The creative space in Nigeria is a booming place for talents – painters, musicians, actors, poets; the land is filled with them. Eniivy is one of the flurries of budding acts scattered across the entertainment space, albeit there’s a peculiarity to her person that seems to distinguish her from the bunch. Eniivy, whose christened name is Eniola Omoniyi, embodies a set of talents that makes it near impossible not to like her for one thing at least – whether it’s for the playfulness of Iyalode Eniivy of Nigeria, the hilariousness of Aunty Wumi, or the warmth of her vocals on SoundCity FM, there’s a shade of Eniivy that’d charm your eye and win your heart.
It was bright and temperate – one of the dry Sunday afternoons in the rainy month of July – when myself and Eni sat for a chat. Eniivy picked the location – she mentioned Bolivar Lounge initially; we eventually sat by the waterfront at Sea Lounge for the conversation, in the presence of her manager, Joyce. Eniola sipped her chilled bottle of Fanta in bits as she discussed her formative experiences. “I used to play alone as a child”, she said. “Playing alone as a child in a big house, you find yourself doing a lot of drama”, she added. She was a bubbly and spirited child who had so much alone time, which she used in unsolicited housekeeping – shift around chairs, cleaning rooms and arranging clothes for her brothers, her mom, and anyone with clothes where young Eni could find.
Eni is a carer. She’d say “I am a people’s person.” She is the kind to hand a handkerchief to a friend in tears even when her eyes are soaked. “I concern myself with the welfare of my people. I like to be in people’s business but only when I am welcomed”, Eni told me. This nature of Eni’s leads her to engagements that involve supporting people and building communities. Like the fact that Eni is one of the drivers of the Mutare Clan – a gathering of young intellectuals from across different industries, rubbing minds and sharing ideas on social subjects. Eni’s mom-habits were obvious to me even as a first timer – I noticed her anchor the games (I still bear grudges for the manner with which I lost out), I noticed how she kept her eye on our orders, I noticed how she steered the flow of the discussion.
Instagram these days, is a platform for all the actions – the amusing skits which trigger a sudden burst of laughter in an otherwise solemn place, the trending gossip stories that leads to a conversation between you and a total stranger in the comment section of Instablog. We stumble on these contents from following shared post on the stories of friends; some from the explore page. I encountered one of such – a skit with an interesting character called “Aunty Wumi.” Eniivy would later tell me how she created the character “that stuck”. “I modelled the characters (in the skit) after real life characters like my mother who would literally take few steps back to refrain from expressing her anger” “Interestingly, I have an Aunty Wumi – the wife of my elder brother who is, maybe not savage but, blunt. It was her who inspired the character of Aunty Wumi in the skits.”
Life can be busy, particularly for persons like Eni who juggle multiple engagements all at once – she is an actress, a facial model, a radio personality, and on the day of our chat she launched her TV Show (Real Talk with Eniivy) on Pop Central. Eni told me a secret with a teary eye and a heavy heart. “When people ask me how I juggle these things together, I point at my manager”, she said. “She is my manager, my friend, my sister, my strength.” The dots in the eulogies started to connect when Eni shared some of their private experiences in which Joyce, her manager, played the hero – Joyce pushed her to record the skits when Eni was stalling and nursing self-doubts, Joyce opened her door to Eni and share her space with Eni for the convenience of work. “If not for her (Joyce), I would have run back to my parent’s house the week I left”, Eni said.
Family featured prominently in our discussion. Eni narrated the back and forths that saw her tour about 5 tertiary institutions before finally nipping post-secondary education in the bud with a diploma from Yaba College of Technology. She mentioned the covert support she got from her mom and eldest brother in her rebellious career path, and the opposition from her father, Mr. Omoniyi. He had plans for her to have a career in the medical line, and later, his vision for her titled towards the line of finance but Eni had her own plan which is playing out. The twist has reached a pleasant point for Eni, who is now often cheered at home as “our celebrity.”
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets