Friday, September 27, 2013

Exclusive Interview With The Woman behind GemWoman Magazine - Bola Olawale

Since the moment I first came across gemWoman Magazine, I was totally inspired by the vision behind it. With each page, the vision was clear; Bola Olawale was out to inspire women.

And it still is, only now, after I’ve met her I know exactly why I was so inspired. As she sat in front of me, her sheer warmth and passion for inspiring women and exuded from her, as she spoke on the topics of marriage and parenting, gemWoman Magazine and Gem Publications as a whole, her love and devotion towards what God had entrusted her to do was so tangible I could almost touch it. Her down to earth personality and the way she gushed when answering questions on parenting and marriage made me feel like this is why I have wanted to interview her for so long.

Today Bola Olawale is a kind of quintessential Everywoman: A wife, mother, pastor, writer, publisher, mentor, councilor and trusted friend to many. I could feel her strength and her resolve as a servant and even a soldier for Christ and just under that, is this layer of genuine motherly kindness and animated humor with no airs you don't often find in people these days.

With all the plans for their upcoming event, Body Soul and Spirit This interview had to be short, but I hope you feel the way I felt as I left her presence…INSPIRED!

Covenant Relationships: In your words, who is Bola Olawale?

Bola Olawale: Bola Olawale means several things to several people; she's a wife, a pastor a publisher, mentor. However, my aim is to inspire people to be the best in what God has called them to be.

Covenant Relationships: What inspired you to start gemWoman, gemMan and Gem publishing as a whole?

Bola Olawale: Starting the magazine was by divine instruction. It wasn't something I just woke up and wanted to do. I was at a point in life and my husband and I wanted to do something to do with ministry and I was talking to God about it when he told me to start the magazine and He gave me the name right there and then, Gem. I've always loved writing, I would keep journals my friends who knew me said they knew I would do it but I was like I didn't even know I would do it.

I kept writing and I would be inspired by a pregnant woman walking down a street, or someone in a restaurant, I would get out my pen and just start writing, everything was a story. I was writing, writing, writing I was like where do I go from here? I told my husband who prayed and said OK this is God, let's go ahead!

There was a vacuum in the publishing industry, there is so much information that's going out that is not positive, I wanted to create a magazine that was wholesome and could affect and touch people’s lives positively. I felt that women felt inadequate, and that's the reason for the name Gem, you are priceless, you have value and that by the time you read Gem Woman as a woman you will feel proud to be a woman because you are special in God's eyes.

Covenant Relationships: What have been some of the challenges?

Bola Olawale: Like every other business in Nigeria, there were energy issues; there were vendors issues; issues with the distribution channels because we distribute across Nigeria as far as Abuja, Port-Harcourt. Then the issue of subscription because Nigerians were not used to subscribing to a magazine so helping people to advertise. So many people subscribe now because so many people now understand how relevant Gem woman is.

Covenant Relationships: Tell us about Body Soul and Spirit. What was the idea behind it?

Bola Olawale:I think I wanted an avenue for women to come together just to have fun, when you go for woman events its often hoity toity and you can't really relax and just be yourself and make new friends, fellowship with God and it would pertain to your body soul and spirit and you would leave feeling refreshed, accomplished most women just go to a spa to get that experience. Visiting a spa is just one aspect, at body, soul and spirit we do all kinds of things, women can get makeovers done, their face, hair, they can pamper themselves to a massage, spend time in worship... we invite health experts who would talk about breast cancer, nutrition, a fully packed events that make you feel Good.

The first year 2007 we had 150 people, by the second year we had 500 people and then in 2009, 700 people the following year 1,000. People call from Ife and call from outside the country and book up to 20 tickets at a time. It's good because it’s on a public holiday so many women are free and we thank God, it has been by His Grace.

Covenant Relationships: What should we expects from Body Soul and Spirit this year?

Bola Olawale: This year is the seventh edition, we are expecting more people. There is always a color theme; this year, the color is yellow, a touch of yellow and the theme is No More Limits. There are no limits to what God will do in your life. We are so thankful to our sponsors MTN who has been a consistent sponsor; Maggi, Coca-cola who are going to have a cocktail lounge, Vitafoam are going to do an interior arrangement and there will be a love lounge and an interior decorator will be there to show women how to turn their bedrooms into love nests. The women should expect lots of goody bags from our sponsors and the women will be going home "heavy". Our sponsors really just want to spoil them this time. We expect more first timers and we are starting by 9:30am so that we can use an hour for just worship.

