Book Review: On Becoming Toke Makinwa

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟(3/5)
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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.

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6 replies

  1. It was indeed a good read. i was also glad this happened (I like that Toke took responsibility for the mess her marriage became because of the resentment she carried). I suspect a lot of that story is true and for that i feel sorry for Maje.

    Some of us men should not get married period and some women should not force some boys into marriages for their own satisfaction. the turmoil is just unnecessary.

    The book veils many deep societal problems associated with relationships and marriages here. If her account is factual, Maje was an infantile, spoilt rich kid, used to getting his way with women. I could almost accept that(and forgive his pre-marital behavior in that relationship), but marrying her, staying married to her and pleading for her to stay married under those conditions is not acceptable. It is like begging someone to remain imprisoned till you can find a crime against them or til you sort yourself out.

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  2. Well-written review. Never knew Toke could write so well? She is a graduate of English from University of Lagos. The title of her book, On becoming is an open-ended title. She expects the readers to fill in what they become, for example, On becoming purposeful, etc. My view on the book is that Toke’s problems began when she lost her parents. Maje was her first real relationship and she was looking for a father figure that Maje wasn’t. The man is a serial womanizer. Reviewers don’t seem to mention the age difference between the two which l think was a factor. Maje is 44 years and Toke 32 years. She started dating a streetwise guy in her teens with no parents to guide her. She lacked self-worth, self-love, self-confidence when it came to affairs of the heart. She was addicted to pain. She was in self-denial that Anita was the person Maje loved. She wanted to become Anita and wanted Maje to assist her in doing so. Although she knew what it means to love, she didn’t know what it meant to be loved. She was giving good relationship advice to others but could not advice herself. she had a split personality. She was bubbly and self-confident in public but a wreck at home. Toke’s foundation was so bad, she could not tell what was normal from what was not normal. l am not one of those criticizing her. lnfact although l don’t know her, l feel her pain and anguish. Why would Maje refuse to set her free since he had no good intentions for her; he didn’t want a child from her, yet he kept holding on to her as her biological clock ticked away. Why did he marry her instead of Anita? What story has Maje to tell? He married Toke to help his business interest and for material gain. He wanted to eat his cake and have it. He wanted to build his brand with Toke but didn’t want any child from her. And he wanted to keep Anita by the side to be having babies for him and marry her at a later date. Maje is a dishonorable man and very wicked. lt is obvious that he never really loved Toke. l am happy Toke has rejuvenated her spiritual life and moved on. What l liked most about the book is that it set Toke free from Maje’s bondage forever. He must be so bitter and embarrassed that he will never go and do his normal begging again. Without this book, even if the divorce sails through, at a later date, Maje would be back again begging and the vicious cycle would continue. Now Toke has the opportunity with good counselling and spiritual guidance from professionals to truly march forward in victory.

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