Tiwa Savage: How not to Handle Private Matters

Tiwa Savage and her husband, Tunji Balogun — Photo Credit: ENCOMIUM.NG

BECAUSE we can’t always know all the answers in every situation we find ourselves, it is good that we have in our lives, people who will help us with sound advice, to guide us in some of our thoughts and decision-making process. More important is the place of good mentoring in the life of an individual, right from his earlier stages of development through adulthood. This is not to say mistakes or bone-headed errors of judgment won’t rear its head for many at some point or the other in their lives, no. There will always be exceptions where, despite the presence of good mentoring and good source of advice, a person may still exhibit the pattern of the untrained, ill-bred or neglected individual. The norm, however, is that people tend to project rational behavior when exposed to good mentoring and sound advice.

It is difficult for any well-mentored individual to observe the situation involving celebrity artiste Tiwa Savage and her spouse, Tunji Balogun, without cringing in embarrassment on their behalf. Granted some people have underlying personal challenges, which may either trigger an unusual behavior or cause them to fall off the wagon altogether as was reported of Mr. Balogun, who allegedly attempted what looks like a celebrity stunt-suicide [although his actions appeared more like a desperate cry for help]. But his later revelations to the media about his marital challenges as the supposed cause of what was portrayed as a public meltdown is a terrible error of judgment — the kind you make when you either lack good mentoring or wiser counsel around you.

Balogun, known in the entertainment business as TeeBillz, went ahead to reveal unconfirmed nasty details of his marital situation to the public, which sent tongues wagging from Banana Island to Iyana Ipaja about what, ordinarily, should be a private family affair. A marriage situation that might have been salvageable prior to his revelation was then left as a rotten carcass for carrion to feed upon.

But if you thought that was the end of it, you will be grossly mistaken. After Mr. Balogun started the conflagration, the wife, too, arrived to pour an already scarce [marital] petrol inside burning fire, turning the whole thing into an outright major conflagration. All of a sudden, Nigerians weren’t talking about “Fulani cattlemen” anymore; the topic of the young couple’s marriage trended everywhere from the bread-hawking girl to the tomato-seller, and then to their aunties in Banana Island and their ogas in the high and low rises of Broad Street. The topic also became a comedy mine for an already vibrant Nigerian commentariat. It became, in the favorite Yoruba words of my mother for situations like this, ‘Oro Buruku Toun-Terin’ — a situation that at once evokes sympathy/pain and laughter.

In an interview that she granted ThisDay newspaper journalist Azuka Ogujuiba, and covered by PulseNg which has since released the video of the infamous interview, Ms. Savage is seen, in what looks like an epic Nollywood scene featuring a recently bereaved wife, wearing an indoor head-tie to keep her hair in place with a slightly rumpled white t-shirt. She had long answers for the fairly precise questions posed her by Ogujuiba, the journalist. And although Savage may not have gotten the best advice on the choice of granting the interview, she certainly got some advice about light makeup and well defined brows for effect. As she started to speak, she closed her eyes and spoke in a the tone of the distressed Nollywood movie wife.

As with many poorly made Nollywood flicks out there, it was difficult to watch Savage tell her story, even though what she had to say of her marriage and the man to whom she is married was mostly believable. It was difficult to watch because she showed poor judgment in granting that interview where she put her personal affairs out there when she absolutely did not have to do so.

The whole drama makes certain questions arise. Assuming her Tunji, her husband, didn’t know any better, what about the wife? Where were her parents and friends to warn the wife not to tow the same infamous path as the husband?

A personal account for example: On my wedding day last December, my wife and I concocted a plan during our wedding party to entertain ourselves and the guests present. I was to dance in front of her and make a goofy sensation of removing her wedding garter from her thigh, prior to throwing it out in the air from the stage where we were. As I dropped down to remove the garter with my teeth, the move must have appeared a little bit too ‘sexual’ for my mom who was present with others at the party. Next thing I saw was my mom materialized in a flash next to us, saying in Yoruba, ‘Oya, eyi ti e se to,’ meaning ‘Alright, you guys have done enough.’ That is my mother, always on hand to caution you against embarrassing yourself and others — even if most of the people present understood that we were merely fooling about.

Although Savage is an adult who doesn’t need everyday close supervision, questions remain: where was her mom in all this — where were her closest family members and friends to warn her against granting that interview? And if there was no one around to caution her, where was her commonsense in this era of commonsense in Naija?

The truth is that Tiwa Savage did the same thing as her husband — they both, deliberately or inadvertently, were guilty of the same poor judgment. Both their actions did come across [even if it wasn’t the case with either of them] as premeditated acts to curry public sympathy at the expense of the other, with the man appearing to execute a fake suicide attempt while the woman appeared desperate to impress an image of the distressed Nollywood-movie wifey.

The drama between this couple comes with an important lesson on how not to handle a private affair. By all means, we should speak in confidence to trustworthy people who may be able to help. There is nothing wrong with that; there is everything right with speaking to someone about it, rather than hiding it from everybody. But do not put it out there like that — not unless you and the other person involved in the situation have resolved the problem and found yourselves in a position comfortable enough to share the experience to help others manage similar challenges in their lives.

Another lesson from the experience of Savage and Balogun is the importance of being open to good counsel reliable people around. Too many people live in the cocoon of their own misguided knowledge, as opposed to being open to correction and informed advice. The result of such existence can be quite miserable as persons who live like that tend to roll from one disastrous misstep after another. And, rather than look inward to find solution, they find others to blame for what really is their own doing.

All is not lost anyway. This troubled couple can still make things work for them if they have the guts to make it work, and the solution is in a cliched expression: When life throws you lemons, make lemonade out of it.