Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun is the first daughter of the late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, who was renowned for her influence on young and married people through her popular Single and Married programme, until she was killed in a plane crash on December 10, 2005. Her daughter, Tolu, hopes to make her mark like her mother, by living a fulfilled life. The young pastor at the Fountain of Life Church founded by her father, Taiwo Odukoya, has ventured into music which has been her passion, having been a member of the church’s choir. Her love for women and girls also led her to set up a blog titled ‘Talk Relationships’ where she reaches out to young ladies. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, the mother of two talks about her passion to serve God, her late mum, among other issues.
Being a pastor’s daughter, what was your growing up like?
My growing up was full of fun. I grew up with my mum, dad and two younger siblings – Jimi and Tobi. My parents started the church when I was five years old and so I have been in the church for the most part of my life, I am a church girl. I thank God for my husband who has allowed me to continue being a church girl. I have always been in the choir, I love singing. My parents practically taught us God’s way, their lives showed who God is and we memorised scriptures; we prayed. God was the centre of our household and even when we didn’t talk about Him, He was there. It was a lovely time, I had a lovely childhood.
My parents knew we were children before being pastor’s children. When we did anything wrong, my parents would take their time to explain why we got it wrong and showed us in the scriptures where we have gone wrong and so we didn’t have any cause to rebel. My siblings and I are a few of pastors’ children who didn’t go astray because my parents didn’t force it on us. I asked questions and got answers, now I have built a personal relationship with God that even if I were not Pastor Odukoya’s child I would still love God; loving God is effortless for me.
How Is It Being a Pastor?
My parents had been saying since we were children that we were going to be pastors and preachers. And they didn’t forget to sound it into the ears of our then boyfriends and even my brother’s girlfriend. This is something my parents have been confessing for so long but then I knew in my heart that my destiny is tied to it. Being a pastor, God holds you at a certain level of integrity, it’s not a joke and maybe because I know the seriousness of it, I didn’t want it but now that I have got it, I believe that God who has called me will qualify me and He will help me with what I need to achieve His purpose for my life. I know that music is a big way God will use me and I am very open and looking forward to it. When I did a song in 2011 with Onyeka Onwenu, it was to raise funds for the Bimbo Odukoya Foundation. I would have continued with music, but then I got married, had children. I had to do the fundamentals, now my second child is one year old, I can now find a balance in my life and do my songs.
What kind of songs are you interested in?
I want to sing only gospel songs. I am a worshipper. When I am in church worshipping, I just want to be there, everything seems so beautiful and so I just wonder how amazing heaven is. I am a Christian but then I will be positioned as a fashionable one whom everyone wants to be around. Who is down to earth, someone everybody looks up to but still maintains that godliness. I want to be able to show people that you can be all these things and still be godly, you don’t have to compromise.
Many religious houses and people, few godly people, what is missing?
The church is like a hospital. Living on earth you need to always go back and recharge; I don’t judge anybody, I don’t know what the other person has been through. The church is my source, it’s a place that points me back to where God is, and it gives me a focus and resets my life. We should understand why we go to church; everyone should focus on their lives.
What is your passion for women and girls?
I am passionate about women and girls. I started a blog called ‘Real talk women only’ where I talk to them. I understand that women don’t really have a sounding board; I counsel a lot of ladies; singles who are about to get married and plan on who they are dating and women who are facing challenges in their marriage. I tell people I don’t know it all; I dated my husband for 14 years before we got married and I have been married for four years so, in the whole 18 years, I have learnt a lot and then with all my mother taught me, it now makes sense for me. My mum would always look nice in the house and I wondered why, but now I realised that we need to make that effort, some women just get married and then start wearing ‘bubu’, but then that’s where they are getting it wrong. So, having that experience, being married and seeing the two sides prompted me to get into a discussion with ladies.
On rampant cases of domestic violence
This is a good basis for divorce; if a man hits you once or twice, you should ask for a divorce or at least a separation. Let’s understand what the root cause is. The Bible says love your wife as Christ loves the church, is Christ beating the church? Marriage is based on maturity and commitment. Both parties should have the same goal and focus to make the best and God should come first in marriage. It is a daily struggle to be matured and everyone will strive to play his part; for me, domestic violence is No.
Your first music video
The song ‘My heart’ is a song of gratitude to God for all He has done for me. I got married, first and second month, no pregnancy; I have known my husband for 14 years and so what am I waiting for, I went to God in prayers and He did it. God has been faithful, He loves me because anything I ask from Him, He always does, I have asked how I can say thank you and so I decided to give Him my heart.
Losing your mum, facing the reality she’s no more
Even until now, I haven’t come to terms that she’s no more. Losing one’s mum at any age is not a joke. I went through the Scriptures the other day that says, ‘let my situation be a lie and God be true’, and I wondered why, but then that is who my mum was. When the crash happened and people were saying my mum was alive, I told them it’s not true. My mother I know cannot see God’s presence and decides to come back to this world, that is how much she loved God and I knew she was in a better place. It took time to tell that she was not here physically but then I tell myself, Bimbo has run her race and she did a fantastic job, Tolu now runs your race, and that is how I see life instead of wasting time crying.
As a pastor, artiste, mother and relationship counsellor, how do you joggle responsibilities?
Honestly, I put everything in God’s hands. I also keep in mind that my husband and kids are important; I try my best to be there as much as I can. In my spare time, I go to the studios and record. God has helped me and I always ask Him to help me not to lack in any area of my life.
How do you maintain your body and looks?
It is through prayer and maybe my genes. On my blog, I try to put up facial products I use to encourage women. Lately, I use a serum called ‘Drops of youth’ and bath with a Vitamin C wash, that’s all.
Philosophy of life
One thing my dad told me when I was young is always good for everybody and never look down on anyone because the names of rich people in the past are not the same names being called today. Things change; God can change anybody’s situation. So, I try to be very nice to anyone, even some of the biggest jobs I have done came from people I don’t know all because I was nice. I always want to share God’s love with everyone.