The popular Yoruba home video film actor Chief Tajudeen Oyewole ( aka Abija) had recovered from a fatal auto crash he had in 2007 but still living with the scar as he limps. He says he would be happy if he could be sponsored to Mecca to perform Hajj. taiwoabiodun.com met him
Seeing the popular Yoruba Movie actor limping one could think it is one of his theatrics but in real life he is not acting any movie. – no thanks to the auto crash he had few years back.
Meeting him for the first time one could argue whether he is the same actor that acts frightening plays on stage or not as he is as gentle as a dove during the interview but again like the proverbial leopard who will never change its spots, the actor in a twinkle of an eye has his countenance changed with voice raised, his eyes bulged out as he gesticulated with all his body , chanting war songs as if in trance or stage acting.
Welcome to the two worlds of Chief Tajudeen Oyewole ( aka Abijawara Bi Ekun) a popular Yoruba artiste who has acted many films especially juju and warlord in Yoruba home videos.
How I got my stage name
According to Oyewole, he derived his stage name , Abija from an engineer, he said , ” there was one Construction company called Abija Wara Bi Ekun Construction in Oshogbo ,the company was owned by a respectable old man and when we wanted to do a – 13 week-play , the leader thought of what they should call me and the name of the construction company came to mind’ Abija’. We had 25 episodes in that play and I was asked use the name – Abijawara Bi Ekun which is the name of the construction company based in Oshogbo. Later we simply called it ‘ Abija’ .Before that time I had been using some stage names but they were not popular until when we started using ‘ Abija ‘ in ‘Opa Aje’ Film , it became popular and my trademark , and this shot me into the limelight .Since then ‘Abija ‘glued on me like gum, and only very few people know my real name as my stage name has overshadowed it”.
Our reporter,Taiwo Abiodun and Abija during the interview
The story line of the mysterious ‘Opa Aje’
Abija said the ‘ Opa Aje’ [ Prosperity Staff ] Movie which brought him into limelight was shot long time ago and it was a surprise to them that the film was popular ”the crew never knew the play would become very popular like that”, he said and continued ” it is the story line of Abule Meta and Opa Aje ( Three villages and Prosperity Staff) .The mysterious staff was owned by Lasigun village, my mother’s home town and it was agreed that it should be rotated round the other two villages : Bilagun and Telude ,but Lasigun refused until Bilagun took it by trick which caused war , while Telude again waged war against Bilagun and collected it by force . Abija a powerful juju man cum warrior was given the task to retrieve it.The staff was retrieved it was later rotated among the three villages, and peace reigned once again” . However, Abija said that it was recently that they discovered that the story was telling us indirectly the story about Nigeria’s resource control ,” the story is like Nigeria’s three popular tribes:Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba fighting over the control of our oil. When we acted the play we did not know it would have deeper meaning and would be pregnant with words ,we now realize what is happening in the country and likened it to the ‘Owner’ and Control’ of our oil resources”.
He continued ” Lasigun ( my mother’s town in the movie ) and the other two names represent Nigeria tribes , they kept the Opa Aje ,the owner was deceived and it was stolen , then the owner couldn’t retrieve it .Abija was called to assist , but the king did not want to return it, The staff was taken by force by the warrior , Abija at last!”
Abija confessed that ‘ Opa Aje ‘ is not his first play where he acted but it was the play that shot him into limelight.
Woman must not meet me
With all the costumes and paraphernalia on , he confessed that no woman should meet him on the way or make an attempt to embrace him , that is if that is the instruction laid down on the costumes ,he stated” there are some powerful costumes that forbids a woman to meet me on the way according to our ancestor’s instruction , so we have to obey such .We don’t just treat these costumes anyhow , if there is need to perform rituals or offer sacrifices before wearing them ,then I must humbly comply .It is true that if not observed the side effect could be fatal .I know this because my paternal and maternal lineages are both from Ifa priest and are Babalawo , so it means I inherited the act of Ifa or Babalawo from the two sides .Aside this I am also from the family of hunter. No woman must embrace me while returning from hunting expedition because of what I had on my body, it could be disastrous, and if I need any animal I would just go to the forest to kill it, just name it. The power is there”, he said with total conviction , as he beats his chest
How rich is Abija?
Despite his fame Abija said his fame does not translate into money ,”I am not rich, I don’t have a roof over my head which is part of measuring one’s wealth. I don’t even have a land , and this does not mean that I am not serious or I am a prodigal son because the money realized from acting is not much as people or fans erroneously thought. I am prudent .I have only one wife and I have children in higher institutions .But having said this , I cannot say that I am not a rich man with my children in schools ,though I don’t have raw cash”.
Why artistes have many wives
Asked why some male artistes have harem of wives, in defence, Abija said ” it is because of the perception of the fans and family members of the female artistes who blackmail female artistes and call them prostitutes so the male artistes preferred to marry them and use them as their actresses in their plays instead of looking outside and begging or paying them to come and acting their plays, and again it is economical. In the days of old female artistes were called names but today that is no longer the case .But our fathers then had many wives because the women would be readily available for them to participate in any role given to them and therefore would not go out looking for people outside to join them”.
