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Success secret mum taught me – Mrs Tokunbo Edun

By Bianca Iboma

Mrs. Iyinlola  Olatokunbo Edun is the Administrator of Grace High School Gbagada, Lagos, the school that produced Nollywood super actress, Funke Akindele. The school was founded in 1968 by her mother, Grace Bisola Oshinowo, who wanted the children living in the rural areas of Lagos (as Gbagada was at the time) to have access to qualitative education.

Following the demise of the mother in 2011, she took over the leadership of the school, to keep the vision of the mother, which is developing children through qualitative education alive, so that they can impact society. In this interview, Edun talks about her mother, and says that mothers are super heroes.

Tell us your experience with your mum as a child?

Growing up as a child, I would say I had an amazing moment with my mum. I was the only daughter and I had three brothers. So my mum established a bond between us. She showered me with so much love and I was her chat partner. She listened to me when no one else did. She was my biggest supporter and number one fan. She always encouraged me because I was the quiet type. Sure, I could do some wrong things. With just her eyes of love, she would scold and cuddle me at the same. When she got angry or felt disappointed in me, her forgiving nature was displayed, and I tried to understand her.

However, sometimes I was not spared, because she also used the rod. My mum was highly disciplined and instilled morals in us with so much love. She knew what was best for me and I will always appreciate her for that. She could tell my next action before even I expressed it, and she could judge a situation better than I and predict an end result. And so far, every prediction has been right.

How would you describe your teenage years with her?

My mum told me specifically that I can achieve anything I set my minds to achieve. I took the message and grew with it. She gave me the comfort and skills I needed and taught me how to take healthy risks. She pushed me outside my comfort zone and I was able to survive because I drew inner strength to face any challenge. As a teenager I was given N5.00 as my pocket money. I was in Queens College, Yaba, and I only spent N3.00 because my mum taught me how to save. When she started her school, I was learning the art of taking care of children whenever I was with her. I am pretty much my mum’s double. We share similar emotions and deal with things in similar ways. I even look like her! Every time I went to her with a problem, she would tell me of a similar situation, and instantly it lifted my spirits up. Knowing that I was not alone gave me hope. She knew what was good for me. Even if at the time I didn’t agree, the end result always led me to agree with her. Sometimes the reality check she gave me is the reality check I needed to achieve it.

She was the person that kept me going when I felt that I had messed up. When I felt like giving up, she was there to cheer me on and get me back on my feet.

I know that there is nothing I could do that would make her less proud of me. She knew the way I thought and the way I felt. She could sense when something was up and she knew how to help me.

She was the only one that stood by my side through whatever mistakes I made while growing up. She helped me come through things and I was able to achieve them. The fact that I was just trying alone made her proud.

My mum was someone I trusted with everything; she never disapproved of anything I said or did but guarded my decision and especially my movement. She was there to counsel me and ensure that I took precaution. She accepted me for who I am, and she accepted the people in my life into hers.

Talking about personality, what kind of person was she?

Mum was a very strong woman, and a very bold and outspoken person. Once she set a goal, she would pursue and achieve it. My mum had a loveable personality that did not stop her from disciplining us for any misconduct! She always made other people laugh by saying a joke or two. I have never been able to match her socialisation skills, they are beyond my capabilities. Her compliments on whatever you were wearing would just make you want to give her a hug. She would point out the shoes or earrings and say that they look good on you.

Mothers are not only gifts, but they are true blessings from God. They give birth and have to raise us. They are the real super heroes that come to our rescue. Nothing is more powerful than a mother’s love for her children. A good mother will do anything in her way to protect them and make sure that they are well fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated. Although no mother is perfect, she has the power to influence how her children will grow up.

My mum worked so hard in raising children, and not just her biological children. She supported their dreams and aspirations, and helped them to reach it. Your mum may not be your best friend, but mine happened to be my best friend though she is late.

What made her happy?

My mum was a cheerful person in nature. She cherished every moment we spent together, because she ensured it was memorable and very eventful.

What do you regret about her death?

Yes, my mum passed on before her great grandchildren were born. She never met them but God gave her the privilege to nurture her grandchildren.

What exactly did you miss about your mum?

The regular communications and interaction I had with her. We always discussed as if we were siblings. She was my friend. We could talk about anything.

What was her favourite meal?

Vegetable soup, which she ate with solid food. She also loved beans. Depending on what she was eating, my mum loved vegetable a lot.

What lessons did you learn from her?

She always said that words were like eggs, and once they go out, you can never take them back. She taught me how to tame my tongue and build a personality that has become the woman I am today.

How did you become the school administrator?

My mum gave birth to me when she was 31 years old. The age gap between us was large but we were each other’s best friend. She died in 2011 at the age of 82. I was a very quiet and reserved person. I left home for the first time at the age of 16, to England for further studies. My mum founded the school based on her passion to impact knowledge in 1968. She wanted children to get qualitative education because of her background and story. In 2018, precisely January 8, the school will be 50 years old. When mum started back then I used to assist her in the school. I was learning the art of teaching though it was not my choice of career. I wanted to be a university professor but my mother insisted I come back home to assist in managing the school. That was how my journey to becoming the administrator of the school began.

I put in 35 years officially at the time I started working with her but had always helped out in my early years and even as a teenager. Although the number of years I assisted my mum was a process in my life because I was actually learning. Funke Akindele, the Nollywood actress, was a child I taught. It’s been a journey for me and my mum.


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