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    Saturday, August 31, 2013

    At a Point I Was Playing Jazz On The Streets -Jibola Daboh

    If there’s one thing that sets actor, Jibola Daboh apart, it’s his characteristics grey beard, his trade mark all white dresses, and of course, his sugar daddy roles.
    In this chat with Christian Agadibe, the thespian who has logged over 30 years in acting opens up on how he started acting at a tender age in the village, his challenges as a youngster, the day he attempted suicide and his women among other interesting issues.

    How do you keep in touch with your family considering the fact that actors run very busy schedules
    Nothing good comes easy; it comes with the job. I have been acting for over three decades so it’s become a part of me. Even if I wasn’t in the movie industry, my family would still be scattered all over the world. However, I’m always dealing with not being with my family but we communicate. I was doing this when there were no mobile phones and I survived so now that we have mobile phones, I could be called anytime, anywhere. Besides, artistes in Nigeria know that I don’t have a wife for now but I’m cool with my family. When I’m getting married, you all will know about it.

    Tell us about your journey into acting
    I really don’t know how I ventured into it. I grew up in acting. I’ve been acting even before I started my primary education. In secondary school, I created my first theater group. I’ve been around the world and I have been doing TV series even before TV series started in Nigeria because I was traveling abroad. I just grew into it. It all began when I was just a tot.

    Was it your childhood dream
    I wouldn’t say that I had that vision from childhood because I didn’t even know what I would become. My parents were illiterates. Even in school I don’t know what to study. I am not like those guys who always knew that they want to be doctors or lawyers. All I knew was that I was going to be an artiste because I was either drawing, playing drums, dancing or singing. So, I knew that I had flair for acting. There was this uncle who used to tell me that I was a stubborn kid. He said I had big legs and a strong mind and that I should be a soldier. He advised me to apply to Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA). However, quota system made sure I never made it so I let it go.
    Somehow, deep down inside I knew I was an artiste but I didn’t even know that it was going to be acting. However, my career started with dance and music so I thought my art would revolve around either music or dance.

    If you had become a soldier what kind of soldier would you have been
    O yeah… I would have been dead by now.  If I had succeeded, the cinch is high I would be dead by now because there is no way I wouldn’t have been involved in one coup or the other.

    Growing up, what was it like for you
    My growing up was rough but I had a wonderful mother. I was 11 when my father passed on. Then my mother was a young woman. She was a single mother of seven kids. I was just 11 going on 12 so my mother had to take care of all of us. At 12, I became a man because I had to help my mum to fend for my siblings and myself. Though I was in school, I worked like an adult so that I could have education. I went from place to place looking for opportunity to earn a living. I became a farmer and did manual labour because there was no support from anywhere.

    Was there a time you were at the crossroads and contemplated suicide
    Yeah…I wanted to run in front of a car at a point. I was homeless; I had nowhere to sleep. There was no food and I couldn’t steal so I just got tired of everything so I closed my eyes and tried to jump in front of a car and the guy who was at the wheels spat on me and said, ‘oloshi!’

    What were you doing during that particular time
    I was looking for a job. I dropped out of secondary school because things were not happening so I said ‘let this thing just go!’At the time I was stuck. I left my village after I finished secondary school and came to earn a living but things just weren’t working out. That was when I took the decision to end it all. Eventually, things picked up a bit for my mum and I went back home and finished secondary school and then I started the second phase of my suffering. But at that time, I had a focus; I knew that I was going to be okay.

    Did you help your mum in hawking or anything
    Oh yeah I did a lot of it. I know you probably read this from the paper or the net. I hawked agidi and kerosene.

    You talked about your late mother, what do you miss about her
    My mum and I were very close. We talked a lot. Among all her kids I was the closest to her; I was the one who always came and sat down with her and we talked. I miss that.

    What was the best advice she gave to you
    She told me I was going to have a lot of women in my life like my father but she advised me never in my life should I come close to another man’s wife; I will not forget that advice.

