Veteran actor, Jide Kosoko, would have been celebrating his 52 years of acting career, but the death of his wife, Henrietta, some weeks ago made him to shelve the plans. The former President of Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP), who returned to acting days back, in this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO, speaks on the loss of his wife, among other issues.
You just signed an endorsement deal with MeritAbode Limited, owners of Emerald Estates. This is coming at a time when you are yet to get over the demise of your wife, Henrietta. Tell us about the deal.
The deal has actually been on the table for some months now. It was borne out of the fact that the company is genuine and trustworthy. I am happy to be associated with them and I am ready to help the company achieve its aim of bringing me on board.
What did that deal fetch you in terms of cash and other benefits?
It is not in my character to reveal what a deal fetches me. You will agree with me that I don’t do such and this is not going to be an exception. The deal means a lot to me because this will help in ensuring that Nigerians think in the line of owning their houses. This is a way of enlightening the people who believe that what they receive as salaries or proceeds from the little businesses they engage is not good enough to build a house, but that is wrong. If people are really determined and they set their minds at it, they will become house owners. This will also help the country because the people will be happy to avoid getting into the usual controversial landlord-tenant tussle.
It is more than 41 days since you lost your wife, Henrietta. It is on record that you have resumed work. How have you been coping with life without her?
When you say how I have been coping, honestly I don’t know how to answer that question. I don’t know if I should tell you I have been fine or otherwise. I can only say God has been my rock till this moment. The truth is that I am yet to come to terms with the reality that she is no more. I don’t want to believe that she is gone. So many things have been coming up since she passed away and I know things will continue like that for some time.
What are the things that have been coming up?
Why do you want to know those things?
A lot of people are interested in knowing what has been happening to you.
What I can tell those who want to know is that God is in control. I have a serious business in hand now. There are children to take care of, which implies that I have to double my efforts to make sure that I am strong physically and financially to take good care of everybody.
What can you say about her that people didn’t know?
She was everything that you can imagine. Which one do I want to mention that is not important to me? I can’t start to explain everything to you in the course of this interview. I don’t even want to talk about it. I think we should let it be for now.
When she died, there were different reports about what led to her death. The most popular one was that she died of diabetes. Could you tell us what led to her death and your last moments with her?
You still won’t stop asking me questions about her. Everybody knows what led to her death. It is already in the public domain. She died of complications arising from diabetes.
Why did her family insist that she should be buried in Delta State against the arrangement you had made for her to be buried in Lagos State?
That was the misconception that people had about the burial. Since the day she died, her family had wanted her to be buried in Delta. There were no issues about that at all. I was only trying to bargain for her to be buried in Lagos.
What kind of relationship did you have with her parents; did you receive their blessings before you decided to marry her?
Since the beginning of our relationship, her father did not hesitate to let me know that they had customs and tradition that must be strictly adhered to. The man told me that I am giving you my daughter but I am not releasing the rope. So when she died, I only proposed that she should be buried in Lagos but I am a man of culture and I respect tradition very well. So, there was no fuss about where she would be buried because we already knew where we were going.
Before she died, did she tell you about her dreams she could not fulfill?
What we were planning before she died was my 52 years of acting. That was the celebration we were both planning. I wanted to do something that would be different from what others have been doing. With what has happened now, I have nothing to rejoice about anymore. But somewhere along the line, I will launch my book, which I called a Warrior’s Lamentation. I wrote the book myself because I used my words to capture the message I am passing across to the people. People will have a lot to learn about my experience in life; my sojourn into the movie industry. I am going to bare it all in that book; I am not going to hide anything. Some names will come up in that book. These people have contributed to the rise and fall of the movie industry. I will also talk about our collective mistake that worked against the progress of the industry.
As things stand now, what are you doing to make sure that her memory is not forgotten?
I am doing everything possible to make sure that I immortalise her. She meant a lot to me and the movie industry. Apart from the foundation which I intend to put in place, there are other things that the children and I are still working on. Don’t forget that she has a son who is into music, and my primary assignment as we speak now is to make sure that he excels in the career he has chosen.
How are you coping with the insinuation peddled in some quarters that losing three wives was not natural?
Segun, why are you asking me this question? I hope you don’t want us to discontinue this interview? I don’t want to start discussing all that. I don’t know what you expect me to tell you. Henrietta lived with me for over 20 years. I never expected or prayed that she would die. It saddens my heart when I hear people saying all sorts of things about her death. We all come to this world at one point in time and our exit will happen one day whether we like it or not. God is the giver of life. He gives it and takes it when He likes. I wish I could stop Henrietta from dying. I believe she died at God’s appointed time for her. If it is my turn tomorrow, I will not exceed that day. It is in whose place to say that someone’s death is not natural? I leave them to their belief. I leave them to God.
You are over 60 years old and you are blessed with children. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind for your family when you are no more?
You can easily call my family an entertainment home. I am happy to see my children taking after me. I am even more joyous that they are doing well for themselves. They don’t have to look up to me to live their lives the way they want. Already, the name Kosoko will remain a reference point in the entertainment industry and generations to come will know that there was a man who lived all his life in the theatre world. If you are talking about living properties behind for my children, then you might be missing the crux of my discussion. I am grateful to God that all my grown up children are graduates. I have about eight children who have graduated from higher institutions, which is good enough for me. I have those who are yet to secure admission into the university. I feel fulfilled already as a man.
Would you love to have more children?
That will be madness. Let me say this today for the first time, I never planned to be a polygamist. I found myself in that situation and I had to adjust to the system. I didn’t set out in life to go into polygamy. So for me, having more children at this stage is madness. Apart from age, If you hear that Jide Kosoko welcomes new baby tomorrow, I am sure you will say this man is mad. Am I going to be selling the children to make money?
Do you regret being a polygamist?
Let me tell you, I don’t pray that my enemy should practice polygamy. And, this should be a lesson to the young ones coming. I know some people will say their religion permits it, but the religion did not enforce it. I have serious business to do now. I have young children to take care of.
As an authority in the movie industry and with the way things are going, what do you think will happen in the movie industry in the next 10 years?
I have written that answer in my book. You will read about it when I release it. I already know what will happen in the movie industry in the next 10 years.
What will that thing be?
You will get it when I release my book.
In your 52 years of acting, what is that thing you have not achieved?
As one of the strong administrators in the industry, I am sad that we have not taken the industry to the level that we want. I will be happy when the industry has been properly regulated. We have tried to have got to this stage, but we still need to speak with one voice. We need to guide ourselves with all the necessary ethics. I am part of the body that set up Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) and I will be grateful to God if it actually comes to be.
That is for your acting life, what about your personal life?
One problem with me is that my personal life and career are too interwoven; you cannot separate one from the other. I am happy with my immediate family. We are not static. Every member of my family is doing very fine.
What would you have been if you were not an actor?
Honestly, I don’t know what would have happened to my life. From the beginning of my life, all that has been in my head has always been acting. I am not sure I didn’t start acting from my mother’s womb.
What would you want God to do for you again?
I wish God could reduce my age to 10.
I have many corrections to make.
What were those things you didn’t do rightly?
From the beginning of my life, I was never designed to have two wives. My major regret in life is that I went into polygamy. My second regret, which is not my fault entirely, was that I was lucky to be one of the pioneering members of ANTP. I and some few people did not guard the industry jealously. We opened the gate without ensuring that anybody that was coming in was trained. No matter how talented you are, you still have to be trained the rudiments of acting.