Tuesday, 12 April 2016

MEET AMB. UNYIME IVY-KING A STRONG ADVOCATE FOR THE RETURN TO STRONG FAMILY VALUES PART 1.



Amb. Unyime Ivy-King is an enigma. Interviewing her has opened my eyes to many issues. There is a balance she has and a humility she has sometimes lacking in people who have achieved a lot like she has. Her interview is one of the most illuminating. Be entertained and learn like I have. 

Your Academic Qualification
I am a graduate of English from the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, with additional certifications in Media Enterprise (CME), Advanced Writing and Reporting Skills (AWARES), from the School of Media and Communication of the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Screen Writing from the Royal Arts Academy, Lagos. I am also a continuous student of life as I am also self-educated, thanks to the Internet and great books. I have an insatiable thirst to learn new things outside my field of interest- I guess there is no certificate for self-education, hahahahaha. I am an author, publisher, and social media activist on the rights of the child, a strong  advocate for the return to strong family values, as strong families birth strong and peaceful societies.  


Can You Tell Us About Your Family background?
I was born into a close knit family of 5 children- 2boys and 3girls, but we lost our last born sister in 1992 at the age of 4- God rest her soul. Her death was one blight in our family. I am the first born, which makes me the mama hen of the family after the original mama hen- our mum, Hahahahahaha. My strong sense of family was nurtured at home because we shared and still share a strong bond and I'm fiercely protective of my siblings. 

My father retired as Hansard Editor at the then Cross River State House of Assembly and my mum worked as a civil servant too before her retirement.

We did not grow up with much money, but we were well taken care of, sent to the best schools at that time and had food and clothes on our backs. I remember my childhood with lots of fondness. I always tell anyone who cares to listen that my mum could cook for the whole of Africa, and she still does. She always cooked in anticipation of who would show up unexpectedly- even neighbors had a taste of her generosity.

Our home was home to anyone who was homeless and needed a place to stay- once we (the children) introduced the person as a friend, he or she was sure to get a place to stay. Like my parents would say, they would never know where their children could go tomorrow and be in need of accommodation. So I had friends stay over who became like family to us.  Today when my mum complains that I do not know how to cook small portions, I remind her that I learnt from home. I am also teaching my children- I have 4 of them- to watch out for each other, because in a cold, heartless world, nobody can have your back like family if the relationship dynamics are right. 


People Describe You As Humble, Why Do You Think This Is So? 
Well, I think those who know me best would be in a better position to respond to this, but I would say these: there is nothing I am or have, that was purely by my self-effort, and I  am not just giving you a cliche answer. When I look back on my life, and I see the things that God has permitted to come my way, the relationships I have forged, I know it has to be God and this knowledge keeps me grounded. I have known lack and I also know what it means to abound.

Life for me has been in stages and I grew up learning to be content with what I had and I learnt to respect what other people had or were, but not desire those to the point where I'd have been ready to do anything or trample all over others to get those things. In retrospect, I think because I read a lot as a child, it helped a great deal to shape some of my values, asides the home influence. 

My parents are two of the humblest people I know- so I saw it played out before me practically. I never bothered much about the things I did not have, much as I desired them, because I knew that if God wanted me to have them, He would make it possible in His own time- and He always did. This knowledge has freed me to relate authentically with people. I never suck up to people, no matter what. I respect what they do and who they are, and I learn from the positive sides and that is that. Each time I look at the way God deals with me, I am awed. It's almost as if things keep falling on my laps without much struggle. I have seen myself come into positions that I knew I didn't deserve, but I would hear that gentle voice in my spirit whisper, 'favor.' 

I have enjoyed God's favor immensely and when I reflect on all these, it plants my feet firmly on the ground. Someone once asked me, 'How do you stay calm in the midst of all that is happening to you?' I have had many people, who after interacting with me, call later or send a text or tell a mutual person, 'oh, she's so down to earth, she made me feel so much at home etc.'  It amazes me because it is not an act- it's just me. I have nothing to be boastful of because I did nothing to earn them. I remember one time I was in traffic- I had a driver with me- and I bought a drink and bought one for him. A driver in another car made a hand gesture and caught my eye and kept mouthing 'thank you' at me. I marveled because it was not a new thing or a big deal. It's something I do normally, even with my domestic hands at home. I am courteous to everyone and I never look  down on anybody. As a married woman when I see how far God has brought us from where we were, it is an attestation to the fact that God can turn anybody's story around. These are the realizations and understandings which  curb any proud thoughts that could seek to rear their ugly heads. Those and the fact that, if one thinks they're too much, there's always another person who is much more.


You Are An Author. Tell Me About The Book And How has the book been received so far?
Burning Hurt is a work of fiction which chronicles a multiplicity of seamy relationships which leave a bitter taste and seething wounds in the psyche of its characters. I wanted to emphasize the message of, ‘cause and effect.’ When we make a choice, it has repercussions. I particularly hammered on the issue of sowing wild oats for youngsters. A lot of people do not think it matters, and see it merely as a phase of growth which will pass. Some parents are even known to encourage their boys especially to play the field and prove their manhood. What they do not think about, are the possible aftermath of their escapades going awry, like it happened in Burning Hurt, which, by the way, is based on a true story. There are consequences- negative or positive- for every action we take in life, and every choice we make.

The book has been well received so far as I have received lots of positive accolades for the work and it thrills me that I was able to communicate the message in my heart and that it touched somebody out there positively; of course there is always room for improvement and growth. 


