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Patience Achema, better known as Davina is a singer with a big passion. She has also shown that she is hardworking as she’s also a business woman who has interests in jewellery designing. She speaks with ADUNOLA OLADAPO about herself, the entertainment industry, among other issues. Excerpts:
Tell us more about this man in your life that just proposed to you?
Eric Nwadinobi is the most kind-hearted man I’ve ever seen. He is a man that sacrifices a lot for those he loves, and very passionate about his work. That is why I’m in love with him. He was formerly with Ben TV, but now works with Abia State government. We actually met here at the Niteshift Coliseum a couple of years ago.
Why did you cry when he knelt down to propose to you?
The reason I cried was that he fulfilled my secret desire to get a fantastic marriage proposal! Again, I cried because lots of thoughts were going on in my head…how I met him; how I fell in love with him; how responsible a man he is; my wish to be called his wife, etc.
Were you expecting the engagement that night?
Nope. That’s why I was speechless for a few seconds, before replying him.
So how is the experience like, now that the man you love publicly proposed to?
So far, what happened on that Saturday night was the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me…that surprise was the most intriguing thing in my life.
When is the wedding likely coming up?
It will hold before December, God’s willing.
Can you tell us about yourself?
My parents named me Patience. I legalised Davina when I was going into the music industry. I’m a music artiste cum jewellery designer. I have been in the music industry since 2005, when I performed in the Star Mega Jams, alongside other acts in the music industry. Although, I took some break later from the industry. But I’m fully back again as I have just released my latest single entitled Femi.
Is your decision to be a professional singer by design or accident?
I have always had great passion towards music. And I do not exhort vanity in my lyrics; in as much as I do not judge people who do such, I try to pass a message across whenever I sing, because I believe music is spiritual. Most of the lyrics I put down come to me either in the dream or while I am awake. They are just inspirations that come to me. So, I put them down as they come. I sing because I want to pass a message, not really for commercial purposes. So, for people like me, it’s always hard penetrating the market. But the most important thing is that I know I’m passing a message across.
As someone with great passion for music, why are you not focusing solely on music?
From what you know, music is not something that will put food on your table immediately you get started. And to an extent, it won’t pay your bills until you get a degree of acceptance. For those of us who do music for passion, I do it to encourage people, not really for the money. That is why I’m into something else. Though, I have benefited much already from music-financially, connection wise, etc.
Did your first million come from music?
Yes of course. It was when I started officially, within that 2005 — 2006 period. Then there were so many goodies. But it gets to a point in music when there is this silence, and you would need a transition. So at that point, for one not to lose focus in life, especially as a woman, to avoid doing things that is against morals, smoking and drinking, etc, I decided to channel that energy to something very productive.
I had another passion which is this Jewellery and fashion business. And especially it is something that runs in the family. My sister is also a designer, while my brother is an artiste. Even if I fail in music, there is something else to fall back on. I’m into the business to build and mould other women. I design jewellery. I see myself as an expert in this. I have been successful in it to the extent that within one year, I have customers from all over the world, United States of America, London, Germany and all over Africa.
Who trained you in this area of business?
It runs in the family. My elder sister also trained me. She does it professionally, and I trained under her for about two years ago. I started doing it as a business from last year. And today, I have trained a lot of people who are now doing the business all over Nigeria. A lot of brands have folded up, I don’t want mine to be like that…that is why I’m taking my time. But the business has spread like a virus to all over the world.
How will you describe your genre of music?
My genre is contemporary African music. I deal with percussions and other musical instruments. I try to make my music sound analogue, so that the African taste will be felt. Anyone who listens to my songs will know that this is a Nigerian singing. I am always conscious of that when I am in the studio. I think I’m very unique with what I do. Sometimes I also get inspiration to do highlife, R&B and other kind of songs, but they must all have a little African infusion.
Do you have any album in the market yet?
I came with an album in the year 2004; before I ventured fully into music. But that album was not released into the market. But later in 2005, that album paved way for me to perform in Star Mega Jams, Star Trek, and whole lots of other concerts. After that, I came up with another album entitled: Dream. Dream gave me a few fans who love what I do. I also have my own production outfit. For now, I’m just building a brand, a kind of brand that would outlive me.
You talked about building your brand, what brand are you talking about?
The brand is called Davina Secret Nigeria, and I’m building it in various ways.
For instance, my hair style is unique; everybody knows me with afro hair style with its unique colour. This is one of my signature tunes. Wherever people see me, they know this is Davina. My way of dressing is another signature. I make sure I infuse African fabrics in whatever I wear.
Do you have any intention of taking this brand outside Nigeria?
My aim is to be like Angelina Kidjo, our own Onyeka Onwenu, Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade and so many others. These are brands that are for life. It’s the kind of brand I want to build, and I have been building it for years. In years to come, Nigerians will know Davina and what she stands for.
Do you have plans of collaborating with any artiste?
Of course, I have collaborated with African China, in a single entitled: Mama, produced by K-solo. I intend collaborating with more artistes, including Tuface, Onyeka Onwenu, P Square and lots of others, depending on the song.
Your new single, Femi, can you tell us about it and what motivated you into writing it?
