People should leave me alone to live my life! - Uche Odoputa, actor
Uche Odoputa is an actor, a movie maker, and an events manager. He is one of the directors of Heartland Tours and Educational Services Limited, the brain behind bringing kids together and educating them even while they are having fun. “We teach kids to understand their purpose on earth, thereby giving them very good foundation,” he commences.
Talking about kids brings to the fore his childhood memories. “I remember October 1st! I remember May 27th. We used to get special uniforms for that. We used to go to the stadium to do march pass; all that has gone. When I was a child, there was discipline then because when I was playing football in those days, and I heard my father's song about a mile away, I would pull myself together. Somehow, I had this fear of my parents. That brings me back to the basics of what I ought to do, which is education. These days, at times, parents do not have the time to take care of their kids or even go through their academic work. For instance, if you have a father who is a lawyer and a mother who is a banker, the father is either in Abuja handling one case and doesn't come back for three days. Their mother comes back and the kids are sleeping; and by the time she is going out, the kids would still be sleeping. So, she hardly sees her kids except maybe, on Sundays when she has to find time to rest. So, from my own background, I gained a lot and I'm seeing a lot of kids these days losing it.”
Was it better then, in his own time? “Yes, it was better because we didn't have too much of computers; kids are so attached to computers these days. They learn a whole lot of things from computer instead of from their parents. But back in our days, we learnt from church, we learnt from our parents, we learnt from the people we lived with.
These days, it's not there. When kids go to church, they just go and come back immediately. Those days, we used to go back for evening service, which is the Benediction and they taught us a whole lot of things. Children then were well-behaved and could even preach the Bible. Then, you would find a child who is doing something wrong being told by another child to remember that 'God is watching you.' You don't tell any child God is watching you now; he would ask you, who is God?”
Shouldn't our musicians who, of course, are role models to our children, be blamed for this decadence? “Yes, you are right, some of them walk with swag and all of that. It's really heartbreaking. But you cannot take away the things of the moment. That is, the moment we are living in and our kids are like, 'I go jump this mountain, I go climb this fence,' and all that' (laughs). Then, what we are doing right now is, when we bring them together, we would be able to tell them the right way to do things. There is a right way. And that right way, we believe that with time, we would begin to preach it to them by playing with them, by entertaining them. For instance, I have some of my colleagues who would be talking to the kids about how they grew up and some of their regrets in life so that they would learn one or two things from their stories.”
Yes, talking about regrets, everybody has one or two regrets in life and Uche is not an exception. “My only regret in life is that at a point in time, I went into this industry and there are certain things stardom has brought to me that I ordinarily wouldn't have wanted. I cannot go to the Buka to eat freely these days. If I drive a car without A/C, somebody would look at me and say, 'Oh! You don't even have an A/C in your car.' People want to make you live their lives. They forget that Uche Odoputa has a life and I know that there is a way I would like to live it, not the way they would like to do it. But with all due respect, I represent them, I'm their role model. But please, give me the chance to live my own life. That's it!”
How he copes with stardom is no big deal. “It's the grace of God that helps me.”
Having mentioned God, what does he tell God in prayers? “More wisdom, yes, wisdom begets everything. It's so profitable, I have found out. I look forward to more of it, I ask for the grace of wisdom everyday of my life. Wisdom gives you direction, wisdom gives you sense of management, wisdom gives you sense of belonging, wisdom gives you sense of procreation and creativity in my chosen field. So, with wisdom, I can get every other thing I desire. So, my most striking prayer point is for God to direct my steps to meet the right people, put the right words in my mouth and let the right ears hear me.”
Lastly, asked about his drug-related case that happened sometime ago and how he handled it, whether friends were there for him? He refused to comment on it. “I don't want to talk about it, Adaeze, please. Uche Odoputa has never been convicted for any crime whatsoever, please. Just take it from me, I don't want to talk about it and that is the advice I got from my mentors.”