- Category: Interview
- Published on Saturday, 25 September 2010 10:47
- Written by Compass
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Esohe Rosemarie Enobakhare-Mark is a medical practitioner. The Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon is a wife of Nigeria’s Number Three citizen, Senate President David Mark.
This soft-spoken native of Edo State, who is also the daughter of one of the country’s renowned mathematicians, will clock 60 in January next year, even though she doesn’t look it. Mrs. Mark doesn’t just stand out with her famous low cut hairdo and sometimes braids called Didi Olowo, she is an accomplished humanist, helping the poor through her Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Voluntary Medical Promotive Initiative (VPI) which gives out free healthcare, shelter, disease free environment and lots more to rural dwellers . She talks about her life in this interview with Ronke Kehinde.
What’s your family background?
I’m from Edo State. My parents are Mr. and Mrs. Enobakhare. My father was an educationist in the western region. I schooled in Ibadan, I grew up in Ibadan. I did my primary school in Ibadan. I did my A-Levels at Queens College, Lagos. My first degree is in Medicine, at College of Medicine Idi-Araba, Lagos. I’m an ENTE (Ear, nose and throat) Surgeon in Dublin. I’ve done some specialty work in natural medicine.
What’s the secret of your youthful look, even at almost 60 you’re still looking radiant?
I always tell every woman that your happiness is within you. I can also say that it is God’s gift; I will also say that it probably runs in the family, because my mother also looks very young for her age when she was still alive. But the overall thing is keeping a very clear mind and being very spiritual in your approach, and taking life as experiences not in terms of bad or good, but wonderful.
Share with us some growing up memories?
Growing up in Ibadan was very exciting. Those days it was very safe, we were encouraged to have little gardens. I grew peanuts, groundnuts and corn. You will harvest as your own. It was good teaching of Botany and of life. My Secondary School, Queens Legend. In those days it was compulsory to do Yoruba. I remember my Yoruba teacher, we called him Baba Popoola. One of the things that he taught us, which I found interesting, is: Awon iko kuko. These words especially on the buses, and Lorries, they still fascinate me till today because we were taught to write Yoruba properly, putting the right accent to words. I travel a lot, so when I see such words I still try to correct them. I used to remember what Baba Popoola used to say
Can you share with us some memorable experiences of your life?
We have a heavenly father whose joy is to make you grow spiritually. So every experience that comes your way is what God put your way, it’s good, don’t look at it as if it’s bad. You are able to do unto others what you like them do unto you. Whatever that comes your way, you’ll take it that it’s somebody that has helped me to experience this, and this experience has made me grow. I don’t see it as bad. You are able to turn every thing for good and you yourself has taken every thing as positive. You’ll always do to others the good you want them do unto you; that means you practice true love, and you’ll always tell people the truth about something because you want them to tell you the truth.
In my earlier recollection of life, I grew up with my grandmother and I didn’t realise that my parents were abroad. I still look back and I see my grandmother as an epitome of what a grandmother should be like. I somehow taught that when a woman reaches that age, you’ll just have to be alone, with no man in your life. Another memorable time is, when I entered college of Medicine. Before that I’ve never seen a dead body. And every year we’ll look out for who will faint in the first class of Anatomy, and I was going to be the historical one. I remember I was going, going down and I had to call myself, because I’ve never fainted in my life. During A-Levels, we did dog and fish bone and I thought we were still going to use dog, or fish, but instead it was dead, stiff, human body. Then, when I had my first child because the responsibility of having another person just dawn on me; because I knew I can’t sleep or eat until this person has eaten and is asleep.
I will like you to go down memory lane and tell us how you met your husband and what he did to win your heart.
We went through usual courtship and I’m still so much in love with him at this stage. I don’t like to talk too much of my husband, it will become the usual stuff. So let’s leave it as: We met, we loved and we still love.
Tell us what is good and bad about being married to a soldier and a politician?
That question does not apply to me, because I don’t see things as good or bad. I see the path of every human being as the destiny which the Lord has said he should take.
I’ll say the difference between being married to a soldier and a politician. The difference is that there is discipline in the life of a soldier therefore you can predict, but you cannot predict the life of a politician; although subtle, but it’s very wide. There are ranks in the army which actually has some kind of control, but in politics there are no ranks and no control. Everybody behaves the way they want to behave without any real discipline that limits that kind of behaviour. You’ve got to do more of your ways. The officers have discipline level and the discipline goes down the line. It’s a bit harder and more complex to be a politician’s wife, than a soldier’s wife. It’s subtle but a little harder. The competition that is in line with professional politician does not exist in the army, because you have your level there and the control is there. But a politician is a politician, whether you decided to be a councilor or chairman or you’re a senator; a politician is a politician. You then have to make your own way by wading through the mirage of nuances in politics, instead of being promoted from ranks to ranks. That makes it difficult for the wife.
