As Ms Taiwo Ajai-Lycett narrated the story of her life, I was spellbound. Her presence, her command of language, and most importantly, her experiences, all these held my attention from the moment she started talking to the moment tears started flowing from her eyes as she sang a dirge for her late husband. Ms Ajai-Lycett’s story is as inspiring as they come. Hers is the first in King Women series, an interview-based web series directed by Kemi Adetiba featuring women of “veteran and champion status” telling their stories “like never heard before.”
At 76, Ms Ajai-Lycett has seen and been through a lot. The veteran actress, journalist, and cosmetologist is one of the most influential figures in Nigerian entertainment. In this first episode of the series, she talks us through her life story, we climb mountains with her and walk through the valleys of her life.
“I could have ruined my life,” she says at one point during the interview, “I was so curious, I was a teenage mother. Okay? Didn’t know anything about it. If you asked me how it happened today, I still couldn’t tell you. And that’s why I protect young girl children.”
A little while after she became a mother, the father of her child died in a train accident–she was “17 or 18” at the time. She had to leave school halfway through her secondary school education but was going to night school for extramural classes. Her father insisted she get married and she did, but her mother wouldn’t let her live with her husband because she was “too young to go to ile oko.”
Despite this and several other challenges she faced, Ms Ajai-Lycett soldiered on to become the great woman she is today.
Watch the full interview here: