Some people are lucky to good life given to them on a silver platter while others have had put in plenty of sweat and blood to live the good life. Everything they have, every bridge, every milestone, every challenge they have crossed or overcome is another added star on their lapel. Thus, their success stories continue to be a source inspiration, hope and strength for many generations inspired by them.
Yewande Zaccheus’ journey in life is a compelling story. One that encourages one never to give up even when the odds are strongly stacked against you. The trained lawyer and CEO of Eventful Limited had dropped her wig to pursue a career in banking before finally venturing into event planning and hospitality. Her outfit, Eventful Limited is easily onw of the top four in Nigeria today. Though now retired, Zaccheus spoke with AZUKA OGUJIUBA on her bold step at a relatively young age for retirement and passing the baton to another worker rather than her biological children. She also discussed her latest movie The Wait, inspired by real stories from a book she wrote about women looking for the fruit of the womb, including herself at the time. The film captures the anguish and emotional turbulence women face in a society that is very unforgiving to women who have challenges in conception.
What inspired you to make the movie the Wait?
When I got married in 1989, I had my first child immediately and without any delay. It then took nine long years before my second child came. During that time of waiting, I promised God that if He were ever to give me a second child, I would write a book to help and encourage those who were waiting on God for children. I planned to write just the one book after my miracle baby came. However, the demand for the book was so high because it touched on issues a lot of people did not find easy to talk about. That is how the book God’s Waiting Room became a four volume set of books! Many people were blessed and encouraged by the testimonies they read and it built their faith to a level where they also got the answers to their prayers. So I continued to share the stories of God’s faithfulness. After I launched the fourth book five years ago,
I was led by God to begin thinking of another medium to tell the story of people “waiting” that would reach even more people. So l went from print to film! That really was how the idea of a movie inspired by the books l had written, came to be.
Many couples have had challenges of fruit of the womb. Some cannot even nurse the concept of adoption even though it’s a most rewarding act. Concerning this, how do couples who are welcome
to adoption tell the children about their birth in future? Some couples feel the children do not need to know they were not biological conceived by their parents but is it important for them to know that?
One of the main purposes of the book and movie is to allow people see that they have so many other options to consider now if they are unable to conceive naturally. There are various medical interventions such as IVF, there is adoption, there is surrogacy. The most important thing whichever route one eventually chooses is that there must be agreement between the spouses as to which way to go. Culturally the concept of adoption was not accepted by Nigerians ( which is strange as we all have such large extended families) but I believe that with time and exposure it is now more accepted.The amazing thing is that many who choose that route now find that they get pregnant naturally after the adoption because all the anxiety and pressure of childlessness has been removed! As regards whether the children be told that they are adopted that is always a personal decision ( though I know in some countries it is actually mandatory that you tell them). I am of the view that children should be told but the time and place for this conversation can only be decided by the adoptive parents. Gone are the days when women would hide pillows under their dresses to pretend they were pregnant before bringing an adopted baby home. In fact now the only regret adoptive parents have is that they did not take the decision to do so earlier.
The film covers many aspects of life where people are waiting for a breakthrough. What key points are important to live by to strengthen your Faith while you wait?
The film is titled THE WAIT for obvious reasons. So what are the things we should focus on as we wait?First you must realize there is a purpose for your wait. Make sure you learn whatever lesson it is that can be gained from the experience so you don’t waste your wait. Secondly, you must live your life to the fullest while you wait, don’t put off or delay other issues such as education, career advancement, travel, business opportunities
because you are waiting for children or anything else. We are multifaceted individuals that God has blessed with many unique gifts and talents, focus on all your present blessings with gratitude so you can wait in joyful anticipation and not weary despair! Thirdly, the place of faith and prayers can never be over emphasized. It is not as if there is formula that will produce the answer you want like magic…not at all. But there is a peace and spiritual growth that comes in the place of waiting that really cannot be quantified. This really helps us to bear the anxiety that comes with waiting much better. Fourthly the power of a community that can lift each other up and encourage each other is also very key and instrumental to seeing one through a time of waiting. Whether it be friends or family, colleagues or fellowships…everyone needs a tribe of supporters to see them through an emotionally draining and challenging time.
Mother-in-laws are perceived as the most intolerant of their offspring’s wives when facing challenges of getting pregnant. Should there be counseling classes for mothers of offsprings to better understand the plight of their children to enable handle the situation better?
(Laughter) I am not sure any mother-in-law would appreciate such classes. The point of featuring a typical intolerant mother in law in the movie is to help women behaving like that see how much ill will such behavior generates. A lot of sons’ mothers act out of ignorance or genuine frustration, but they just need to understand that the one thing a family waiting on God needs, is love, support, encouragement and understanding. When we all, regardless of our status in life, do unto others as we would like them to do unto us… the world would really be a better place to live.
