Veteran actor, Dele Odule is the President of the Theatre Arts Motion Picture Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), a position he has held for two years. Odule, who believes his tenure has been relatively successful, speaks with Rukayat Odewale on the movie industry, career and state of the nation.
What has been happening to TAMPAN under your leadership?
We have been focusing on what we promised to do before we came on Board. We are encouraging our members to go back to school to obtain knowledge from some universities that are ready to offer theatre education. When you know the practical aspect and you don’t know the theory, it is just a child’s play. If you know the theory and you don’t know the practical, I see it as intellectual failure. The two are important. There is need for you to go to school; to know the theory of the kind of job you are doing. That is why we keep encouraging them to go back to school and update their knowledge. I think our members are heeding to that call now. It will be a great achievement for some of them who have started to complete their programme. I urge those who have not started to borrow a leaf from their colleagues.
Do you think you have been living up to expectations as the president?
As the president of the association, I am satisfied but there is room for improvement because I believe we ought to have gone farther. But, the situation in the country will not allow that. I believe that TAMPAN is moving forward. We are just two years on Board and we have done well relatively.
Your job as the president appears to have reduced your movie roles. How does this make you feel?
I don’t think it has affected my movie roles. It is all about time. I still go to locations even if I am not the president and I don’t have much job to do. There is nothing I can do about that. If you venture into two businesses at a time, one is likely to suffer, but in my own case, I have been handling them very well. We don’t hold meeting every day and I don’t go on locations always. If I have a production ahead, I plan ahead and I make sure one does not affect the other. You may say that I have been quite busy being the president but, it hasn’t affected my artistic career.
How challenging has it been steering the leadership of TAMPAN?
It is a known fact that artistes can be very difficult to handle. And, it is not new to us that human beings can be terrible sometimes. When you head an association that has to do with artistes, you are in another world entirely and it can be very challenging. If I was not the president, somebody would be and probably say the same thing. I know their peculiarities. I have been part of the system for a long time, so I know how to handle any situation that may arise.
Can you say that you have been getting the support of your members, as some people believe you have not been having a smooth ride?
The support has been very encouraging. I think it is even better now, when one compares it to what it used to be some years back when they were still in the Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP). The orientation is beginning to change; they see things differently now and they know how things should be done. I am enjoying their cooperation. The journey has not been smooth all through but, we are moving on and the results could be seen by everybody. That’s all that matters to me.
What is your observation about the movie industry?
We are still not there yet but that is not to say that all the producers are not doing well. Of about 100 movie producers, if only 10 are doing the right thing, we can’t say we are all doing well. I believe there is room for improvement and we cannot achieve success without the support of the government. There is no profession that can thrive without the support of the government, so it should look into the entertainment industry as an alternative to oil. The Federal Government should standardise the industry; that is why we welcomed the idea of the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON), so that it will stand as a regulatory body for those who are producing movies in Nigeria.
What is your observation about the Yoruba movie industry?
Movie is movie. I have the same observation about the industry generally, be it Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. Yoruba producers are doing well; if not for the Yoruba movie industry, I don’t think the general industry will thrive. I am saying this because I am a Yoruba man; I am not being sentimental. The truth is that if not for the Yoruba people that have been producing movies continuously, the movie industry would have gone into extinction.
What’s your view about the Yoruba’s who are not able to speak the language ?
I don’t like anybody, who is a Yoruba person and is taking the language as a secondary. I give it to the Igbo and Hausa people, they speak their language. When it comes to the Yoruba, even the ones with tribal marks that you can easily identify won’ witht relate with people in the language. We should not just speak it but to our children. Literally, if you decide to burn the only cloth that you have, you will end up covering your body with sack. We should be proud of our language.
What do you think about the botched nationwide protest?
Are they the only citizens of this country? What would be the outcome of the protest? What do they think they would achieve at the end of the protest? So, I wouldn’t have joined that protest. I didn’t see anything fruitful coming out of it. We all know that we have problems in this country and we should think of a way to get out of the challenges. The problem didn’t start when President Muhammadu Buhari became the president. I am not a politician but we should not run away from the fact these problems started a long time ago, I am not saying that the present administration has done well but at the same time, I am not going to join any protest with those people who would say they don’t know what the government is doing to tackle the problems headlong. We have had the problems before now. We should allow the government to work things out for the next four years. I don’t think I would have been part of the protest and I wouldn’t allow my people to be part of it.
You have not produced a movie for years; don’t you think it was time to start producing again?
I don’t know if I will produce another movie for now. I am not even planning to produce one soon.