‘And, well, may the best man win,” Toke Makinwa said as she tilted her head and smiled mischievously. The Nigerian TV presenter, radio host, vlogger and now author was speaking at the Joburg launch of her memoir, On Becoming.
A question had come from the audience - mostly comprising journalists and die-hard stans (some of whom had changed flights home from Jozi to be at the launch and meet their idol in person). It was about the legal implications of On Becoming.
But let’s backtrack.
Makinwa, aka Nigeria’s sweetheart, got her big break in radio in 2010 and has become a regular on red carpets and in the tabloids. Makinwa was involved off and on with fitness guru Maje Ayida for over a decade.
They were married for just over a year until, eventually, his infidelity and babies out of wedlock became too much for the starlet and she called it quits.
On Becoming is about all of that. As the title suggests and as she writes in the book: “I would work on myself and focus on becoming.”
The book is essentially meant to be a beacon of hope for those who find themselves in similar situations and need to know that they can get out and start to figure out exactly who they are. Which is all well and good, except it doesn’t take a straight path to that discovery of self. Makinwa takes no prisoners.
She writes about everything from sex tapes to romance to public humiliation to infections and beyond. And she doesn’t omit names. Nigerian press has reported that, as a result, Ayida has allegedly filed a 100 million Naira (R4.1m) lawsuit against Makinwa for defamation.
So at the launch in Jozi’s swanky Hyde Park Corner, Makinwa chose an odd string of words as an answer to the question about On Becoming and the law. Perhaps, by saying “may the best man win,” she means she is more of a man than Ayida is.
Makinwa has a huge following worldwide. I was particularly moved by how she lost her parents - I won’t spoil the story for you. And yes, her sex, lies and videotape take on her relationship is juicy and jaw-dropping, but after a while it starts to feel like the relationship consumed her.
To be honest, for someone who is positioned to be such a powerhouse, I expected this memoir to be about her career as much as it is about her personal life. I wanted to know the professional peaks and valleys that made her who she is.
Makinwa has explained in multiple interviews that maybe she will have a sequel to this book where she chronicles her journey to media mogulhood. So, On Becoming was meant to be - as written on the cover and in the prologue - a “must-tell” and not a “tell-all”. I’ll be waiting to read about her other side.
On Becoming by Toke Makinwa is available at major book stores and digitally.