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Harvest of deaths in Yoruba movie industry as five die in five months

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It’s been a harvest of deaths in the Yoruba section of the Nigerian movie industry midway into the year, and these tragic developments have created a haunting panic among industry stakeholders. Nothing really captures the mood of the sub-sector right now more than the groaning of veteran actor, Yinka Quadri, upon hearing of the death of popular actress, Moji Olaiya, whose death occurred two days ago. A 42-year-old mother of two, Olaiya died of heart attack in a hospital in Canada.

She had been delivered of a baby girl in March, almost 18 years after she gave birth to her first child, Adunoluwa. Quadri’s poser: “What is really happening, why are our loved ones going too soon?” is a rhetorical question all right but one heavily pregnant with meaning. The year began on a sad note as the Yoruba movie industry recorded its first death of 2017 as veteran actress, Toyin Majekodunmi popularly known as Iya Kike in Yoruba movie circles, died on January 2.

The cause of the death of the actress married to a fellow actor, Solomon Majekodunmi aka ‘Baba Kekere’, was never officially announced but news of her death was shared by actress and movie producer, Bimbo Success. Late Mrs. Majekodunmi featured in numerous Yoruba movies and often starred alongside her husband and popular actors including Yinka Quadri, Jide Kosoko and many others.

Prior to launching her movie career, she worked with the Lagos State Ministry of Information for many years just as her husband also worked in the international banking division at First Bank Plc. Just some two weeks ago, on May 7 in particular, another sad chapter was opened about the industry.

Like a thunderbolt, it announced the death of ace actor, Samuel Adesanya a.k.a. Pastor Ajidara. At 62, Adesanya reportedly died of kidney failure and his wife, Atinuke Adesanya, who confirmed the death, said the actor died at Mercy Hospital, Onikolobo area of Abeokuta, Ogun State where he was receiving dialysis treatment.

Two days before his death, Adesanya’s family had called for financial support of N12million from the public following his doctor’s recommendation that he would need a kidney transplant to survive. Ironically, Adesanya was said to have been owed about N4 million by the Ogun State government as a retiree of the Ogun State Judiciary.

He retired from the service on July 2, 2015 but was yet to get his retirement benefits until he died. The wife of Adesanya, who until his death was the governor of Ogun State Chapter of Theatre Art and Movie Producers Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), said her husband’s illness started shortly after an auto crash in 2012.

The world woke up to a rude shock on Saturday, April 22 when news broke and the headlines screamed that consummate actor, Olumide Bakare had died. Owing to the number of persons answering the same name, people probed if it was the man with the showbiz moniker, Chief Koko. Alas, their greatest fear was confirmed as it became clear that the 65-year-old veteran actor had finally succumbed to death by heart and lung disease.

We remember that he earned his alias as Chief Koko, a troublesome landlord in the rested popular TV Series, Koko Close back in the ‘80s and as well a stint in the sitcom, Oluwa Lanbe Lodge later on in the ‘90s. Late Bakare had traversed the world of acting with stellar outings in Yoruba/Nollywood films and several soap operas which include Papa Ajasco, Ise Onise, Aye Olorogun, Iboji, Maami and Last Flight to Abuja, just to mention a few.

He had suffered from the ailment since 2013 and was flown abroad for a surgery deemed successful but which later relapsed this year. He’d once solicited funds from the public to foot a N30,000 daily medical bill before he was moved to the University College Hospital in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Saturday Telegraph gathered that he had a successful surgery to correct a respiratory disease and even told well-wishers he was fine two hours before he passed on. As the industry mourned the deceased, many also recalled the lifestyle shortcomings he admitted in an interview with Encomium Magazine in 2013 which reads in part: “I have not completely stopped but I have slowed down. I don’t know how to tell lies. I still smoke and drink. I still find time to sleep with women. But the truth is that I am not doing all these things as before.

And the fact still remains that I am not properly married.” Asked if he was taking any precautions to curtail his habits, the actor had said: “Let me tell you one thing about life. God doesn’t care about habit but your heart. How clean is your heart to God and people around you? How do you sail across the ocean of your life and all that? All these are what God cares about. It is not about whether you smoke or drink.

Even those who don’t smoke and drink, worse things happen to them. I am a very straight forward person I have been in all these habits for about 45 years and I want to tell you, no shaking.” On April 5, the death of fast-rising Yoruba actress, Modupe Oyekunle was announced to the public.

