Nigeria: On Becoming by Toke Makinwa

On BecomingAbout the Book (goodreads)

Toke never envisaged that she would be a successful media personality. She began her journey as a bubbly child but grew into a lonely teenager after the devastating loss of both her parents. For so long after, it seemed as though she would never find herself.

On Becoming is the real Toke Makinwa telling us what it is like to be one of the most talked about celebrities in Nigeria. She reveals the truth behind her 14-year relationship with the man she finally married. A marriage that ended in an atrocious scandal that nearly brought her to her knees.

In the wake of the peaks and troughs that characterize Toke’s experiences, she now shares her struggle with blinding betrayal, finding forgiveness and drawing strength from her faith in God.

Nigeria: On Becoming by Toke Makinwa


On Becoming by Toke Makinwa tells the story of the author’s struggles with her marriage.  I didn’t know Toke before reading this book. She is a celebrity in Nigeria and by the look of things; she is a successful media personality in the country. Having this information is critical in understanding some of the events that took place in this book.

The book has a few chapters that focus on Toke’s childhood. The death of her parents is sudden and hence more tragic. They both perished in a gas explosion at their home. However, the book doesn’t dwell much on Toke’s early years. Instead, the main focus is her relationship with her ex-husband, Maje.

I  don’t even know how to explain this relationship. If this was fiction then it would have been easier to explain my feelings about the three people in the triangle. However, this is really life so who am I to really criticize these people? Nevertheless, Toke and Maje had such a terrible, tumultuous seven year relationship. He constantly cheated on her with his ex, Anita. Some of the things that occurred in that relationship were jaw-dropping. What shocked me the most is the reason given as to why Toke bleached her skin. The relationship was emotionally abusive and the couple was on and off more times that I can count. To fix the relationship, they decided to get married. Yeah, they actually did. The short marriage ended up in a scandal that caused a media storm in Nigeria. Maje had impregnated his ex-girlfriend, Anita. As a matter of fact, that is the second woman he had impregnated while still with Toke.

Unlike regular people, Toke didn’t have the opportunity to deal with the loss of her marriage in private. The tabloids, celebrity columns and social media were awash with news of the scandal. It is in this chaos that Toke’s strength was really tested. One thing that stood out to me was that author kept mentioning how the society made things even worse. She says that it is Nigeria but I think it is not just her country but also other parts of Africa and perhaps the world. Women are expected to put up with a lot of crap in their marriages. Maje’s infidelity was interpreted as a weakness of Toke’s part. Why couldn’t she keep her man? Why is she leaving him just because he cheated yet ‘all’ men cheat? The pressure was insurmountable but Toke still pushed through in the end.

The final few chapters deal with lessons that she learned from her failed marriage. I  like the fact that she gave details on how she overcame the pain. The aspect of spirituality features through the chapters becomes more prominent towards the end.



On becoming by Toke Makinwa is a bit hard to define. It is not really a memoir because it mainly focuses on her relationship and the public scandal that followed. The book’s tagline is ‘A-Must Tell’ so I feel like this was Toke’s way to tell her side of the story. Her marriage issues became a public affair and she had been criticized for her role in her husband’s infidelity. She remained quiet during the media storm and so this was her chance to set things straight. At the end, she does share tips on how to get through a failed marriage/public scandal. If you are looking for a memoir set in Nigeria, look elsewhere. If you know Toke and want to understand how she dealt with everything then this is the book for you. If you are going through something similar or just want a better understanding of what it is like going through these issues; failed marriage/relationship, abuse, public scandal then this book is for you.

17 thoughts on “Nigeria: On Becoming by Toke Makinwa

  1. Great review Diana. I personally was mad at Toke but later eased up when I brought myself to understand where she was coming from.

    1. But honestly though, the things that Toke did wah. Bleaching herself to look like the ex is what shocked me the most. Anyway, I am glad that she survived the ordeal.

  2. Nice review! I’ve been seeing this book in a bookstore I frequent, but I didn’t know who she was. I’m glad I know what it’s about now… interesting journey she’s had.

  3. This book doesn’t sound like something I would want to read. I read a small-press “tell all” once, and it was one of the most horrible, gossipy, petty books I’ve ever read. It basically sounded like one woman trying to tell her side of the story before the ex-husband could so she wouldn’t look bad. It reminded me of high school gossip. This woman was in the media; what did she do? Based on her image, I would think a model. She looks like a Barbie. I do know that many people commented on Hillary Clinton’s “inability” to keep Bill Clinton from straying with an intern, and I felt so awful that that’s the way people turned: that she fell short because he fell in someone else’s bed.

    1. Toke is a TV/ Radio presenter. When I got the book, I assumed that it would be a memoir. The title On Becoming made me think that perhaps its a story about how she became Toke, the brand. However, its really just about the relationship and giving her side of the story. It does sound a bit one-sided but then again, its her story to tell.

      Its sad that happened. Here leaving a man because of infidelity is not always supported. Some people say that its like leaving a town because of the rains, everywhere rains! Then wives are compared with the other woman to see why the men strayed. Its an unfortunate mess!

      1. That is so sad to me. Women get the short end of the stick everywhere. In China, they have a saying: having a daughter is like watering your neighbor’s tree. 😑 I agree that a story can seem one sided because it’s her story, but after I read the book I mentioned, I realized there are stories and there are sides. I don’t want to read someone’s side.

      1. Perhaps this book is well written. However, I read a book about how much the author things her ex is a piece of crap and wants to get her story “out there” because her ex can get his story out to people. That’s not a story: it’s a race in the he said/she said game, one played daily in high school, so other people will know which side to pick. We mostly don’t know authors personally. We don’t pick sides because we have no stake.

  4. Toke! indeed is a strong woman no matter her weaknesses. Bearing and witnessing only the death of her parents in a gas explosion is enough to change the direction of her life, a teeneger with such pain of lost in her heart, dangled into a relationship of yet another pain and heart broken, and finally survived everything and told her story. Indeed you’re a strong woman that was refined through tough time

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