Nigerian media personality, Omotoke Makinwa, or Toke, as she is fondly known to her fans, walks into a New York City hotel and the lunchtime crowd turns to watch as she crosses the lobby.
Makinwa has a presence that captivates everyone in her path, leaving even jaded New Yorkers, who rarely focus on any one thing for too long, wondering if maybe a Hollywood A-Lister whose name they have temporarily forgotten has just walked in.
Her magnetism extends beyond her looks. She is as warm and inviting in person as she chats to ESSENCE as she is when doling out relationship and life advice to subscribers of her YouTube channel, TokeMoments.
Makinwa came into the spotlight in 2010 when she joined a popular Lagos radio station Rhythm 93.7 FM as the host of a late night show. A year later she was co-hosting The Morning Drive, a gig she still holds today. She then went on to television hosting. Her witty on-air banter garnered her a lot of fans who would follow her faithfully to the YouTube vlog, TokeMoments. Her vlogs - with titles like “5 signs you are a side chick” and “Watch how to take special care of your man” - have attracted a total of four million views.
She is currently on a book tour in the U.S., promoting her tell-all, On Becoming. In the memoir, Makinwa spills the tea on her tumultuous relationship and marriage to fitness trainer Maje Ayida. The marriage ended in 2015 after just 18 months. She holds nothing back as she dishes on their 12-year relationship which began in college and culminated in a glitzy wedding in 2014, even though Ayida had stepped out on her with no less than five women and gave her a sexually transmitted infection. Less than a year into the marriage, he had gotten his side chick pregnant.
Makinwa says she did not just write the book for the sake of adding another title to her resume. She wrote it as a cautionary tale to others. “As we grow and become, there are a lot of stories we can share and tell for other people to be inspired by,” she tells ESSENCE.
Makinwa’s parents died in a house fire when she was just 8-years-old. Her aunt in Lagos then raised Makinwa and her siblings. She says as a teenager she was angry and rebellious, and as a grown up, she kept her emotions bottled up as she focused on her career.
She admits to turning a blind eye to her then boyfriend’s indiscretions and staying in a relationship that should not have progressed beyond a few months because she had “daddy issues” and had no idea how to have a healthy relationship with a man.
She is opening up now in the memoir to take back the power and break the stigma women face when their marriages break down.
Makinwa credits her relationship with God, calling herself a Jesus girl, for keeping her strong throughout the ordeal and recovery. Faith has led her to where she is and has given her peace and comfort. She learned to deal with her past, build her confidence and patience.