I help AIDS victims find love- gospel singer, TV presenter Ify Chukwu
konknaijaboy | On 18, Jul 2013
For gospel singer, TV presenter and relationship expert, Ify Chukwu, music has always been part and parcel of her life. She started singing at an early age. However, in 2004 she dropped her debut single, U’re My Lord, which was followed by two other singles, Thank You Jah and Jeun Si Oke featuring OJB Jezreel. She finally released her debut album in 2011.
However, Ify has been rather silent on the music front as she’s busy promoting her TV programmes, The Market Place, D2R Network and Heroes, prompting rumours that she had dumped music for good. What really is the situation?
“I have been doing a lot by the grace of God,” Ify begins dismissing the rumours. “First of all I am an artiste; I started with music and I am still a gospel artiste. I have not really dumped music. What happened was that the pace kind of slowed down. But recently, I dropped a new video entitled, Odara that’s really rocking the airwaves. It’s a song of worship and exultation that I am so passionate about.”
She continues: “Odara has been getting lots of rotation for quite a while and is doing well but right now, I am trying to put out a new video, Onye Olu Ebube, which means God is a miracle worker. My first album, Ify: D Revelation, has been in the market for the past three years.
“I‘m working on my second album now. My fans should expect Ify on the mic doing raga, rock and rub-a-dub gospel. I have fallen in love with rock. So, I am talking about R&B rock. Only a couple of weeks ago, I was nominated for two categories in the Nigerian Gospel Music Awards (NGMA) so I am still very much into my music.”
Romance and marriage
For Ify, going to school was rough. She had to hawk zobo and sometimes kerosene for her parents who couldn’t afford to train her through university as a consequence of religious crisis in Northern Nigeria. Today, the singer is happily married and a mother of an eight-year-old son.
However, she disclosed that until she got married, she was a virgin and never dated. According to Ify, she met her future husband after her reaction to a story he wrote was published in the newspapers. He had written to thank her and they had become pen pals, a relationship that lasted for seven years before they finally met and got married.
The pretty musician cum motivational speaker confessed: “Relationship wise, I never dated in school. I never knew what boyfriend and girlfriend was. I got married and started learning about marriage in the marriage. That was a big challenge for me because I didn’t know jack about relationships. I never dated any man until I met my husband. I was very conservative and it made me naïve and ignorant.
“I would advocate that ladies should date; it’s important. I am not saying you should sleep with any man but if you don’t date, you’ll not have experience and be armed by knowing what to expect in a relationship. Being conservative has really not helped me; it only made me so much naïve and ignorant. My focus was just to go to school and get a degree.
“So when I got married, I was so sure I was married to the wrong person because our personalities began to clash. I believed that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I didn’t know how to start handling this man who was so experienced in the affairs of the world and used to so many women. And here I was, naïve and stupid and I just didn’t know how to handle him.”
In retrospect Ify says it was one hell of a crisis situation but she had to deal with it. “Many things happened that I couldn’t handle so I started reading up, investigating and researching and I became grounded in the theory of personality profiling. I was able to understand his kind of person and I understood myself even more and why our personalities were clashing. And that was when I was able to manage the situation.”
Despite her late start in ‘the ways of the world’, today, Ify is into the business of matchmaking. Her platform, D2R Network is hooking up couples looking for marriage and lasting relationships. She says her experience in marriage gave her the inspiration to start D2R Network.
Are you HIV positive? Do you think your life has come to an end? Are you about to pack up and give up? Wait a minute, at least, until you read what Ify has to say. To the mother of one, being HIV positive is not a death sentence and should not be a barrier to finding love and happiness, and even finding and marrying one’s life partner.
“D2R is a fun place for singles. Those things you can’t do in your church you can come here and do. We do blind dating, comedy, music, fashion shows, exhibitions and undiluted entertainment dedicated to youths but in a godly way. We talk about sex education and we also have HIV people finding love and getting married too,” Ify explained.
Matchmaking HIV victims
For emphasis, Ify insists that being HIV positive is not the end of the world. Hear her: “If you are HIV positive, you can still live a wonderful life, enjoy all the perks of life and lead a normal life. In fact, you can still find love, get married and have kids. I get a lot of texts and mails from HIV positive people. They tell me, ‘Ify, I have HIV 1 and I want to get married to someone who has HIV 1, can you help me?’ Another will say, ‘Ify, I have HIV 1 and HIV 2 and I want to get married to someone with HIV 1 and 2’ and so on. I go into my database and link them up. A lot of HIV positive people have found love and happiness through D2R Network.”
