Popular society woman and politician, Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa, is 73, but she does not look it. She is still as elegant as she was years back. She is still her stylish self. She has remained the fashion icon that she is. She is still as strong as ever. And bubbly too. She has made her mark in Politics. She has also made her mark in Business.
She is blessed with a good skin that glows. The secret of Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa’s good looks is that she likes to spoil herself. She sleeps well. She eats well. And she eats healthy. She lives on vegetables and fruits. She takes a lot of water and has cut off carbohydrates totally. She also walks out all the time. She goes to the Gym regularly.
She jogs and takes long Walks and of course, she loves dancing. Any time she celebrates, she always creates time to dance. Then, she advocates that all women must create their Me Time, that is a time set aside for them to rejuvenate and luxuriate. When City People interviewed her, she spoke a lot about her beauty secrets. When she turned 70 a few years back, many people had to be asking if truly she was 70.
This is because this pretty woman does not look like a septuagenarian. She could pass for 55 or even 60 years old, but not 73. Reasons? She has managed to maintain her flawless natural light complexion, her slim physique and her baby look cannot be ignored. There is no aging at all. She does not wear glasses and still bounces about her house. She is still very active, in fact, hyper active and she is her bubbly self.
The truth is that Mama Bakassi is 73. One thing Senator Ita-Giwa does not joke with is her beautiful body. She has a great body and she nurtures and nourishes it with good Food, and Exercise. She loves food, but eats right. She also does not joke with her exercise. But she will readily tell you she is blessed with an ageless body she does not joke with going to the spa to be treated to massaging. She has both local and international uniformed chefs, who spoil her silly with the very best.
Unlike many women who don’t have time for themselves, she does. She often creates Me Time. She is her own best company. Despite that she is a politician and leader of the people, she creates times for solitude. She lives in an exclusive part of Ikoyi where once she shuts her doors, she maybe indoor for a week. She does not receive visitors or unscheduled guests. Her house overlooks the sea. She lives well. In her house she lives like a Queen. She has expatriate house-helps who cater to her needs. They have come to study her to enable them know what she wants at every point. If she sneezes, they know what to do.
She does not abuse her body in any way and she knows how to relax and rejuvenate.
“I am focused she told City People. “I have my life well laid out and structured. I don’t take nonsense from people. I don’t joke with my rest. I sleep well. I sleep soundly and live a life that has meaning.
One the great facts of life is that ageing is inevitable. Ageing has to come so I don’t see the big thing about. That is basically why you have what is called the evolution of life. The young must grow and the old must continue to grow as well. People just keep growing and so there’s nothing one can do about that but the thing is that one must start early in life.
First of all, try and imbibe the culture of looking after yourself and eating properly. When I say properly I mean eating very healthy foods. Living a very healthy lifestyle. Living in a healthy and nice environment. One does not have to be very rich to live in a healthy environment and most importantly, it is necessary to always have a clear mind.
Do not keep malice. If anybody offends you, you take the person on. Have your arguments and get things sorted out and maybe at the end of the day, a superior argument will win. Also know that in life as long as one believes in God, there is no problem without a solution. Whatever problems one might face, always know that there is a solution to that problem. Don’t just live your life, worrying about what you shouldn’t worry about because I don’t.
I try to simplify life. I am a politician and I’ve been on the field of politics for twenty five years doing nothing and I must say that it has been a very difficult period of my life growing into politics so I had to try and build up all kinds of defence mechanisms and self preservation because horrible things do happen in politics. It is not for people with feeble hearts however you have to work out extra means of surviving challenges.
So, in my estimation, it will be very easy for Nigerian women who are not into politics. One major thing they must also know is that they must not be scared of age. Whatever you aspire to be, just plan it, put it in prayers and get rid of fear. Go out and get it done."
What is it that really inspires her about life and keeps her staying strong?
“I think my inspiration comes from first of all the environment in which I grew up. I grew up in an environment of very strong women. I grew up amongst my mother and even my fathers’ mother. Also my terms of responsibility helped me. I grew up knowing that I don’t have a choice than to do what I have to do just like the Americans would always say. That alone gives me a lot of strength and courage. Also looking at a lot of people that look up to me really inspires me. There many people who, next to God, look up to me. That again is, indeed, inspiring. That again is very energising.”
