‘I Might Decide To Open A Buka And Sell Eba’---Yemi Solade
For 34 years he has acted out his passion on screen, but has remained active. A real 'son of the soil' who abhors Western culture,Yemi Solade, a native of Ogun State, is also proud of his country. He revealed a hilarious side and his worries about the low standards of Nigeria's movie industry when he spoke to ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM recently, at the premiere of the movie, 'Breeze' in Abuja.
You are one of the most respected actors in the industry. Looking at the Yoruba and English genres, how do you merge your characters?
First of all, let me correct this notion, I don't act based on language. There are no two movie industries in Nigeria, but only one, Nollywood regardless of the language. I shoot movies in Yoruba language because it is the best thing that can ever happen to anybody. If you go to Hollywood, everything that is being reported on Hollywood and sent to the whole world is about American culture. The explosion, shooting, all the violence is from the American way of life. If you go to India, their dances, costumes, and the songs depict Indians culture, norms and value. If you go to china, you will see martial art. So what is it that we are sending out or exporting from Nigeria? I am selling my culture, see the way I am dressed, I am a Yoruba man and I am very proud to be one . So let's correct this impression. You guys from the fourth estate of the realm have a lot of job to do and start asking us what we call what we do. I will not allow anybody to give what I do a name that is not appropriate. So there is just one industry. So we are all Naija in the industry, be it Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo. Nollywood is for everybody. No actor is special.
How long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the industry for over thirty four years. So I'm a SAN (senior actor of Nigeria). I challenge any actor, and I will give him a run for his money. I have chosen to do my thing in my language which I'm very proud of. I don't have English name because I'm not an English man. I'm a proud Nigerian and a proud Yoruba man also. I respect where I come from in Abeokuta. I love my culture; I don't want to act like a bastard. I don't put on suite because I'm not from England. I like the way I am. Take for instance the president of Nigeria, dresses like a man from Bayelsa, it tells you a lot. Not that I'm trying to rubbish anything anybody does but I'm just trying to say we are the one who are really depicting Nigeria culture. I eat with my fist, I don't use cutleries, and nobody would use it in my village.
Looking at the movie that was just premiered titled Breeze, what is the concept all about?
We have done a movie of savings and investment commissioned by the security and exchange commission. Breeze is the title, not commercial movie in the real sense of it. It is a campaign kind of movie to Nigeria public. The essence and the need to tell us to cultivate the habit of savings as was shown in the movie. It talks about investing so that when the trouble times come you can fall back on your savings. So, basically, this is the moral of the story. And then it also borders on family norms and values. It is fun coming around here.
I did such movie six years ago known as Widows and it paid off. I do special movies. I don't just do any movie just for the fun of it. If you see me in a movie recorded in English language it must stand out. It must have essence and also travel far. You don't find me in movie where people start bringing guns from their pocket turning it upside down as if they want to create an American movie. This is Nollywood. In Nigeria, snow does not fall here. We don't have constant power, let us appreciate who we are and where we come from. We should not be ashamed of who we are. Let's appreciate our country.
Having said that it's been a wonderful outing here in Abuja. I will tell you that Abuja is a wonderful place and we will continue to do what we know how to do best.
Looking at the hurdle the movie industry has had to go through. How would you rate the movie industry?
The industry is growing; it is still evolving to be an adult. The industry is just like two decades old. If you see a twenty year old guy, what do young expect from him? We are still growing. So we are still evolving, we will get there one day the way you guys want it.
What is the moral of the story and are there lessons to be learnt?
The moral of the story is for people to cultivate the habit of saving because anything can happen to any one at any given time. And you would need something to fall back on. No matter the condition we find our self, let us not do drug, armed robbery and prostitution. Let's keep our norms and values intact regardless of the position we find our selves no mater the circumstances, let us keep our head.
Can you give us an insight on the latest movie you are working on?
Presently I am not working on any movie. I am kind of in a cooler. I'm trying to do other things. I am working on the next movie star. I have just finished the training and grooming of the next movie star's housemates; they are now in the house. I will be going back to tutor them on the techniques of acting.
What next should your fans expect from you?
They should expect anything, I mean anything because I might decide to open a buka and sell eba. So they should keep there fingers crossed.
The issue rocking the nation and the entire entertainment industry today is drug trafficking. What is your take about all these?
I don't have a take because I don't do drugs. The only drug I know is panadol.