The actress reportedly passed on at a clinic during childbirth after apparently suffering complications that couldn’t be resolved. Widely popular for her lead role as Sandra in the blockbuster, Ibi Giga produced by Segun Ogungbe, the actress was said to have dominated the movie scene with her Igi Aloye caucus in Abeokuta.

The actress, who was also fondly referred to as ‘oyinbo’ because of her complexion, was a wife and mother of three children. One of those who rained tributes on Moji Olaiya was her colleague, Femi Branch, who recalled: “We were mere colleagues until the day we had a certain discussion in Sagamu with Aunty `Fali Werepe` and you rose in my defense.

I have recounted this tale to more people than I can recall and in every instance, the mention of your sincere intervention was the highlight of my tale. That day, I knew the good hearted Moji Olaiya and for as long as I have the gift of memory, Mojisola Olaiya will remain embedded in my heart.

Sleep well `MJ’. May God erect a canopy of protection over your children and the family you left behind. Lord, please stay this hand of death moving over our industry and please open our eyes to know that life belongs to you and only you can give it in abundance.”

She’s known for her roles in Nollywood movies across Yoruba and English genres, such as Sade Blade (2005), Nkan adun (2008) and Omo iya meta leyi (2009), Moji Olaiya began her acting career with Wale Adenuga’s production, Super Story, and featured in ‘No Pains No Gains’ among others. She also starred in the Agunbaniro. In 2016 she released a film, Iya Oko Mi, starring Foluke Daramola and Funsho Adeolu, which was scheduled to premiere in Lagos in July.

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Diamond Platmumz’s lover, Zari, chooses Valentine’s Day to call it quit

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Famous Tanzanian singer, Diamond Platnumz, obviously had a black Valentine’s Day celebration as his first baby mama, Zari, chose the august occasion to kick him out of her life over allegation of gross infidelity. Sadly so, the news surfaced after his second baby mama, Hamisa Mobetto, dragged him to court for allegedly neglecting his child’s support.

Zari who is tired of the cheating scandals shared a photo of a Black Rose on her Instagram and wrote about the sad end of her long term relationship. The text reads: “Understand that this is very difficult for me to do. There have been multiple rumours some with evidence floating around in ALL SORTS of media in regards to Diamond’s constant cheating and sadly I have decided to end my relationship with Diamond, as my RESPECT, INTEGRITY, DIGNITY & WELL-BEING cannot be compromised. We are separating as partners but not as parents. This doesn’t reduce me as a self-made individual, and as a caring mother, and the boss lady you have all come to know.

I will continue to build as a mogul; I will inspire the world of women to become boss ladies too. I will teach my four sons to always respect women, and teach my daughter what selfrespect means. Unlike many, I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 12 years, and through all my challenges I came out a victor because I am a winner, and so are all of you Zari supporters.

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As a child I was hoping to board a plane one day –Queen Blessing Itua

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Atlanta, Georgia-based Queen Blessing Itua is a Nollywood actress and recipient of the President Obama Global Achievement Award. Also a lifestyle empowerment motivator, inspirational author and speaker, she told ADEDAYO ODULAJA that her aim is to touch lives when shooting movies as evident in her latest production, Mrs Adams.

 

 

Not much is known about you beyond your involvement in Nolllywood. What else do you do?

I’m based in the United States and I’m very passionate about so many different things. I’ve done quite a bit and I’m privileged to have been honoured by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama. I also received another one from the United Nations. It was just all coming to me even from countries like Zambia, Kenya and others. So having done all of that in the States, there was no way I couldn’t bring it back home, because home is where the heart it.

On this particular visit to Nigeria, what are you out to achieve?

I have an NGO in the US called Global Empowerment Movement while for Africans, I have ‘Blessings of Africa Empowerment Foundation’. The reason for that is that it takes all of us Nigerians to be the ones to actually spearhead the development we seek. That was why I paid the Edo State governor a visit.

This is the way I was thinking about these things. I had written the books, but I didn’t want to release them because I needed to make sure that I’m doing the actual work. I want to walk the talk. It is not just about speaking but talking about it. I don’t make noise about anything. Even on my social media platforms.

In all of these, what is your ultimate goal?

My goal is to spearhead the development goals in our own motherland, and in doing that, we have to be focused. I’m on this journey because of my true passion of being a blessing to Africa, of being a blessing to my community, of being a blessing to Edo State and of Nigeria. And ‘Blessings of Africa’ is not about individuals. It is about all of us together collectively, because you must first of all understand that you are here with a vision and with a plan. God created you for a purpose and has given you that talent, something inside of you that you have to be able to impact wherever your community.

