My wife was my specification, my doctor’s prescription— Tony
With a number of music albums and movies to his name, Tony One Week has become a household name in Nigeria. Sunday Sun got in touch with the gyrate master in his Abuja home and got him talking about his present works as an entertainer among other things. Excerpts:
How did you get into singing? Was it deliberate or accidental?
I didn't start singing by accident. I had the traits from childhood. I even made a demo tape with my younger brother in 1985 but my mum told us to leave music and go to school.
While in the Federal Polytechnic Oko reading mass communication, I formed a theatre/performing group named Thriller Entertainment. We organized shows in school. Then I joined the Kegites club in 1986 and became a songito. My singing is by no means accidental. It is my destiny.
What about acting?
I started acting in the Catholic Block Rosary Crusade those days in Abakaliki. Then in St Patrick's college, Emene-Enugu, I was a member of the dramatic society. In Abakaliki High School where I finished my secondary education, I was a performer too. While in the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus, I got the opportunity to feature in Kenneth Okonkwo's 'Betrayal, part 2' while holidaying in Lagos and my career as an actor kicked off.
You studied at Federal Polytechnic, Oko Anambra State. Tell us about your school days.
I read Mass communication in Anampoly (now Fedpoly), Oko and graduated with upper credits in both OND & HND. I majored in print. That makes me a qualified journalist. It was fun. I was into extra curricular activities like football, showbiz and Kegites club. I was unarguably the most popular student during my four years in Oko town. Everybody, including the villagers knew me.
I was first choice striker with jersey number 9 in the school team for 4 years. I was a ladies man. The girls loved me. I introduced stand-up comedy to my school with my yabbis segment of my Thriller sold out shows. It was fun. I remember with nostalgia Mr Nwanze, my lecturer then. He was a character. My rectors were Dr Ben Uzuakpunwa and Mr Nwadialor. My soccer coach then was Opisco Ajalaa. Oko was fun.
What about primary and secondary schools?
Primary school was at Central Urban School, Abakaliki, while secondary was partly in Emene High School (former St Patrick's) and Abakaliki High school (former Presbytarian Comprehensive School (PRESCO). I was the bell ringer while at PRESCO. Infact, it was in PRESCO that my Literature teacher Mr Obijiofor gave me the nick name 'One week, one trouble'. I was a handful then. The name was derived from the literature titled “One week, One Trouble” by Anezi Okoro. I played in the school football team and actually won a scholarship for winning the principal's cup.
What was growing up like? Can u speak for instance on an experience of hardship as a child, maybe when u could not pay fees or could not feed?
I lost my father in 1977 while I was in secondary school. From then, my golden spoon turned into a bronze spoon. May God bless my mother who took care of me and my brothers and sister with the meagre resources she could find. My dad had a rice mill in Abakaliki. We all were trained from there. Ours was a family of nine, five girls and four boys. I am the second son and the fourth born. Life was hectic after my father's demise but I am happy that I grew the hard way. Today, I am wiser. I am a self made man who is driven by my faith in the supremacy of God almighty.
Was entertainment your dream in life? Did you envisage getting this popular and wealthy?
Right from childhood, I always fantasized about stardom. Michael Jackson was my best. His voice and music still affects me today. May his soul rest in peace. Yes. My brother Peter Gabriels and I, we wanted to be stars. We dreamt it. We wanted it. We took the name “Brothers Gabriel” after my dad's first name. Then mum insisted we hit school and we did. Today he does gospel music and I do gyration. I thank God that today, we are popular, in Nigeria at least.
How did you meet your wife? What was romance like? Did you know you will marry her from the start?
I met my wife in 1993, in the banking hall of the defunct Nigeria Arab Bank. She was so slim, fair skinned and innocent. She was my specification, my doctor's prescription. Yes. I felt I could spend my lifetime with her right there. Today, a good sixteen years later, we are still together. Give the Lord a big hand.
Why did you leave Lagos for Abuja? How do you compare the two cities?
Haba, how can u ask a sane man why he left Lagos for Abuja? You can't compare death and sleep bros. Of course Abuja is better than Lagos. I have answered that question time and time again. While I lived in Lagos for six years, I didn't get the kind of peace I got living in Abuja for six months. It's not all about money. I want to live long and also enjoy the little money I am making. Security of life and property is more important to me than any other thing. Abuja is the place for me. Some people are addicted to the hustle and bustle of Lagos. Congratulations to them. As for me and my family, Abuja is it.
You made an Igbo language movie early last year. Can you speak on it?
The title is “Oke Ochicho” meaning “greed”. It's a movie that is filled with messages. It's a must watch. Oke Ochicho is an Andy Best movie co-produced and directed by me. It is subtitled in English and starrs Emeka Ike, Oge Okoye, Chief Zebrudaya etc. It is a story of greed. You should see the movie. It is out now.
How would you describe the success of gyration? Did you expect it?
Gyration succeeded because of it's originality. This is the same reason it has refused to fade. It is an everlasting music. I always tell my friends that 100 years after I am gone from this world, people will still be dancing “Everybody gyrate….Ja…ja…jairate”. It's the glory of God which is only possible by His grace. Do u feel me? His glory comes by His grace.
Take that home. I can't say I was surprised by the success of gyration. Rather, I was overwhelmed. I relished it. Mind you. I have always been popular at every stage of my life, secondary school, higher institutions, Kegites, soccer etc., but 1998 was the bomb. Everybody felt me. Everybody loved me. Everybody knew me, knew my voice. It is a great feeling. I can't explain it more plainly.
What are you doing presently? Any new stuff coming?
My brother, I am hustling. I am jack of all trades, master of none. In Nigeria, the economy has forced engineers to open hospitals and doctors to own mechanic workshops. My friend Daddy Showkey said one day na one day, Nigeria go better. God dey. I do music, movies, comedy, compere, public relations, contracts and politics.
As an actor and singer, what can you say on the crises rocking Actors' Guild of Nigeria and PMAN?
I don't discuss AGN or PMAN. I believe that whatever is happening in both associations is ordained by God. When God ends the wars, they will be over
Story by ONUKWUBE OFOELUE