    With the roles you act in movies, women definitely flock around you…
    Yeah! (Laughs), that’s a definite yes. Women come around and I lose it sometimes. But I will advice the younger ones that because you’re having the attention today does not mean you will have it tomorrow. That’s why I don’t like shunning and judging people. Even my fans know that I am so down to earth.

    When did you get your first break
    Turning point for my career was 1981 when I attended an audition to become part of Black Heritage, an African theater group at Sango Otta in Lagos. I eventually became the leader of that group after I became the director. And then we started touring the world. We toured Europe and America and then it dawned on me I could never turn my back on the arts.

    So what were the challenges you faced
    In the acting world, the main challenge has always been with the money. We didn’t have anything until now. Now you go to a location and you see expensive cars belonging to actors. Those days you finished your show and you don’t have money to get home. However, we enjoyed it because we were driven by passion. We just wanted to become actors and be on TV. So that was what kept us going despite the challenges: it was quite rough but we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

    What’s your assessment of acting today
    Definitely we had the best acting then. But anything that cannot put food on your table is not exactly cool. Life is better now but actors don’t get training any more. Everything is about money now; you rehearse on set and then you shoot unlike those days when we had to come for rehearsals and we were camped until we made it to the set. Even when we started TV series in Nigeria, we were still rehearsing.

    Did your early exposure outside the country contribute to your career
    Definitely it sure did. I cannot deny that fact. I have been to various countries around the world. I was in Berlin, France, England and America for shows in the 80s and all these work experiences definitely impacted on my career. I was exposed to a lot of people. I have played jazz with bands from various parts of the world especially in North and South America.

    Why did you abandon music for acting
    Well my shift from music was due to health reasons. I shifted before I came back home. I had one or two clubs that I was playing back then in London. At a point I was playing jazz on the streets of Ethiopia. Sometimes we played the whole weekend and then I would be sick throughout the week because of too much second hand cigarette smoke so I moved away from music.

    How do you handle the pressure from women
    I won’t call it pressure. I will call it temptation. There are plenty of temptations. Pressure comes every now and then but mostly, its temptation. No advice can help you with temptation; it’s just prayers. I am not really a prayerful person but I take my spirituality serious.

    How do you handle these temptations
    It’s not an easy task but the question is, how many can you take? You cook a pot of soup, taste it and it taste good.

    But do you keep it
    I have seen women; beautiful women. I have been around and yet I am still single. I have been with them in the south, north, east and west. I have been with them from France to Brazil; I have seen beautiful Western women that could blow your mind away so you’ve got to tame your passions, sit down and just take things easy. My being here today is the blessing of God because I was lost but now I have been found. Now I’m a little more matured than I was when I was younger.

    Today, how many wives can we say you have been married to
    Not wives. I have been married once. Legally, I have never married.

    Is she in Nigeria
    No, she is in America.

    What happened
    We grew apart though we’re still friends. Our lives just changed and we began to see that we had differences we could not reconcile; we don’t match any more. It was a mutual thing. Like I said, there was no quarrel, no fighting and no dirty things.

    Would you reconcile with your ex-wife if you had the opportunity
    I don’t think so and that’s because you reconcile where there are quarrels. We realized that we couldn’t be together anymore so we moved on. We are still very good friends though so there is no need for reconciliation. We are not even divorced but separated and we didn’t go to court for anything. We didn’t even quarrel. Forget about what papers said. It’s because we’re both actors. Today, we are friends.

    You’re famous for acting sugar daddy roles…
    I play roles that are given to me. But there is something that I have found out and it’s that a lot of producers and writers have written stories around my life. A lot of them know that I can suit into such roles and so they sought for me. But I can act other roles like the one that I am doing now where I’m playing a blind man who believes that everything starts and ends with Jesus Christ. I know I am unique. And most men my age cannot act the roles I act. Not because they are not good but because of what I have which they don’t have. And I think it has to do with my experience because I am able to go into the archive of my experience and tap into it. God has been so wonderful.

    Why do you like dressing in white dress

    It’s because I’m always conscious with my spirituality and am comfortable  with whenever I wear white.
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