'The Power of 1’ is a script written by the society - Veteran Actor, Jibola Dabo - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Sunday, 23 December 2018

'The Power of 1’ is a script written by the society - Veteran Actor, Jibola Dabo

Last Wednesday, Nigerian pop star and now movie producer, Innocent Idibia, popularly known as 2Baba, had a premiere of his movie ‘The Power of 1’ at the prestigious Silverbird Galleria in Victoria Island, Lagos, and one of the celebrated members of the cast at the red carpet was veteran actor , producer and director, Jibola Dabo. Among others, he was the cynosure of all eyes as he stood out with his now branded grey beards. He spoke to PAUL UKPABIO about his three decades in the Nigerian movie industry, his marriage and his travels. Excerpts:

One noticed that the ‘Power of 1’ movie has a collection of veteran artistes, could that have been the reason you acted in the movie?

(Laughs) Of course not; I got the script, I got a call from a long time colleague and I realised that I would like to be part of such a historical project. That was the reason I accepted the script.

What was it like taking part in the movie, acting with a cast made up more of veterans?

It was great; it was good working with most of the cast members who are in my age range. It was good coming back together, but there were also others who are of the younger generation, and I really did enjoy working together with them too because we learn everyday.

Like I always say, I have never met somebody who doesn’t know something of what I know. So, I learn and work along with people. The young blood’s infusion into the movie helps me to align and keeps me on my toes. So it was a wonderful time.

What do you think of the concept of the movie and the message?

I don’t think it is a concept as such. ‘The Power of 1’ is a script written by the society. It is a mirror that reflects the society that we live in. I am not limiting that to Nigeria alone, but to Africa as a whole. And we can also see it on a wider scope, which is worldwide. It is never an advisable thing to say that until there is a convergence of the whole community or village before one takes a stand. That is what the movie is about; that one voice can create an unfathomable awareness. Some people will say that to stand alone cannot be done here. But you see the movie says that as an individual, you can change some things and not necessarily until you have the backing of the whole city. It is talking about the change in our country and that can happen when you, when an individual takes a stand.

How many years will you say that you have been in the movie industry?

I have been in the movie industry for about three decades now.

What can you say of those years, are you proud of what Nollywood is today?

I was here before the present movie industry as we now know it. Then there was no Nollywood. But then we had an industry. Even right from the 70s, the 80s before I left Nigeria, and I was going back and forth, coming back to stay and doing the same kind of business here, dance theatres, so I was there in the era when money was not being made and this era where money is being made and practitioners are living large within the industry.

Which means that now the actors are faring better?

Of course actors are faring better now. I do not remember in the 80s when we gathered for movie making and actors were parking cars on arrival atmovie locations. Then I recall that we were lucky to even find money to take transport back home after each day’s work. But now you find actors parking expensive cars, dressed up to the nines and living in highbrow areas of the city. We didn’t have that kind of blessing then; we were just popular for nothing.

You play a lot of sugar daddy roles in movies, are you a sugar daddy in real life?

(Laughs) You need to check my lifestyle again; I am not a sugar daddy in real life. I have a lot of young ladies that are attracted to me, or like to be with me. But that I must say is mere admiration.

What actually led you into acting in the first place?

I grew up acting. I was acting even before I entered into formal school. I do not know how I got there; I only know that I grew up with the arts. It was something that I grew up and saw myself doing. So I cannot say when it started. It was when I started using it to get money that I realised that okay, I am indeed an actor. But it was something that I had been doing all along.

If you were not an actor, what else would you have loved to be?

I would still have been an artiste; I don’t know how to do anything else. I am an entertainer; that is my life. The truth is that when I am not acting, I am into dancing or graphics or something similar. I have always been in the arts; my life has always been interwoven with entertainment.

You are a role model to many people now, but who were your role models?

I hope this doesn’t come out as being arrogant. But the truth is that I had no role models. That is because we grew up not having a teacher, someone to coach us; so life itself was my teacher. I watched some people that I admired and I gained one or two things from them, older colleagues, some of them are still alive; people like Larry Williams who also acted in ‘The Power of 1’ movie. We studied in one of the best universities of the world in the United Kingdom. We were working together in the late 80s during Larry William’s playhouse and I listened to their speech pattern. There was also the Late Sam Loco; I watched them all. They were few of them like that, the Late Justice Esiri, I watched these people but not like they taught me in a classroom. But I gained a lot from just watching them. I studied Mass Media, I didn’t even study Theatre Arts.

