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    Sunday, June 10, 2018

    African China: I Can’ T Do Music To Compete With Wizkid, Davido

    Dancehall music exponent, Chinagorom Onuoha, known by his showbiz moniker, African China, in this interview with LANRE ODUKOYA, spoke on his heyday, relationship with younger artistes, star power, marriage and more

    What are you working on at the moment?
    I have new singles but when you record songs, you don’t just put them out. You must listen to them many times and be sure they are good enough for the public.
    Also, I plan to change my style of promotion. You know in Nigeria, once you keep quiet for a while, they feel you are old and nothing new can come from you anymore. But I want to show people that I still have a lot to offer the society. For me, music is all about creativity. I have been working quietly and have come to realise that my kind of music has its time and season. I think this is the time.
    A lot of things have been said about me. People went as far as saying I had collected money from the government, which made me quiet. I have not left music and I have a new song, Letter to Mr. President. I have not changed; I have not deviated from who I am.

    Do you think your kind of music is still appealing to Nigerians?
    Nigerians have come to realise the importance of my music. Nigerians like danceable songs, but at the moment, everyone is looking for Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. People now regret and wish they had paid more attention to him while he was alive. Since Fela is no more, I am here to fill the gap. At this stage, you cannot expect me to do music to compete with the likes of Davido and Wizkid.

    Does that mean your music has the same mission as Fela’s?
    It is what it is! While growing up, Fela was my role model. I learnt many things from him because he was a good philosopher and he was a man of his word. I thank God I was able to attend one or two of his shows before he passed on. Though I did not have the opportunity to meet him, I have a close relationship with his sons, Femi and Seun.

    Was there a time you felt you could be victimised by the government like Fela?
    Nigerian government has always been like that. But if one talks or not, one will die. The future of our young kids is in our hands; so, I cannot just keep quiet because I am afraid to die. It is time we started thinking of the new generation, not ourselves alone. This is the only country I feel people don’t value the younger generation. The government should focus on the new generation and how life can be better for them. I don’t insult anyone; I only tell them the fact. They promised us certain things before they came into power; they promised us a good life. But after getting there, they have given us pains. So, I only try to remind them that this is not what they promised you and I.

    Why have you shunned politics?
    Music is a strong tool. If I go into politics, I may lose focus because I will have godfathers and I must follow their directives. It also means that I will not be faithful to the people who have given me their confidence, believing that I was there to represent them. But my music is everlasting and upcoming generations will get to listen to it too.

    So, if given a political appointment, will you turn it down?
    It depends on why I’m offered the appointment. If they offer me an appointment to serve the people, I have to seek my people’s consent. If I am advised not to take it, there is no point taking it.

    How do you feel when you are called an old musician?
    I feel happy because I am not a child any longer. It is not an insult; it is actually an accolade. This was what we were fighting for: I, Tuface, Sound Sultan, Eedris Adulkareem and others. And we have accomplished it. It is now left for government officials to borrow a leaf from our gesture and let the youth take charge of the country.
    For me, it is a good development that new faces are controlling showbiz. The only time I will feel sad is when they spend lavishly while people suffer. They must help the needy and should not forget that they cannot be at the top forever. Someday, they will not be as relevant as they are now and it is how they had lived their glorious years that would help them.

    Would you say that you used your time and fame well?
    Yes, I did. Many of the people in my generation cannot work with their heads high like I do today. I did not spend money lavishly on women. I don’t drink heavily and I don’t do drugs as well. If I want to embark on a project, I don’t run around to look for sponsors like most of my contemporaries because I invested my money well.

    Does that mean you were once a saint?
    I only made good use of my time. I partied a lot, I drank too, but I did not abuse all those things. I only partied when I was invited, I would hardly follow friends to drink. In my bar at home, I had different kinds of alcohol; so, drinking was never my problem.

    Have you ever been disrespected by a new generation artiste?
    That has never happened to me. I have met the likes of Tekno, Korede Bello, Di’ja, Don Jazzy and D’banj, and they all treated me well.
    For me, I don’t believe in speaking for yourself; your work should speak for you. When I was at the airport and heard Sunny Ade was around, I ran to him. That is the sign of a son that wants to grow because there is nothing I will do that Sunny Ade has not done.

    Have you ever wished you started music in an era that it’s more lucrative?
    I have never regretted that I came into the music industry at a time it was not lucrative. You cannot question destiny, I started music in the 90s. But to be honest with you, I would like to collect the kind of money the younger ones get.

    Do you think your new songs can become as popular as the old ones?
    Like I said before, everything has its time and season. I see things from the spiritual angle of life and it is God that blesses the work of our hands. For the new songs, I will do my part and trust God to bless them.

    Was there a time you became a hair-stylist?
    I own a saloon; I am an original person. While growing up, I was a barber. I worked in places in Lagos like Orile, Ajegunle and Okomaiko. So, when I wanted to open a business, I felt it would make sense to do something along that path. I also reasoned that it would provide jobs for people. I called the place China Town and I have a manager. Did people tell you that I own an entertainment outfit where I rent out different equipment? I was part of the sponsors of Wazobia’s Yaw’s first show and I also supported comedian Gordons’ first show.

    If you invested so much, why did people think you became broke at a time?
    When reports emerged that I went broke, did I reply them? People just say or publish things without doing their research well.

    How long have you been married?
    I have been married for 11 years; I dated my wife for seven years. We are blessed with two girls. At a time, I wished one of them was a boy but I love my girls now.
    Marriage is a personal decision. If you want it to work, it will work. Many journalists have reached out to me that they wanted to interview my wife and I. I did not agree because she might not be able to handle it when things go wrong, but I can. If problems start in my house, nobody will come to my rescue.
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