To buttress her point, Ify tells the story of Kemi (not real name), a HIV victim who found love and happiness through the network. “I had a girl, Kemi, whom I introduced to Isaac (not real name), who traveled all the way to Owerri, Imo State to meet Isaac who is also HIV positive and today, they are planning to get married. Kemi got HIV when she was 20; now she’s 29 and still hot! She was married to an American returnee who infected her. Kemi ended up divorcing the guy. Nine years later, she is still looking very beautiful and is now a graduate and admiring male friends don’t believe she is HIV positive even when she shows them her anti-retroviral drugs,” she narrated.
Ify says one thing she finds striking about Kemi is her love and passion for life despite the stigma of living with HIV. “She said to me, ‘Ify, I want to get married. I don’t want to infect and hurt anyone. Let me get married to my kind. And that was how she met Isaac. The D2R Network also helps mature people get married. We were able to hook up a 63-year-old woman to a 70-year-old man and they dated. What makes D2R Network unique is that it’s a place where ladies have the option of choosing and finding the man of their dreams.
“We have a dating network, we handle counseling sessions, personality profiling sessions and we have marriages springing out of this network. And we also have relationships that are on the verge of blossoming into marriages,” the singer/presenter declared with a smile.
The Market Place
Ify likes to describe herself as a workaholic and it would seem she has a finger in every pie. She also talked about her business TV programme, which hit the airwaves in 2007 christened, The Market Place. Dedicated to building and promoting brands, she says she got the inspiration for The Market Place during her service year.
“We started from LTV and then moved to MITV, and from there to TVC, and now we are on Silverbird TV and we’ve been there for two years now. Currently, The Market Place is running on nine stations nationwide. We are in Uyo, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Enugu, Owerri and Benin.”
According to Ify, it all began in 2002 when she was picked as the best presenter at an audition for the camp radio station while serving in Calabar, Cross Rivers State. Aside keeping the camp entertained and conducting major interviews for all dignitaries, she was also responsible for raising money for her CDS group. She began by going to all the stores on camp and getting adverts from them and by extension making good money for her CDS.
“By the time we were about to leave camp,” Ify recalls, “I was handpicked to handle a programme in Calabar. That was how The Market Place started. I was handling the programme both on radio and TV.”
Queen of brands
Describing herself as the “Queen of Brands”, Ify explains that The Market Place is all about building and popularizing brands, and making it possible for small and medium size enterprise holders to be heard.
“I don’t believe that you need to break the bank to advertise,” Ify says emphatically, “I don’t believe that if you’re a small business you shouldn’t advertise. You should advertise. However, how you advertise is what makes or mars your business. So, The Market Place is there to solve the advertising needs of small and medium enterprise owners and ensure that their brands are actually strong or are built over time through consistent and cost effective advertising, and we have built a lot of businesses.”
Brands she has worked with include Zeel Cosmetics, Neimeth, Nora Spices, Four Cousins, Promax Global, Veleta, Adam & Eve, Rough N’ Tumble, Soulmate Cosmetics, MTN and Leadway Assurance to mention a few.
“We don’t live any stone unturned when we push a brand because we push it as far as we can. Soulmate is the newest brand I have been handling for the last eight months. We are currently pushing their nine-in-one-kit relaxer and I can tell you that we have achieved a lot,” she enthused.
Men dominate the brand sector. How is Ify coping working in a male dominated environment? Her response: “It’s a very difficult terrain for a woman. First of all, the woman is not seen as a hard working person but as a sex object first and foremost. She is not supposed to be intelligent, too hard working or too pushy. She is not supposed to have an extra-ordinary drive. All you’re good for is the bed and bedroom.
“And I totally disagree because the Nigerian woman today is on point and sometimes ahead of her male counterparts in terms of delivery and intelligence. So, the basic challenge is that they will always say ‘oh, she is a woman, how far can she go? Can we trust her with this huge amount of money? Are you sure she can handle it?’
“They don’t see you as strong enough to stand your ground no matter your record. They still look at you as the weaker vessel. They would rather work with a man who is green horn rather than with you so the men keep smiling to the bank and changing their cars.”
However, despite the challenges Ify adds: “I thank God for the brands I have worked with. Integrity and goodwill have been my biggest credentials and have spoken for me time and again. I would rather go hungry than take your money and not deliver.”
Apart from The Market Place, Ify also anchors Heroes, a TV programme dedicated to celebrating Nigerians who are doing great in their areas of endeavour. They could be politicians, businessmen and clergy. Heroes has celebrated Pat Utomi and Mike Awoyinfa, former Editor-in-Chief/Managing Director of The Sun to mention a few.