Source: nigeriafilms.com
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He rose through the ranks to become a celbrated Yoruba movie artiste. Al-Hassan Babatunde Taiwo aka Ogogo in this exclusive interview with www.nollywoodgists.com he spoke on issues like his background, the Nigerian movie industry, the severe sickness he recovered from which a lot people had peddled rumours to be effect of bursted hard drug which had adverse effect on his system and other issues.


Tell us a bit about your background?

I was born on October 31st 1959 in Ilaro, Ogun State. I attended Christ Chapel School for my primary education and later proceeded to African College Ijora, Lagos for my secondary school education. I later gained admission into Technical College Yaba to study Automobile Engineering and graduated in 1981. I worked with the Lagos State Water Corproration as an engineer and resigned in 1994.

How did you become a movie star?

I have been a movie artiste since 1981. I trained under the tutelage of Awo Ademola Fabunmi in Ebute Meta, Lagos. I was trained alongside Lanre Abiodun
(Abbey lanre). Fatai Adelayo (Lalude), Tajudeen Olajuwon and others. In 1986 we formed a group called Oodua Theatre Organisation, which was led by Lalude. By 1988 shooting of Yoruba films with VHS video recorder began. The most popular person then was Muyideen Alade Aromire. Then it was not so much with commercial motive but the quest to promote the Yoruba culture.

Can you compare when you started in the 80s and movie production nowadays?

Then we performed on stage. Being an artiste does not come with financial gains we financed the theatre group. Our first major performance was at Museum
Kitchen, Lagos. The play was entitled 'Olowu Orogbondu'. I played the role of the King's praise singer. I started movie production in 1993.

What motivates you to perform?

Basically, it is Love for our culture and development of the industry.

How many movies have you produced?

My first movie was 'The Wicked Boy', 'Prisoner', 'Ekun Ayo', 'Iya Ibeji Eliran Igbe', Ore Ojiji, 'Ibinu Elewon', 'Idajo Olorun', 'Kebiyesi Olodumare', and 'Omo Olomo'. My latest includes 'Oba Asekan Maku' and 'Omo Talaka'.

What about some awards to your credit?

I have had awards from students of Lagos State University in 1996, I got the THEMA awards for the best Yoruba actor in 1996, I got the Afro Hollywood
awards, and awards from some religious organisations.

What is the difference between movie production in the 80s and now?

There has not been much difference but what has brought development is because of economic hardship experienced in the country. Movie production in Nigeria now gulps a lot of money. Producers that ventured into this include late Hubert Ogunde, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala), Ade Afolayan (Adelove). Majority of those people then made use of the VHS machine which was made to record at events. I think we can say the Nigeria movie industry is not stagnant. I personally believe Nigerian movies have a major role they play in the lives of Nigerians in
diaspora. The movies give them a sense of belonging.

What is your view on the number of movies that are churned out in the Yoruba movie industry?

There are good producers and bad producers. The cause of the problems nowadays is caused by marketers who instigate up-coming artiste to produce sub-standard production of such movies will apparently be handled by inexperienced production personell who would not be professional with their job. At the end of the day the message intended to be passed across in such movies
would have been distorted. There are some movies that are not bitter that than
live television programme

You recently recovered from a severe illness. What sort of illness was it?

It was a sudden illness. I did not know I had stomach ulcer. Unfortunately it was during the Ramaddan fasting period. As a God-fearing person and a dedicated Muslim I continued fasting for those thirty days. The pains became more severe I could not eat any solid or pepperish food. I lived on pap and milk. I did all sorts of medical tests including that of HIV Aids. Infact I spent about two million naira on
medical tests and diagnosis this was aside hospital bills I had to pay due to the fact that I was reffered from one hospital to the other. At a point in time I got tired of using drugs and orthodox medication, hence I decided to be treated with herbs and native concoction. At this time I had lost weight so much that no one could recognise me again. It was after several months of being bed-ridden that I was diagnosed of appendicitis. Infact, less than five minutes when the appentix was extracted it bursted! It was then I was told if the appendix had bursted in my
stomach it would have been another story entirely. I was sick for about two years. I know it was reported that cocaine or some drugs bursted in my stomach tha is not true. I don't know what drugs look like. I am not a cocaine pusher and by the grace of God I will not be one.

How do you cope with female admirers?

I deal with them at arms length and as an artiste I must be careful. It is not possible for me to date everywoman that admires me.

Who is your role model?

I see all the leaders in the Yoruba movie industry as my role models especially Lere Paimo and Baba Wande.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I sleep when I am not doing anything. I also love watching American movies. I play draught board game and atimes I listen to good Yoruba music.

Advice for up-coming artiste

I advice them that they should be godly and be of good behaviour. And they shold be honest as much as possible.

Words for your fans

I thank everyone that stood by me during my trying times. And my fans I say God bless you all.