At 73, when would she call her best moments growing into womanhood?
"My best moments in life was discovering myself as a woman, discovering those things that makes a woman, discovering what aspects of career I wanted to pursue at the beginning of my own independence. Also meeting my husband, falling in love and getting married, having children and most recently would be adopting my children who today are doing amazingly well and remaining my sources of pride.
Anytime I look at them, I feel many inches taller than I am. All these are the things that make growing up get really exciting. Discovering yourself and your body has been great and also knowing what you have to do in the midst of all God has created”.
What is her advice to women on how to manage life as they age?
“I always tell people that I am a Calabar woman and we are very civilized people from the beginning. There is nothing you can do about age except to manage age and not to allow age control your life. I don’t do young things because I don’t want to be young. I can’t remember the last time I did young things because of my life has been full of very profound responsibilities and I was brought up by my mother to think like an adult, to always take responsibility. I do not dress young because I have grown up children, but I do not negotiate and will never negotiate ageing beautifully and gracefully. I will not negotiate ageing with my waist line in place, so that I can get into my pants, my jeans and my nice dresses. That is non-negotiable.
Does she have experts who handle her wardrobe and figure or she dictates how she look?
“It is natural. I do them myself. I grew up in an environment where from birth apart from being a journalist, my mother was also a dress maker and she was naturally gifted. I was fortunate to be her only daughter and so she used to dress me up. I grew up dressing well and also knowing how to take care of my clothes and my things. I grew up knowing how to come out looking good and so I don’t have need for a wardrobe manager.
I know all the thousands of clothes I have because I know the time I take in buying each of them. I don’t just shop off the shelf, I take my time to pick what I want. No matter how many dresses I have, they all have their various sentimental values attached. I manage myself and most importantly, I manage my body.”
She will always tell you “though I am from Calabar, I am a Lagos girl”. She has homes all over the world. In Abuja she lives big. In Calabar she does the same. In London, she does it too and in Lagos, Senator Ita-Giwa lives like a Queen. For several years now, she had lived on Banana Island where she owns a posh apartment that will make other women turn yellow with envy. Her sprawling apartment overlooks the sea and she has a full compliment of domestic staff. She has a Calabar Chef and 2 Fillipino female househelps, who attend to her needs.
She eats right. She lives on vegetables, fruits and fish. And like she will always tell anybody who cares to listen, “I deserve to live well. I have paid my dues. I have been making money since I was a little girl, buying and selling and even medical equipment I have always been busy since I was in my 20s”.
I really do not like people who tell me I look young because, old is not ugly. Old is not supposed to be ugly. Ageing is inevitable."
"There is nothing you can do about ageing. You have to grow old. What you can do about it is to ensure that you age gracefully and you age looking good. So, you make all efforts possible for you to keep your body for as long as you can the way it came to world, minding the fact that changes are taking place. But those changes can be made less drastic by starting early to look after yourself.
I started early. At the time that I was a student in England, in my 20s, I was using Oil of ULAY and my friends then used to say Oil of ULAY was for old people. I used to tell them I am using it to prepare myself for old age. That was as early as that. And as early as that I had learnt a lot from my mother. Through my mother, I had imbibed the culture of finding time for myself at the end of every days hardwork.
I have made it mandatory for me to give my body what I call my Me Time. At the end of each day, I give myself 30 to 40 minutes even if I get home at 3am to 4am. One of the process of switching off is the Me Time. That Me Time is giving my body time to look after my body, to soak my body in a good bath, then moisturise it, then eat vegetables and fruits, eat what is good for your system, eat what will keep repairing your damaged system, your damaged cells. I think it is important for women to look after themselves. That way, you won’t be scared of ageing.
Like I keep telling people. I am a Calabar woman and a Calabar woman is not scared of ageing because they know how to deal with ageing. It is very very hard to find a Calabar woman, who is bent over at any age, using walking stick.
No. Because at a very early age, Calabar woman will start preparing their body. So, I don’t want to be young. It takes time to grow. You cannot achieve much if you have not aged especially for woman. It's a slower process. A woman's rise is more meteoric.
So, I am actually scared of being young. I don’t want to go back to the days I was growing up.
And I am very very happy in my skin. I am very happy with the way I am today. I am thanking God every minute of my life for turning 73 in good shape, in good health, in good frame of mind."