‘Modern Motherhood’: A Conversation With Aisha Olagbegi

'Modern Motherhood': A Conversation With Aisha Olagbegi
Aisha Olagbegi

In a world often characterised by constant flux and shifting paradigms, one thing remains a cornerstone: motherhood. Yet, even this ancient role is not immune to the evolving currents of society, technology, and culture. How then do modern mothers navigate this complex tapestry of expectations and legacies? Enter Aisha Olagbegi—a woman whose credentials not only speak of her academic rigour but also herald her as a thought leader in policy formulation and strategic management. Her newest publication, ‘Modern Motherhood: Nurturing Kings in the 21st Century’, attempts to answer this question in an extraordinary manner, blending her insights from the corporate world with a heartfelt dive into the transformative journey of motherhood in the 21st century.

Recently released on Amazon, Olagbegi’s book has already sparked impassioned discussions, particularly among Nigerians. Set against the rich cultural backdrop of Edo State, this seminal work explores the delicate balance that today’s mothers must maintain between traditional wisdom and modern exigencies. With chapters that traverse topics from the trials of single motherhood and the wisdom of elderly women to leveraging technology and championing social justice, the book offers a holistic guide that is as comprehensive as it is transformative.

It’s not just a book; it’s an intellectual pilgrimage—one that beckons us to examine our own preconceptions, challenges us to evolve, and invites us to connect on a deeper level. This makes our upcoming interview with Aisha Olagbegi not just timely but essential. As we prepare to sit down with this multifaceted professional, we aim to delve into her motivation for writing the book, explore the nuanced themes she addresses, and understand how she melds her background in strategic management with the intricate dynamics of modern motherhood.

We believe that Olagbegi’s unique perspectives could usher in a new era of understanding and equip mothers with the tools they need to raise not just children, but ‘kings’ for the next generation. So, whether you are a parent, a policymaker, or someone interested in the socio-cultural ramifications of motherhood in today’s world, stay tuned. What follows promises to be an eye-opening exploration into the essence of motherhood in the modern age.

Stay with us for an exclusive, in-depth conversation with Aisha Olagbegi, as we explore the riveting facets of her new book, the stories that shaped it, and the transformative insights it offers. This is an interview you won’t want to miss.

Ms. Olagbegi, congratulations on the release of your groundbreaking book, ‘Modern Motherhood: Nurturing Kings in the 21st Century’. You have such an extensive background in Human Resource Management and Strategy, what inspired you to shift your focus towards the intricate dynamics of motherhood in Edo State and the 21st century?

Thank you for your kind words, and I appreciate the opportunity to delve deeper into the motivations behind my book. You’re right; my background is primarily in Human Resource Management and Strategy. While these fields may seem far removed from the topic of motherhood, they actually align in profound ways. In HR, we focus on human potential—how to nurture it, how to optimise it, and how to create environments where people can flourish. When you think about it, isn’t that what motherhood is all about at its core?

The inspiration for focusing on Edo State specifically came from my own cultural heritage and the rich tapestry of traditions, values, and wisdom that it offers. As someone deeply rooted in the nuances of strategy, I wanted to explore how these traditional values could be strategically adapted in modern settings to nurture the next generation—our ‘kings’ if you will—especially in the face of globalisation and technological advancements.

Moreover, the 21st century has presented new challenges for motherhood; we live in an era marked by a delicate balance between cultural expectations and modern realities. The paradigms are shifting, and many mothers, particularly single mothers, face a unique set of struggles and triumphs that were largely unspoken of in the past.

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Combining these perspectives, my book aims to offer a toolkit for success—not just the hard skills, but also the soft skills and cultural wisdom—that can help mothers navigate this intricate landscape. It’s not just a tribute to Edo State or Nigerian mothers, but a universal call to recognise the transformative power of motherhood in shaping our future. Thank you for allowing me to share this passion project with your audience.

