Mrs Josephine Oboh-Macleod and the pupils.
Chief Josephine Oboh-Macleod’s profile reads like an encyclopedia of different personalities. She is an administrator, entrepreneur, artist, art and culture advocate and collector, photographer and a philanthropist with special love for the aged and children.
And she is a politician. Born in Lagos, Josephine is a British-Nigerian citizen and member of the Conservative party. In fact, she is a board member of Scottish Conservative Friends of BAME. BAME being Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, a UK demographic. She enjoys gardening, golf, walking, reading and music.
After her education at Newbury College, Boston, USA, and an MBA at the University of Surrey, Josephine’s early career took her into management consultancy, working for a number of multinational organisations. She also co-founded one of the first boutique art hotels in Lagos.
She relocated to the UK with her Scottish husband and twin daughter and son. Since, she has volunteered across a range of charities and third sector organisations. This interest in charitable and community work led her to establish JOM Charity, promoting the enhancement of well-being through art and culture.
Her humanitarian activities earned her a traditional title in her native Edo State, Nigeria, and a honorary title in Lagos State, Nigeria. In this interview, she speaks of her special linkage of politics, her charity work and reaching children early with the right values.
You have been into charity all your life
Yes. I believe that you must give back to your community and thrive to leave this world as a better place for our future generations.
Why children charity at schools
The children are our future, so grooming them early and passing down knowledge is one of the key to their future empowerment.
Josephine Oboh MacLeod, what do you actually do with them and why?
I volunteer and facilitate gardening, environment preservation, nature watch, storytelling coupled with music and dance, speeches, art, craft, photography and so on.
I do these in an interactive manner so that it’s fun for the children and not boring.
How does it impact our society?
I am impacting positively on the general well-being of our society by grooming the children young. It also gives the children happy memories of growing up. Directly, these help the children appreciate nature and humanity.
How do you link what you do with politics and how beneficial?
As a politician, I am a servant of the people and one of my tasks is to contribute positively to the community and ensure a better quality of life for all, especially our children who are our future heroes.
You are known to believe that we should catch the young one at an early age in politics. Why?
Teach them young and they become empowered and value what God and nature has given them and they join to preserve and create a sustainable environment. They become contributors and not takers and destroyers.
They also learn their rights early that governance is about giving back and creating and sustaining a better society for all. They become groomed as socially, and responsible politicians.
You are an artist, and run a charity. How do you link these with politics?
There is humanity in art and charitable work and this is a powerful tool to use in politics if one is to serve the people correctly. We have to care for our youth, elders, under-privileged and those with other challenges. This is the focus of my charity and the message I send through my art.
How do you think ethnic minority children can be captured into politics early? And what does government need to do in your perspective?
They need more support from the government in the area of good education, apprenticeship programmes and jobs close to subjects that they studied after graduation. They have to be empowered and supported through mentoring programmes.
Moreover, the government needs to give more to the schools. Also, government can help by funding pre-schools or heavily subsidising their education, to give working parents, especially mothers who in some cases carry more of the brunt of parenting, some relief.
Children must have outside play and learning activities that gives them a break from cyberspace and screens to safeguard their mental and physical health. I teach them the importance of plants to our environment and that food do not just come from a supermarket shelves. I teach them the importance of farming for our survival.
True enough, we can gradually get children to have interest in what is happening around us. To me, that also is part of grooming them young to take interest in politics.
Allow me to quote the former President of the United States, Obama: “Education is not a name of any degree or certificate that can be shown to others as a proof. Education is the name of our attitude, actions, language and behaviour with others in real life.”
So, if I may add to this wonderful saying: “Education starts from teaching our young ones these values from an early age.”
What’s the reason, drive and outcome of going for gardening work with school kids?
It’s amazing. Kids love gardening. The point is that whatever you want children to learn, it is best to start early. They see it as fun, relaxing and the end result of seeing what they have planted blossom is satisfying. In order words catch them young.
I also find it elating when I give back to those that will eventually run the world. In a way, it is one of my ways to gradually introduce politic to the kids; we do engage in conversations while working.
I want to say I’m proud that as a politician I’m certain that I can impact a lot of positive changes in society, especially through the children.