
Yes, I know. They have this derogatory song they sing like Wa-wa Ota akpiri nama (Wa-wa that chews cow bugs) (laughs). Then they had another one which was Na ya ukwu, O ji okpa anu tea (her master drinks tea with Okpa) Now, Im not annoyed over that. Im proud to describe myself as Wa-wa. I think that makes us a unique people. The word Wa-wa means no, never! They are very upright; they can be very stubborn too. That is why they are Wa-wa people.
Most of their women are known to be beautiful including you.?
Yes, they are; thank you for the compliment.
What are your childhood memories?
Im the first of seven children. My childhood was very eventful. I had a father who listened. He was my very good friend. He is dead now; he died 28 years ago, in 1981. He was a disciplinarian, but he was more of a friend. He taught me basically 70 per cent of the things I know and do now. Then, it didnt make much sense because he had a way of influencing people. My father took care of a lot of people, so I took after him in a way, unconsciously. I look very much like him. My father was a very finicky person when it comes to keeping clean and tidy. Im like that. My father was an only son. In fact, there were only two of them, his sister and himself.
We are seven and Im the first. But Im like the mother even on location; thats my dad. My dad was like that. He took care of a lot of people. So, my childhood was basically that of love. My father was a very realistic person. He was a philosopher in a way. He wanted you to put into practice things you learnt in life. For instance, there were some books he used to give me then that was all about money and how hard it is to make money and easy to spend it. The books didnt really make much sense to me then but now I realize that those are the practicality still are on ground.
You must love yourself first then you love others. If you dont love yourself, you cant love other people. And if you dont love yourself, you cant love God because you cant even understand what love is. So, because my father loved himself, he loved other people, he loved God. I had a lot of fun while I was growing up.
Were you a tomboy?
I had always been and I still am (laughs). And my mother thought it was sickening, my father in a way was proud, yes because he used to look at me and say, you should have been a boy. Sometimes, he would whip me and say, as a girl you dont do that. It took me so many years to learn how to tie the wrapper, from right to left. I used to tie mine to the left. All those things were an indicator of my Tom boyish attitude. Basically, my childhood was beautiful.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Im a very restless person. I have a garden behind my house, I work on it. I weed, I wash my car.
You wash your car yourself?
Yes, I wash my car myself. I dont have a house help. Sometimes they come; they dont fit into my lifestyle so I sent them away peacefully. And then you get the older ones, I mean women actually, mothers and they have too many things on their minds and they cant concentrate. I just said to myself, you can do it. Im home alone now, my kids are away in school, so what do I need them for? I just basically do my stuff myself. I like to work, I like to clean my house myself. So, having another person in my house is like an intrusion. Then, I like my own company, having people uninvited is also for me an intrusion. I always feel like, oh can they just go!
Apart from cleaning and working, what else do you like doing?
I read, I watch a lot of TV, I try to write sometimes.
Whats your love life like?
Yeah, I have a relationship, ehm, he is not around, usually not around (laughs). But whenever he is around, we make the best of it and Im happy with it.
You mean he is not your hubby?
No, no, having a relationship and being happy doesnt mean I have to get married. I have two kids.
Are you not missing marriage?
No, Im not missing marriage, trust me, Im not (laughs). Honestly, people have asked and asked and I keep telling them that Id rather be happy for 10 years than be unhappy for one hour because if you are unhappy, it means you would age, you will have hypertension and you wont take care of yourself. And you cant love other people because you are unhappy. So, Im a free bird; my relationship is fantastic. The person understands me, he knows me; we are friends basically. We have a lot in common. Perhaps, it is working for me because I have had a lot of experience you know, so I know how to handle certain things now better than I handled them before. So, it works for me and you know in marriage, the truth is this, you would pretend.
This is the truth! And we all know. You pretend a lot and I cant. My person is if Im not comfortable with the situation I would tell you sorry, I wont handle this. And they just think Im just arrogant. But those who understand just know that this is Tina, I cant be unhappy with a sister-in-law and she comes in I embrace her, I cant. I would tell you listen, Angela you know something, you messed up, can we sort it out then we can hug? So, if you dont like the truth, then you cant be my friend. So, for marriage, there is a lot of pretence and then because of the expectation of society, women take a whole lot of ill, men too suffer their own depending on the woman they are with. So, it is both ways. A man gets home from work and the first thing he is confronted with is a nagging, horrible looking wife. And she wasnt like that when they started. But right now, she thinks she is in control, she can do as she pleases. Your man slips away gradually and then your home is unhappy, what does he come home to?
The woman comes home from work, meets a man who nags, meets a man who wants to batter her, meets a man who thinks she is nothing, who reduces her orally, verbally with his words. He kills her spirit. When he is outside she is happy, once he gets to her gate, she begins to panic. I dont want to be a prisoner. I want to come home and just open my door and walk in and say hi and every one (laughs). Or other wise have a relationship that is happy because if marriage is going to make me unhappy, Id rather just be single. So, these are the reasons I am not married. So, for me, marriage is not a do or die thing. If it comes, it comes, if it doesnt come, it doesnt come. But I dont get into relationships hoping that it would end in marriage. I dont.
