In this chat with the Tribune’s JOAN OMIONAWELE, the ace broadcaster/actor described his world and his life as an actor. Its quite long so i’ll just give you excerpts from the interview and you can see the full interview Here.
you were rumoured to have died last year; how did that make you feel?
It did not make me feel anything.
So you did not feel bad that people wanted you dead?
If you know me and my character make-up, I don’t bother very much about what people say about me; I have my life to live. From my philosophical persuasion, I am a Fabian, and I believe that the end must justify the means. That does not mean that you must give everything to get something, but if you make up your mind, make sure you are not obsessed with getting to step on the toes of people. It’s a question of conviction and resistance. So, I wasn’t bothered.
People have said you withdrew from movies because you were kidnapped years back…
I did not. I decided to pursue an undying vision, an assignment I was given by the church, and I gave priority treatment to that. I still act but that’s when I have the time. I am in Lagos today, and by the time a role comes, I will be in Aba. I did six movie productions last year.
Let me take you back to the year you were kidnapped. Do you still think about it?
No, though once in a while you recall an experience that is haunting; but what can we do when we are in a country with little or no security?
So you did not have nightmares after the experience?
No, I did not. I am a very strong-minded man and if something explodes here, nothing will happen if it doesn’t touch me. Though I am hypertensive, I don’t scare easily.
Recently, Pastor Chris Okotie said all Catholics would go to hell because they don’t believe in Jesus, and that the Pope is an anti-Christ. As a Catholic, what do you have to say about that?
He is entitled to his opinion. He has a right to say whatever he likes and he is using that right. Constitutionally, he is entitled to it. Stupidity is what we all have in common as human beings, but some people insist that improving it is their entitlement. So, you expect Pete Edochie and other Catholics to be angry? No, I won’t.
I knew Chris some years back; he was fond of me when he was still in school. When I was still a broadcaster, a Hausa man presented him with a car and he came and showed it to me. He is someone I have always liked and he is entitled to his views.
When people condemn T. B. Joshua and say he is using devilish powers, I tell them, ‘Go and use devilish powers and do what he is doing too.’ I don’t believe in running people down because you can’t reach their gifts and depriving others of their hard-earned credit.
Nigerians have known you since you acted Chinua Achebe’s book, Things Fall Apart, but how did acting really start for you?
I had been on television for a very long time, before Things Fall Apart, but people who were in Lagos did not know that people like us existed. They were only seeing Village Headmaster with Funso Adeolu, but we had been on stage since 1967. Before then, I had done drama sketches in school –
Shakespeare and the rest of them. It was Things Fall Apart that gave me international exposure, and the biggest compliment I got was from Chinua Achebe, who said I gave Things Fall Apart the interpretation after his heart. The BBC crew flew down to Nigeria to interview me and went back.
Permit me to say this without sounding immodest: no other actor has attracted such international attention in the country.
The proverbs you use in your movies, are they scripted or from your repertoire?
(Laughs) They come from me.
When you use those proverbs, how do the directors react?
I am asking you the question: how would they feel,? you are a daughter, if I use a proverb to correct you? You are not going to question the propriety of that proverb, because if it were not, I wouldn’t use it.
Pete Edochie always acts the role of a rich man or an Igwe? How rich are you in reality?
Well, I eat three times a day, when I feel like. I trained all my kids and take care of them without borrowing from the bank. People always ask why I am always given such roles and I ask them in return, can you cast me as a driver? No. Can you cast me as a gateman? No.
What are those excesses?
As a young man, I drank a lot. I could drink any bottle under the table. It was because of peer group pressure. We enjoyed diverting ourselves alcoholically. We were not given to subduing the womenfolk as a mark of accomplishment; we always got together to drink and smoke cigarettes. As we got older, I felt there is a need to cut down on all these excesses. I gave up smoking though I smoked for 21 years. I gave it up when I discovered it wasn’t serving any purpose.
You said you smoked for 21years to ward off anger, now that you have stopped smoking, how do you ward off anger?
I don’t get angry easily anymore; I used my Fabian philosophy to stop that.
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