Ini Abimbola, the founder and CEO of ThistlePraxis Consulting, is well known as a Management and Sustainability Strategist, and not just in Nigeria. But what many don’t know is that she’s also an experienced counsellor, a side of hers she’s now exploring with her new project (Hard Talks With Ini) that debuted last Saturday. She briefly shares the dream in this chat with The Interview.
What prompted this new project of yours at this time?
For the past 14 years, I have in one capacity or the other – pastor, mentor, and counsellor – had the opportunity to counsel quite a number of people on various issues ranging from life, career, business, marriage, children, etc. During the lockdown, we saw life disrupted like never before and this exacerbated a number of issues with individuals, families, etc. I found myself spending hours on end via phone calls counselling, managing and engaging on all sorts. Some of the issues I engaged with serves the foundation for bringing this to the public sphere now so more people can have the lessons.
Can you share with us some of these issues, ‘Hard Talks With InI’ will deal with?
We will discuss the hard issues – incest, cheating, domestic violence on men and women, toxic partners, sex and its ancillary issues – male and female libido, contraceptives, vasectomy or tubal ligation, sexless marriages, polygyny, divorce and its ancillary issues. Issues that culture or society never talks about publicly.
Why the name ‘Hard Talks’: does it mean these issues are so difficult for people to talk about?
Most of the issues are sometimes spoken in guarded tones. Some are frowned at publicly but never discussed openly. Some are hard to talk about because of religious or family barriers.
What do you think makes these issues ‘hard?’ Our culture, religions or socialisation?
All of the above. Women and are socialised in a certain way and culture helps enforce these. Religious bodies shy away from openly condemning abusive marriages. The women and men in some cases, are told – “yours is not the first”.
Which issue do you think is the most avoided/hidden in our society today?
• Sexual assault and impropriety.
• Marital rape.
• Cheating that ends with children born out of wedlock/paternity issues.
• Sexual abuse of house-helps
• Children with mental health issues because of a toxic home.
What do you hope to achieve with Hard Talks with Ini?
Open up the issues we shy away from. When issues are open, it helps victims speak up. They can seek help. People can be more open about challenges. Marriages can be saved. Children can saved. Society can be saved.
With your experience, do you believe counselling really works in Nigeria?
Yes it does, if done on time, with a seasoned, unbiased and emotionally astute counsellor. Counselling saves lives and changes the dynamics of a lot of situations.