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In June 2015, news hit Nigerian media sites that Anita Solomon was pregnant by Maje Ayida, Toke Makinwa’s husband. The scandal lingered because his marriage to the media personality was only a year and six months old. Maje went on to make numerous public apologies on social media and gave an interview on the issue. However, Toke kept mum and has come up with this book a year after the scandal. This silence and mystery created a lot of buzz about the book which was released last week.
Now, I’m not much for trending topics. However, I love a good read, and I’m a fan of Toke’s vlog: Toke Moments, where she talks about relationships and other feminine issues, with updates every Wednesday. I’m not an avid follower and I don’t always agree with everything she says or suggests, however, her conversational style and her care-free attitude on-screen is entertaining and easy to relate to.
On Becoming Toke Makinwa is a page-turner, and I was done in less than 2 hours. I have no patience for slow plots and Toke didn’t keep me waiting. She went straight to the heart of her marital woes in the very first chapter titled Confession.
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th chapter focus on her childhood, marred by her parent’s horrific demise in a house fire, and the effect of this traumatic loss on her growing up. She describes her parents as dedicated Christians, who instilled their spiritual convictions in her, and her faith is palpable throughout this book.
Chapters 5, 6, and 7 focus on her love-life before and after meeting Maje, their meeting, the gifts, the romance, the unpleasant discoveries, his lies and infidelity prior to their marriage, the break-ups, empty apologies, and make-ups, and his first meeting with the other woman; Anita Solomon. She discusses her move to London for a fresh start and in search of career success on chapter seven, and her returned to Nigeria after her effort failed to pay off. This chapter also holds her discovery of Maje’s other son.
Chapter 8 discusses her discovery of Maje’s sex tape with Anita, her desperation to live up to Anita’s standards, including lightening her skin. She also discusses Maje’s indiscretions with a “business partner”, her resignation from the marriage and her focus on her work. Chapter 9 and 10 talk about the discovery that Anita was at full term, the scandal in the media and the shame. The loss of her endorsement deal, the feeling of failure and the criticism by other women for the failure of her marriage.
In Chapter 11, she toys with the idea of suicide and opens up about her shaky faith in God. Chapter 12 focuses on accepting her situation for the mess it was, moving out of their marital home and getting a new place. The 13th chapter focuses on forgiving Maje, Anita and herself. Their attempt at counselling and Maje’s incessant lying. It includes Toke’s conversation with Anita, and the discovery of the press release Maje had prepared for Pulse TV announcing their divorce.
The final Chapter 14, focuses on her healing, the type of support she got from women and men and her advice to women in similar situations.
The end of this book left me with a sigh. I felt exhausted from all the emotional turmoil.
First, I’d never have guessed that Toke could write so well, especially for her first book. It is written in first person perspective, in a simplistic yet entertaining writing style. I have to compliment the editor as well, although I did spot 2 grammatical errors.
Next, I think the name of the book isn’t quite appropriate. In my opinion, “On Becoming Toke Makinwa” should have been more wholesome, particularly with respect to her career, how she achieved relative success, and how things are now, a year after the scandal. This title makes it seem like the difficult marriage defined her completely, which just isn’t true. She had become Toke Makinwa the On-air personality, TV host and vlogger before the scandal.
I like that Toke took responsibility for the mess her marriage became because of the resentment she carried. I like her more for admitting to not cooking, and for seeing the counselor and trying to make the marriage work. She doesn’t endorse divorce but insists that the success of every relationship or home is a responsibility of both partners.
Also interesting is the fact that Maje did not proposed to Toke, or at least that part appears to have been left out of the story. It’s a big moment to leave out of such a detailed love story.
Finally, this book focuses on telling her side of “the story“. The contents of the book tell a lot, perhaps even too much. But having been subject to the court of public opinion for over a year, I’d say she did well in her defense. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to hear Maje’s side of the story as well as Anita’s.
There are concerns about Maje suing for defamation of character, or at least claiming some of the proceeds of the book, but I don’t know what legal or copyright rules hold in this situation and Maje is yet to make a statement with respect to this book and its contents.
If you’ve read the book, let me know what you think in the comment section below. If you haven’t, get a free sample. It’s worthwhile and I’ve included the Amazon link above.