Linda Ikeji is a name that rings a loud bell in the social media community and beyond. Wikipedia lists Linda as a blogger, entrepreneur and writer. It states that the 38-year-old English graduate of the University of Lagos began writing at the age of 10. To assist her family and support herself through school, she had part-time jobs as a waitress, model and writer.
Linda started active blogging in 2007 when very few people in Nigeria saw blogging as something to be taken seriously. She has since not only mastered the ‘trade’ but has also amassed substantial wealth from it and earned her place in the comity of budding billionaires.
In 2015, Linda bought a 600 million naira mansion in the billionaires’ resort of Banana Island, Lagos. Aside from her blog, she has an Online TV Network, Linda Ikeji TV with the full compliment of an Online radio station.
Forbes valued Linda’s blog at over 12 million dollars this year – that is over 4 billion naira at the current exchange rate. No wonder she could afford to dole out 10 million naira, without batting an eyelid, to assist young Nigerian girls aged 16–25 who have great business ideas and are willing to venture into entrepreneurship, under her non-profit project themed “I’d rather be self-made; No thanks”
She has been profiled by Forbes among Africa’s 20 Most Prominent Women.
On August 8, 2018, Linda Ikeji was among eminent personalities drawn from different countries across multiple disciplines who were conferred with Honorary Doctorate Degree from Trinity International University in Georgia, USA for her outstanding job in Business and Media in Africa, along with the likes of the Chairman of Daily Times Newspaper, Dr. Fidelis Anosike and renowned lawyer, Mike Ozekhome.
Linda is not new to controversy. In fact, her trade thrives on it. Ikeji’s blog was shut down on 8 October 2014, but restored on 10 October 2014 by Google in controversy-related circumstances. She has been accused of intrusion of privacy and defamation by some Nigerian celebrities, including Richard Mofe Damijo, Jim Iyke, Whizkid, Stella Damasus, and medical doctor cum politician Doyin Okupe.
It is not surprising, therefore, that her story of birthing a child out of wedlock has placed her at the receiving end of controversy, which some describe as a bitter dose of her own medicine.
The social media space is awash with comments and analyses of the circumstances surrounding the birth of her son, Jayce. While some hail her for taking her destiny into her own hands, many castigate her for ostensibly denigrating the hallowed marriage institution and setting a bad example for her teeming young admirers and protégés.
For instance, one commentator reminded us that Linda once said (if she actually did say so) that any guy who isn’t worth at least half a billion naira should not even bother to come for marriage. To him, it is not that Linda couldn’t get suitors; she was simply more fixated on class and the size of the bank account of her would-be suitors.
To this category of analysts, one may also ask: If na you nko? How well do they know Linda’s story? Were they there when she was trekking from Lagos Mainland to Lagos Island to beg big corporations to advertise on her blog? Why should she mortgage all she has worked for on one efulefu who may be professing undying love with one eye on her assets? Or who may just want to chalk up her name on their list of conquests, like this Jeremi guy probably did?
Another posed the question: If she knew she wasn’t going to marry the father of her baby, why did she allow him to get her pregnant? Good question! From her story, which so far has not been rebutted, Linda wasn’t the one who did not want to marry this guy. On the contrary, it was the guy who got lily-livered and scrammed.
Let’s not forget also that life is a journey. When you get to a motor park to embark on a journey by road, you would most likely look for a vehicle that appears to be in very good condition and that you assume would guarantee your comfort on the trip and safe arrival at your destination, especially if you have the means to afford that class of vehicle. Now tell me, if along the way the car develops a braking problem, or you realise that the driver is reckless; as he is overtaking dangerously and is deaf to the calls for caution by the passengers, what would you do? I think the answer is obvious, unless of course you are on a suicide mission.
One prominent social commentator who has stood up stoutly for Linda is Charles Ogbu. Charles stated on his Facebook timeline, inter alia:
“Any Culture that says a financially capable woman must either marry or end her earthly journey without a child is a useless Culture, one that has no place IN THE 21ST CENTURY” (emphasis mine)
“Those Igbo cultural fundamentalists who are posting photos of Linda and her baby and describing the child with negative terms are nothing but confused Fanatics. In Igbo culture, no child is a bastard.”
This rationalisation by Charles has also attracted verbal daggers from those who insist that Linda’s conduct is alu (abomination) as far as the culture of her (Igbo) people is concerned.
I think the point Charles is making (has indeed made) is very clear. It is the same point made by the Lord Jesus in John 8:7 in circumstances that seemed to conflict with the law (in this case; culture, custom or tradition), when He told the Pharisees who wanted to stone an adulterous woman that any of them who had no sin should cast the first stone, albeit with the caveat to the woman to “go and sin no more”.
Also, in Mark 2:23-27, Jesus reminded the Pharisees, when they accused his disciples of working on the Sabbath day, how King David ate the shewbread in the temple that was meant for priests only. He told them: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”.
The problem, perhaps, is that some commentators comment on issues based on other people’s comments without taking the pains to digest the subject being commented on.
Charles’s first assertion is like saying that any law which requires a woman to be stoned to death for committing adultery (in this age) is a useless law, while the second considers the innocent child that is being denigrated because of the circumstances surrounding his birth.
By saying what He said, Jesus was by no means encouraging adultery, but underscoring the fact that there are always exceptions to every rule.
So, what would Linda’s critics rather prefer? That she stays childless all her life if she finds no husband or that she marries the next available man just to satisfy “culture”, even if such a marriage might lead to catastrophic consequences? Or that she should have aborted (murdered) the “illegitimate” child to satisfy culture?
People might as well tell us to go back to the barbaric Ibibio culture of the killing of twins which Mary Slessor helped to stop more than 100 years ago because we want to preserve culture.
To those who argue that her conduct is a desecration of, and disregard for the institution of marriage, Linda has said in her story that despite having a child out of wedlock she’s still available and willing to be married. Hear her:
“Being a single mum wasn’t the dream I had for myself; I’d prayed for the kind of happy home my parents built for us (they’ve been together for 40 years). Nothing is more important to me than family. For years I’d hammered on how much I was looking forward to getting married, having children and building my own family and I believed God was going to come through for me on that one, but I have come to understand that we have no control over what life throws at us no matter how much we plan, pray, or work. And we also have no control over the actions of other people towards us.
I’m looking forward to giving someone else a chance and try this love thing again. I was raised in a happy 2-parents’ home and that’s what I want for Jayce.”
She has also apologised to her fans, especially the young girls who look up to her:
“Family and close friends told me I owed no one any explanation about the circumstances that led to the birth of my son, but I knew without writing this, I could never stand in front of the young girls who look up to me and talk to them again. I could never go on my secondary school tour and speak with these girls again about living right and doing right,” she said.
I think the least we could do is to pray for Linda Ikeji not to repeat the same mistake. To continue to berate her is an exercise in futility…… No, not exactly. It would only make her more popular, make more people read her blog and, invariably, make more money for her – which is not a bad thing from where I stand.
What’s your take?