By Japhet Davidson
Bisi Adewale is a family coach and marriage counsellor. A prolific writer who has written over 92 bestselling books on family life. He is also an international speaker on marriage, parenting and family life and host of Family Life-Line on radio and television and the host of popular Lagos Singles and Married Conference.
How did the Lagos State University-trained accountant venture into writing, what are the secrets of his success, how to improve reading culture and how has his books impacted on the lives of the readers? Bisi spoke on these and other issues. Excerpts:
How did you venture into writing and what is the secret?
I started writing when I entered into the ministry and discovered that one of the best ways to pass my message across is to document it. I can only be in one place at a time, but if you publish 10,000 books, the books can be in 10,000 places at the same time.
I read something in a book several years ago which says, “if you have a message and you don’t want it to perish, publish it.” So I began to document all my messages, ideas and discoveries as far as family life is concerned. The vision for our books is to write in every area of family life, that is why we have books that address many issues.
We have books that address sexual abuse, parenting, in-laws, finance in marriage etc. Currently, I am writing one on domestic violence in marriages. We have 16 books on parenting. When I discovered that writing one book on parenting will not solve the problem, I wrote a lot of books on parenting, parenting adults, teens, pre-teens, toddlers etc.
For me, I never thought it will be this much, but along the line, needs began to come and reasons to write to make sure we preserve our nature. We know that books are for posterity, so you have to do something for posterity.
The number one secret of my writing ability is God. I was a very lazy writer while in school and that is why I always ascribe all the glory to God. I paid people to write notes for me while in secondary school and in the university, when I missed a note, I photocopy it. But the story changed after my first book, Mother in-law, which was a commandment from God, I was instructed to pick up my pen and write; about 20 years now; that was when the grace came.
Another secret was when I was commissioned to write Bible manuals for my church for a whole year, about 52 topics. I sat down and began to write and grace came, by the time I finished it, I could’t stop writing again.
Another secret is that I love solitude and I am an analytic thinker. I love being alone and I love the middle of the night. I also enjoy being driven. When someone is driving me, I will be with my Ipad and be writing and that is what I miss anytime I drive myself. Anytime I go on a long journey and someone is driving me, I write and before the end of the journey, a whole book will be ready.
I also enjoy listening to other people’s messages on family life, I buy books about family life. I have a full fledged library and now with the internet, I do a lot of research, follow a lot of handles, and subscribe to websites that send me materials. I have learnt to dig deep, I cannot catch up with ideas that are coming to me. The idea is let’s put it down, let’s publish, somebody will need it one day.
On your new book.
Preventing your children from sexual abuse is a book I have been gathering materials for, making research for a long time but could not make up my mind to write it until something jolted me. In the middle of the night one day, I got a WhatsApp video of little children with their school uniform having oral sex at the back of their school and someone videoed them.
They were laughing and enjoying it. The way they were doing it shows that they might have learnt it from adults. That night, I said look at something I have been procrastinating, at least if I had done that, I would have saved one child from people that abuse them. So that night, I sat down and started writing and did not stop, I wrote it day and night for three days until I finished it. The book will make parents know that there is something that is called child sexual abuse and that the people that perpetuate the crime are not strangers, but insiders.
How to protect them from sexual abuse
By seeking knowledge. We should stop living in fool’s paradise; that is, stop pretending that nothing will happen to them or protect them with the blood of Jesus. We need to educate the children about sex; that is why I wrote books on sex education for teens, preteens and toddlers.
They are manuals parents can use to protect their children and also for them to know that sex education is not sexualisation and other steps to take to protect their children. Parents must also learn to ask questions about their children, especially when they see some strange behaviours.
On how to improve reading culture among youths
Reading culture can only be improved when parents learn to read in the presence of their children. We are saying that children are into phones and internet but we fail to recognise that they follow their parents. When you are travelling on a plane outside, you will see white people reading books but our people will be busy looking at their phones. I advise parents not to get smart phones for their children until they are out of secondary school. Parents also need to let their children know what reading is all about, get books for them and force them to read it and share the stories with them.
Reading must be a culture, but before it becomes a culture, it must be a habit. If you want the next generation to read, let the present generation show them the way to go about it.
How the books have impacted readers
One thing that kept me going are the testimonies of people who read our books. I met a lot of married women that read one of my books, Pure Gold, over 18 years ago and they confessed that it was the book that made them to be pure till marriage. Another book, Stronger than Diamond, made a masturbation addict of over 16 years to stop after reading the book.
Wives versus mothers-in-law, when will the battle cease? made a woman to reconcile with the mother-in-law and peace reigned. For my latest book, Protecting your children from sexual abuse, the testimonies have been tremendous, many have been calling to testify. Another one, Fight for that marriage, made a man to call her divorced wife for settlement, the man confessed that he observed his error after reading the book and they are now back.
The books have been so impactful in different ways and that is what has kept us going.