I'm not ashamed of following Onyeka Onwenu's footsteps - Omawunmi
Just as interesting as her music is, Omawunmi Magbele strikes you like a girl next door. Judging from when she made her debut till date, she has not stopped thrilling her fans with her mind-blowing, soul-stirring songs. It is not for nothing that she is referred to as Onyeka Onwenu of this generation. In this interview with Showtime Celebrity, Omawunmi takes us into her intinery, her music and personal life which she vowed to keep secret from the world.
What have you been up to lately?
I've been working very hard towards my forthcoming concert titled 'Lasso Of Truth.' It's about showing the real me, as a mother and an entertainer. My character as a very funny person, the serious side of me, my experiences, my personal and otherwise.
Laso Of Truth is the title of my second album which has already hit the market. The reason behind the title lies in the fact that my first album was titled 'Wonder Woman' and people also call me Oma Wonder. So, Laso Of Truth is a golden rope that could go through the fire yet to be indestructible. For every time, like when people heard the song, 'If You Ask Me', they knew what I said in the song was true. All I'm trying to do is make people to connect to the message I'm conveying through my music. Basically, that's what tomorrow's concert is all about.
Is it going to be a solo concert?
Yes, it's basically going to be a solo concert. I may have some music acts like Tuface Idibia, Onyeka Onwenu, Tiwa Savage, Waje, Wizkid, Seyi Shay, Winner of Nigerian Idol, 2012, Mercy, Timaya and Flavour who would be supporting me on that fateful day. We are trying to tell a story with the concert; all of that will be unveiled on that day. But for every time they come on stage, they are coming to do something with me and also, reach out to their fans.
For how long will the concert last on that day?
It's going to be a three hour concert that will have interludes of comedy. We don't have an MC. I have a desire to package a never- seen-before- concert. And because we have a long list of artistes, each will be coming on stage to do what they know how to do best. It will be holding at the Oriental Hotel.
Does it mean you'll be working with a band?
Yes, I'll be working with my band members and most of them have been with me since 2009 .
Bringing Onyeka Onwenu on board is fascinating. Is it because people call you Onyeka Onwenu of this age?
I don't know why but I imitate her character and her person. For her to still be relevant till this age is a path worthy of following. I am not ashamed of following her footsteps. If there were more female singers of her time around, you would have seen them featuring on my show. If you listen to my music you would realize that even those who were born before me appreciate them.. So, the first song I performed was her song and it sounded as if it was Onyeka on stage herself and she was so proud of me. And then, she often calls me to do one or two things with me.
What is the making of the Laso Of Truth album?
The title of my first album Wonder Woman was as a result of someone who used to call me by that name. But with the Laso Of Truth, a lot of things that happen around me found their way into that album. There are a lot of women who stay in a violent marriage and still pretend as if all is well with them. But right inside of them they are dying in pains. So, one of the track, I Go Go is saying that if a man doesn't love me enough to show me love then, I'll go. It's not encouraging women to quit marriages but I understand that if you can't love yourself then, you can't love someone else. A lot of women can relate to that song and it's an example of the Laso of truth.
There's also another track called Warn Yourself featuring Wizkid. I looked at myself, how can a guy who isn't my age or my standard walk up to me to ask me for a date. Then, I'll tell you no, it can't work, which is also the truth. In our country right now, the situation of things are bad, no checks and balances. Just recently, some people were pardoned for crimes they evidently committed. But who Am I to question the decision of Mr. president. Then, there's a song in my new album titled, What A Bang-Bang. So, I'm tilting towards the conscious side by preparing our minds for a future reaction because our music will surely live after we have all gone.
How many tracks does the album contain?
It's a 12- track album.
You sounded as if you are gender sensitive?
There's nothing wrong with becoming a feminist . But that word is too strong to be used like that. I think everybody should have something they are passionate about. So ,I'm passionate about being a woman.
You must be passionate about getting rid of malaria parasite too ?
Oh yes. There are actually some African countries which are free from malaria parasite.
So, what's your experience like when you toured those African countries with mortein?
Last year, we visited the largest maternity hospital in Kenya where a minimum of 200 children were affected by malaria parasite every week. The reason I embraced that campaign is because children from 1-5 years have weaker immune systems. Why must we always fall sick and buy insecticides when we can prevent malaria by keeping our environment clean and using treated nets which is not costly What are your plans with Mortein this year?
