By Yemisi Suleiman
Omodele Akintokun is a young Nigerian artiste whoâ€™s making waves outside the shores of this country. From Owo, in Ondo State, AkintokunÂ was born in Jos, where she had her early education. An Electrical Engineering, at the University of Ilorin, she has a strongÂ passion forÂ expressing her Africaness with her style and dress sense.
Recently Esther Onyegbula encounteredÂ her at an event, where she speaks on a number of issues botheringÂ her personal style, turban identity, music, career, challenges, marriage and joy of motherhood.
Her definition of style
Style basically for me is an identity, you have to be careful concerning what you put on. The first thing that strike anyone thatâ€™s meeting you for the first time is the way you look.
For me,Â style is my turban and beads which portray my Africaness. Looking at me, you will agree that you are beholding the elegance of an artiste. For me, portraying Africaness and the beauty of a Nigeria woman in a way that signifies prestige and honour going by my dress senseÂ and decorative element.
What inspires your dress sense?
Right now, the entire world have their eyes on African as many experts have early opined that this is the millennium of the black continent. Basically, this is the time for every one of us to begin to express our Africaness, to show our strong point and goodness as Africans. Thatâ€™s where I draw my inspiration from.
Each time, I travel out of the country, people always want to know whether I come from Africa. And I have always answered in the affirmative. I am a Nigerian. And they wouldÂ wonder whether thatâ€™s the way Nigerian women dresses, covering their heads.
But I would explainÂ to them thatÂ most of women cover their hairs because of the fact thatÂ an African woman generally in terms of our culture has their heads covered which stands as symbol of dignity and royalty.
What fashion item you wouldnâ€™t want to be associated with?
If it is indecent dressing, then I canâ€™t be seen associating myself with such. UnholyÂ exposing of your body and cleavage exposure. I try my best to stay away from such dressing sense. Also I try to be a good ambassador to my daughter, because I would want her to grow up appreciating the fact thatÂ a woman should dress with dignity.
Whoâ€™sÂ your style icon?
Well, itâ€™s a bit difficult to mention anybody because I actually have a lot of people in mind. I love Erica Brado in terms of her presentation; I also like Tracy Chapman because of her hair, the way she carries her hair, and also for her music. I donâ€™t have one person in mind who I can refer to as my style icon, but anybody that has a strong respect for ethnicity in their style that strikes my attention.
Fashion items you cherish dearly?
I think, itâ€™s my beads, once the beads are oriental, I actually love them. I like beads from all over African, I like beads from South American. I like beads from everywhere. Once they are colourful and oriental I do like them.
When actually did you go into music?
My journey into the world of music started about eight years ago. I have always been in the church choir, but some how along the line,Â I knew I had grounds to conquer in the field of music, and that was how I was encouraged to go into the studio to record my first album. And after a while some other people encouraged me to put my words into writing and that was how I became a songwriterÂ I have been at it for about eight years now, and Iâ€™m hoping to get better as the years go bye.
Before you went into music what were you doing?
I was working in the Information Technology sector. Iâ€™m still working as an Information Technology analyst with the organisation which I workingÂ with- Virgin Atlantic airline. I studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Ilorin but later, veered into Computer and Information Systems arena.
But music is my passion. I havenâ€™t been able to let go, and for now, I still love and enjoy both, but when the time is right one will definitely give way for the other.
How do you describing yourÂ kind of music
Basically, my music is a blend of soul and jazz.Â I also, do some expressions in reggae and at the same time, Iâ€™m evolving. My music can still undergo some transformation with the passage of time. I am very objective and dynamic. Overtime, Iâ€™m very open to what it will eventually evolve into. So, it is a bit difficult to box my kind of music.
How have you been able to manage the home front, your demanding career in IT, and music?
Itâ€™s crazy, but what has really helped me is the understanding my husband showed in respect ofÂ everything that Iâ€™m involved in. My husband encouraged me and never express any fear to allowÂ me shine, he is here with me at this event, he is my manager, we work together. Working together makes it easy for us; we donâ€™t feel like we have to be apart from each other. Most times, we are at the same events, while I am performing, he is there in his own capacity as an event manager.
So when we are outside we are collogues but when we are at home we are partners and friends. So it makes it actually very interesting. And I also have very understanding in-laws; my mother in-law right now is watching my two months old baby, so that I can perform at any event when ever the need arises. It is the grace of God and also all about having very understanding family.
What would you say, marriage has taught you?
I have been married for four years now.Â A lot of people say that marriage is a school and I think, I believe so. I have learn to live with someone else apart from myself, and then I have to learn to sacrifice as well asÂ compromising certain things.Â It has been a very, very interesting journey that is still unfolding.