You have been keeping a grey beard for 20 years now, why and when did you decide to keep a beard?

I guess I am blessed. This is a brand that some people struggle hard to create. It is a brand that God Himself gave to me. When I was in dance theatre before God moved me into acting, I had always kept the beard and when it started turning grey, it was just there. That’s because even my siblings who are older than me do not have grey hair. Mine is from God.

In Nollywood movies, we see you as a flamboyant fashionable and stylish person, are you so in real life?

I want to say yes because sometimes I find it difficult to distinguish my real life from the life I live in the movies. Let me give you an example: when I went to costume rehearsal for the present movie, I asked the costumier what is the concept of costume for this character? Who is this character? He looked at me and replied: “You are the character.” I have had a lot of young producers interact with me and before I knew it, they had written a movie script around me. And usually I do not know about it, until they call me that I have a role in their movie. I try not to limit my clothes or dress sense to a particular tribe or people. Some people think that I am Ibo because of the way I wear their clothes. Some even think that I am Ghanaian, that because when I take on a character, I become that character so that I don’t play a flat character. When I take on a role, I learn the interjection of the dialect I need to speak and I work hard with my continuity person and director to get the right pronunciations for words.

Many people who have children from different women say that they did not really plan it. What can you say about yours?

Oh, I didn’t plan it that way either. It is never really planned. The problem is, and I want to carefully say this, because of the younger ones so that when they read it, they will get what I am saying. They have to be careful and plan; no one plans to fail. If you do not get marriage right the first time, it will be difficult to get it right again. If you don’t get it right, it will lead one to other women trying to get it right. And for a man like me who has been around the world, I just found myself in that situation.

So how about your children?

My children have been a blessing to me. One thing that I regret in life is not having been there with them as in going out in the morning and being there with them in the evening. I have always been coming and going.

How about your artistic works, which actually brought you to limelight?

Sincerely I don’t know. I was already popular before I travelled in the 80s. And when I came back, it was like that and then I later decided to look into the home videos. I have done jobs that made so much noise. However, I was stopped in Switzerland and all they said about me was the role I played in Superstory. While people in Nigeria may say that passion or other works I have done brought me into limelight, people outside this country think differently. So I really don’t know. Someone in America called that the Kingdom that we made two years ago in Abuja is making waves over there.

Did you eventually get round to marriage?

Yes. I am married now. And I want her to be kept away from the public for now until at a particular time when she is ready for the public.

We read somewhere that there was a time that you wanted to commit suicide, what happened?

(Laughs) What happened was that a young man came to me and I granted an interview.  He saw me as someone who had been luckily blessed, having been away to England and places, always having fun and he thought that my life had been a bed of roses. So I told him no, I had worked and tilled the land, that I had hawked on the streets and after high school, I couldn’t find a job; that I contemplated even putting an end to my life. But the way the young man wrote it, it was like I actually bought a rope and tied it to my neck. It wasn’t like that.

What is life really like for an actor, producer and director like you?

It is difficult, strenuous, tasking and time consuming. But the joy is when you see your job being appreciated, and then there is nothing comparable to it, especially that moment that you are being appreciated. We were there at the movie premiere and before the end of the movie, people were already clapping that it is a good work. That is the joy.

Do you have any memories of your early life that you recall?

I remember trekking back and forth to high school in those days for more than six kilometers every day. That was in Owo where I was born and where I grew up. That’s something that doesn’t really happen much these days, but then it happened to me. And on Fridays, I used to follow my uncle to the farm to go and work. There was no access to computers, no access to television. So  if life is tough for you today, it doesn’t mean you won’t make it in future.

What do you do for relaxation?

Do I get the time for relaxation? Well, what I would love to do for relaxation is to go to the beach, I like physical training to relax my nerves. I read and when I watch movies, I do it like I am in a classroom, always looking for new ideas.

In Nollywood when do people retire?

This is an industry that has no retirement age, as long as you can open your mouth and speak and then move your muscles. I cannot retire but I can slow down to help myself because no matter how agile I may feel or look, the organs may say differently; so I can only do less but not to retire.

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