Your book delves deep into the rich cultural heritage of Edo State. How do you see the traditional roles and expectations of mothers in Edo evolving in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world? What made you choose to explore this topic in-depth in the book?

Thank you for raising such a pertinent question. The dynamics of motherhood in Edo State, as in much of the world, are undergoing a significant transformation, catalysed in part by the technological revolution and globalisation. Traditional roles are not being abandoned, per se, but they are being recalibrated to suit the exigencies of modern life.

In Edo’s cultural milieu, mothers have historically been the bedrock of the family unit, acting not merely as caregivers but also as custodians of culture, tradition, and ethical codes. They are the weavers of the social fabric, so to speak. However, the advent of technology and the fast-paced nature of modern life have posed new challenges and opportunities, thereby making it crucial to adapt these age-old roles to our current reality.

In the book, I chose to explore this evolution in-depth because I believe that the essence of Edo motherhood offers a microcosm of the broader transformations happening in parenting globally. Technology, for instance, offers women new avenues for empowerment and financial independence, but it also presents challenges like screen addiction and cyberbullying that mothers now must navigate in raising their children. Thus, the book provides an in-depth analysis of how traditional values can be integrated with modern tools and technologies to foster well-rounded, resilient individuals.

Moreover, the fusion of traditional roles with modern expectations is a fascinating area of study, teeming with complexities. In a world where change is the only constant, how do we preserve the invaluable lessons embedded in our traditions whilst equipping our children for a future we can scarcely imagine? It is this nuanced interplay between the old and the new that the book aims to unpack, offering mothers a holistic roadmap for nurturing the ‘kings’ of tomorrow.

‘Modern Motherhood’ offers profiles of various women, including single mothers, elderly women, and professionals. How did you go about curating these stories, and what do you hope your readers take away from these personal experiences?

I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the heart of the book, which is indeed the stories of these remarkable women. Curating these profiles was a meticulous process; it involved not just research but also deeply empathetic engagement with the women themselves. I wanted to capture a broad spectrum of experiences, challenges, and triumphs to give the reader an encompassing view of modern motherhood in Edo State and by extension, in the world today.

The selection process was quite rigorous. I sought to feature women from diverse backgrounds, ages, and professional trajectories. This involved reaching out to community leaders, conducting interviews, and even utilising social media platforms to identify women whose stories were both unique and universally relatable. But it wasn’t merely about the stories; it was also about the insights, wisdom, and strategies these women employed to overcome their challenges. In that sense, the book transcends storytelling to become a repository of lived experiences and practical wisdom.

The narratives of single mothers, elderly women, and professionals serve as a multidimensional tapestry that showcases the resilience, creativity, and indefatigable spirit of womanhood. Single mothers, often overlooked or stigmatised, demonstrate an extraordinary level of resilience and resourcefulness. Elderly women offer the sagacity of age and the timeless wisdom that comes from life’s long journey. Professionals juggle a myriad of responsibilities, breaking glass ceilings whilst also fostering familial bonds.

What I hope readers take away is a sense of empowerment, a belief that regardless of the challenges they face, they too possess the strength to not only endure but to flourish. Each story offers practical strategies, invaluable lessons, and above all, hope. In sharing these stories, ‘Modern Motherhood: Nurturing Kings in the 21st Century’ aims to create a sense of community among mothers, making it not just a book but a shared narrative of triumphs, trials, and timeless wisdom.

One of the chapters in your book focuses on ‘Empowering Tools: Strategies for Success’ for modern mothers. Given your background in strategic management, can you share a sneak peek into some strategies that you think are indispensable for mothers navigating the challenges of the 21st century?

Certainly, it’s a pleasure to dive into one of the book’s most pragmatic chapters. Leveraging my background in strategic management, the aim was to offer a toolkit that’s both effective and adaptive for modern mothers. One strategy I delve into is what I call ‘Strategic Time Allocation’, which is a more nuanced approach to time management. In our fast-paced world, mothers often find themselves multitasking, sometimes ineffectively. This strategy involves prioritising activities based on not just urgency, but on their long-term impact on family wellbeing and personal growth. It’s about making choices that align with your overarching life goals.

