This is by far the most revealing interview I have ever done. I said things here that I have never ever said before in any interview. Yesterday & Today had been chasing me for a while for a no-holds-barred interview and I finally agreed to do it. For two reasons; to set the record straight on some issues and to reveal more about myself that some of you don't know. It's quite revealing. You know me I can say anything, I no send anybody...lol.
Much has been written in the formal and informal media about Nigerian’s most popular blogger Linda Ikeji, this last Monday was a memorable opportunity for a personal conversation with the famous blogger, I took a deliberate swipe on her on personal issues. I am most happy and comfortable, I could not be more so until I forced every word out from her in a clandestine type of interview. it was for me the most revealing conversation recorded, we had a long chat as my midget captured every dots of the J and every tittle of theT leaving no stone unturned.
A lot of your fans and readers were quite disappointed by your Mark Zuckerberg article last week. It made you sound very materialistic and shallow. What happened?Linda: I was trying to be funny but people didn't get the joke (laughs). I didn't know people would take me literally and that seriously. I clown a lot. Sometimes I write things just to get reaction or just to make people laugh. Mark Zuckerberg is someone I really respect. I've always said there are 3 people I'd like to meet before I die. President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Jackie Chan. In that particular order. So Mark is someone I'm in awe of and I sincerely admire his simplicity. But for a minute I asked myself; is Mark being simple or doesn't he just like to spend money? I was looking to get people's opinion on the issue. What I should have asked was; where do you cross the line from 'simple' to 'cheap'? Remember Mr Scrooge in A Christmas Carol? He had so much money but was a miser. And that was why I put up that post. But I guess I didn't put my point across very well, so I came out sounding shallow and materialistic. I was just trying to be funny and sarcastic at the same time considering how much money Mark has. There are other billionaires who have mansions, private jets and million dollar yachts, it's how they chose to spend their money. Mark obviously is not concerned about such things and its admirable.
So you're not materialist?Linda: (laughs) No, I'm not! You should see the laptop I'm using to blog. There's so much I don't really care about. Materialism is when you can't differentiate between your want and your need. When money/material things is your driving force. That's not who I am. Like I always say, I'll never sleep with a man for money, date a man for money or marry a man for money. I don't operate on that level because I don't understand it. I believe in hard work, I believe in dignity of labour, and I believe that the best kind of money to have is your own money. I also believe that money should not be the only reason why you do anything. I blogged for four straight years without making one kobo and I was more than happy with it and would have continued for another four years without making a dime but God decided to bless me. That I spend the money God has blessed me with doesn't make me materialistic. It's written in the bible that people should enjoy the good of their labour because its a gift from God. If you get to a point in your life where you can afford to live well, please live well, because you will only live once. I don't believe in excesses like having five mansions, ten cars, four jets, two yachts etc. Just have enough that you need to live a good life. I met a woman once who told me her bag was worth $12 thousand dollars. I looked at her like 'b**ch you crazy?' but she said to me, Linda I've been working for 27 years, I work hard for my money and I will spend it on anything that makes me happy. Will I spend $12 thousand dollars on a bag? Right now I can't imagine it, but who am I to judge her or say she's materialistic? If that's what she wants to use her money for, that's fine. It's her money.
But don't you think a $12,000 bag is excessive? To some people maybe because they can't afford it but not for someone who has the money. What do you work hard for? So you can live the good life you want for yourself. Whatever that maybe. God blesses us for two reasons; to be able to take care of ourselves and take care of others. I spend more money on people than I spend on myself. The shoes, hair, phones I have are mostly freebies from advertisers on my blog. But if I tell you the things I'm doing for people, you would think I'm only using this interview to show off, which I am by the way (laughs). I'm the same person financing the release of two prison inmates. One of them I already talked about on my blog, the other one I'm not allowed to talk about until we get to a point in the case. People's priorities are different. Whatever they want to do with their money is their business.
So money doesn't freak you? You seem to talk a lot about it. You mentioned once that money is chasing you(Laughs) Yes I did, but I was just trying to make a point. When I was running my magazine I used to go to a telecoms company begging them for adverts. They gave me no attention. Sometimes I would not even go pass their reception. But now they are the ones chasing me to advertise on my blog. Sometimes I do shakara for them sef. (laughs). I'm happy I have money but it doesn't freak me. For instance I drive a Camry but I can afford a Range Rover. But the thing is; am I buying a Range because I need it or because I want to show people I'm making money? I can afford to live on the Island but I live at home with my parents in Surulere. I get a lot of flak for still living at home at my age, but who cares? Sometimes you have to find a balance between people's expectations of you and your own expectations of yourself.
Okay what about all this talk about you desperately searching for a man? Are you really desperate?I'm searching for love, desperately. (laughs). I always laugh when I say 'desperate' because it confuses people. They don't know whether to take me seriously or not.
But are you serious when you say it?Maybe. Or maybe I just say it for the shock value (laughs). But I am seriously searching.
What exactly are you searching for?I'm looking for a man who takes my breath away. Love I think is the best gift God gave us humans and I'm not going to settle down until I find it. I'm not single because men are not coming. In fact I have more toasters now than ever before. Some men think I have money so they probably want some of it (laughs). But I haven't found anyone that makes me want to give up my single status. Until then I'm happily Ms Ikeji.
