Monday, 5 June 2017

Secret of my strenght @ 82—Chief Jimoh Aliu (Aworo) + How he started acting 60 years ago

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Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR)

Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR)  aka Aworo is a movie legend in Nigeria. He is one of the last soldiers of the olden days theater industry in Nigeria. He started acting in 1956 when Nigeria was yet to discover what is today described as Nollywood. The Oke-Imesis, Ekiti State (South West Nigeria) born actor is today a Cultural Ambassador in Yoruba Land after 60 years on stage as writer, director, producer and actor. An old soldier in the Nigerian Army, Chief Aliu is an encyclopaedia of arts and one of the founding fathers of the Association of Nigerian Theater Practitioners (ANTP). Chief Aliu who is famous for his star TV series of the 80s and 90s eg, Arelu, Yanponyanrin and Fopomoyo is one celebrity that is a reporter’s delight any day any time. Always full of wits, drama, oriki, native intelligence, wisdom and strength that can not be compared with anything. In a recent encounter with your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika inside a Lagos 3 Star Hotel suite, Chief Jimoh Aliu who was on his way to America for a special movie project shared some of his best kept secrets with us. It is an interview you have not read anywhere before. An Asabeafrika exclusive. Enjoy the excerpts.
I saw you last in 2015 when you clocked 80. Today, I am meeting you again and you are now 82 years of age. Can I start by asking what the secret of your good health is?
The GDA meets the Chief in his Hotel Suite in Lagos

