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Ali Baba Is Father To All Comedians

Source: http://nigeriafilms.com
Ali Baba
Ali Baba

To most of his fans, it would seem like Afametuna Klint Igwemma, a.k.a Klint da Drunk has become a household name overnight. But that is not how he tells his story. Most importantly, he worked through the years way back in secondary school as a comedian, musician, painter and even fashion designer. This is his story as told to Production Editor, Terh Agbedeh.

When did you get into comedy?

Way back in secondary school. Then I did the drunken act and several others. There was one other one where I used to act like a small kid and they called me Junior on stage.

Everyone in showbiz tends to have an association but I have never heard about one for comedians?

The comedians don't have an association. Actually comedians are still under Nollywood. Even abroad comedians are still under Hollywood.

We don't have an association. To me it is the job first; it gets you noticed. If you want to prove to me that you are a comedian come onstage and crack clean jokes for two hours.

Who are you listening to right now in terms of music?

Actually, nobody because I don't want to be adulterated. But believe me, I love Nigerian music. Let me tell you why: 9ice is wonderful; his style of music is different. And I noticed one thing about our music; no two musicians have the same style. When someone tries to sound like another person that person's music dies. If you try to sound like 9ice your music dies and 9ice continues. Everyone has his style. See D'banj and Don Jazzy. There is Nigga Raw, whose first album I featured in. His second is making a lot of waves. See Asa, she is our next idea of another Sade Adu. She cuts across the international music level and her videos! Oh my God. So I can't tell you I love only one Nigerian musician because I have different moods at different times and that depends on what I listen to.

You should have a top-10.

Do you know I have more than top-10 moods? The mood determines the top-10. That top-10 thing! if I am in a sober cool calm mood and I listen to Asa's 'Eye Adaba,' oh my God. Before I go on stage I listen to that song. When I am in a party mood I listen to 'Gongo Aso' from 9ice or D'banj's 'I'm in the Mood.' It depends on what you want at that point in time. I can't really tell you who my top 10 is. Because if you come back when I am sober it is different or when I am sad, it is different as well. Or when I am really excited maybe I just got a contract. Believe me my number one song will change. I love Nigerian music. I love music generally.

Do you play any musical instruments?

I am doing my best on the keyboard but what I am really very sure of is the drums. But I can find my way through recording that's why my friends say I cheat music. And I accept.

Most great musicians are said to have learnt how to play a musical instrument along the line.

There's something I know about knowledge and about learning. The truth of the whole matter is that we are all illiterates. Whoever said that may have said it because he thinks it is the best way based on his own experience. Based on my own experience I think you are good in what you are gifted in. Someone started a school. Some people came together and wrote down the letter A. Where did they learn it? They must have been inspired. Inspired people are people that invent. Inventors are the beginning, the source. The first teachers were illiterates; or where did they learn? You will find out that they learnt it from someone. An illiterate who is insightful because it is not a normal person who can just bring up that. We learnt something from mad people and we are also bringing up some things from the normal people.

Most comedians in the country say Ali Baba is the reason they are here. What is your story?

The first time I came to Lagos I stayed with Ali Baba. Almost everyone stayed with Ali Baba. He is a father to all of us. He is an icon. In fact, his name is number one when you think comedy in Nigeria. Let's give it to him because he is the one who gave us our vision. He really taught me a lot. I don't think he knows the value of the things he taught me. He taught a lot of us a lot of things. I look at him and feel that he is a man that had an upward movement towards achieving his goal. It is always good to help a lot of people on your way up.

What do you do for exercise?

I used to be into taekwando and I intend to buy a punching bag so that I can do some kicking. One thing I learnt about marshal art is this; it really doesn't teach you how to fight because the more you flex your muscles the better. It is easier to keep fit that way.

When was the last time you went on a holiday?

I am on a holiday right now. But that was when I travelled to Italy. It was for a show but I had this two weeks gap. So, I just relaxed and had fun.

When you think about going on holiday what place comes to your mind?

For me, the best place to holiday is here in Nigeria. The last time I went on holiday in London I suffered. I was cold and it felt like having several 'area boys' beating life out of you.

If you had your way what would you do about the 'area boy' menace?

