6:46 am - Sunday November 19, 2017

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘AFRICA’S Stolen Treasures cost me 40 Million NAIRA of my Family Inheritance’-Obafemi Lasode, a former President of Nigeria’s Music Industry …Says: ‘I produced SANGO, the legendary African King’, ‘Paradise Park’ on Nigeria Television Authority Network, won Worldfest Houston Gold Award and United Nation’s Song for Peace award’ * ‘I Have Scripts for 5 other epic movies such as: Osun, Queen Mother, Point of No Return, the story of the Badagry Slave Route, Others * ‘Unending crisis in PMAN is a microcosm of Nigeria as a whole’ * ‘Why majority of Nigerian Musicians are POOR’ BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:

‘AFRICA’S Stolen Treasures cost me 40 Million NAIRA of my Family Inheritance’-Obafemi Lasode, a former President of Nigeria’s Music Industry
…Says: ‘I produced SANGO, the legendary African King’, ‘Paradise Park’ on Nigeria Television Authority Network, won Worldfest Houston Gold Award and United Nation’s Song for Peace award’
* ‘I Have Scripts for 5 other epic movies such as: Osun, Queen Mother, Point of No Return, the story of the Badagry Slave Route, Others
* ‘Unending crisis in PMAN is a microcosm of Nigeria as a whole’
* ‘Why majority of Nigerian Musicians are POOR’

OBAFEMI OLASODE is a versatile Nigerian entertainment czar: being a successful music and movie practitioner with chains of awards as evidence of his professionalism and detailed craftmanship. In this interactive session with GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, Foreign Bureau Chief in United States, this soft spoken boss of Afrika ‘n Vogue /Even-Ezra reveals his major movie projects to help re-brand Nigeria’s image, how he spent a fortune on his latest film that costs him his family inheritance, regrets on unending crisis in Nigeria’s music industry traceable to greed and many more.

Q: What is your assessment of the Nigeria Music Industry presently?
The Nigerian Music Industry, like most other industries in Nigeria, is growing and developing and growing, but needs the inflow of capital investment. Furthermore, the industry needs support from the general public. New technology has made musicians very lazy in the area of learning musical instruments and improving their musical skills. Computers have taken over.

Q: Why do we have so much crisis in the Performing Musician Employers’ Association of Nigeria (PMAN)?
Unending crisis in PMAN is to be expected because it is a microcosm of Nigeria as a whole (a mini Nigeria), and the same general social, economic and political problems faced in the country, as a whole, is reflected in PMAN. PMAN comprises factions with various selfish interests, based on greed. Rivalry is to be expected when offices are being competed for. Each contestant for an office has supporters ready to do anything to ensure that their preferred candidate achieve victory. Tribalism and Regionalism also come to the forefront. The general interest and issues concerning the generality of the Nigerian musicians are pushed to the background.

Q: Are there no other ways peace, unity and progress can return to PMAN?
As long as there is competition for offices, there will always be rancor. Secondly the issue of poverty also creeps in. Issues such as the selection of musicians to represent PMAN at events will also be shrouded in tribalism. One thing that could reduce tension is to keep the musicians busy, hence the need for PMAN performance centres. There is nothing that a musician loves most than being able to showcase his or her artistic skills on stage. Keep the musicians busy and there will be peace. Furthermore, there is need to step up the war on piracy. I believe that only advanced technology such as anti-copying devices can stop piracy. One can have the most stringent anti-piracy laws in place plus enforcement, but these laws can always be circumvented.

Q: How will you appraise the Nigerian Movie Industry?
The Nigerian movie industry is just like Nigerian Music Industry, full of promises. But like all industries, it is dependent on the support and patronage of the public. As an example, the late Michael Jackson was a multi-millionaire because millions of people went out and brought out their monies to buy original copies of his works. A well organised and effective international distribution network was also set up to achieve this feat. Investors will only invest in an industry if they are convinced that they will recoup their investment with profit. There is no lack of talent both in front and behind the camera in Nigeria, what is lacking is exciting, informative, and educative content. Furthermore, access to good quality equipment is also required.

Q: After you successfully produced SANGO, the legendary African King, what other major movie projects have been working on?
Since producing my movie “Sango, the legendary African King”, I have been more focused on television documentaries and comedy programmes such as “Paradise Park” on NTA Network. I have scripts ready for 5 other epic movies such as “Osun, Queen Mother” and “Point of No Return” the story of the Badagry Slave Route. Epic movies are extremely expensive to produce. My latest movie “Africa’s Stolen Treasures” (the need to protect and preserve African artifacts) cost me N40 million of family inheritance monies. I spent more time providing artistes with a first-class studio and good quality equipment with which they could use to produce their works-music and videos. I also produced three musical CDs 1) Afrikan Rhythms” which included “A song for the world” which featured Francis Goldman, Yinka Davies, and Alariwo of Africa. It won Worldfest Houston Gold Award, and United Nation’s Song for Peace award. 2) Afrobeat Sketches, and 3) Afro- New York Experience which included “African Sun” featuring Azeezat Allen.

Q: In summary, what is your view of Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry?
Nigeria’s Entertainment industry can be described as being vibrant, full of prospects. An industry survives from the support and patronage of the public. Nigeria does not lack talent, there is a need to harness and package the talent in a manner that is profitable to all.

Q: Between these Nigerian leaders (Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari) which among them had good programs for Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry and its practitioners?
I will say that Olusegun Obasanjo had a good listening ear to the plight of the Nigerian artiste. As PMAN President (2002-2003) I had the opportunity to twice led a delegation of musicians to Aso Rock, where we tabled the concerns of the Nigerian musician. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was beset with nepotism and tribalism. “All talk and no action”, while Buhari’s Administration is still quite young to see any tangible results.

Q: What are your fears for Nigerian Music Industry?
My fears for the Nigerian Music Industry is that the art of musicianship is lost due to advancement in technology. Nigeria’s old musical legends where proficient in one musical instrument or the other, and they all had performing centres. Ultimately, Nigeria’s Music Industry can only survive from the support and patronage of the Nigerian public, and good efficient distribution network.

Q: Why do you think the majority of Nigerian musicians are poor?
Nigerian musicians are poor because of lack of financial support and patronage of the Nigerian public. They prefer buying cheap pirated works, than the originals.

Q: How can we eliminate piracy in Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry?
Only the advancement in technology can stop piracy for example, anti-copying devices. 11) Highlight of my entertainment career was the establishment of Afrika ‘n Vogue /Even-Ezra Studios which led to the production of my “Sango, the legendary Afrikan King” movie and my becoming PMAN President (2002-2003). My studio gave support to well over 20 artistes and producers , many are big stars today.

Q: What are your messages to your fans worldwide?
My message to my fans is to struggle to pursue and actualize your dreams, while continuing to practice and perfect one’s craft.

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