You Have A Publishing Company What Informed It?
Publishing has been a childhood dream and the incorporation of Heritage Treasure Trove Communications Ltd, brought that dream alive. I dabbled into the world of writing and books from childhood, while at Charles Walker International Nursery/Primary School, Calabar, Cross River State, where one of my plays on the family was picked by my then primary 5 French teacher, for a class presentation. I grew up in a home where my parents had a strong love for books and reading. We had a bookshelf of stories from around the world. I was also largely influenced by my father, who is an astute writer and this positive influence culminated in the publication of my debut novel- Burning Hurt, a widely acclaimed novel, which was first published by AuthorHouse, UK, with a West African version published by Heritage Treasure Trove Communications Limited. These early childhood influences drew me into a world of books, and opened up my mind to endless possibilities beyond the world I knew.  


As a child, we lived in the State Housing Estate in Calabar at some point and we had a BQ which was hardly used. I organized the children in our neighborhood into a literary/drama society and turned our BQ into a make believe office of sorts from where I published my magazine- never mind that the magazine consisted of plain sheets of paper stapled together on which I would cut and paste actual magazine clippings, hehehehe. I was also a voracious reader and the more books I read, the more I desired to see mine in print. My father would often drop us off at the State library in Calabar on Saturdays to read and anywhere we went, the first place I'd look for, would be the state library there. After I read Mabel Segun's My Father's Daughter, I longed to write my own stories. I wrote lots of stories on countless notepads, growing up. Till date, my greatest regrets are that, with the constant changes of address, the note pads kept disappearing. I wish they had been properly kept for my children to read or even published, which would have made me an author several times over, hahahahaha- but it is not too late.

Many events culminated in the decision for me to venture into publishing, chief of them being the desire to help other aspiring writers find their voice and become published. 

Asides just writing, I also wanted to go into the business of writing and make money from my writing as well. After the first public presentation of my book in 2013 at the E-Library in Akwa Ibom state,  I had some aspiring writers talk to me, who wanted to get published, but did not know how to go about it. I had decided to self-publish the West African edition of my novel, so that I could properly monitor the processes.


That dream happened for me when I presented the West African edition of my novel to the public in 2014. My publishers were not paying royalties as agreed, and they were saying that they had not sold copies. I did not want to debate with them even though some friends abroad had mentioned that they had ordered copies on line- at least I expected to see those sales reflected. I decided that I wanted control over my own work. I felt that I could contribute my quota in that area- these were strong motivators which informed my decision.  


You are an un eminent ambassador  of peace, tell us about that and what you did to merit the award.

I was nominated for the award, when the International Association of World Peace Advocates (IAWPA)- the Nigerian chapter, called for nominations. First of all I had no inkling of what was going on, because I was not looking in that direction in the least. A good friend of mine called me up and told me that the nominations process had begun and that a certain Bishop had sent in my name and she insisted that I forwarded my profile to the association, which I did. I had never met or heard of the Bishop who nominated me before then. I only got to meet him on the day of the award.

The Association comprises of accredited United Nations Peace Volunteers with designated rosters code numbers that are certified as Volunteers (International, Natural or Online), who promote peace and a peaceful co-existence using individual or collective platforms. The Association came to Nigeria in the year 2010 after the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, got re-elected for a second term in office. In his inaugural speech, he had enumerated his five points agenda, a mission that IAWPA took up as a vision to propagate at all the grassroots levels of the 193 member countries of the United Nations.

The body specializes in promoting the United Nations International Observance Day ranging from January of each year to December. This is often done collaboratively with government agencies, departments and ministries whose vested interest are anchored in making peace a household affair. The organization was birthed at Heritage University of Southern California, USA.

I have used my platform as an author/writer to do a lot of online advocacy on peace in homes that are dysfunctional and a return to the family values which made us a people of honor. I do this personally and in collaboration with other respected people. I have  organized book readings in different states of Nigeria, targeted at the younger population, using  my novel, Burning Hurt to speak out against the degradation of the girl/boy child, declining moral values, and disintegration of the family unit. I am actively involved in the CSR initiatives of our  company, Protection Plus Services Limited, where part of my  responsibilities include overseeing this arm, and using this platform, called Security Clinic, I have been to several schools and organizations in Lagos state, with my team, to give free trainings and tips on security, and the molestation of the child.

I was made a member of the Women’s Leadership Council of Ideas Builders Initiative, a non-governmental organisation founded in 2003 with a focus to inspire women and girls to succeed as individuals before other roles in the society, IBI’s mission is to inspire, engage and equip women and girls to transform their lives and serve as change agents. 


I want to say that I enjoy doing the things I do, and the fact that lives are impacted, makes me fulfilled. I do not do them for applause or accolades, so when the news that I had been nominated came, it was a most pleasant surprise and a few people asked if I was connected to people in government, but I said no- I didn’t even know anything about such nominations in the first place. I am a peace broker with the zeal and passion to leave my world a little better than I met it, beginning in my own corner. I have also been invited to speak at some UN events organized by IAWPA. 

I am thankful and I believe that God is giving me a platform of influence, not to strut my stuff, but to do more to honor His name, and that I will continue to do.








2 comments:

ubong king said...

My dear, God will raise you for His glory and draw more people unto Him. I respect you..

Traycee said...

A lovely read indeed. I have great respect for Amb. Unyime Ivy and love her emphasis on building core family values
God bless you ma'am