I can't take them off the streets because if I do that armed robbery would be on the increase. Next year I am going to do something with the 'area boys.' I want to do a lot of things with them. Believe me this concept is going to take at least one fifth of the area boys we have in Lagos off the streets. They will be doing something that will save lives.

You must be a very daring person.

I love adventure. I am so adventurous that when I was a teenager in my village I heard that ghosts moved around at night so I went to a burial ground late one night.

Did you get to see any ghost?

No. I was disappointed.

What I have in mind to do with 'area boys' will work. There is a friend of mind who is a medical doctor. A car had an accident and a bus conductor came to the rescue. They brought some of the victims to this friend of mine and he observed that somebody had touched them medically. He wanted to know who had and the bus conductor stepped forward. My doctor friend asked him how he knew what to do. And he told him he was a medical doctor but had to resort to being a conductor owing to unemployment. Go out there and you will see a lot of people with their papers. The conductor got lucky because the doctor did not let him go. He works with him now. You can never tell, that is why for me what we can do for these 'area boys' is to find out what it is they need. And most especially, what they can do for us. That is the part that people fail to realise. These guys can do some things for us that we can conveniently pay for. I think if we look into this 'area boys' issue we can get something out of it. Out of something bad shall come something good. In fact, the worse they are the better the good things that would come out of them.

Were you in a church choir?

I never was in a church choir. I was in a drama group both in church and in school. I was the leader of my school band in secondary school. We always had a school band but it was dead at the time I got there, so I more or less revived it.

What school is that?

Uwani Secondary School, Enugu. I come from Anambra State, a place called Agwu-Ukwu, Nri.

Is that far from Chinua Achebe's hometown?

No. Ogidi is not far from my place.

When did you finish school?

I finished early 2000 in the 2000/01 set. It was the time I was meant to finish. I had problems while I was at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu where I studied fine and applied arts, and it was sorted out. And no it was not a cult problem. It was actually academic. While I was in school I was among the artists that if we had a 16-hour exam we would wait until it was one hour to the end of the exam before we would show up and often finish in 45 minutes and still have 15 minutes to play around. And still get a very high score.

How many siblings do you have?

We are three; my elder brother, my elder sister and myself. I am the last.

So you are the one who got pampered?

My elder brother was the first and the first child is always pampered. Everyone is so happy and everyone comes around. The second was a girl; the only girl. Then I came along. I think we were all basically pampered. I remember my elder brother and sister used to send me on errands a lot. When my parents called them to do something they called on me.

What do your parents do?

They are both into business. I am very close to my parents. I talk to them everyday. My in-laws are wonderful as well. My mother-in-law is heaven sent.

You must be very lucky. A lot of people would confess that they have the worst in-laws.

I am a very lucky person. My wife says she does not know why God blessed her so much. She has the best in-laws.

What do you do for fashion?

I design most of the clothes I wear. Even if I buy a shirt I give it to the tailors. I love to add designs to my clothes.

Does that mean you make your own clothes?

Something like that. I have a good tailor I tell what I want. I can get a popular dress and make it unpopular. I don't just design, I recreate. I like jeans for easy movement. It is like a diaper for adults. I like good shoes and belt. I am an artiste, I studied fine art and you find out that as artistes our dress sense is not like any other. We believe in simplicity. If I concentrate on myself what would I do with my artwork?

Someone once told me that he was through with school and would now rather count money. Is that your stand too?

The truth is we learn everyday. I will still go back to a university for further studies. But right now I have a whole lot of things in my hands. If I decide to go back to school now I will not be able to concentrate. It is always best to go back to school when you have the time. I might decide to go into directing movies. If I decide to do that I would have to go back to school. Whatever I intend to do I will have to go back to school.

You seem to be planning on doing so many things.

Believe me my life has just begun. I am not yet 40.

Do you drink?

I don't. There's no alcoholic drink in my house.

It appears you put a stop to featuring in the movies. Why is that?

Not really. You see, I want this whole typecasting thing to stop and I want to concentrate on other things. I don't write songs so I had to go out there to get songs. And by the time my album comes out it's going to be a whole new ball game. A walk through the album will make people laugh. At the end of the day, when I'm done with this album thing I'll surprise everyone with an art exhibition. People don't know that I studied fine and applied arts at IMT, Enugu.