Dad disowned me for joining Hubert Ogunde
For actor and director, Dr. Ojo Bakare, his determination to become an actor that saw him running away from home and severing relationship with his parents for many years, has now paid off.
According to Bakare, director of Langbodo, a play that will open the National Summit of Culture and Tourism and which President Olusegun Obasanjo has vowed to see at a command performance in Abuja next month, he would not have become what he is today if he had not pursued his dreams against all odds. .
He disclosed: “My parents didn't want me to become a dramatist. I had to run away from home to join Jimoh Aliu with whom I did some plays like “Fopomoyo” and “Agbarin” etc. One day, I accompanied Jimoh Aliu to the location of a film where Ogunde saw me and instantly became interested in me because of my versatility in dance drama..
The ruggedness of the Alarinjo Theatre prepared me for what I am doing today. I didn't train with bread and butter in my mouth. I ran away form home. Even when I faced difficulties under those masters, I didn't have a home to run to because my dad had already disowned me. I had no choice than to absorb the pains, discipline and difficulties faced by an apprentice which today have become an asset for me. It was after all these experiences that I went to the University to study drama up to PH.D level.”
Bakare, however, reconciled with his parents later. But it was not until he has realized his ambition of becoming a popular actor in the town. ”I later reconciled with my father after I left the Alarinjo theatre. What happened was that after I left Alarinjo, I was acting on TV and radio even as a student of College of Education, Ikere Ekiti. I was also doing emcee jobs at parties. All these my dad knew about and also knew that I was becoming popular. One day, my father called me and said: 'since everybody knows you as an actor which I thought was nonsense, I am now convinced that drama is your calling. It is what God wants you to do and I will support you.' That is how we reconciled. But the reconciliation prompted me to go to the University to study drama,” he said.
I draw my inspiration from God. I didn't learn theatre just from the University. I went to the University after about 8 years of experience as a dramatist in the traditional theatre. I was an apprentice under Huibert Ogunde and Jimoh Aliu. The ruggedness of the Alarinjo Theatre has prepared me for all of this. In those days, when we went for shows our vehicle would break down and we would push it several kilometers with our costumes and musical instruments perched on our head. We would trek to the next village because the show must go on.
Lessons learnt from Ogunde, Aliu
The biggest lesson that I have learnt from Ogunde and Aliu is that no matter your background or level, you must do the job that God has created you to do. If you do this, you will be celebrated everywhere. That is why I have refused to do any other thing apart from dance and theatre. I believe it is what God has created me to do.
The House of Representative Committee on Culture and Tourism is organizing the summit. It is the first of its kind in Nigeria. As part of the event, they want a command performance that will be good enough to draw the physical presence of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Since the president saw “Langbodo” during the FESTAC in 1977, they though it is a play good enough to draw his attention this time. So they went to him and said we are doing “Langbodo” as a command performance. Then, the president said if that is what you are doing I will come. If I may quote the president, he said: 'I saw Langbodo when I was the Head of State in 19977, I will like to see it again'. With this coming from the president, they now started looking for a director who is competent to handle the play. Five names were penciled and after due consideration they settled for me.
What gave me an edge is my versatility because apart from being a theatre director, I am into dance, music and drama. I handle effectively all branches of the theatre because of my background. Like I said earlier, I trained under great dramatists like Hubert Ogunde and Jimoh Aliu before going to the University. If you look at “Langbodo”, there are music, dances and drama so as a versatile director, I was given the job.
As for challenges, I think all my works are challenging.. I don't see a work as more challenging than the other because every new work poses its own challenge. My approach to a 10 minutes performance is the same with that of three hours production.
Intervention in Langbodo
The script originally is pessimistic about Nigeria. It is like the writer, Wale Ogunyemi is saying that Nigeria will never get out of its problems and that the forces of evil will always triumph over the forces of good.
On this ceremony of our National Summit on Culture and Tourism, Nigerians don't want to see a play that says we are doomed or failed as a country. This will contradict the spirit of the summit. I don't think the government of the day also wants to hear this. I don't think there is any Nigerian praying that Nigeria will never get out of its problem. If there is anything we are saying, it is that our problems should be solved. So, in the philosophy of modern tragedy, I believe life should continue no matter the problems, which is what I am trying to do with the play.
Beyond Yoruba culture
I have decided to take the play beyond its original setting of Yoruba culture. So, I am investing a national character in the play. I am also using it to generate new meaning by making each of the six hunters to represent a geographical zone while the seventh hunter represents national patriotism. That is the reason why only the seventh hunter, Akaraogun will survive the expedition because he is a nationalist. He is not an ethnic loyalist. All the six hunters representing the six geopolitical zones will be consumed by their ethnic sentiments. The message therefore is that collectively we will survive our national problems.
How I cope with women
To an extent, God has enabled me to keep to my discipline. I know that the love of money and women has destroyed so many people. I have a very loving wife who is committed and has sacrifised everything to make my career what it is today. Any time I remember her, I try to keep myself in check. I don't have any reason to be unfaithful to my wife. With this in mind, I have been able to stay out of scandal as far as women are concerned. Also, going by my work rate I don't have time for women.