I want to be Nigeria’s Ambassador to Britain,
He is humour personified. In addition to that, there is always a lesson to learn in his comedy. Mr. Latin, real names Bolaji Amusan, is no doubt a classical comedian and one of the best things to happen to Nollywood of the Yoruba extraction. Having made his break into the movie industry in 1999, Latin has not looked back.
Today, the humourist has eleven movies to his credit. While this should not be seen as one of his numerous jokes, the actor’s dream is to be the Nigerian Ambassador to Great Britain. To realise that ambition, Latin recently enrolled for a degree programme at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State.
At 39, the tall artiste hardly act youthful roles but that of an elder. Latin, who is currently vying for the post of the Governor of the Association of Nigeria Theatre Practitioners, ANTP, Ogun State Chapter, speaks about his career, comedians, role model
My name is Bolaji Amusan, but people call me Mr. Latin. I hail from Gbongan, Osun State. I’ve been in Abeokuta since 1974. By that, I am a bonafide citizen of Abeokuta going by Nigerian constitution, that states that when you spend ten years in a state, you are automatically a citizen of that state. For over 31 years, that makes me an Egba man. So, I can say that I’m from Gbongan or I’m an Egba man. I’m 39 years old. I was unable to go beyond secondary school due to lack of finance. Nevertheless, I completed my secondary education in 1984.
Journey so far
Whatever you know is gong to yield good result must encounter problems. You see, the very first time I told my parents that I was going into acting, they seriously objected to it because they believe that acting is for the never-do-well. But I stood my ground. I began to pray to God that if God could make Baba Suwe, Aluwe, Baba Sala and so on, why not me? And since then there has been no going back. You see, at the initial stage, I faced financial difficulties.To eat, to make ends meet was a problem. But thank God for what he has done.
My first theatre master is no more a theatre practitioner. He is called Ariyo Azeez. He was the leader of Ariyo Traveling Theatre 1988 in Abeokuta. After about three television productions with him, I proceeded to Sammar Art Compound at Oke-Yeke, Abeokuta. I spent about ten years at Sammar, before I established Mr. Latin productions.
Between real life and stage
You can see for yourself that the person you are speaking to is Bolaji Amusan. And the funny fellow is Mr. Latin. You can see the difference in the way I relate with people. Take Okocha or Kanu for example, they are very good footballers. Would they say that because they are footballers, they should start kicking football all over the streets? It’s not possible.
If I switch on my phone now, I can call Baba Suwe. He’s my Oga. We are best of brothers. Opebe disable came to Abeokuta about three days ago and spent about three days with me. I am starting my production on Thursday. If you come there, you’ll know the level of interaction among the comedians.
They’ll all be there.
Actually, there must be healthy rivalry. That’s what will make you improve. By all standard, Baba Suwe is my senior colleague. He has achieved, even more. I follow his footsteps. You know, shoe get size, Okrika self get quality. That’s just it.
Comedy and lessons / messages
I am an educated comedian, a classical one for that matter. My main aim of coming into comedy is not only to make people laugh, but to make them learn as well. If you watch Talongbemu for example, it is about a politician who used Obafemi Awolowo’s name to rise to power, only to derail from the ideals the old man stood for. If you watch Obajobalo, it’s about two stupid old men that are supposed to pray for their young ones but instead, engage in rivalry at the expense of the younger ones. Otipoju is about taxi drivers who at homes are not attending to their wives and children but on getting to their taxi park, they would be buying bokoto, Ogufe and chicken for girlfriends. Then if you watch Mr. President, it is about President Obasanjo. I used that film to x-ray his achievements and what people expect of him.
I started with Wedding Gift, 1999; Faworaja, 2001; Nnkan Lola omo Oba, 2002; Talongbemu, 2002; Iseju Marun, 2003; Otipoju 2003, Obajobalo, 2003, Eegunmogaji, 2004; Mr. President, 2004; Imported Lomo, 2004; and Ki ni scores, 2005.
Had I known, I would have entered this profession earlier than now. Secondly, if I had known, I wouldn’t have stopped my education.
I am planning to go back to school this year to study International Relations. I want to end up as an Ambassador. I want to be referred to as His Excellency Bolaji Amosun, Nigerian Ambassador to Great Britain. As Mr. Latin, I wish to be invited to Hollywood.
There is the problem of finance. There is also the problem of piracy and government recognition of artistes. You see, lets take the film Mr. President, for example, if I had lambasted Obasanjo throughout that film, he would have sent for me. He has never sent for me o.The man is very stingy. He has not even acknowledged seeing the film. And of course, I’ve sent a copy of the film to him, his daughter, his PAs and all people that are close to him, like Governor Gbenga Daniel. He watched the film but did not acknowledge that I did a great job.
Romance with governors
The only friend I have in government is GovernorTinubu. He has been very fair to the artistes. During International Theatre Day, 2004, he specifically mentioned my name, Ogogo, Baba Suwe and so on as very good actors. That alone is enough to give me joy When we were in Dublin, the Ekiti State Governor invited us to come and meet him in Dublin in an Hotel on the day he was meeting Ekiti People. He invited us and he refused to attend to us. So we had to get out of the hall, Baba Suwe, Dele Odule, Jim Iyke, I, and so on. We had to walk ourselves out of the hall, because he didn’t even recognize us. That shows the way our leaders treat artistes. I know that without we artistes, we wouldn’t have had what we call Nigeria today, because we are bringing smiles to many broken homes.
I am not a graduate, but I can read and write. I can speak whatever I read. I am a role interpreter. So if you give me a script, I will digest it and interpret.
English speaking artistes
The English artistes are fortunate to be using an international language. Let them do their films in Igbo, then you will notice their mess. For example, Norbert Young mentioned during the 2004 Reel Awards that he appreciates Yoruba actors because they hold to their culture. He told the Igbos to do likewise. Let them speak Igbo and we shall see what’ll happen.
My most favourite artiste is Dele Odule. Then Nkem Owoh, Baba Suwe and Pete Edochie. All other artistes are very good and talented artistes.
They should keep on praying and should not be in a hurry for we have not reached the promised land. A journey of one thousand kilometers starts with a step.
They should be patient with us. The Area boys should be patient with us. Yes, they admire us but they admire us in a wrong way. If you go to Ojota, they would collect money from you. The same thing happens in Oshodi, Ketu, and so on. So how much would be left for me to take care of my family? But if you refuse to give them, they can break your mirror or abuse you.
I’ve received over forty awards, mainly from students. But I have received three most impressive awards; The Best Comedian of the Year, 2003 by Obafemi Awolowo University Student Union; the Reel Awards’ Best Comedian of the year, 2003; and the Nigerian Comedian of the year by Afro Dublin Movie Awards, Ireland.