Senator Florence Ita Giwa looks good at 73 and it is an easy feat which she feels good about. At 73, she is aging gracefully. And above all, she has been an inspiration to the women folk. She has served her nation with all diligence, determination she has a “CAN DO” spirit especially for the Bakassi children. She exudes depth, substance and calibre. She looks good, fit, dresses well and always appears very elegant. In the looks dept, she is a role model to many. And according to her’’ as a role model, I tend to favour styles that flatter the female figure, while at the same time maintain the dignity of womanhood”. Senator Florence Ita Giwa’s growing up years were beautiful ones. She had a privileged upbringing. Her mother Beatrice Bassey Ita, was a renowned Journalist, who used to work with her Typewriter back in the days. Her late husband Dele Giwa was also a super journalist. The Senator learnt a lot from her very energetic mother. From her mum, she learnt the art of style, looking good, while not losing focus. Her father, Chief Bassey Ita, was a Policeman, civil servant, who later turned a traditional ruler in Atabong Bakassi. So by circumstances of her birth, she is a princess of the Efik Kingdom. Her mum wanted her to be a journalist, but she followed her passion and became a Nurse. Upon completion of her training as a Nurse, she practised for a while both in Nigeria and London and later became a Pharmaceutical representative for Beecham-Sandoz Pharmaceuticals before establishing her own pharmaceutical and medical equipment outlets both in Calabar and Lagos. She later ventured into Oil before joining the board of the prestigious Waltersmith Petroman and later ventured into politics. She is a lady of many parts, deeply loved and cherished by friends, families and business associates. She is always a cynosure of all eyes at parties. To say she is very stylish is simply stating the obvious. Anytime she steps out at event, she is a head turner. How has she been able to keep up with this routine for so long? All these she told City People when she launched the City People TV last week in Lagos.
How do you keep up your style at 73, you look beautiful, young and aging gracefully?
I don’t look young oo! But I look good. There is nothing wrong about old age, old age if properly managed, is not a hindrance to looking good. I think Seye did a lot on writing on my styles, in fact, sometimes I called him up and I am like Seye you have come again oo!. But I thank him for that. I keep telling people that where I come from, we know how to manage age. We are not scared of age and again, I am advising girls not to be scared of age.
Age will come, but it depends on how you manage it and how you develop your body, your stature and your dignity and the love of yourself. Every woman must love herself. It does not mean that because you are over 70, you should be carrying walking stick. The Meryl Streep, Jane Collins of this world, is it not God that created all of us? So you have to take care of your body. I know how to manage my age and I am very healthy. I eat healthy and I rest well.
Can you define your style?
My style is timeless and comfortable. I am comfortable in everything I wear. I maintain my body well such that my daughter, who is in her late 20s can wear my clothes, even you can wear my dress. I am timeless in my fashion. I wear what suits me and conforms with my body. If my daughter can wear my dress, then what are we talking about? A woman should know how to carry herself fashion wise. I love to look good at every point in time and those are the reasons you have to love yourself. You need to love what you are seeing. I love to dress and dress my age. I make bold statement of any form of outfit, be it casual, native or corporate wear.
What are the qualities of Calabar women?
Calabar women love to take care of themselves. They know how to look after themselves at a very young age. We know how to be good women. The most important thing in life is that you must retain your feminity and the tutorial you get in the fattening room before you marry teaches you how to retain your femininity and how to respect men.It teaches you how to be a good cook because you must prepare good food for your husband. What you ingest shows on your body the way you are.
A lot of society women love to have you at their parties, how do you juggle all together?
I don’t attend all. I cannot attend all, but you know, I attend some that I know I owe a pay back, which is a form of reciprocating those who attended my events or those who followed me to calabar. There are so many people who follow me everywhere, so for those kind of people, I am obliged to also attend their functions, but I do honour people’s invitation as much as I can. Not that one is a socialite, but you see, it is a job on its own that I have to do like I am here now.
There is one woman who is very much close to your skin and she is Hajia Abba Folawiyo, what can you say about your friendship?
Hajia Folawiyo is not my friend, I always tell people that, she has her best friend, I am not her best friend, we are like family members. She is like my younger mother because my daughter and everybody in Calabar, everybody that knows me calls her grandma because my daughter named her grandma.
My daughter grew up to see her so much and unfortunately by the time I had her, my mum had passed on. So, my daughter, Koko, now looked up to her and named her grandma and also named her husband, the Late Wahab Folawiyo, grandpa. So, I always tell her, I say you are not my friend, oh, you are my mum. She has her friends.
We have maintained a close family relationship for for over 40 years now. We all see ourselves as one family, as relatives, we don’t look at each other as friends, from Segun to all the Folawiyos, they call me their step sister. We have a very good understanding.
She is a wonderful lady. She gives so much, she has so much love to give, she always encourages me in politics, she looks after my affairs like a mother. I can call her at any time of the night that I have an issues and she answers. Sometimes, I even go and eat food at her place. She is like my mum, she is my younger mum, very kind hearted and amazing.