Covenant Relationships: Are you a pounded yam, fried rice or a lasagna person?
Bola Olawale:(Laughs) Ha, ha, ha.When it comes to food I'm not an adventurous person. My husband always teases me because he knows exactly what I am going to order at a restaurant. I've tried lasagna once and I hated it. But do you know what I like? I love beans, I love fish. I could live my life without rice.

Covenant Relationships: What were your greatest fears and how were you able to overcome them?
Bola Olawale: I was scared when we started the magazine, how was I going to go about it? How was it going to be? How was it going to be accepted.

If God is in a thing and you just have faith, if you follow Him and just follow Him doggedly like child, things will happen. People may feel this is a so cliché but it is true, if you just obey Him. Amazingly, when we started I would sit down and ask "Who should I call now? God you are the one who sent me, I was on my own when you called me "He would lead me to call this person or that person and that is how He led me to all the fantastic columnists. I did have fears. So many people discouraged me, ...a Christian magazine, you would never get adverts, it would never work...

But the more they discouraged me, the more there was this fight in me that said I am going to prove them wrong. Since God told me to do this and so it must work and to God be the Glory. I can tell you that God is faithful, the things he has done have just been amazing.

Covenant Relationships: What marital advice do you have for young couples?
Bola Olawale:(Gushes) I'm so passionate about couples. I think I would tell them to be more patient. Patience is key. So many women enter marriage with fairytale-like ideas. They think just because I married a Christian, my marriage will be perfect and my marriage will always perfect. But they need to realize that is not the case, they still need to pray and give their prayers time to get answered because prayers aren't magic. Last time I was in the US on holiday I spent so much of my time counseling people. I wish I had more time to do that, I'm so passionate about successful marriages.

I say, pray until something happens! Pray until you see a change. I have seen the most hot headed men transform into loving and caring husbands through prayer. Women also need to learn to let go, we remember, what he wore on the first date, what he said the first time we met etc we have such good memories but in marriage you have to learn to let go, and stop reliving  past wrongs in your mind. Marriage is a work in progress, give it time to mature.

(I had to give a standing ovation at this point)

Covenant Relationships: You have four children, what parenting advise do you have our readers?
Bola Olawale: Pray for them. Not just collectively but individually. I call my children by name and pray about different aspects as The Spirit leads. It makes a big difference.

I strongly believe in affirmation, it is so important. I tell my kids how blessed I am to have them. I would randomly tell my son how good he looks or my daughter she is beautiful. Building their self esteem at home so that they don't start looking for that outside.

I emphasize on respect also. I couldn't just say "Come here", rather I would say "Please come". There is a place for spanking but even more so, I believe in rubbing minds, let's reason together. I watch cartoons with them. I know all the cartoons and TV programs, I would say "Would you watch this if Jesus was here?" I explain things to them so that they know why they aren't allowed to watch Harry Potter or anything else that isn't edifying. Once they were at a friends place and when a certain cartoon came on, my sons told their friends they couldn't watch it and the mum was surprised and called me and I told her "Yes, I don't let them watch that". My daughter just knows even at the age of ten that she should wear a jacket or bolero on  anything with spaghetti straps. She would see a woman indecently dressed and be like "Why would she dress like that? her boobs are showing".

We listen to music together and talk about the content of the lyrics. I have a son who is really into rap music so I fill his library with gospel rap and he would listen for ages and. Sing along to the words. Sometimes they might feel different at school but I emphasize the need to stand out and be different.

Covenant Relationships: What's your advice for all the ambitious women out there, chasing their dreams? 

Bola Olawale:
Believe in yourself
Believe in God
Be careful who you share your vision with
Remember there might be failures and challenges along the way
Don't compromise
Get people who can enhance your work and don't feel too big to ask for advice.
Be ready to start small allow God to teach you "line upon line".

Covenant Relationships: That’s so lovely, thank you very much!

Interview by Ijeoma Olujekun


  1. Please, could you give me the registration details for this event, please......

  2. Registration closes today, Friday and is N3000.00 which entitles you to a gift bag however, you may register on the day, at the venue. Call any of these numbers for more details: 08033021171, 08033097435 and 08034083844

  3. I have read Gem woman magazine. You are a blessing. Keep it up.

  4. I am privileged to know Pastor Bola personally and she is indeed an inspiration to many. May God continue to bless the Gem Vision in Jesus name! Amen.


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