Thursday, April 26, 2007
THE BOLD, THE COOL, THE BEAUTIFUL
Met up with a princess of the Ibru Dynasty, Elvina, today. After discussing the project she had in mind, I picked up a pen to interview her for these series.
Laspapi: What does your name, ‘Elvina’, mean?
El: “Friend of the Elf”.
Laspapi: Friend of…?
El: Why my mum named me that is beyond comprehension. Maybe she thought I’d like short people. (She laughs) Seriously though, my mum thought of naming me after her father ‘Edvin’ but didn’t like ‘Edvina’ so she chose ‘Elvina’. We found out later, it meant ‘friend of the elf’.
Laspapi: The meaning of Ibru?
El: That name has history. It was originally “Igburu”. It means wrestler. It also means shelter. My great-grand dad was a warrior, a wrestler, a protector of people. He was the Olotu (a field marshal) and he acted as a cover or protector for his people.
Laspapi: Your native name?
El: Ese-wure (Kindness lasts forever) I was born 2 months early (May 22), exactly a week after my grand-dad died. He had told my grand-mum, “I’m coming back now, as a girl”. He said the girl would have his heart…
Laspapi: Have you ever been in love?
El: (laughs) I think so…
Laspapi: Define love then
El: Love is God and vice-versa. Love is also when it doesn’t matter how many people are in the room, if he’s not there, the party doesn’t function for you. Love is kindness, reaching out. Love isn’t blind. That’s B^&l S*&t. It sees very clearly.
Laspapi: You have a company called 2ce as nice… Why?
El: My size...
Laspapi: What does the company do?
El: It’s a production company. We’re partnering with Freemantle and Pan African Entertainment to produce West African Idol.
Laspapi: Is that profitable?
El: Quite so.
Laspapi: Who do you look up to?
El: My late mother. She was beautiful, intelligent and hardworking. But it never distracted her from looking after 7 children. She taught me humility. She was half German, half Cameroonian, which is why I’m so fair-complexioned .
Laspapi: If you had only 5 minutes to leave the country, what would you take?
El: My nieces and nephews and my 10 god-children. As many kids as I can gather.
Laspapi played free association with Elvina. She’d give the first word she could think of when a word is mentioned.
Laspapi: Clothes maker?
El: Anything African and comfortable. No favourite designer because they don’t do clothes for big people.
El: DKNY, Princess by Vera Wang
Laspapi: Where will you be 10 years from now?
El: I’ll be married with 2 kids and start an orphanage (It’s a big project. An orphanage that’s really the size of a village). I’d like to be a well-respected and powerful entertainment power house like an African Oprah Winfrey.
Laspapi: Why Tattoos? (I counted 3 on Elvina, one on the bicep, one on the leg and a fresh one on her right forearm)
El: They’re pretty (Laspapi agrees)
Laspapi: A word for young people who strive to be like you?
El: 1)Put God in all you do
2) Never compromise your sexuality as a woman because you think it’ll get you somewhere
3) Being stubborn is a good asset. If people say you can’t because- you’re too ugly, you’re fat, Nigeria has no infrastructure so you can’t do “West African Idol”-press on. Being obstinate has advantages.
She adds, I come from a wealthy background and was privileged to have a good education so I don’t want to say “work hard” and run the risk of sounding patronizing, but being able to say, I CAN and I WILL, goes a long way. Look at Oprah’s background and where she is now. One needs a positive spirit.
Laspapi: What would you like to be remembered for?
El: Changing the life of at least one child for the better.