Another indispensable tool is what I term ‘Emotional Budgeting’. Just as we budget our finances, it’s crucial to budget our emotional expenditures. Knowing where to invest emotional energy can have a profound impact on both personal and familial happiness. It’s crucial to delineate emotional investments that yield positive returns like nurturing relationships, fostering children’s growth, and self-care, from emotional drains that don’t add value to our lives.

Also, I talk about ‘Resource Pooling’, which borrows from business strategies about pooling resources to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness. In the context of motherhood, this could mean forming parenting co-ops, shared childcare arrangements, or skill exchange networks with other parents. The idea is to leverage community resources to lessen individual burdens, especially for single mothers who might lack extended support systems.

Financial literacy is another cornerstone. In the book, I elaborate on simple but effective financial tools to manage and grow family wealth. Whether it’s about budgeting or investments, it’s crucial that mothers are equipped with the financial acumen to secure their family’s future.

Lastly, ‘Continual Learning and Adaptability’ stands as a strategy for mothers who aim to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving world. This involves not just academic learning but also the learning that comes from introspection, peer interactions, and mentorship. We live in a constantly changing landscape, and adaptability is key to navigating it successfully.

Each of these strategies offers a multidimensional approach to the complexities that come with 21st-century motherhood. They are not just theories but actionable plans that any mother can incorporate into her daily routine. My aspiration is that these strategies serve as a navigational compass, helping mothers chart a course through the challenges and joys of modern motherhood.

A significant aspect of your book addresses education’s role in nurturing the next generation. How do you reconcile traditional educational values with the contemporary needs of society? Can you provide some advice for mothers on balancing cultural preservation and modern education?

Absolutely, it’s a critical question given the ongoing tussles between tradition and modernity. One of the key ideas I put forth is the notion of ‘Cultural Fusion Education’ which is an educational approach that seamlessly blends traditional values with modern pedagogic techniques. Often, we view traditional and modern educational systems as mutually exclusive, which they don’t have to be. For instance, the traditional African storytelling session can be a potent method for not only passing down culture but also enhancing cognitive and emotional skills among children, and it can coexist with contemporary educational tech tools.

In Edo State and many other parts of Africa, we have a rich oral tradition, folklore, and cultural values that emphasise community, respect for elders, and interdependence. These values can be woven into the curriculum to teach subjects like social sciences, ethics, and even literature. This integration helps children understand that their culture offers valuable lessons and is not merely an archaic system to be cast aside for ‘modernity’.

For mothers trying to strike the balance, my advice is three-fold. First, actively participate in your child’s educational journey. This doesn’t mean doing their homework for them but being aware of what they’re learning and supplementing it with traditional knowledge and values. Organise or participate in community events that celebrate your culture and discuss these experiences with your children.

Second, utilise technology as an ally rather than viewing it as a threat. E-books, educational apps, and online resources can be excellent tools for imparting traditional wisdom in a modern format. There are apps that teach African languages, and online communities where folklore and traditional stories are shared and celebrated.

Lastly, communicate openly with educators. Engage with your child’s teachers to understand how they’re melding tradition with modern educational needs. Offer your perspectives and resources as a parent who’s invested in a rounded education for your child.

So, it’s about creating a symbiotic relationship between traditional wisdom and modern educational tools. Culture should not be the casualty of modern education; rather, it should be its cornerstone. This synthesis not only enriches the educational experience but also creates individuals who are both culturally grounded and globally competent.

Your work has always been groundbreaking, and you’re currently pursuing your doctoral studies while contributing to the fields of HR and Strategic Management. How does your experience in these areas inform your perspectives on financial literacy and career growth, which are also covered in your book?

Thank you for your kind words. My experience in Human Resource Management and Strategic Management has given me a multi-dimensional view of what success can look like. Specifically, I’ve observed how financial literacy and career growth are deeply intertwined with overall well-being and success, not just in the corporate world but also in personal lives.