Everybody is complaining about Nigeria, how can we make a change and what can you do as the wife of the Number Three citizen to make a change?
Everyone is talking about change. We must be careful about that word change. We must have a focus for it ; we might think change should come from the top, whereas charity begins at home. I give a lot of lectures, and I like to give lectures to primary school children; because change must start from the home, primary school age; but a change cannot happen overnight. So, when the Lord has put one in a privileged position, I tried as much as possible, to be humble as I can; to try and experience things the way I feel the less privileged are experiencing it, because that gives me the idea of what is needed to be done. I go to the rural areas a lot, and of course because of my profession as a Doctor, my organization gives me medical equipment and free services. Since it’s a voluntary organization I get my colleagues to volunteer their time, money and so on. Not only doctors, we have the laboratories, extra and so on in the medical line. In my own little way, I have quite a lot of things to do. We must remember it has to do with charity, which begins at home.
I don’t believe fashion as in fashion. That points to the fact that my mother was a seamstress and she designed a lot of my clothes. She did home economics. I will design what I like and everybody knows that I can wear one naira outfit, and I can wear one million naira outfit, depending on whether I like it. One thing I don’t do anymore is I don’t carry big bags. I carry small bags because I don’t like people carrying my bags. A woman’s bag is part of her.
Share with us your low moment.
My low moment is when my mother died. She was only 58 years old. I couldn’t really get over it, it was in October 1983. I was 33 years old. I’ve seen her 10 days before, and I didn’t know she was going to have heart attack and die. It was something you cannot call back.
What about your high moments?
I have many high moments; I’m a naturally happy person. One of my high moments was when I had my child. I have two Aunties in my family that had no issues. In my family, it was like who else will be in this generation. I’ve been married two years without a baby and I was losing pregnancies as well. When I had my first child it was wonderful. It was my high moment, and spiritual too when you do know that you have another human being to take care of.
Tell us about your work?
I like the fact that you said my work not my pet programme, or something like that. When you run an NGO, it’s quite the same as running a big organization with very little fund. The one I rolled out in 2007 – Voluntary Medical Initiative, was to call on all doctors as number one medical personnel In the country, my colleagues, to let’s make an impact by doing voluntary work in the rural area. And it has been wonderful. They have volunteered their time; even some people have gone through free medical surgery for people who can’t afford it. We have gone from state to state and zone to zone.
How were you able to achieve that?
Once we get into a state, we could spend a week, we stay in the capital, get a private hospital to be the base there. Then we travel two hours in, two hours out, every day. Once I travel I’ll take drop; five doctors in a rural area. We flag it off, and I go on in a week. We could have gone to about 10 communities. We give treatment for all ailment and we give data to know which ailment is prevalent. At the same time I see health as holistic thing. So I give lectures. I talk character building. If people have character, there are things that naturally come to you. You won’t be promiscuous from secondary school. I personally de-worm them. Then, I go to the university to meet the youths and I talked to the elderly too in elders club. I’m in a process of putting everything together in a book. We also do microfinance, it’s a very full organogram, that is both medical and non medical. I also go to where there are conflicts.
What can you say is your achievement so far?
First of all, I think in a way I’m grateful to almighty God that I’ve achieved all the milestones of a woman. I got educated; I give thanks to God and my father. I had my period as a woman. People think that achievements have been this and that. On a very spiritual level, it’s like counting your blessings; name them one by one; that is why I remain happy. I didn’t die as a child. I got married, have my children, I have my grandchildren and I’m a staunch Christian. Nevertheless I respect other believers. During the Ramadan month of every year, not only did I fast with the Muslims, I helped them to break their fast. This last one we helped about three thousand family to break their fast. What we do is pack bags of garri, rice, beans, groundnut, milk, and so on that will last a family. Every Friday, we’ll give them out to families. We’ve been doing that every year now, and it’s now four years. My achievements as a Doctor, as physician and as ENT Surgeon, and also natural medicine practitioner, have been great and I had various awards; not only now but years back. My achievement has been over the years not now that my husband is serving the people.
What is your phobia?
One never talked about ones phobia publicly; it can be used against one publicly.
What are your hobbies?
I love to watch African Magic, and more Yoruba channels. I think it teaches us what the culture is about now. I read a lot; I love to write and I still write. I love listening to music, watching movies. I like to watch old movies. I love traveling, because it brings experience in ones way. I sew as well, when I have the time, because my mother was a seamstress. I like to use tailors that are not doing very well, so I design my own clothes and I now teach them what to do.
How many were you in the family and what’s your position?
My mother had nine biological children; one of them had passed on. And of course in the house there were many more children, cousins and so on. I am the fourth out of the nine.