VOL. NO: 30  DATE:
 
  Home
  Editorial
  Top Stories
  Health Corner
  Agony Aunt
  Sports


About Us
Subscription
Advertise
Feedback
  Contact Us
AFRICAN ECHO NEWS

ADA IN LONDON-Surviving the Traumas
Special Interview with the author Grace Ukala

Women of today, especially African women who are used to obeying their spouses at all times, get confused when they hear the word equal opportunities. There is a favourite saying that what a man can do, a woman can also do the same, if not better. This often brings jealousy, hatred, stress and strain in marriage, agitation and even break ups in marriages. Most of the time, marriages become business partnership due to equal opportunities; eg, household chores, bill payments, childrenís homework etc are shared 50/50 Sometimes one has to ask , does success and riches buy happiness? I was fortunate enough to read a very passionate and well written book authored by one of our own African successful women. I was so glued to the book because; most of women who left their countries to struggle abroad went through similar experiences.

I had no choice but to get in contact with the author for a lengthy discussion. Now let me introduce Grace Ukala to you. Grace was born in Mbiri, Nigeria, A renowned teacher, she was principal of Emotan College, Benin city from 1981-1989. In London, she headed several school departments. 

Ms Ukalaís published works include two other novels: DIZZY ANGEL (1985), and THE BROKEN BOND (2001). She now runs her own business in London. For our readers who had the opportunity of reading the last issue of the African Echo, we published a synopsis of the new best seller Ada in London, the latest book written by Grace. Refer to African echo edition 29, page 12 for the story. Mrs Millicent Kwapong, Managing Director of African Echo took the opportunity to interview Author Grace Ukala about the book and her life.
Their interaction is published below. 

MK represents Millicent Kwapong, whilst GU represents Grace Ukala.

MK
Grace what inspired you to write this particular book Ada in London? Because I have read it and I feel that Adaís experiences applies to so many African women immigrants I have come across.
GU
The book is about my own personal experience, or should I say a reflection of my life, it has not been
an easy ride at all for me, a well respected head teacher with six children who had to make a sacrifice to save her family from financial difficulties

MK
Being an African from a different cultural background, how did you cope? I mean with an African accent and racism in a foreign country.
GU
When you talk about racism, I had problems with my own kind than the people born and bread here. When Ada was doing cleaning and waitresing job, the people who gave her hassles were from my own country, Nigeria. Most of the people who actually helped me to feel at home were Ghanaians; I seem to get on very well with Ghanaians because they are warm and genuine. I think inferiority complex, jealousy and language barrier are some of the causes of the problems

MK
From your book, I realised Ada had a terrible marriage life, why is that and why did she stay in an unhealthy relationship for that long?
GU
Ada got to know her husband at the age of 13 and got married at 19, and Fred was 8 yrs older than her so in a way she did take him for a father, friend and everything, the only man she ever knew plus having six children for him, where else could she go or do especially with the culture and beliefs of my society. Also I needed the stability for my children and was very naÔve young woman but Ada grew up and learned to question more and also Ada became popular than her husband, which he couldnít handle.

MK
Now about your children, as you know the way children are brought up in Africa is not the same in this country, how did you cope with your children when they came to England, with all the peer group pressure and friends?
GU
First of all I have to say that I am a good mother because I listen to them and they see me as a friend and confide in me. They talk to me about anything and I have used that experience in my teaching, but my children know the boundary and never tried to step out of it. I feel parents need to establish their authority in their homes for the children to listen to them.

MK
From the book I realised Ada loves teaching what made you leave the teaching job?
GU
After 32yrs of teaching, I thought that was enough, especially the challenges in this country in terms of law and regulations is a bit frustrating. I have taught in this country for 12yrs and did run a support unit for children with behaviour problems, I was trained a counsellor as well which has helped me a lot to understand and deal with people, it came to a time I felt I have done my bit and I have to stop and concentrate on my writing and other interest i.e. starting my own business. 
I then decided to set up a mortgage business, but before that I had to do some courses in this line of field to enable me to know about the product.

MK

Now I know setting up a company in this country is not easy, did you get help or support from the government?
GU
No, I did not get any help from the government; I tell you it was not easy, I have to use my own means.

MK
So how is it going now in terms of the business?
GU
Business is ok, it is hard now for small businesses but by the grace of god we are managing.

MK
Now let us go back to your book, Ada in London, well I was privileged to have a free copy from you, is it available in the shops yet? And are you writing more books? 
GU
Not yet, since is self funding, it took time to be ready but it is now ready and with your help it will be launched soon and yes I have one or two project already in the pipeline, I love writing, you know.

MK

Grace I know this is too personal but I feel the readers out there will also be dying to know, are you married again after Fred? Have you found happiness now?
GU
Yes I did get married again and that lasted for three years, I thought I found happiness but it was like history repeating itself. You see when you have 27 years experience in marriage you are wiser if I go into details then it will not be fun reading the book but letís just say he was just an opportunist. It became a power struggle and jealousy so as soon as possible I broke it off. Well, I am free and single now but I have circle of friends who are very supportive and are there for me when I am going through problems, both female and male friends and some are married couples, at the moment I am waiting for the right person but am not in a rush.

MK
So where do you go from here? Are any of your children married?
GU
Yes I have two of my children married, one has two children and the other has one so I am a grandmother of three grandchildren, my Youngest is in the university studying journalism and as for me I am concentrating on my writing

MK
What about your first husband, does he keep in touch with the children?
GU
Yes he is there still practising, I always say I am not going to deprive the children of their fatherís presence, so the children do keep in touch with him

MK
Since it has not been easy ride for you, what advice will you give to your fellow Africans who want to take the same route?
GU
My advice is that if you have not got any educational background, profession or skills, then do not bother yourself or be prepared to face very many problems. It is not easy surviving in this environment.

MK
I will end here and contact you again when you are ready to launch the book and I want to assure you that African Echo will be there to help and support in anyway we know how to. Thank you very much for this interview.


 

Please email your comments to
editor@africanecho.co.uk

 
 
Suite B, Queensway House, 275-285 High Street, Stratford, London E15 2TF, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 020 8519 6319 Fax: +44 (0) 020 8519 5564
Terms & Conditions : Privacy Policy
Email:info@africanecho.co.uk