Enugu the old beautiful and picturesque capital of the old East Central State and the emergent and still beautiful capital of Enugu State has always been a happy hunting ground for me when it comes to materials for me in my work both as a movie director/writer and as a journalist. As much as it looks like we-practitioners in Nollywood- have discovered the whole city and its environs there is always something new to see. Even the inhabitants of the town do not know and have not discovered the immense beauty of this gem set in the these hills that seem to brush the face of heaven itself. I wonder how many people know the Ngwo waterfalls, a cascade of waters that pour into a cave almost two kilometers underground in Ngwo village, or the quiet smooth walled caves of Apugo village. How many people really have negotiated the precipitous and eye catching beauty of Miliken hills or how many have actually explored the old coal mines and trod through the Artisan Quarters and enjoyed the hustle of the places that raised and brought to the notice of the world such greats like the living football legend Jay Jay Okocha. I happen to think that the handsome governor of Enugu state, before he leaves government house, should look more into the development of tourism. But I am not writing this piece as the tourist ambassador of Enugu State. Over the weekend, I was in Enugu State not that I actually had any plans to visit the state but I was on my way to Aba to see my mother whom I had not seen for quite a while. I’d heard that a couple of my friends and colleagues, movie director Ernest Obi, Glo Ambassador Mike Ezuruonye and the inimitable Ngozi Ezeonu were on set shooting a movie A DROP OF BLOOD and I decided to stop over for a few hours in Enugu and see them. What they did not tell me was that Dame Patience Ozokwor, Nollywood colossus and National Awardee was also on the same set. I had not seen Mama Gee -as we call her- for over a year, not since her award that is so I now had double reason to stop over in Enugu.
When I walked onto the set both Patience and Ngozi were covered in make-up that made them look like decaying walking witches, which was the role they were playing. The make-up was so realistic that I did not recognize them at first but then I handed the drinks I bought all around and gave bear hugs to everybody and settled in for a little banter with Mama G.
QUESTION: What is happening here?
ANSWER: You can see that I am in make up and costume getting ready to shoot a scene. The makeup is so severe because we are paying for our crimes of trying to get rich very quickly without waiting for God’s time or working hard for what we want.
QUESTION: Isn’t that like a paradox for what is happening everywhere in Nigeria?
ANSWER: It is not just a paradox, it is the main problem with Nigeria and has always been. People see others in big flashy cars living in massive mansions and seeming to have all the money in the world and they want those things too without asking how those things came about. Who told you that the rich do not also cry? If some of them tell you what they had to go through to get the wealth that you see on display and what they have to go through to maintain it you will rather remain as you are. Some people say experience is the best teacher. I disagree because I’ll rather learn from other peoples experiences than allow some things happen to me. look at some of these people who are amassing all this wealth, some of them end up in prisons while others die poor. The problem really is that people do not learn from anybody’s experiences. You see somebody who has bleached her skin and is suffering from skin cancer because of that bleaching yet one silly little girl somewhere will still go and find some bleaching cream to rub on her skin because she wants to look beautiful.
QUESTION: Now to things a little more professional and personal. What has been Patience Ozokwor’s most defining moment as an actress?
ANSWER: I do not know what you want me to say but when I go through scenes like this and the material comes out and somebody somewhere says that is beautiful, that is the moment for me. we will keep telling our stories and painting these pictures in the minds of the people, imbedding lessons into our stories. The majority might keep ignoring what we are doing but as far as even one person learns something then our defining moments would have come.
QUESTION: The roles you have played in the movies have always portrayed you as a wicked woman, isn’t this a representation of the woman that Patience is in real life?
ANSWER: I have come to find out that people do not really know who they are. When I play the roles that I play it is simply meant to show people who they are. The funny but serious thing is that people watch these movies and they do not know that we are exposing their real characters. There is a lot of wickedness in the land and I promised my God that I will expose wickedness so that is what I am doing. You know me and you know that I am not a wicked person but the fortresses and barns of wickedness must be exposed because when good men keep quiet evil takes over the land.
QUESTION: Why did you get involved in Nollywood?
ANSWER: The hunger, the passion, the accolades which is what every artist craves for. Our joy is not the money but the opportunity of bringing a smile to somebody’s heart. Before now I’d done a lot of radio drama and stage, I have played roles like Hamlet, Marriage of Anansewa, God’s are not to blame. So this is just a natural progression. I am only following my bliss. So even if anybody comes up tomorrow and says hey! come and be a commissioner or something it still won’t stop me from doing what I am doing.
QUESTION: What if you are called to come and run for political office?
ANSWER: If my people say I should come and run then who am I to say no. it would be like your father sending you on an errand and you say no I won’t go. Right now I am mentoring a lot of people and I can carry that further into politics. It is all about making a difference and if I think or my people think I have something to add then I can do that yes. And remember that part of the theme for this years’ International Day for Women is the 35% representation in governance. Now this can be achieved either through elections or appointments into offices and that is what we all are fighting for.
QUESTION: What has your Journey through Nollywood been like so far?
ANSWER: It has been beautiful, not easy but I do not think I have any regrets. It has been a fulfilling one and I thank God that I am here now. I could have come at any other time but God chose that I should be here now and this is where I am and I believe I am helping to make a difference and touch lives. What we do for a living is not a very easy thing you know. People complain that we earn so much money but tell me how many of those in banking and oil can come and sit here in this draining sun, allow themselves to be covered in all this muck and run through bushes barefooted and expose themselves to all the dangers we expose ourselves to. So I thank God that I can do that. I think whatever we earn is a just reward for what we do. I would also like to say that my journey has also been made a little easier by those who are behind the camera. They are the real stars. Nobody knows them but they do all the work, carry the cables, run the errands, plan the shots and when we all have gone to seep they are still up working making sure that everything is in place for the next day’s shoot. Nobody recognizes them on the streets but these are the ones more deserving of the recognition. They are the true stars and this journey belongs to them and to the fans.
QUESTION: last words?
ANSWER: God has deposited in all of us different talents and you will be surprised that if you bring out yours it might dwarf mine. Just be hard working and focused and it might work out for you. and for my fans I’d like to say that I love you all so much. You first loved me and I promise never to disappoint those who believe in what I am doing. Let us keep that love flowing in every part of the country and the world. There is no gain in our killing and maiming each other for power. It is transient. Let us seek for those things that make of peace and not war.
*This Interview was first published in the National Standard Newspaper.
*This Interview was first published in the National Standard Newspaper.
ADU DEME BACK WITH A BLAST- I BELIEVE IN NAIJA READY
I mention this here not because we have anything to do with music but because a few minutes ago I was priviledged to listen to one of the best songs I have heard in the last decade coming out Naija. Adu Deme's "I Believe in Naija." When I say the song is one of the best I have heard, don't consider it high praise, I am making a statement of fact and I am truly honored to be one of the first Nigerians to hear this song and I have also officially asked to work on the video of the song albeit for free. Such is the power of the driving techno beat and the strength of the lyrics and the vocal delivery which is as silky as we know that only Adu Deme can deliver yet as powerful as anything that we have heard from any of the true greats of vocal dexterity and range. Adu surely has a classic here and I am rooting for this. You need to hear this. Jos on the prowl again.