Maverick entertainer, Charles Oputa, now famous as Odudubariba 1 of Africa, a new moniker he got from the role he played in Kemi Adetiba’s Return of the King movie, who returned to the country recently after staying away for three months spoke with SEGUN ADEBAYO about his vacation, state of the country and future plans.
You were out of the country for about three months and it seemed you were not going to come back again. Why did you stay that long?
I left the country to attend to other businesses of mine that I rarely talk about. I actually went to rest after going through a lot of stress shooting and celebrating my birthday in Lagos. I felt the rest was necessary for me to get back in shape and put myself back on track. I heard people saying I was not going to come back because I had never stayed out of the country for that long time so people thought I was turning my back on Nigeria. This is my country; I am back now and I feel happy to be back.
It was being rumoured that you ran away from the country when you stepped on some heavy toes with your advocacy for a better Nigeria. Were you threatened at any time?
Stepped on whose toes? Do I look like someone anybody can threaten? I had to go and rest and put my brain to rest as well. I have had a really long and rough time since the beginning of the year. I had a birthday celebration and I was part of the King of Boys: The Return of the King movie; so it was necessary that I took my time to rest well before I come back into the struggle in Nigeria.
Now that the Odudubariba 1 is back, what should be expected from you?
I am back into what I do and I am not backing down. We can’t give up on Nigeria even if our leaders have succeeded in turning us against ourselves just for their selfish interest. They come up with all manner of divisive ideas just to keep the people poor and toxic to one another. When you see a Hausa man, you are already thinking that he’s going to harm you or hurt you. When you see a Yoruba or Igbo man, you will think they are trying to swindle you or do something untoward to you. That’s how much our leaders have divided us and planted hatred in our hearts but I know we can begin to change the narrative and stop the hate. We can’t continue like this because if we do, this country will go up in flames and we will have nothing or nowhere to return to.
Now that you are back, are we going to see you in more movies?
Nigerians will continue to see me in contents that will add value to lives and impact growth and knowledge. If more scripts come my way and I have the time, I will jump on it and do what is required of me.
From Charly Boy to Area Fada and now Odudubariba, are you not tired of this struggle; you are over 70 now. Don’t you think you should be resting now?
Only people with small imagination will say Charly Boy is tired. The Charly Boy concept is never tired; I don’t even run out of ideas and kindness. I have dedicated the rest of my life to transforming the Nigerian youths. I want them to know that they can’t sit down and watch their country go into ruins because of some selfish, silly politicians who don’t care about others but themselves. It is sad that many Nigerians, especially the youth are gullible. But right now, our mumu don do. Nigerians are wise now and I can see that they are more alive to what is happening around them. They want to be involved in who governs their states and country.
You have been involved in a lot of humanitarian projects in the last one year; what’s this all about?
I think I am high off of some of the things that I do, and a great part of that would be inspiring, motivating and gingering young people who have been a little exceptional. I have been discussing with my friend about family and the people should learn to preach love and not hatred. I feel that if we are all involved in the lifting up of others, their act of kindness will go round and it will destroy the demonic tendencies rearing its ugly heads among us today. Many people may not know, but the political class has destroyed this country and we have rescued ourselves as they don’t seem to be interested in changing the country.
You’ve always frowned on the ill doings of our Nigerian leaders. Currently, the state of insecurity has bridged the gap among Nigerians. What are the possible solutions to these problems?
This is what we’re talking about; this is what I was alluding to when I was talking about the family. We need to break the tradition of these demonic leaders because they do have a hold on us; they’ve managed to get us at each other’s throats, and our only salvation is us trying to get ourselves together, building a new family, building bridges across different divides.
All northerners cannot be bad and they are not all terrorists; all Igbo are not transactional and they’re not all fraudulent people; Yoruba people are not betrayers. I can boldly say this because for as long as I’ve stayed in Lagos I’ve made great friends with the people from that side of the country; the Yoruba people, and they’ve taught me a whole lot of stuff.
You raised the sum of N500,000 for Amarachi, the celebrity Keke Napep rider. What informed your decision?
I honestly did not think the money would be that much, but at the same time I’m not surprised at the amount we got. Despite the hard times we are in, we still have well-meaning Nigerians who are ever ready to lend a helping hand to people in need and give hope to people who seem to have any one to help them and that gives me hope that Nigeria can be great again. So, yes, I feel fulfilled that I’ve done what I promised Amarachi that I was going to do and I’m hoping that God can use me in such a way that I could be the light to a whole lot of people.
Why did you pick interest in Amarachi?
When I spoke to her, I found somebody who is determined; who, regardless of the challenges of where she’s coming from, was determined to fly clean, stay on the straight and narrow path. That, for me, says a lot about a person. She has a similar story to mine. In my situation, regardless of my heritage and my pedigree, I decided to be who I am today, irrespective. So it’s not really about where you come from, it’s about your determination as a person, as an individual to always thrive to make whatever dream it is that you have come true. I am always inspired by young people who are exceptionally different. She has indeed proven herself as a diligent and hardworking person and she deserves all the help she’s getting.
People criticised the fact that there are thousands of Keke men out there. Why did you decide to choose a woman?
Well, she’s just a symbol of the things that I admire in young people, and the fact that she’s a woman even makes it more interesting. It’s a man’s job, and to see a woman doing that proves that women can be as competent as men when given the opportunity. She’s not on the streets begging; neither did she allow her gender to stop her from pursuing her dreams or being hard working. She could be doing something else, but she chose this and has stayed true to her craft against all odds.
Many people were surprised to see you in church presenting a cheque to the girl. Why did you choose to do this in the church?
I don’t know if you know that I’m a deeply spiritual kind of person. And beyond that, I have a very strong and cordial relationship with the founder of the church, Pastor Sam. This relationship prompted me to bring this to his church. Since I returned to Nigeria, I have had a lot of activities lined up for me. I’ve got a whole lot of work to do and I knew that I was going to be staying with him for a while till I get my place ready so I can go back and face my own reality. So he advised me to bring the donation to the church and show it in the presence of the people of God and I thought that was such a beautiful idea.
What do you think about Nigerian youths as 2023 draws near?
You know what it means to be positive in this kind of environment we are in. The whole country is so toxic and it is killing so many people; it almost destroyed me. If I was not that strong, if I was not a fighter, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. We’ve found ourselves where we’ve found ourselves; it’s unfortunate, but we must fight it and we must not give up hope because if we give up, what are the options? What else do we do? So we cannot afford to give up hope, that’s all we are living on. When we see this kind of thing, we have to give it our best. This is the purpose of it all; to give hope to the hopeless and I’m hoping that it gives some people hope. So it’s all about spreading that hope. I would advise our youths to brace up, be diligent and hardworking, not forgetting the very important factor of staying positive and being hopeful that things would change for the better.
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