Vanguard (Lagos)

19 January 2013

Nigeria: My Parents Never Believed I Could Have Child Out of Wedlock - Grace Amah

interview

Grace Amah recently staged a comeback to Nollywood after a long break in order to deliver her baby boy abroad. In this engaging interview, the delectable actress shares the 'joy and pain' of having a child out of wedlock, the challenges of motherhood and why she opted to maintain a low profile. She also refutes the rumour that she is regretting her status as a single mother. 'I can never regret the birth of my child, he is a bundle of joy to me and it remains so,' she declares with a tone of finality.

How would you describe your second coming to Nollywood?

It's been fine, but just like someone who takes a leave from work schedules, when you return,you will still need sometime to get acquainted with new developments that happened while you were away. Nollywood as you know has moved from just normal routine of acting to a new level where actors and actresses are now engaged in different products and in different sectors of the economy such as the telecommunication industry, cosmetics and even music. With such evolution, one will of course need to get into the foray and move on with others.

Did you miss anything on screen?

Life is not all about screen. Even the Holy Bible recognizes that there is time for everything. While I was away, I concentrated on what took me out and I didn't need to divide my attention. Of course, my fans may have missed me but I'm sure they will be happy to hear that one has made new progress in life. There may not have been too much of a nostalgia. But occasionally, I remembered my fans and wished I return soon. So, here I am now.

Some people find it difficult to stage a comeback and still get back their groove. How have been able to do it?

It depends on what took such people out. There is nothing in life like peace of mind which comes through the grace of God. The moment you are at peace with yourself and you know what you are doing, there will be no basis to come back disoriented. I have tried to maintain my peace and refused to see myself as someone missing something thereby giving myself unnecessary anxiety. Besides, acting is an innate talent. I did not go to school to acquire formal training in it. Because it is in-born , even if I leave the stage for 10 years, anytime I return back, I will still have the same groove. Its God's grace and I am happy for it.

Your long absence from the screen was to enable you take care of your baby. What was the experience like?

Motherhood is the best experience any woman would aspire to. It is not surprising that many people who are yet to have the fruit of the womb do anything within their power to have one. It was an awesome experience. Suddenly, you do not take things for granted any longer, you keep awake all nights to ensure you feed your baby, change pampers and breastfeed, bath the child and a whole lot of that. Wonderful experience and it's worth the long absence. As many times as God gives me the opportunity, I will do it again.

Why did you decide to have your baby abroad?

Why do our leaders go abroad for medical treatment? May be, they are setting the pace and others are following. When the leaders are able to provide the necessary facilities to take care of medical cases in Nigeria especially complicated matters like childbirths, I am sure Nigerians including the leaders themselves will begin to show good example. Governor Wada of Kogi State has just shown such example by refusing to be treated abroad following his involvement in a ghastly motor accident recently. Let the hospitals be in good state and let there be manpower with the right attitude in the professionals, Nigerians will be home at all times.

Was it the decision of the father or yours?

It has nothing to do with decision of anybody. It has to do with what we have. We have enough resources in this country to take care of our hospitals and save the life of our citizens which are lost in avoidable circumstances. In many cases, despite a few good ones which are obviously very few and unaffordable to many, many of our hospitals have been described by our political leaders as slaughter houses. Why would anybody see a slaughter center and go there to be slaughtered when you still enjoy the breeze that God freely provided for everybody? It was my decision to have my baby in a place. I would have the best of attention.

Recently, there was this rumour that you were regretting being a "single mother". How true is this rumour?

It was the worst curse any woman or human being will bring upon him/herself to regret having a baby. As I said earlier, many people burn midnight candles in prayer to have a child and you see someone regretting having a child. What kind of talk is that? When I saw the publication I felt like taking a legal action against the publishers of the newspapers and websites but I had to get in touch with them to retract the story. I NEVER granted such interview and I can never regret the birth of my child. My son is a bundle of joy to me and it remains so.

Are you really a single mother?

What is wrong with being a single mother. In marital law, we have separation, living apart and divorce. Couple could for any reason decide to live separately for a certain time and after that, they reunite. It could be due to work schedules, some challenges they needed to overcome, Two friends about to marry could still have the same challenge and it happens that way. If the relationship produces a child and the woman is living with the child, it does not suggest that the woman is a single mother. In any case, if I am a single mother, I have not breached any law. For now, I am happy with my son and comfortable.

