DAD WARNED HIM NOT TO DO MOVIES----EBUN OLAIYA
His father wanted him to learn tailoring. But young Ebun Olaiya Oloyede had other ideas, he wanted to be like the late doyen of theatre, Hubert Ogunde and Ade Afolayan. For this, his father warned:
“You may never do well because artistes don't live responsible lifestyles.”
Undeterred by his father's admonition, he soon left his tailoring training to join a neighbourhood theatre group. Almost three decades after keeping faith with his dream, and several awards to the kitty, Oloyede, now popularly addressed as Igwe by his peers and fans said he has only one regret, his parents' absence to celebrate his success.
After the Movie Award in London, where he carted home five honours for his popular movie, Ololade Mr. Money, Olaiya broke down and wept. He explains:
“I wished my parents were around to see what I have become. My father said artistes are never-do-wells. But here I am in London being celebrated. It was too much for me to hold back.”
Olaiya is a testimony to what determination and dedication to a dream can achieve. Coming from a poor background, he was denied the benefit of early education, which, he explained, was beyond the reach of his parents.
“I come from a poor family. My father could not afford to send me to school, so he asked me to go learn tailoring.”
But between learning tailoring and theatre, young Olaiya also found time out to do a little studying which today comes in the movie world and his everyday living.
From his first day on television, Olaiya said he knew he was destined for the top of his career. On the way to the top, Olaiya imbibed and kept to heart many of the tricks he learned from the masters of the game. One that has set him apart from the crowd is his ability to play musical instruments like the flute and the Goje.
“I saw how the late Ade Love played these instruments and how people appreciated him for it. I took time out to learn how to play them.”
However, his mastering of the instruments also came up with its headaches as friends and uncles tried, unsuccessfully, to lure him to pitch tent with the sakara music.
“It was the period that sakara music was the in-thing among the Egba people. Here I was with the flute and the Goje, two instruments already made popular by the great sakara musician, Baba Legba. My uncle pleaded with me to start singing sakara. After him, several of my friends also tried.”
With over 20 movies to his credit, Olaiya has grown from producing television series to one of the most successful actors and producers around. His movies, like the chartbusting “Iru Esin” and “Abela Pupa” among others, have ensured his place in the class of top movie producers.
In an industry where stakeholders fill the markets with movies every week, most of them shoddy and poor quality, Olaiya has become noted as a one movie per year producer.
“We are not many in the industry who love this job. These are people who have the interest of the industry at heart. They don't flood the market with sub-standard movies every week like some people do. The economy is not doing well enough to support the numbers of movies that are released every week. We need to regulate the industry by limiting the numbers of movies that are released. That is the only way to bring sanity to the industry.”
It is for this reason that he claimed to have halted production for three years running now.
“My last production, “Osan Gangan”, was produced almost three years ago. I know that there is no point rushing to the market with your production when you know that the people would rather spend the little money in their pockets on food.”
He is, however, already putting finishing touches to his next story. He disclosed that the movie will deal with the theme of terrorism, which he said some people are exploiting to drag the world into war.
“I am working on a new job. I want to talk about terrorism. You have them everywhere. Either in your office, at home or even on the streets. Some people are hiding under the cloak of religion to terrorise other people. It is not only aginst the Will of God, it is also against humanity because no man can fight on behalf of God.”
Despite the success, movie watchers have often complained about the ritual contents of his movies. But in his defence, Olaiya says people who say he's done too many movies with ritual themes don't know much about him.
“It is obvious that people who say such things are ignorant of me and my works. I have produced more than 20 movies and of this number, only about three have themes that have to do with rituals. How can you then conclude that I am too much into ritual movies? Beyond this, the movies were done to teach some lessons. I try to teach people about the evil of getting rich through ritual in the movies.”
How did he come about the title of Igwe? Olaiya explained that the students of the Obafemi Awolowo University conferred the honour on him. The award, which literally means the king, was meant to identify him as the king of theatre.
“It is a great honour for your fans to make you a king. It means that they appreciate what I am doing. That makes me happy.”
However, in spite of the awards and fame, Olaiya says he is poor. Though he was quick to add that he is contented and happy, Olaiya blamed the state of the movie industry in the country on the prostrate state of the economy.
“Let me confess to you, I sometimes find it hard to pay my children's school fees. But I know that things can only improve and I would one day become a millionaire if I live long enough to achieve my dreams.