It is only death that can retire me – Charly Boy
Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy, and father of all frustrated Nigerians, in a chat with OBIRE ONAKEMU says though there has been a lot of toning down for him, in terms of look and beliefs, his modus of operandi is still the same and he will not tolerate any kind of injustice around him. He says now is the time for Nigerian youths to wake up from their slumber because nothing is going to change until they effect the change by themselves. EXCERPTS:
The Charly Boy we knew yesterday is quite looking different from that of today. What is your reaction to this observation?
I don’t know; you tell me! You say I look different. How? Everybody says I remain the same and you are asking me whether I’m a Vampire. How can I look the way I was looking 30, 40 years ago? You say there is difference, but if it is in the Shenaniga, there has been a lot of toning down. The Charly Boy you know is an Areafada- he don get many pickins. So, the grace that he dey take to exist before, maybe has toned down.
But in terms of look and in terms of beliefs, my modus operandi is still the same. I will still not tolerate any kind of injustice around me. You know, I need to shout if something affects me; I need to speak up; I need to speak out! So, I’m still the same person; I don’t feel like a different person.
Yes, I know my youthfulness, stagger some people and they wonder how I can remain like that over decades. And I always tell them that it’s peace of mind, contentment, happiness, discipline and life style. I’m as constant as the Northern Star as William Shakespeare puts it. The image has toned down, it has moved from a boy to a father, a father of all frustrating Nigerians and that is a whole lot of responsibility. This is because not all the pikins wey you born go get head; go get sense but I thank God for everything thus far!
Like I said earlier, I have learned from the exceptional and outstanding Nigerians and I believe in the goodness of people – a few good people. Those are the people who want to keep the young people that I keep mentoring and inspiring. In terms of look, it depends, because my look on a daily basis depends on my mood. When I am feeling a little bit merry and high, I would dress the way you see me now. If I don’t want Wahala, because the heat is just too much in Naija, I dress down. I don’t have to be wearing a three-piece suit in a hot sun.
You once maintained a column in The Sun weekend newspaper. What really happened?
There is nothing that happened. As you know, there is time and season for everything. I once rode a power bike. I no longer ride it. I have downgraded to scooter. Na scooter I dey ride now. So, there is time and season for everything.
Give us update on your Our Mumu Don Do movement?
Our Mumu Don Do is not a movement. It was to sensitise young Nigerians that their docility is enough. What is happening to us now is because they do not engage properly; they felt that which one is their own. Once you are not part of the decision making about your future, you definitely have no stakes there at all. And that is why the future for young people has become like bleak. This is because they have been sleeping. So, what we have done is to wake them up, for them to realise that they themselves are the government. The people who are in the government houses are servants. They are not masters. If only we don’t have that understanding, that original understanding, in the short distance time, we will start behaving like slaves, which a lot of us are doing right now because of the poverty and the hopelessness.
When we had the chance or rather when young people had the chance, they didn’t hold this references, they didn’t hold their feet to the files; they didn’t hold them accountable. Maybe they just wanted to be like them also. Now is the time for the Nigerian youths to wake up from their slumber because nothing is going to change until they effect changes by themselves.
Is any of your children stepping into your shoes?
Kids take a lot of things from both parents. As far as I know, no one likes to be an artist or musician but they all have their creativeness about them in the way they think, in the way they put out. Like my last daughter now, she is the only one among my children that I call Charly Girl. She looks like me, in dressing and everything. Her image is like image of Charly Boy when I was much young. We are just about the same thing in terms of fashion. I have a 51-year old son who is a professor; I have somebody who is doing medicine and one of my boys is very much creative too. They have all gotten their degrees but they choose to do whatever they want to do. I support them wholeheartedly. That very one is into furnishing stuff like that. So, I think they are all creative in their own little ways.
At over 70 years, are you retiring?
Retiring? Where or what do I retire to? I am an energetic young man. So, there is no retiring for me. It is only death that can retire me. I am either physically busy or mentally busy.
As a renowned musician, how will you x-ray the Nigerian music industry?
In the first place, I don’t like to be called a musician. I am not a musician; I’m an artist. I believe a musician is somebody who can read and write and understand the music and knows where the keys are. I’m not that kind of a person.
I have the music to propagate my own philosophy. My ideology is to help influence young people and mentor them. l know that entertainment thing, they love it. But how I rate the music industry, I said it 20 years ago that the music coming out from Nigerians would have been a global commodity. And I am happy that it is happening at my time. The respect that most of the artists are getting now came from somewhere.
The big money that most of them are making now is because some people fight for an intellectual property. I’m happy with what is going on; we are recognised all over the world for our Afrobeat music. But the industry is still not as structured as I would like it to be. I dare say that it is all works in progress.
How did you receive the news of the death of your friend and former PMAN President, Rosiji Bolaji?
It was sad news! Really sad! May his gentle soul rest and continue in peace, Amen. And that goes to show that we are living in borrowed time. Nobody knows when his or her time will come. This was a very young promising man with a whole future in front of him. And that is a lesson for all of us. Now, we that are alive, how are we writing our obituaries?
Kindly highlight your contributions to the Nigerian music industry?
I am not the one to do that; people who know my contribution should be able to speak on that. I don’t go talking about what I have done and what I haven’t done.
Are you satisfied with the government support for the music industry?
I am not satisfied with anything government in this country because government in this country is a failure!
Piracy is one of the greatest challenges confronting the Nigerian music industry. How can it be curbed?
With what is happening now with all the new APPS and technology, piracy is becoming a thing of the past because we have better ways of securing our products now.
How would you end this interview?
All I need to say is that, I know the times are hard and people are going through a whole lot. We don’t talk about mental health in this country. The only thing is when people go naked and they are running on the road, that is when we know that they are mad.
There are a lot of mad people who are roaming the streets; people who are displaced in one way or the other. And most people living in Lagos are all mad but they don’t know it. One can only get out of the road in traffic and you would see the state of the mind of the average Nigerian – no patience, nothing and they are ready to explode. It is something that is making them that way. They appreciate the great suffering, the hardship, the hopelessness but this is why we should try all our best to make sure that this doesn’t keep happening in perpetuity. These people that are leaders here and there in terms of leadership should just be put to back. They are old. My focus is on young people to come together because the salvation of this country lies in their hands. I encourage young people never to give up on themselves and never to give up on their future. But they should understand that nothing is being given; whatever they want, they should take it.