Thank you very much for coming around. Yes, that I look smart and healthy is not by my power but by the power of God. I don’t even understand myself. I always pray to God to keep me fit to be able to continue to make people happy. I thank you for coming and I will like to use this opportunity to greet everyone that is reading this interview, our royal fathers, governors, iyalajes, iyalojas, doctors, ministers, commissioners, senators, I greet all of you reading me and all my fans across the globe. I am Chief Jimoh Aliu, everybody know me as Aworo of Arelu and Yanponyanrin fame. And for now, I am known as Oba Asa. I am from Ekiti State, Oke-Imesi in Ekiti West LGA. I am a theatre man at all time. I am never tired and I am still on the screen even at 82.
What keeps you going at 82?
Baba Aworo explaining a point to Asabeafrika
I have nothing to say than to thank God for keeping me alive. He created me in a very unique way and I am now 82. I still have my two eyes and my body moves very well with my mental alertness clear. I just finished a 52 episode series on TV, titled Sir Chukwu on Galaxy TV; you can watch that movie every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I had about 478 artistes on location at Osun-Oshogbo for the series. We produced for about 4 months and I can’t recall falling sick or ill for once. I am still strong enough to even do more of such TV series.
Where do you get the strength to write, direct, act and be in charge of your game at 82?
Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika...'My Strength is a special gift from God'
Thank you for this question. I want to say it is a special gift. If God create you and gives you a talent to continue to dominate your industry, I think you should appreciate God for it. Sometimes, if I sleep, I will see some beings come to teach me how to write a story through the dream. When the dream is running, I will rise up immediately and call my children and say ‘pick your pen and start to write this, write that, etc’. I have been doing this since 1956 when I started. Some people will say ‘oh, I am forty-something on stage or fifty-something on stage’. They start counting their age but my own is not like that. I thank you for doing everything possible to come and hear from me and learn about life. I pray by the special grace of God, you will continue to be a winner in anything you do in life and you will crush all your enemies.
Amen, sir
Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika....'Youths should stay away from vices'
Yes, you are my son and I your father, please, continue to do what you are doing. Now, I want to advice (Nigerian) youths, please, be honest. In anything you do in life, ensure that you move closer to God; don’t be a liar, don’t be a womanizer, don’t be a smoker or a drinker. If you drink, don’t over drink or over smoking. Don’t do that, respect your God, respect your father, respect your mother and respect your leader. The Bible says ‘B’owo fun iya, b’owo fun baba re’, not only your father or mother but anybody that seniors you in all endeavor of life. Please, respect that person and God will continue to back you up. You won’t have any problem. But if you disrespect, then you are in trouble.
How did the journey to fame started for you?
Chief Jimoh Aliu on his 80th birthday...Became Oba Asa...
I got to Lagos in the year 1946; I was load carrier (Alabaru) at Jankara market. I started at Oyingbo and Iddo, if they call ‘Alaaru o’ I will say ‘hoo’ and rush to help people carry their loads. You know the proverb of our fathers, it says oo k’ewu, oo k’awe, won p’alaaru o sare’ (You didn’t attend a circular school or Muslim school for education yet they offer you load carrying job and you are lazy). When I knew that I had just a little education, so I must do something to survive. But I never knew that from carrying loads for people in the market place I will become a movie star today. I have won so many awards home and away; I am a professor of theater art, I am a cultural ambassador and I am a Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR). When you get to my house, you will see lot of plaques of awards I got here up to Saudi Arabia, Britain and elsewhere.
Chief Jimoh Aliu being honored by Fuji Music Star Dr. Osupa Sahidi
That is why I am very careful. I respect people so much. If you see a small boy, don’t use your mouth to shout down that person and say ‘Hee, you’. If you see somebody that is jobless, walking up and down, don’t mess with him because God can change that person at any fucking time. God changed me in so many ways. If you were lucky to be in Oke-Imesi last Saturday for the Ladunwo festival, if you see how my town people embraced me, praising me, I was overwhelmed. It was on television and everywhere because I am the coordinator of Ladunwo Festival. But my town never knew I could be so great like that in life because when I was leaving Oke-Imesi in the 40s, we waka (trekked) right from Oke-Imesi to Ilesha. It was a terrible experience, and from Ilesha, they used 6 pence to transport me down to Lagos. But come and see me, today. I am now a goodwill ambassador of Oke-Imesi and Ekiti state.
So, how did you find yourself in theater?
Chief Jimoh Aliu with famous Actress Nike Peller
Yes, that is why I said it is a special gift. I love to watch films in those days; I was a regular face at Pen Cinema, Agege, Casino Cinema, Yaba and many other cinemas in town. If I don’t have enough money to watch film, I will make sure I do enough load carrying at Oyingbo or any of the markets to enable me gather enough money to buy my own ticket and watch the particular movie I want to watch.
The Chief in an old shot with the GDA
I watched many Indian film and local films and from there I got my inspiration to act. I wanted to be like them. It was from visiting those cinemas that I met my late Oga, Akin Ogungbe (Went into Oriki: Omo-Olumesi malana, won ni k’oba ma lana, oni toun ba lana, oun a l’ana l’ategba titi lo de ijebu ode, k’olorun ko ba mi f’orun ke). He came to see my master late Mubashiru Cole at Number 2, Kilani street, Mushin, Lagos. He is a patron to Akin Ogungbe Theatre Group. I saw the way his people were dancing and I said ‘this is the type of things I like’ and I called my Oga and said ‘Please, sir, I will like to join this group’. And that was how I started with Akin Ogungbe Theatre Group.