2007 auto crash
Abija who is still limping as a result of fatal auto crash he had few years back said he was just lucky to be alive , he said the accident happened while he was coming from a location , his words ” I went with my crew to shoot my new film ‘Ibinu Abija’ and on our way back home I hit a big brick- moulded road divider not knowing its position had been changed by those constructing the road along Canaan land.When I was going it was not in that position and on my way back I drove along not knowing it had been dangerously shifted, and I was not speeding. I had been on this film for some years and I believe it would hit the market .It was the film I went to shoot when I had an accident, after Canaan land . I ran into it with my Camry car .My hip went off while the lady, an artiste sitting by the driver’s side died immediately . A woman sitting behind me was seriously injured.Otunba Ajawesola Ayinde Busari assisted me , and stood by me .
Abija with clean record
The popular artiste Abija said he has been very honest with clean records as he tried not to involve himself with dirty deals, he said Though somebody asked whether I could do an illegal business for him to assist me but I declined and rejected the offer because I cannot allow my image to be tarnished .Pressed further to give the full details about the business but the artiste refused and said ” you know popular people like me are being tempted,but I did not give a definite answer whether I would take the offer or not but I did not go to him again. Any popular person must be careful , and watch his steps or else he would find himself or herself in a big trouble .I decided not to do it , I preferred to struggle and God intervened at last “
Betrayal from Friends
The Artiste with forlorn look is visibly shaken as he has been betrayed or stabbed in the back many times by his so called friends and colleagues , he says he finds it difficult to trust friends again , his words ” I have been disappointed by a lot of friends .There was a year a man wanted to sponsor my film , I called one of my best friends to let us go to the sponsor and negotiate with him .We were there and we discussed , and I gave my sponsor and promoter a price , and I was asked to come back the following week , but this my friend went behind me to bargain with him at a lesser and ridiculous bargain. My friend later again asked me to come and participate in a film he wanted to shoot , and not knowing it was the film I went together with him to negotiate on ,that was how he collected the money. While shooting the film I used all my energy and I almost killed myself to make sure it was successful not knowing that I was a fool .When I later went to meet the man who promised to sponsor and promote my film again he started to trick me asking me to come back again .Later the man ( promoter) showed me the VHS my friend had produced. He accused me of demanding for higher price on the film. He lambasted me and told me my friend had done it .In the end the film did not sell while my so called friend and the sponsor became enemies , my friend was taken to the police station and accused of fraud .I was the one who went to beg the promoter to leave him. This is a film I almost died while acting in it .Not only that , I had invited all my artiste friends and colleagues from Ondo, Abeokuta, Ekiti and all other places and lodged them into an hotel in preparation for the film I wanted to shoot not knowing I was a fool”.
Source of my Costumes
Asked how he gets the costumes he uses on stage, Abija said it his duty to look for , ” I would look for the costume that matches the part I would play in a film. We would go and search for old people we thought could have them like our parents’ clothes and aged people. We travel far and wide looking for costumes that would match what we want to produce. .It involves a lot of stress, energy , money , traveling and contacts, it is not easy”.
On his death rumour
Though the rumour of his death spread like wildfire some years back , Abija said the rumour was as a result of his fatal accident ” you can see that I still limp, the accident was fatal but I thank God that I survived it .I spent two and a half years in the hospital and later at home .I also went to trado- medical for bone setting , my hip was badly affected.The accident happened years ago , on September 10, 2007 .I don’t believe the accident was caused by enemies or being haunted but it was just like any other accident no more no less.It is not a spiritual attack as some claimed “.
On production of poor quality films
Abija denounced the present crop of home videos of low quality being hurriedly produced now and said it was never like this in his period.”We never met it like this and we were never taught like that .It is what we see that we have now . I was in Dakar in Senegal with some of our CDs , they only picked two , The films they watched were condemned because in some of the films the ladies were half -naked ,they detest all these .We never met it like that”
On the solution , he said “We need to work harder , all these films produced today are all poor quality .In Yoruba land here we act and produce films that are educative, thought- provoking and full of research works that people believe they would derive a lot of sense from , while some of these films had given them hope as many had regained their lost fortune . That is why we are called Prophets .Take for example the Judge who went to Court to judge is also being taken to Court as he too falls victim of being prosecuted , then how would they judge him? ”.
Our Culture is not culture
Asked to contribute to the debate whether our culture is still relevant, but hear him, “For those who think our Culture is dying or because of religion say it is fetish and ungodly they are still coming back to it for they did not understand what culture is .There are some families that cannot do without watching our films”.
” I was born many years ago .I read only Primary Six from Local Authority Primary School , Oniyere in Ayedun Agbo Bi Ekun Village. My parents sent me to school but truancy did let me go beyond Primary Six and it pains .None of my children acts but one of them edits. They don’t like it [acting] , one man’s meat is another man’s poison .I think it is education first for the children , and when he or she goes into acting first he would be ruined .It is this lack of education that almost ruined me”, he admitted.
I want to go to Mecca
What is paramount in the mind of Abija now is his yearning to go to Mecca ” I am ready to do any film , sponsors should assist. I am not greedy.I believe in Allah but unfortunately they call me Alhaji , Alhaji yet I did not go to Mecca and I am willing to go to Mecca if I get sponsors. The only Camry car I have in life had condemned due to the accident I had , I abandoned it since I have no money to repair it since 2007, and I believed it must have been towed away by the state government’s towing vehicle .