You're young, pretty and successful. Why is it hard to find a husband?Some people don't get it. There are lots of available men for women to marry. But there's a difference between marrying a man who's available and marrying the man of your dreams. If I wanted to be married now, I would. I have a few options. But would I be married to the man of my dreams? No! So I'm just waiting to meet him. I want a man I'm happy to come home to. Someone I miss when I'm not around him. Someone I love to the very core of my soul. I hear some women talk about their husbands and I shudder. I think a lot of people marry for the wrong reasons these days. I'd rather be single than be married to someone I don't love. I'm going to live once and I plan to live it right.
What's your definition of an ideal man?For me any man who respects women, respects people, considerate, kind, free spirited, funny, supportive and has principles. Also a man with a job. I almost dated a jobless man last year. Cute guy and all, but no money (laughs). At first I didn't mind but then when I had to start buying him shaving stick I knew there was wahala. I took off. I didn't take off because he had no money, I took off because I didn't see any potential and he seemed more than happy to be constantly asking me for money. That says a lot about a man's character. A dependent man can be a real turn off. I don't need a man's money, but let him at least not need mine. Then we will be fine.
So you don't believe in giving money to men?I saw a $2,000 wrist watch one day and I said to myself I wish I had a man to buy this for. But I won't be buying it because he can't afford it himself but because it's a token of my love. I will definitely support my man financially. I've saved money for the best kitchen in the world (laughs). I think every woman should support their men in every way they can, but not when the responsibility is yours 100%. Those are two different things. You don't have to have as much money as I have but at least don't need me to buy you recharge cards and shaving sticks (laughs).
What if you meet a man who wants you to stop blogging? Would you stop?Sincerely, no. I won't even get involved with a guy who tries to stop me from living or achieving my dreams. One day this life will be over, so while I still have it, I will live it the way I want to not the way someone else wants me to or thinks I should. I met a guy in 2009 who wanted to marry me but on the condition that I'll stop my modeling and events business. He said he would get me a job at the UN office in the UK. I said to him if you want to marry a woman that works in the UN why don't you go to the UN office building and find a wife there? I met another man in 2010 who wanted me to be a house wife. He said I will give you N200 thousand a month for your upkeep. I said how about you go to your village to look for a housewife. A 21st century woman likes to work. I think the worst kind of man to end up with is a man who doesn't support your dream or tries to cut your wings. He will turn you to nothing. Sometimes I feel insecure men are worse than cheating men.
You mentioned in a recent interview that you can never date a younger man. Why?It's really hard to explain. The way a broke man is a turn off is the same way a younger man is a turn off. On the plane back to Nigeria from the US in February, I sat next to this really nice looking, soft spoken, intelligent guy. It was a joy sitting beside him for 11 hours. I had the most amazing time talking to him about a lot of things, and for a minute I thought I'd finally found a boyfriend. But then before we got off the plane they gave passengers those immigration papers to fill out and I saw him write down his date of birth. 1984. In my head I was like please lose my phone number. (laughs). I can't explain it, I'd rather just be with someone older than I am.
Have you ever been in love?Yes. Once. I saw this guy one day and I literally stopped breathing. I'd never been affected by a man like that before.
What happened between you two?Nothing. We ended up being friends for a long time but nothing happened between us. He wasn't interested.
Why wasn't he interested?You would have to ask him.
Did he know how you felt about him?When you love someone, you have to find the courage to let that person know how you feel. How they react to it is entirely their concern.
Have you ever been heartbroken?I've faced rejection once but not heartbreak. You can't break a heart you never took.
Do you believe in celibacy?Yes I do. I actually practice it despite all the nonsense I say (laughs). I don't believe in casual sex. I think sex should only happen between two people who love each other. Whether married or not. That's my sincere opinion.
But that's fornicationUnfortunately we live in a sinful world
You once mentioned being circumcised, and not enjoying penetrative sex. Can you tell us more about that?Yes I said that. But someone told me later, when you find the right man who loves you and cares about your sexual satisfaction, you will enjoy sex. I believe him and I'm waiting to meet that man.
What about all the lesbian talk? I'm sure you have heard some people suggest you're one?(Laughs) Yes I have. I've been on the internet actively for five years so I've heard it all. But no, I'm not a lesbian. Funny thing is I used to think women who were attracted to other women had some kind of demonic, spiritual problem. I couldn't fathom how that's even possible. You know how we human beings are, what we don't understand we call evil. But now I've learnt to tolerate it even though I still don't understand it. How people choose to live their lives is their business as long as they are not hurting anyone. We have to learn to live and let live.
Tell us about growing up. You mentioned having it tough growing upEveryone has read my sob story. Next question please.
How much do you earn a month? We heard its up to N5million a monthNot correct! It's actually more.
Are you serious?(Laughs) No, I'm kidding.
Who's your role model and why?Tyra Banks. Because we kinda have similar backgrounds. Ex-model, media personality and then she's very morally upright and a go-getter.