How about your mum, does she not disturb you about not getting married?
My mum is a staunch Christian, or what they call spiri co-co. My mum is Catholic to the core. And she is not just Catholic, she is Precious Blood, she is Legion of Mary, she is everything. So, for her, at some point, it was a problem really. She just thought; why cant you get married? Is not like you are not beautiful, is not that you are not nice, whats your problem?
Be honest with me, why have you chosen to remain single?
I have tried something close to a marriage but it didnt work. And I almost lost my life in the process. I have been battered, beaten, broken, I dont need it. I told my mother that she has two lovely grandchildren, that should please her. And she says yes. You know Igbo woman, she would just say enh Ada mba O, and I would say Ma. She would say you know, I went to Mrs. Okes house, her daughter has a baby and the woman just came back from Omugwo. (Laughs) And Im like oh really? Mama you have two. She would say no she is not complaining o! But it would be nice to have a son-in-law. I said dont worry Mama, if they grow on trees, I would pluck some for you. She would just laugh and I usually tell her not to worry that one day, a son-in-law could come. But the truth is that if it happens for me, it happens, if it doesnt maybe thats the way it is honestly. The gain of womanhood is bearing children and God has blessed me with two (a girl and a boy), lovely children, shikenah! Thats me! (Laughs). So, my mother worries, but cant complain anymore. But sometimes she would say hmm, Im going for a vigil, they say I should pray for my first daughter. And I would ask her, whats wrong with her? And she would say it would be nice to just have a man in her life (laughs). And Im like Mummy dont worry, Jehovah would give you your hearts desire. Mother Mary would bless you and she would be saying amen.
How come you are not baring your cleavages?
I know it is in vogue to bare cleavages now. For me it is perceptive, it is individualistic but generally speaking the problem is not just something you can just wipe away because the core of any society is their belief. Can I be honest in this interview?
Yes, please feel free.?
Okay Fine. If you want me to be honest, then look at Pentecostalism, they encourage girls wearing short skirts to church. If you can wear short skirt to church, then you can go naked on the streets. That is my own, Im saying if the church doesnt think there is a problem, then why should any other person care?
Dont you think some of our women are overdoing it?
How do you measure overdoing when I can leave my hair open to church, I can do any style I want, even if it is funky, and I can wear a short skirt suit in the name of suit but it is very short to church and nobody sees anything wrong? So, if I bring Bante (laughs) or Ogodo (pant) and (laughs)be bare chested, it is fashion. But then remember that as an actress as an artiste, as a Nigerian and as African, there were times when people wore Jigida, and they barely had things wrapped around them. You go to the villages you find some of our mothers that leave their chest bare. It was not offensive because morals were contained. You see a woman losing her wrapper to pee, you the man even a younger woman loosening quickly move away from there. Now they want to actually check out what you have under. So, our morals are decaying.
What puts you off ?
Disrespect! I dont like people who are disrespectful. I also dont like flippant people.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is losing my children. I dont even want to think about it.
The day I had my first child. The girl came first. Followed by the first day I enrolled her in school. My life really is weaved around my work and my children and my family. And then, my relationship comes with it. So, anything that makes me happy is what I live for.
When my father died in 1981. I could remember when he died, I didnt cry until after three months. And the day I cried, I did so from night till morning. I didnt know I had been in shock until somebody did something. My uncles wife, I had to go and live with them, she now brought the giant sized detergent. She said I should open my palm, I did and she poured some and said I should wash a hip of clothes. So, I remembered my father. That was my saddest day.
My father. Living role model right now is everybody around me-my children, my colleagues, people who are upright to a point, people who have achieved. I tap from you, I tap from your sincerity. I work on vibes, I say okay let me see what she has got, probably, you would give what I dont have. So, everything around me is a role model. Life is my role model.
How about women you admire?
Haa! Several of them. Abike Dabiri is one woman I have watched. I simply adore her. Erelu Dosumu I love. I once loved a woman known as Theodora Ufudu. The last time I saw her was when she came for a show in 1998 at the theatre. She came with her daughter; that was the last time I saw her. I like what Prof. Akunyili stands for. I love Onyeka Onwenu, I see her through her song titled: Ezinwanne. The song is her, she is a typical African woman. I respect her. I love lots and lots of women, women in banking. I adore the Mama Rasaki down my road who sells tomatoes because she is hard working. She wakes up at about four in the morning, gives bath to five children, feed them, cleans her house, take them off to school. And after which she would start selling her basket of tomatoes. She would first go to Oke Odo Market to buy a basket of tomatoes that is less than five thousand naira. She gets to where I would buy it about seven oclock in the morning. I respect every hard working African woman. Also that woman who, picks up a broom, comes to your house and says: Ma can I wash your gutter? They are the women I love.
Any other thing you want to add that I didnt ask?
The only thing I would like to add is basically about Lagos. We have seen a lot of beautiful things going on in Lagos. And I hope it will reflect in the attitude of those who live in Lagos. All the things that the government said we shouldnt do, we should please not do them. It cost a lot of money to have people sweep the streets everyday. It costs a lot of money to drain the gutters everyday. Please dont mess it up.