We did a campaign last year. This year, we are going to Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Rivers, Delta to also sensitize women because I found out that Malaria kills more than HIV. It kills a minimum of five children a day in Africa. So that's why I'm passionate about it. Some people say 'we played your song for mosquitoes they didn't die(laughs).' It's not about the song but when you listen to it, it makes sense because if we tidy our environment, we will have a malaria free Nigeria . It's not impossible to do that.
You're fighting against malaria in one of your songs, If You Ask Me when you talked about insects. Is it that consciousness that is growing in you or for commercial reasons?
If it were for commercial reason then, I wouldn't'have tilted towards the conscious side. When I carry crosses like these, it's not just violence against women. I also champion causes for breast cancer, for young people to prepare their mindset, especially in Nigeria. Every average young man wants to well-do . Every young girl wants to date very successful people in our society . However, these are all the social issues I'm championing because as a musician, our mission is to make sure that even if you are saying ten rubbish, say two good ones . Some of our legendary musicians I try to follow their footsteps include late Mariam Makeba, Onyeka Onwenu, Majek Fashek who used to be an activist.
There was a show where you performed and the dress you wore revealed a larger part of your breasts. Was it intentional?
Because I have small shoulders and my breasts are actually beautiful. I tend to wear revealing upper body dresses. But when you are looking into the mirror, you are not as tall as to see how troublesome it could be. That dress has feathers in front of it and before I left my hotel room, I asked someone if the dress was okay and she said yes. So , I wore it to the show and when I was performing at the show, of course, paprazzi took my pictures and they were released, I realised my breasts were practically pouring out of my dress, there was no way I could have put my breasts back .
Going back to where it all started. Statistics show that those who go for talent hunt shows don't actually make it when they finally get there. Why was your case different?
Everything was in the hands of God. I can't tell you that I was in the right place at the right time. But I'll advise young people who are towing that line to understand that they must work hard, take advantage of every opportunity and everybody is important, no matter how little they look. When I first started out, I had a small book where I used to write artistes numbers and I would call them and introduce myself to them, ask them how they went about their work. I asked questions and made sure I was being seen. Lady Gaga didn't have a pretty face to go with her voice so she had to go controversial.
In Botton Belle, your fans believe you were materialistic ?
I wouldn't want to join issues with anybody, because I've already sang the song.
What message are you trying to convey in Bottom Belle?
That men should appreciate the opposite sex the best way they can.
In a men dominated society like Nigeria, only few strong women like you can hold their own. How did you do it?
That's why I said, my own case has the hand of God in it. There are so many ways of selling your music. If you put a conscious music to the dance hall, before you realize what's happening, you already have the attention of the audience. Most times, I approach organisers for shows and I also present my music to them. I don't just sit and complain that I'm getting shows. I try as much as possible to develop myself to the standard where I know my fans always want me to be.
So what has changed about you since you started?
I'm more matured now than before. My music has also become more matured. I'm also more sensitive because as a younger girl, we were overwhelmed by the youthful exorbiancy. So, in my new album, you would notice that I'm more relax.
But you have your ups and downs?
I don't like to concentrate on my downs, I can only tell you about the ups.
You've been very busy unlike other female artistes, you are married…?
I'm not married
How do you cope with your daughter and your music?
When my daughter was younger, she used to go everywhere with me. My manager even back her sometimes. When I was pregnant, first of all, I had to cool down. Then, after giving birth, I had to understand that my daughter is my priority. So, I re-arranged my rider. Whenever I travel, I have my nanny with me and if I'm performing in a hotel, I must have a room there and my daughter will be there with me. So, when I come down to perform, after that, I go back to my room.
And my mum helped me a lot. She was with me for close to eight months before she took her leave. And my daughter comes from a very big family from her side and her father's side. So, everybody makes sure she doesn't lack affection. And when I work for longer time, if I don't see my daughter for more than three days, I feel guilty and less productive. So, when I'm going for a show more than five days, and outside the country, I beg them to allow me fly with my daughter.
It's a wonderful experience to be a mother and I'm grateful to God. It has helped me to be more down-earth and I feel my daughter made me to be more responsible.
But don't you think people are thinking you've been hiding the identity of her father?
It's not as if I've been shielding that aspect of my life. I know fans want me to talk about who I am and who I'm sharing my life with but they should understand that as long as I breathe, I will keep my personal life away from my music. Take one because you can't take all of me. So sometimes I'm aggressive and shun whoever asks me questions about my personal life. But all I'm offering is my music. I never said it one day that I'm offering my life because it's only Jesus I can offer my life to. Vanguard