Monday, May 30, 2011

ENCOUNTER: Jeanne-Frances Okolue-Madu

Jeanne-Frances Okolue-Madu
Meet award-winning Ovation magazine’s bureau chief in Benin Republic

An alumna of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Mrs. Jeanne-Frances Okolue-Madu took her first degree in French. Earlier, in 1989; the then Miss Jeanne-Frances Okolue had studied for a National Certificate of Education (NCE) in English/French at Federal College of Education in Okene, Kogi State.

Mrs. Jeanne-Frances Okolue-Madu. PHOTO: MAURICE ARCHIBONG

 After graduation from Enugu State-based UNN in 1994, she had gone into teaching, full-time. She had worked as French language teacher at American International School, Cotonou for nine years; until a job offer from Ovation Magazine.

Ovation Magazine is the popular as well as glamorous and glitzy monthly, laden with photographs and devoted to celebrities; founded by Chief Dele Momodu. Mrs. Okolue-Madu is Bureau Chief of Ovation Magazine in Benin Republic and she spoke with mauricearchibongtravels inside her Cotonou office.

Ovation Magazine must be doing well in Benin Republic, going by the fact that it bagged an award, Grand Prix de l’Excellence pour la promotion de la Culture (Grand Prize for Excellence for the Promotion of African Culture) in 2007.

Like her magazine, Mrs. Okolue-Madu has also been rewarded for her contribution: on 11 February, 2011; she won the Prix-Kwabo Award. Interestingly, Prix-Kwabo Award was instituted to honour Benin-born sons and daughters that have distinguished themselves in their various careers, thus fostering the image of their country.

However, Mrs. Okolue-Madu was elected for this award in recognition for her work, which has also gone a long way in projecting the image of Benin Republic. It is worth noting that this Ovation bureau chief was the only female and non-Beninoise among the nine recipients honoured this year.

Whether working in Ovation or other ways, Mrs. Okolue-Madu has truly helped to project the image of Benin Republic as well as that of Nigeria, too. She is a member of Christian Friends of Democracy, which has its African headquarters in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

Christian Friends of Democracy is an affiliate of Sister Cities International, which is based in Michigan State in the US Mid-West. Sister Cities International and Christian Friends of Democracy occasionally organize talks, forums, seminars and so on.

Such platforms facilitate exchange of ideas and building of vital networks: “These (being billingual and involved in some non-government organisations) have made it possible for me to penetrate the West African region; and, also made my work for Ovation easier”, she mused.

Mrs. Okolue-Madu, who joined Chief Dele Momodu’s company in 2006; conducts interviews and does translations for Ovationa International, which is a billingual edition of Ovation magazine. Speaking with mauricearchibongtravels inside her office within an imposing complex popularly called Berlin, located near Ancien Pont (Old Bridge); Okolue-Madu enthused: “My learning French at UNN finally paid off”.

She pointed out that being billingual is key to efficient execution of her duties as Bureau Chief of Ovation International in Benin Republic. Effervescent with ideas and brimming with infectious joy, this mother of three; added: “I was just born for this thing because I’ve always been interested in meeting people. I have an open mind about people; and, this has helped me in many ways, wherever I have work to do”.

In deed, she enjoys an excellent relationship with countless Benin Republic nationals, including numerous key government figures; who have come to trust her as an individual. In some ways, the Nigerian community both in Benin and back home relies on Okolue-Madu for some things, too. For example, she seems to be first choice for Master of Ceremony (MC); whenever Nigerian Embassy Cotonou has an event.

Teacher, reporter and translator; Mrs. Jeanne-Frances Okolue-Madu is also a regular mother. She and her hubby, Mr. Calistus Precious Madu, tied the nuptial knot in 2000; and, despite her tight office schedules, she has also proven successful at the domestic level. 

Concluding, Mrs. Okolue-Madu declared: “There are Nigerians, and there are Nigerians. All this talk about Nigerians being involved in this and that could be quite disturbing; but, let’s always remember that there are more Nigerians doing legitimate businesses and making positive contributions to societies, where they live. Me, my husband and our children and all the Nigerians I know are into genuine ventures; and, at the end of the day; this country (Benin Republic) will remember that we passed this way”.


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