Has anything changed about you since you came into the limelight?Am I in the limelight? I'm only popular online. I walk freely around town and only people who read my blog recognize me. I've changed with age and not with status. I used to be kind of introverted and snobbish but with age comes maturity. I'm a better person now.
I notice you have a thick skin. People are constantly bashing you but it doesn't seem to affect you. How do you do it?People bash me a lot but I also have voltrons (laugh). I think I generally get more love than I get hate so I focus my energy on those who like me. You can't run a blog such as mine and take everything people say to heart. I don't take myself too seriously so I don't take what people say seriously either. But for those who want to know, there are two major secrets to having a thick skin. 1. Know yourself and love yourself unconditional. With that you don't need validation from anyone. 2. Always have it at the back of your mind that for every person who thinks or says something terrible about you, there's someone out there who thinks or says something terrible about them. Someone thinks you're an idiot. Don't worry about that, there's someone who thinks he's a fool. She thinks you stink? Her ex-best friend thinks she's nasty. He thinks you're arrogant? His brother thinks he's lazy. She says you're rude and obnoxious, well, her colleagues think she's dumb and shallow. And so on and so forth. It's a vicious circle. No one is perfect, so why should the words of an imperfect person give me sleepless nights? Shrug it off and move on.
How old are you really, Linda?I'm 31.
Some people think you're olderTo know someone's real age, ask for the year they finished secondary school. Most people finish between 16/17 years old. I finished secondary school in 1997. I've never lied about my age.
What helps you sleep at night?I don't concern myself with what anyone else in the world who doesn't know me thinks of me. I know my truth, I know where I am coming from, I know the hurdles I've had to cross to get to where I am now today, I know the good I've done, I know how many lives I've impacted positively. So you see, when I lay my head on that pillow of mine, it's a beautiful, peaceful sleep.
What about those who think your blog is causing more harm than good? Especially the comments sectionI can't help how people feel. I didn't start the blog to harm people or bring people down. I'm not an evil b**ch like some people think. The blog is supposed to be a place where people come for news, gossip, fun, share ideas and opinions etc. And that is ultimately what it is. About the comments, I upload them because it makes the blog more interesting. It's nothing personal. People insult me all the time and I upload them. Even my own sister was not spared. She started a new business and I put up her photos and people called her and her new business all sorts of names, and I still uploaded the nasty comments. That's my younger sister who I should protect. But just like me, she has a tough skin and laughed off the comments. I think people should learn not to take things said on the internet seriously. Half the time, the people who write these things don't mean it. They are catching fun so don't take it to heart.
Have you ever been threatened by people you write about?No, never. People have called to me to take down comments on a post or the post itself, but never to threaten me. I've also heard that I collect money to take some posts down and that's absolutely false. I would never do that. That's like shooting yourself in the leg, it might come back to hunt you. I make enough money from advertisers, I don't need to cheapen myself by demanding for money to take down a post.
Secrets to having a successful blog?Be passionate about it. Work hard. Be consistent. Be interesting. And finally, make the blog personal. Let it be a reflection of who you are. Instead of being anonymous, let people know the person behind the blog. It helps.
What do you do for fun?I love watching movies. I go to the movies at least twice a week.
Who's your favorite Nigerian actress and actorGenny and Omotola. I'm not really a huge fan of Nollywood but I've watched Genny's Keeping Faith like three times and I've watched Omotola's I belong like four times. My best actors would have to be RMD and Ramsey Noah.
And Nigerian musician?Right now, Tuface, MI and Tiwa Savage.
What's your biggest motivation?In January 2011 I sat at a friend's office for five hours waiting for him to return so I can get some money from him. I got there 1.30 and I didn't leave till about 6:30 after which I got N10,000, which I was more than grateful for. I never stopped working and I never stopped believing. This is just a year plus later and I can't believe how blessed I am. What's my biggest motivation? God. Every time I remember that he's somewhere up in heaven looking down on me, guiding me, guarding me, it keeps me going. It doesn't matter how tough it gets, God keeps me going.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?I love myself 100%. There's nothing about me I would change because God made me exactly the way I was meant to be.
What do you look forward to more than anything else?Being a mum. I have a godson and I love him to death. I can imagine how much I will love my own child.
Secrets to success?Hard work. Determination. Courage. Take risks. Test the limits so you know what you're capable of achieving. Be good at what you do because then you won't have to go to people, they will come to you.
Secrets to happiness?Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Only then will you know how truly blessed you are to still be here. Also be thankful for the things you have and don't focus on the things you don't have. Love yourself regardless of what anyone thinks of you. And always remember that life is too short to be anything but happy.
Any advice to young people out there? Three things: One: One day your life will flash before your eyes, make sure its worth watching.2. Never ever give anybody in this world the power to make you hate yourself. Or the power to make you feel you're not good enough, or deserving enough, or make you believe you won't amount to anything. The only Being that has the right to judge you is God. Anyone else can try but don't they pay them any attentionFinally. There's absolutely nothing you can't achieve. All you need is will, drive, incredible courage and a lot of faith.
It's been great talking to you LindaI thoroughly enjoyed myself, thanks.