Marrying Kanu Nwankwo at 18 was a Good Experience for Me But I will Like My Daughter to Experience Life More Before Marriage — Amara Nwankwo-Kanu
Married to Super Eagles’ Nwankwo Kanu, Amara talks about marriage, motherhood and her other interests
You got married to one of Nigeria’s star players at 18. How were you able to keep the family and home together at the time?
Marriage is a growth process and I learn on a daily basis. I got married as a teenager. I was young. I think I jumped into the deep end and I simply went with it. It takes a lot of determination to keep things going because irrespective of your age, marriage throws a lot of curves at you.The main thing is being able to bounce back after being hit with a surprise or what you do not expect.
Did you harbour any doubts about your marriage?
I wasn’t scared; I felt it like it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was in love, so there was no time for a negative feeling like fear to come up. I think the love I had and still have for my husband was all I needed to feel comfortable and good.
How did you adjust to being married to a popular personality?
When I was getting married, I was not ready to be thrust into the limelight. I didn’t even know what I was getting into. I wasn’t a football fan and I knew nothing about the Premiership. I didn’t know I was getting married into that level of limelight as I was young, vibrant and in love. I am now a football fan.
Have you lost your privacy?
If you notice, this interview is one of the very few I have granted in recent times. I try to keep my sanity, so that I can protect my family. I had to make a personal decision to stay private for a very long time in order to build what I have built for myself and my children. I understood this from a very young age.
Would you want your daughter to emulate by getting married at a young age?
Having gone through it myself, I wouldn’t say I would like her to do the same. I would like her to experience life slightly a bit more than I did. But it all depends on the circumstances and the persons involved. I had support from my mum, dad and siblings. In hindsight, I can say that they actually did a good job. In June, we would celebrate the 12th anniversary of our wedding.
How did you handle criticism at that time?
I ignored critics and paid no attention to what people said. I overlooked Facebook and I only signed on to the platform in July 2011. That was shortly after I earned a degree in Architecture.
If you could do anything differently in terms of marriage and certain decisions you have made over the years, what would it be?
I don’t think I would want to do it differently. I think getting married early is my competitive advantage.I learnt real life and management skills in marriage. Even though I’m currently studying for an MBA, it can’t beat the real life experiences. I won’t change anything because it all worked for me.
While he still played active football, how did you deal with the risks associated with his job?
When I began to understand what it meant to lose a game, I had to learn to cheer him up. I also had to learn really fast that every game had a consequence, a price and a goal at the end of the day.
How would you describe motherhood?
Motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me. In terms of motherhood, women empowerment and business sense, Beyonce inspires me. My children will always be my priority and I give God the most gratitude for blessing me with children. If I invest my time in them, they will give me more value at the end of the day.
How would you describe your husband?
He is a kind man and he has a big heart. He is also very sensitive and intelligent. He shows me compassion through his actions and he doesn’t say too much.
Why did you decide to practice as an interior designer?
I have a first degree in Architecture and I graduated just before I had my daughter. I had some experience working with some of the best architectural firms in London. It dawned on me that I was giving my 100 per cent to a company, which was predominantly white and I had little or no time for my family. Haing garnered adequate experience, I decided to set up my own business, so that I would have time for my family. I can now do things at my own pace. Unlike interior decoration, you need certain technical skills to become an interior designer.
What are your areas of specialty?
I specialise in high-end residential homes and I have had valuable experiences working with high-end hotels in London like the London Marriot Hotel. I prefer designing high-end residential because I love modern designs, clean lines and practical spaces for living. I am referring to those that are visually appealing for the user. I am currently talking it one step at a time and looking to establish my brand in Nigeria in five years time.
How involved are you in the design process?
As a creative person, I work with what the client requires and I come up with a visual board. If the client approves of it, we can kick off from there. In London, we do more of remodelling but in Nigeria, there is room to start things from scratch. I am excited about that because there will be room for me to become very creative.
What inspires you?
I love to see other people grow and develop. That is why my job as a mum is really important to me. Seeing and supporting other people keeps me going. I like spaces that reflect the taste of its owners and personality. I know it may not be achievable to design a home exactly the way you would like it if you had to move in immediately after paying your rent. However, I am of the belief that a space can be readapted to suit a user and it doesn’t have to be expensive. All that is needed is a space that you can call home.
What are your fashion preferences?
I like to pair Ankara with plain fabrics. I also like outfits that are body hugging and accentuate a woman’s curves. I love pointy, stilettos and peep-toe shoes.
Do you have a special fitness regimen?
I engage in a lot of exercises and aerobics to keep fit and juggle my roles a wife and mother. Exercise routines are part of my values and I learnt them from my husband. He taught me to be really disciplined and that is what drives and keeps me going. After I had each baby, he helped me train and go back to my pre-baby weight. After I had my third baby, I learnt I could do it all by myself and I also developed routines that keep my body in tip-top condition. Exercise also gives me energy to keep up with my sons.