Did you originally plan to have a baby outside wedlock?

I am not sure if people plan to have babies out of wedlock. A woman does not make herself pregnant. It takes the agreement of two people in harmony and relationship to have a child especially when such situations do not come by way of "accident" or ignorance. It means before such agreement, such persons would have been together as either married couple or dating friends with a plan to marry. The moment you are relating without protection, it means there is intention on both sides whether disclosed or not, that if anything happens, they will be able to cope with it.

It could equally be that the two friends may not have the where-withal to stage a marriage ceremony and decide whether rightly or wrongly to put it on hold until time and resources permit them . What I'm saying is that if people plan on their own to have a child out of wedlock, I never had such a plan. But I could not have aborted my child simply because the person responsible for the pregnancy was not ready for societal announcement. Everything will work out at God's time.

What stopped the father of your child from proposing to you first before putting you in a family way?

I think that pages of newspapers are not where marriage proposals are made at least in Africa and Nigeria in particular. Notwithstanding, what happens among celebrities in some developed world, we still have a culture here. Even if our people are beginning to imitate what happens elsewhere, marriage proposals used to be an affair between man and woman alone before it is made public. That we did not announce it to the world then does not justify any conclusion that there was no marriage proposal. But the issue now is not marriage proposal, it is living my life and satisfying my fans.

Would you say, your pregnancy was a mistake?

If children are given by God, then whoever has a child cannot call it a mistake because so many desire to make the mistake and they could not. So my child cannot be a mistake.

How were you able to overcome all the controversies that your pregnancy generated few years ago?

If I were one village girl married at my local community Ebunwana Edda in Afikpo local government area of Ebonyi state, do you think anybody would have worried him/herself about me getting pregnant or having a baby. But because I am in the entertainment industry and my name has become a household one , then when something happens, people want to either share your joy, or grief.

So, I wouldn't blame anybody for the tongue wagging at that time. Knowing that people were only interested in my affairs for good at least majority of them, I did not need to worry so much except to let them know, when I had a baby boy and I am happy. Posterity will take care of the rest. I cannot engage myself in the issue of paternity or the rest of that.

Your fans were not expecting you to have a child before your wedding. Would you say you disappointed them?

To the extent that many of them who had anticipated attending my wedding and they suddenly saw me maximizing what should be described as fruit of marriage without their knowledge, I would say, I took them by surprise, but there is nothing to regret about having a child.

How did you break the shocking news of your pregnancy to your parents and what was their reaction?

My parents are very religious people and are also elders in the church. Nothing in this life would have given them a glimpse of such a surprise of their first daughter coming home with a pregnancy without formalizing marriage rites. No, to them, it was like it would never be true. But then, someone posed a question to them when the issue was raging: which would you have preferred, to receive a phone call to come to the airport and receive the corpse of your daughter who died in abortion attempt, or to receive your daughter with a pregnancy out of wedlock? There are many things we cannot question God as to why it happened especially if we have allowed it to happen. It happened and so be it. Every thing that happens is a lesson for another day.

Did having a child out of wedlock affect your social life in anyway?

As a human being, ab initio, you may have certain feelings as to how to relate with people especially those who have had very serious respect for you which you appear to have betrayed, but after a while, considering that you are not the first or the last, you begin to cope. It has not significantly affected my social life, that is why I still cope with re-enacting my acts in the movie industry.

Before you went on sabbatical, you were not regular in movies, what was the reason behind that?

I was actually setting the stage to break into a new area in the industry; the area of Community services which I have set out to accomplish this year. It was in the course of that my baby came and the rest had to wait.

What's the bond between you and the father of your child?

We can' t over flog this issue.

Are you planning to walk down the aisle soon?

When the time comes, everyone who is interested will be invited.

You are always known to maintain a low profile. Is it because of your background or your nature?

There's nothing in this world that people will be killing themselves for. Imagine the kind of noise people make and the amount of money we hear on television that people steal from public coffers or that people even make genuinely, yet after a while ,the person will die and all this noise will end.

I think its better for one to live his/her life quietly and talk to God who is the author and finisher of all things. Whatever is your own will surely come to you when you work for it. My background may have contributed a lot, but I have learnt that in this world vanity upon vanity is noting but vanity. Serve God through your fellow human beings and you will have peace.

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