What are some of those projects you are carrying out?

I wouldn’t want to go into details but we have created a project that we hope will solve the herdsmen crisis. Remember, it’s not just another photo op. Our team decided we will be presenting the solution for the herdsmen issue. We hope to liaise with the First Lady, so we can hopefully change what is going on. I’m looking at it from the public health point of view. Even the herdsmen are in danger.

The cattle are in danger, people that they come across are in danger, everybody is in danger. Sometimes they don’t even know what to do. They have no choice because those cattle have to feed and that’s their business. It is actually not wise to kill another man because of cattle. So you have to look at the whole picture before we can start a conversation.

This is not a blame game. I’m not blaming anyone but unfortunately lives have been lost and it’s not right. In order for us to have a solution, we have to think for everyone involved because we are not partial. I’m not partial. My heart bleeds for people that have lost their lives but how long are we going to continue like this?

Was your visit to the Edo State governor a political move?

When people hear that I visited the Edo State governor, the first thing they ask is ‘what is the contract? What are you working on?’ It is not about that. I’m here to make an impact. I’m not here to ask for something from him. I’m here because I have a vision for the people. A lot of our people are actually in need. We cannot close our eyes. We cannot turn deaf ears to all of these. The Edo State governor is doing a lot and I’m proud of what he’s doing. But of course, there is still room for improvement. Of course there are still ways we can support him.

How much of your current realities did you have as dreams growing up?

Everything I go through; I remember that young girl in the village, I remember the woman I left when I was in Bendel State. In 1984, as a very young child, I had won a state-wide essay competition, so I was to meet the then governor, Colonel J T Ogbeha. So I left my village, Iruekpen, to Benin to be honoured by the governor. I remember that we didn’t even have a TV to see myself.

The governor was there. He shook hands with me and presented me my award. I went back home where I was celebrated. The Abebes, the family of the Stella Obasanjo, gave me a scholarship and did all of that stuff with me. But I never saw myself on TV. So since then, I saw myself as that little girl in the village who hoped to enter a plane one day. When I was actually writing one of my books, it suddenly dawned on me that my son who is now the state essay writing champion in Georgia, and has been representing his state on TV, is the same age I was when I won the award. This was when I knew it was significant.

At what point did you leave the country?

I left Nigeria after I graduated from the University of Benin as a Biochemist. But in the US, I’m a public health practitioner with a specialty in fitness, nutrition, wellness, all of that stuff. I’m the one who helps women get healthy, especially after their babies. I help people because I believe my area of specialty academically is preventive wellness. In that capacity, I help people. Because when a woman knows her role at home, she is able to know what to do and how to feed her family and the community benefits. My passion is putting all of these together and using my books to make movies.

How many kids do you have?

I have four children. I’m blessed with two boys and two girls. I know the challenges we face but we must learn to empower our people, to look beyond our own personal issues, because we must see ourselves as blessings in whatever situation we find ourselves and you add God to that blessing, your attitude changes.

For someone who has acted in some foreign movies, why did you settle for Nollywood?

When I was called to host the Nollywood Europe Golden Awards (NEGA), I did mention that when I get there, I’m going to work with African stars. I didn’t know who was coming, but I told my colleague that when I get there, I will be working with Nigerian stars. I realised that I have this whole opportunity to work with them. I never portrayed myself as an actress because I was doing other things in politics. I needed to focus on one thing. The overall vision is not the acting but creating the platform to help people. And my background is not in the arts.

Are you now ready to get fully involved in acting?

There is a time for everything and when God has a plan for you, you might not know how it will unfold. But I also know that people want to see you focused. So, I had to learn to figure out what the focus was, especially with that high level position. So now, I have to be able to defend why I’m doing that, so that people on the high level that I’m working with will not see me as just acting.

This is real. I’m actually who that person is. However, the vision and the passion that drives my acting career is that as a public health practitioner, who has seen this big vision, I know that I have to be the voice. I’m using my movies and my books to address these critical public health issues.

Which roles have you taken on so far?

On the roles that I have taken so far, a majority of them have portrayed me as expert of what the movie is addressing. So that is how I could defend my passion for acting. For example, I was in the same movie with Will Pharrell. Will Smith was in the movie too. So was Kanye West. It’s titled Anchor Man 2. Though I was in other independent movies before that, that particular movie was Hollywood, so I had no control over it.

I didn’t audition for the role. I was picked b e – c aus e of my height, m y s h a p e and all that. Of course I was doing a lot of fitness. After that, I was in a reality TV show. I don’t know how far it went here because I was not here at the time. It is titled Nigerian Housewives of Atlanta.