Femi is a love song. I have come to understand that people cherish love songs. P Square and few others are among group of artistes that sing love songs with conviction. When you listen to them, you find out that they have experienced love…they sing it with conviction. That is exactly what I just did in this my new single. I have done love songs in the past, but they are not as convincing as this my new love song.
Maybe you hadn’t experienced love then?
Yes! That might definitely be true. When I had never tasted love, I sang love songs in a shallow way…but this Femi is real. The lyrics are from a real experience. I know Nigerians will love it. All the radio stations that enjoy what I do will definitely go agog with this new song!
What does music mean to you?
To me, music is an expression of our inner feelings; it’s love. Music encourages us, lifts us up, and brings us down. It gives us hope, it’s everything.
Can you shed light on your background?
I’m the sixth in a family of seven. I’m from Igala-speaking area of Kogi state. My dad is a retired soldier; so I grew up in a very strict family. My mum was a mid-wife, and very strict as well, that limited me a lot. We lived in different places while growing up. I studied French and later on I went to study Peace and Conflict Resolution at the National Open University (NOUN)
Why the choice of French?
I studied French at that time because I knew deep down that later on, I will become a Nigerian ambassador…so that I can represent Nigeria. I intend studying other foreign languages as well. I’m already learning Igbo language. I understand Hausa and Yoruba Languages, and I speak my own language as well.
At this stage, do you see yourself as a successful woman?
No. I will only see myself as one when I am completely fulfilled.
What is your definition of fulfillment?
Fulfillment is not making money or living in a nice house. Fulfillment is when you have fulfilled your calling. We all have callings. Mine is to minister to people through music and arts. When I must have travelled round and see people I have impacted their lives, that is when I would be fulfilled. As of now I’m still at the kindergarten level.
Why have you not experienced love at that age you sang your first love song?
It’s simply because I took time before exposing myself to relationships. I started dating at the age of 24. And I had started music years back before then.
When was this?
You want to guess my age? Don’t try to. I was not ready to invite anyone into my life then because I’m career-oriented. I wasn’t just ready!
What do you mean by not ready?
That is good, and I want to use this opportunity to advice young girls out there. Don’t go into relationships because your friends are into it, especially when you are mentally not ready. When you do this you are exposing yourself to lots of things including unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, etc.
Being a single parent is not funny; I have lots of friends who are like that. Just because they had boyfriends when they were not ready, and with a man not ready to become a father. I never wanted to train children that do not have fathers…that was the reason I didn’t date.
I was not ready for a man to touch me. And why would you be in a relationship if you don’t want a man’s touch? I was shocked noticing my friends in secondary school having boyfriends. A lot of innocent girls have ruined their lives in the name of dating. Of course, I was attracted to boys, because I am not a lesbian.
Are you saying you didn’t have sex until you were 24?
I tried not to. If you don’t want to eat Jollof rice, don’t go and perceive it. I never did. Even though I started dating from 24 doesn’t mean I started having sex immediately.
Was it because of your religious background?
No! We have lots of girls in the choir sleeping around with men. It’s just a matter of principle. But lots of people will not believe it, especially when they see my personality. If you stay with me all day, all you will see me doing is designing jewellery.
Even if I don’t have any customer who has made an order, I’ll be designing to give out to people. I bless people with jewellery; if they can’t afford it so that they will look good. Impacting on people’s lives is one of my passions. If I’m not designing, I’m in the studio recording my songs or I’m training people, because we have so many people without jobs. With all these things demanding my attentions, tell me what time do I have to start thinking of one man?
What swept you off your feet when you saw this particular man you are dating now?
I like a man that treats me like a queen; a man that will appreciate me for who I am. There are lots of men out there who are intimidated by what a woman is, I don’t like such men. I like a man that is hard-working. I don’t care if you are a mechanic. Some spend so much time making themselves up…no matter how good looking a man is, if you can’t boast a salary, you don’t have any honour. I hate lazy men. I don’t care if you are polishing shoes to earn money. The amount you earn doesn’t matter, as long as you take pride in what you do.
What aspect of your past will you love to erase?
At this stage, I will never erase anything. Everything that has happened in my life is what has sharpened me and made me who I am today. One must make mistakes in life. There is no human being who wants to become something in life that won’t make mistakes. It took Abraham Lincoln 99 times before he could succeed. So were other geniuses. Had it been you met me five years back, maybe I would have told you I regret being a musician.
So, with all the mistakes you’ve made in life, which one remains the most painful?
Listening to dream killers was my greatest mistake. That was when I just started music. A lot of people didn’t know me and where I was coming from. So they were saying all sorts of things.
After about seven years in the industry, what is your worth now? What is the least amount you are paid for a show?
It’s N500,000.00. I know lot of people will not believe this. They will say who is she? But that is the truth. I know who I am and the brand I’m building. What I’m worth right now is marvellous.
Can you share your heartbreak experience with us?
It’s a terrible experience. It’s something I will not wish my enemy to experience. It takes you to the lowest ebb of your life.
When was this?
Let’s just say about three years back.
How many times have you been heartbroken?
Why asking me how many times, as if I have dated many men? I date a man to get married, I don’t date for fun.