You mean that was how Jimoh Aliu became a member of Akin-Ogungbe Theatre Group?
Chief Jimoh Aliu explaining a point to Asabeafrika
Yes, I traveled far and wide and equally gained lots of experience from the group. So, if you want to do your work, sit down and do it well. The story you are going to write, let the story teach people morales, if it is about Osho (Wizard) or Aje (Witches) or Ole (Thief) or Amugbo (Smoker), if you want to write, let that story teach a lesson to everybody that will watch. You must learn to write the story to teach a lesson. And as the ambassador of that story line, what you try to teach people with your story, don’t do it. But in Nigeria today, some people write a story to curse somebody, if you do this; you are going to be canned. Because if you are doing something that is negative and against what you teach with your story, you have already used that story to curse yourself.
You mean they write a story-line and they themselves are accessories to actions they preach against?
Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika....'I don't expect someone shooting a movie on robbery to be an armed robber in real life. That means you are cursed'
Exactly. You say you are cursing armed robbers (with your story line) but you are equally stealing. But people don’t know you are a robber, people don’t see you. But the day God will catch you, he is going to expose you to everybody and people will say ‘Ah, aaah???’. They will say ‘Asiri e tu’. And again, you must run for women. If you want to succeed in life, you must not be women conscious. For instance, you are invited for a job interview in an office and on getting there, you see the PA, a very beautiful lady. Then, you come in and say ‘I want to see the MD or Chairman’ and she says ‘sit down, sir’. And you take a newspaper and pretend to be reading, meanwhile you are using side of your eyes to cross-check the lady. Then, you start joking with her and in the course of that joke you tell her ‘I like you, you are beautiful bla,bla,bla’. Then, suddenly, the boss invites you in. You enter and you pass the interview but on leaving, you now asked for the lady’s phone contact.
Chief Jimoh Aliu with a Beauty Queen; say 'Young People should not chase women before work'
‘I need your contact because I love your face’. And you went away. Then, same lady goes in to see her boss and she says ‘oh, Oga, is that man your friend? He is not a serious man o, he kept chasing me etc’. And the man will say ‘ehen?’. If he asks you to come the second week for appointment, you will surely come back. But on getting there, the same lady tells you ‘Oga does not want to see anybody now, he says I should tell you to leave’. And when you try to protest, she shouts you out and you become confused. This is exactly what many young men do to destroy their own lives. They want to belong and that impedes their success in life. Theses are some of the cogent experiences I have gained from my waka-waka from here to America to London to Paris; to Kano,  Kaduna, Maiduguri, Gboko, Markudi, Mubi, Numa, Okene down to Onitsha, Abakaliki, Ihiala, Nkalagwu, Ikot Epene, Uyo, Eket, Edet, Asaba down to Seme down to Cotonou, down to Degema, down to Kumasi, down Yashokoro, down Monrovia. So, I have used my several trips to gather many experience coupled with my seven and a half years in the Army.
Yes, sir, I forgot you were once a soldier, does the experience equally counts on you?
The Oba Asa stressing a point to the GDA
I worked with (General) Oluleye at 2nd Division; I worked with (General) Benjamin Adekunle Scorpion at the 3rd marine Commando before the arrival of General Obasanjo. So, Obasanjo is my Oga. It was when Obasanjo left (General T.Y) Danjuma took over that I resigned and came back home and started my theater practice.
You mean you left the army because of General TY Danjuma?
Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika...'I joined the Army because i was beaten up by military boys'
Not, not because of Danjuma. It was strictly for my theater project. Even while I was in the military I was still doing my theater. It was just necessary that I retire and go back to my first love.
But why did you join the Army in the first place?
The Oba Asa...Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR)
It was because some military men punished me, I ran into them one day and I was maltreated and I said ‘I must join this army to find out what is special about them’ and that was it. I joined the army because I am a theatre man and I can continue to play for this people (Army) to make them happy. Some of those people I performed for in those days, some are now senators, ministers, governors, justices, lawyers and that is why people will say ‘Jimoh Aliu knows people in high places’. Yes, I know people because I have found myself in various spheres of life. People always wonder, if I knock this office someone will attend to me, if I knock the other office, someone is there for me. If I get to London, they know me, America, I have people there, so, they keep wondering why I am so favored with people in high places.
Oba Asa High Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR) with the GDA
The answer is simple; these are people I performed for when they were students in Primary Schools and Secondary schools and some at colleges of education, university and other places and till date, the bond is there. And that is why I don’t want anything to tarnish my name; I don’t want anything to tarnish my image. If someone pushes me or brush my car and I turn to fight or say ‘ah, ah’. The moment the person says ‘Baba Aworo’, I will quickly let peace reign. Because getting angry might mean getting dirtied. So, I try to live in harmony and work efficiently in order to promote peace around my environment and for people around me. I am a man of peace.
 (To be continued)  

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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