So, I just felt like it wasn’t time for me to unfold my acting career until I’m in charge of what I’m doing. So, what happened is, I ended up doing a movie titled Skin. It is a Hollywood movie too, but I was the associate producer. The reason I did that movie was because my focus was now more meaningful.

What is the movie about?

The movie is about skin bleaching. It is about self image. You can now see how that movie tallies with my personal goals today. I did the movie because that story needed to be told of who I was. I have used skin lightening cream. I’m a biochemist and a public health practitioner who is using her movies to send messages. That was how the movie came about.

That was how I reshaped the movie as a co-executive producer. Van Vicker was our African star. So, after the movie, I realised there was still more to be done and I decided to bring it home? That was how the vision of going to Europe to work with our stars came about. I have worked in Hollywood, but my true calling is to support my people back home. I am the one who wants to address the social issues that we truly have right now.

Are you likely to go into politics anytime in the future?

I don’t know. To be honest with you, everything is open right now, because when God is leading you, you must be open. If anybody had told me that I would leave four young kids with my mother who is 84 in the US, to travel all over Africa, I wouldn’t agree with them. That is why I say when you get a vision, don’t think about yourself. Remove yourself from it and say God, let your will be done. He will give you the strength, the resources and the people you need.

What has life taught you?

I’m still learning. I have learnt that life is not a do-or-die affair. And it is not always smooth sailing. I’ve also learnt that challenges are meant to take us to the next level. We are supposed to use the challenges that we go through as a stepping stone to the next level. That is what life has taught me. When you go through challenges and you feel like the whole world is coming to an end, it is not.

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PRAIZ: I’m yet to find a lady of my dream

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RnB singer, Praise Adejo, popularly known as Praiz is one of the most charming songsters with impressive hit numbers in the industry. The Rich and Famous singer speaks to LANRE ODUKOYA about music, women and the industry.

 

 

Why are you yet to hold a concert like most of your colleagues?

I like to do things differently. I have yet to do any solo show because I am not ready to do what I really like to do. I have a massive plan, but the time has not come to unleash it. For my concert, I plan to invite an international RnB act. Pretty soon, everyone will witness it. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well. Generally, I had a great outing last year. I dropped a couple of songs that did well internationally and locally. We are in 2018 right now and I am ready to drop a 5-track EP this month, precisely February 14. We have artistes who drop singles every month, but I am not that type of musician. I am strategic with the way I put out materials. I believe everyone has their own technique.

Are you satisfied with your growth in music?

I love my growth. I prefer to have 1, 000 fans who are loyal to me than a million fans who are not loyal. When you talk about people who broke into the industry from reality shows, I am one of them even though I didn’t win it. As matter of fact, people always think I won Project Fame. I believe you need to understand your fan base and person. But it does not mean you should be lazy or relax with the position you are. While you are still pushing to be a better person, one needs to be grateful to God. I owe everything I have achieved to God, but most people don’t know that I work a lot. I tell people that I have lost four years of sleep in my life. I am always working; I go to bed 4 am daily. But we also have a lot of people who work hard the way I do and they are yet to get results. For me, it has been God, patience, being focused and hard work. I know where I want to be and I am working towards it. I am a talented boy who is enjoying the favour of God. Once God sees your heart and how much you are passionate about what you do, He blesses you.

You’re effortlessly a stunner in look and in voice, so much that many wonder if you’re a lover boy…

It is okay if you call me a lover boy; I think you are right. Basically, I am an RnB singer. When you talk about that genre of music, the first thing that comes to your mind is love. I sing about different stages of love and my major fans are women. For every man who sings, women should be their prime target because they bring everyone on board.

Have you had to break a lady’s heart in recent times?

There is no one I can remember at the moment. But I try my best to avoid breaking any woman’s heart.

Do you honestly believe in love?

Yes, I do. Loving someone is a sacrifice because you need to go out of your comfort zone to ensure the person is happy. Love is a sacrifice.

Do you have a child?

From my knowledge, I do not. But it doesn’t mean artistes that have baby mamas are irresponsible.

Have you forgiven the Nigeria Police after your recent feud with some of their officers?

I honestly don’t want to talk about this again. But one thing I like people to know is that I was not rude to them as claimed. I have never been rude to anyone regardless of who I am or my position because I had a good upbringing. Even if you do me wrong, I will react to it respectfully. I don’t believe in violence or being rude to people.

What has fame deprived you of?

