- LAGOS Celebrity Woman, Madam BISKET Birthday Interview
Her name instantly rings a bell within the Lagos social circle. Just mention Bisket anywhere and many people will tell you they know her. Bisket is the name of her supermarket on Allen Avenue in Ikeja, Lagos. But her real name is Bisi Dan-Musa. She is now a Reverend. Apart from running her well stocked supermarket, she is fully into church work and spends her time taking care of her over 22 adopted children.
This pretty woman is 60. She turned 60 a few days ago. Ask anyone who has lived in the Ikeja area of Lagos, in the 80s and 90s and you would be told about this leading celebrity woman.
She is one of the oldest landlords on Allen Avenue and all the other society women defer to her. She is rich and generous And over the years she has touched many lives, both young and old. She was the darling of the media in those good old days and anything she did then made big news. Before she became a born again Christian, she was a Muslim. Then she got the call in the 80s and got born again. She set up a church, Rabbi Ministries and embarked on taking destitutes off the streets. She reformed many of them. She was Bisi Shaba before she got married to Alhaji Dan Musa. She spent 17 years with Alhaji Shaba and another 19 with Alhaji Dan Musa before she opted out of the marriage. Now, she is single.
For years, she has been adopting less priviledged children and training them like her own. But sometime in 2003, she ran into stormy waters when the police intercepted a bus conveying some of her adopted kids from Ilorin, in Kwara to Lagos.
She was accussed of child trafficking by the Lagos State Government. It was a big issue then, but Bisket told the government she had genuine intentions towards the kids. After a protracted trial, the kids were eventually released to her. Today, many of them have grown up and have become graduates, whilst others are in various Universities all over the country. After the incident, she shunned limelight and recoiled into her shell. She has kept a low profile since the issue which the law courts found to be untrue.
Has anything changed about her? A lot. She has started a new life. She now lives in Lekki. A few years back, she bought a twin duplex in Lekki.
What gave her the headstart was the support she got from her late mum, Mrs. Christiana Alaba Okeowo, (alias Alagbalawura). She was a wealthy Lace merchant at the Gutter market, in those good old days. Her father, late Mr. Zacheous Adekoya Okeowo, from Ijebu-Ode, was a 1st Republic politician who was in the thick of the Wild Wild West in those crazy days in Western Region.
When she turned 60 a few days back, her daughters, plus grandchildren hosted a grand party for her. The interesting thing is that she does not look her new age, she has managed to maintain her ravishing beauty that made her one of the most beautiful ladies on the social scene in the late 70s. Her daughters too are stunning.
Many don’t know she is from Ijebu-Ode. Her parents hail from that historic town. But she grew up with her mum at the popular Gutter market on Lagos Island. Her late mother was one of the pioneer seekers of lace fabrics.
One unique thing about Madam Bisket is that she did everything fast, fast. She finished secondary school at 15 and by 17, she was already into fabric business. She built her first home on Allen Avenue at 24 and she used to go to Zaria to bring in lace material. She had kids early in life, she had 8 children before she was 30. That is why her first daughter is 44 and she lives in Manchester with her husband.
Many don’t know she was actually born into a Christian home but got converted to Muslim through marriage and then reconverted to Chriatianity. She ran a church for years before her ex-husband made her close it down.
Madam Bisket says she has gone through a lot in life. She says its been a rough road. The children trafficking saga opened her eyes to the realities of life. Many of those she felt were her friends betrayed her because she heard all the snide remarks they made. She has learnt her lessons. She says she caused the problem for herself by not complying with Gods instructions to her. How? She dropped Gods work, closed down her church to obey her husband, instead of God.
Last Friday, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE and Reporter, DEOLA FAGBIYE spent an evening at her shop and for 3 hours she told us her travails and successes at 60. Below are excerpts.
How does turning 60 make you feel?
Well, I glorify God, actually, it’s my first time of bringing out my age because while growing up as a lady I never revealed my age. I’m not really a party person. I don’t celebrate birthdays. And it’s not because of religion or something, its just who I am. Most people know the name “Bisket” but they don’t know the person behind the name and the name, by God’s grace has become a household name.
My children insisted on celebrating my birthday because they know my policy and they asked if I wanted to reveal my age and I told them it was about time my age was revealed because people need to know who I am, what I’ve been through, because most of my age mates are still existing. Some are gone, just a few can still stand on their feet in their lives, so I said go ahead, print it out and reveal the age. I’m happy. But those who are close to me know my age; I’m older than some of them. Many people call me Mummy. They say its because I behave like a mother to everybody. Its not a matter of age but a matter of who you are and that’s why they choose to refer to me as “Mummy”. Another person who calls me mummy is my junior brother. We are only 3 from my mum. There’s Nikky Africana, myself and my younger brother.
My immediate junior brother also calls me Mum. And I remember a few years back. I asked him Oluwole, why do you call me Mummy and call my senior sister “aunty”? He replied that you’ve been a mother to me throughout my growing up years. You took care of me even with the little you have. So, that’s why I call you Mummy. And that’s why even up till now you can’t hear anyone calling me “Grandma” I’ve held onto the title “Mummy” even when they refer to those older than me as “Grandma” even my grandchildren call me Mummy, and first grandchild calls me Mummy, and the younger ones call me “Sugar” I prefer that.
So, how did you celebrate the birthday?
My children made my day. I never planned it because if I did, I wouldn’t be out of the country a day to my birthday. I just felt that I have never celebrated my birthday before.
Why is that so?
I don’t just like celebrating birthdays. I don’t like parties and in those days, even from when I was young I preferred going to a club than attending “Owambe” parties. I’m more of club person. I like to go to the club where I can relax and that is what I do even when I’m out of the country. I’m not a party person. Even those musicians that sing my praises, I never attended their parties. Many of them haven’t even met me when they were singing my praises like Barrister and the likes. Even Salawa Abeni who is like my blood sister, I’ve only attended her party twice. I don’t like open parties. I bought some properties last year and I didn’t have any celebration, and even for my first property, the one we are in right now and that’s why people think it belongs to my mum, I don’t do house warming ceremonies, birthday parties, even the preparation is stressful for me, then the stress that follows it.
Also, I’ve not been too lucky with my marriage. I might have gotten married but I was always lived like a single parent and I have lots of kids.
“Today I have 22 kids along with my adopted kids. I have about 4 grand children and 2 of the grandchildren are living with me again, the youngest one is just a year and some months old.”
Even when I tell people I’ve carried 9 pregnancies, they are always surprised and its because most people never saw me pregnant and its because I started childbirth early. My first daughter is in her 40s, I had them when I was under 20 years. They are more like friends to me today. My first daughter is 43 going to 44, my second daughter is going to 43 and its because I had them early and grew up taking care of my kids and I kept on having them every year. So, having children became part of me and when I finished giving birth I was still under 30, so most people didn’t get to see me pregnant and when I started adopting kids, there was a strong rumour that I didn’t give birth to children of my own that was why I was adopting children. It was hard to believe that I had children of my own.
Today I have 22 kids along with my adopted kids. I have about 4 grand children and 2 of the grandchildren are living with me again, the youngest one is just a year and some months old.