Financial literacy is not just about knowing how to save or invest; it’s about understanding the value of money in the context of life’s goals and needs. For modern mothers, who often juggle multiple roles, being financially savvy can offer a cushion of security and open doors to better opportunities for their children. I delve into practical approaches like budgeting, investments specific to child education and future planning, as well as understanding the financial products that are available in the market today.

In terms of career growth, my background has shown me that strategic planning isn’t just for businesses; it’s crucial for individual career paths as well. Mothers, whether they are re-entering the workforce, switching careers, or climbing the corporate ladder, need to think of themselves as ‘brands’ with unique offerings. The same principles that apply to successful companies—continuous learning, adaptability, and a robust network—apply to individual careers as well. In the book, I discuss the importance of skill diversification, networking, and even personal branding as key elements for career success.

In both HR and Strategic Management, the focus is often on sustainable growth and long-term planning, principles which are equally applicable to managing personal finances and careers. For example, a concept like ‘risk management’ in business is not very different from planning for financial uncertainties in life. Similarly, ‘succession planning’ in an organisational context can offer insights into planning for a child’s education and career.

So, my academic and professional background offers a nuanced lens through which to explore these critical issues. I try to distil complex management theories into practical wisdom and actionable strategies that mothers can incorporate into their busy lives. After all, a mother’s role is replete with management decisions every day, each impacting the future of their children and families.

The book concludes with a vision for the legacy of modern mothers. How do you envision this legacy taking shape over the next decade, especially considering the ever-evolving societal norms and technological advancements? What are your hopes for the impact your book will have on shaping this legacy?

Thank you for that poignant question. The legacy of modern mothers, as I envision it, is multifaceted. It’s a synthesis of our roots, traditions, and the forward momentum brought about by technological and societal shifts.

Over the next decade, I believe the legacy will be characterised by adaptability, resilience, and a deep sense of responsibility. As societal norms change, mothers are already breaking away from conventional roles and embracing more holistic definitions of success that encompass career, personal growth, and family life. The technological revolution further amplifies this transformation. While it brings challenges like navigating screen time or digital security for children, it also offers unprecedented opportunities for learning, connection, and flexibility in work and life.

I see modern mothers as torchbearers of a balanced integration of the old and the new. While they’ll adopt and adapt to technology, they’ll also become custodians of cultural preservation, ensuring that the next generation remains rooted in their identity. This delicate balance of imbibing technological advancements without losing touch with one’s essence will be a defining aspect of their legacy.

My hope for ‘Modern Motherhood: Nurturing Kings in the 21st Century’ is to serve as a compass for mothers navigating this intricate dance. I wish for it to be a catalyst that prompts reflection, inspires action, and fosters a sense of community among mothers. The stories, strategies, and insights shared in the book aim to empower mothers to carve out a path that aligns with their values and vision.

Ultimately, the legacy of modern mothers will be reflected in the world they shape for their children—a world that respects diversity, values empathy, and is grounded in both innovation and tradition. If my book can play even a small part in guiding or supporting mothers on this journey, I’ll consider it a profound success.

We are deeply honored to have Ms. Aisha Olagbegi join us for this enlightening conversation. Aisha, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Your book, ‘Modern Motherhood: Nurturing Kings in the 21st Century’, is making impactful waves, especially among Nigerians both home and abroad. We’re eager to dive into the insights you’ve garnered from your groundbreaking research and personal journey. Thank you for being here.

You’re most welcome and thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to join you today and share thoughts on a subject so close to my heart. The reception of ‘Modern Motherhood: Nurturing Kings in the 21st Century’ has been truly humbling, and I’m thrilled to discuss it further. I believe that our discussion can offer some valuable insights, not just for mothers in Edo State or Nigeria, but for all parents navigating the complexities of modern family life. Thank you for providing this platform for such a vital conversation.

Africa Digital News, New York