What of a scenario where the man is clearly at fault but is too proud to accept the fact leaving the woman in a helpless situation? We have heard of low sperm counts. If rthis same man is frowning upon adoption, what would you advice the couple to do to fulfill their quest for a child?
This situation does arise when it is actually the man that has the problem of infertility but feels again because of cultural and gender biases that he cannot be seen to be the cause of the delay. A lot of counseling ….. required to enable couples and their families understand that infertility is no one’s fault and is a challenge couples need to face together so they can surmount it . There must be unity of purpose between spouses for the victory to come. One of the things The WAIT does is to feature men who are waiting in a positive light… as understanding and considerate partners in the journey of life and not the typical macho men who put the blame of the infertility on their wife and allow friends and family to cause them pain or anguish. The movie is so relatable you will see some you know portrayed through one or more of the various characters and it makes you stop and think and realize there is a better way of dealing with people going through this time of great pain and anxiety. Even the characters waiting for career breakthroughs and life partners face everyday situations that we can relate to. The feedback since the movie came out has been phenomenal… the whole gamut of emotions.. joy, laughter, pain, anxiety, hope are experienced snd the acting has been highly commended by both critics snd movie goers!
For couples who have explore adoption or surrogacy by bonding with the carrier whilst pregnant is there not fear of the biological mother springing up years later demanding her rights?
Yes of course this remains a possibility as the carrier may change her mind after giving birth, so it is very important that these arrangements are professionally handled and the appropriate legal contracts are understood and signed by all parties to ensure that the children are not at risk in later years.
Now that you have retired, what are your plans for the future?
That is the million dollar question! I keep telling everyone that I will first take a year off and rest but no one seems to believe me! I have worked as a professional in law and banking for 18 years and then became an entrepreneur and ran my own business for another 19 years! I think I have paid my dues. Seriously though my plans for the future will definitely involve supporting young entrepreneurs and giving them a platform to express themselves, helping them scale their businesses and grow the economy.
Based on the success so far of the movie, do you have plans to do more of such movies in the future that reflects true life situations?
Yes, I established Eventful Ltd in 2002 as a pioneer in the events management business. In nineteen years the company established itself as a trailblazer and industry leader in corporate and social events management as well as venue management and industry fairs known as the Eventful Souks. I felt I had fully expressed my entrepreneurial creativity through Eventful and was ready to do other things. I was very deliberate about handing over the company as I did not want a business I had invested so much time, energy and resources into to die when I was no longer interested in or unable to run it. Over the years I implemented processes that enabled me identify, mentor and train likely successors and then appoint the most suitable person to take over the mantle of leadership for the next season in the life of the company. We held a leadership transition event which we termed The Evolution in March and this was very well received by our clients and the industry. I am now the Chairman of Eventful whilst Mr Fisayo Beecroft is the new Managing Director. It is important that entrepreneurs give the next generation a chance to lead and take their company to the next level .. new blood, fresh ideas, we must never be afraid of change. Quite honestly I plan to continue to reinvent myself as the need arises! There is so much life has to offer and I certainly want to partake of as much of it as I possibly can in my lifetime!
Apart from providing inspiration, encouragement and generating awareness on the many parts of the waiting journey is there any practical way the movie is helping couples experiencing infertility?
Yes indeed. The Wait movie is partnering with a US based charity ANEDENGIVES whic. h has just established a Nigerian chapter. I am privileged to be the Chairperson of the Nigerian Board of Advisors which includes the highly respected gynaecologist Dr Faye Iketubosin amongst others. The charity provides financial assistance through grants towards IVF treatment for couples experiencing delays in conception. IVF treatment is quite expensive and ANEDENGIVES will be providing a grant of N1.5million to the lucky winner of this promotion who will have to watch the movie first then apply for the grant.The details of the application and selection process can be found on the charity’s website.
Based on the success of the movie will you make more movies …
That is another million dollar question! To be honest with you the plan was just to make this one movie on the important subject of Waiting because I really wanted the impact my books had on people to resonate on a much wider level nationally and globally through the medium of film. It was such an amazing experience… I loved everyminute of the process… from scriptwriting, to identifying the actors, finding the locations, shooting, producing …. it was awesome just watching it all come together! So much to learn, so much talent and creativity in this country. I now understand that what I did is called a “ passion project” ( a project done out of a deep passion for the subject matter and not principally for commercial gain!)However, I may have caught the movie making bug and if the opportunity ever comes my way to tell another important story that will impact lives positively and encourage people into the place of their blessings I am sure I will not say No! I am truly grateful that I have been able to find my purpose through my wait for my second child. Four books were birthed. A movie is now added. As difficult as those 9 years of waiting were, the blessing of my husband Teni, my children Teniola and Grace, Iretidayo and our new precious grandson Zacai Oreoluwa , togethe are with this ministry I believe the Lord has committed to my hands, I know I can truly say it was definitely worth the wait!