Obviously, there are certain things I enjoyed doing before that I cannot do again because of my new life. But I still look for a way to do things I did before fame came. I still take a walk on the streets or go to a public place alone. I think that makes fans appreciate you more. Fans don’t see us as ordinary people; so, when you do things they do, they relate to you better.

Was there a time you wished you were not a celebrity?

I cannot be fed up with the place I am right now because I still try my best to live my life. I don’t try to be another person because I am famous; I have not allowed fame to change me.

Do you have plans for marriage this year?

I am certain I will get married, but I don’t know how soon it will happen. You don’t need to rush into marriage because it is an institution you are not expected to abandon once you are in it. Though people get married to the wrong people, marriage is a beautiful thing. But when a marriage turns violent, I always advise people to walk away because staying alive is important. I am taking my time as I don’t want to rush in and rush out.

Have you found a lady of your dream?

I have yet to. But I believe in marriage and it is something I love to experience.

Can you marry an entertainer?

I cannot really give an answer at this point. There are things we don’t have a say or power over; they just happen and we accept it.

What is your greatest concern about the industry?

I just want every genre of music to be respected and given the same opportunity. In Nigeria, you don’t always see awards for other genres apart from the popular ones. The media also has a role to play. They need to encourage people who do other genres of music by giving them more airplay.

Do you see RnB music becoming as popular as hip-hop in Nigeria?

Everyone likes RnB music. You cannot be with your girlfriend and you will start playing rap music. But it is not a genre people like to play every time. We are in a nation where everyone wants to forget their struggle. People don’t want anything that will make them reflect on bad memories; they would rather settle for songs that make them happy. Though I understand that RnB music has a certain market, I still believe it will get to be accepted more in Nigeria over time. But I don’t think it can ever be as popular as pop music because of the environment we live in.

What other things do you?

It is very important for every artiste to have different sources of income. I don’t depend on music alone, I have invested in a couple of things. But music is the major thing I do because it brings in the money. For me, the most important thing is what you do with the money music brings in for you.

Do you think you are the best RnB singer in Nigeria at the moment?

I think it is left for fans and music critics to state who is their favourite RnB singer. But I am certain that if they are talking about RnB music in Nigeria, my name will be mentioned.

Do you have a song that is dear to your heart?

It is hard to say a particular song is my favourite because all my songs have their peculiarities

Have you ever thought of doing rap music?

No, it cannot happen. I can’t rap to save my life. I don’t even see myself trying to do rap music till I die.

When do you consider your turning point in music?

People accepted me right from the days of Project Fame. My music career has been a process or journey and I will never despise days of little beginning. But the first song that put me in the limelight was ‘Stupid Song’ with Bez. Also, people began to notice me after I did songs with M.I and Wizkid. Apart from my original songs, the collaborations I did in the past contributed to my growth in the industry.

How many albums have you released?

I have a double-album. I am dropping a project this month; I plan to drop two projects this year. Whatever I do, I don’t want to rush it. I like people to feel that I put in a lot of work in a production once they listen to it.

What makes you different from any other artiste?

I feel my vocals stand me out from any other artiste. Every artiste has their strong point. When you listen to a song, you can tell it is my voice without seeing the video.

Didn’t you feel it was the end of the road when you didn’t win Project Fame?

I didn’t see it in that manner. Getting the third position with money and a car was enough for me. We had people in the competition that could sing well but didn’t go home with anything. I felt if I could go that far, there was hope for me in the music industry.

What do you find disturbing about Project Fame?

I don’t think there is anything disturbing about the show presently. I only feel the participants should keep working hard and ensure they capitalise on the exposure they got from the reality show.

What came to mind when you were called upon to be a judge?

I felt accomplished. There was no time I thought I would be a judge on a reality show. I didn’t lobby for it or spoke to a top person to get me on board. It only shows that if you work hard and you are consistent, you will always stand out. It will be recalled that I didn’t even win when I participated in the show, but I was deemed fit to be a judge years later. I have been a contestant so I know what it feels like to be in that position. I am also in the industry now and I know what is required to be successful in music.

Do you agree that products of reality shows struggle in the real world?

Well, I can’t speak for anyone but myself. But when you come from a reality show, you need to work harder because things will not come to you on a platter of gold.

At a time you got Project Fame’s form; didn’t you feel you were bigger than a reality show?

For you to succeed, you must suppress your ego. Since a competition will be helpful to your career, why can’t you go? It doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been doing music for years. I have heard people saying they cannot go for reality shows, but that is what they believe in.

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