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Bunmi Davies: I am happy doing what I do

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
19 November 2022   |   3:55 am
Bunmi Davies is an entertainment producer and Theatre Arts practitioner. He is the founder of Afrotainment Productions, producers of Stand Up Nigeria. Despite not being a comedian or actor, Davies is a household name in the entertainment industry

Bunmi Davies is an entertainment producer and Theatre Arts practitioner. He is the founder of Afrotainment Productions, producers of Stand Up Nigeria. Despite not being a comedian or actor, Davies is a household name in the entertainment industry, with focus on comedy, which he started out almost three decades ago. He has worked with big as well as up-and-coming comedians in the industry. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, he talks about his career in comedy, his outfit, Jekaplay amongst others.

How did you stumble on comedy?
I would say that it didn’t happen by design because when the company, Afrotainment Productions started in 2000, I set out doing plays. We were more or less a theatre company, but no matter how serious the issue we were dealing with was, we always injected some form of humour into it – whether the issue was about women, child abuse, HIV, armed robbery or unemployment. People who watched our production would always laugh. So I felt we were making sense and communicating with people, though we were not serious about it. And because of the nature of the work, we were attracting comedians of some sort to feature in our programmes.

What birthed the idea of Jekaplay?
It was a combination of different things; one is that I don’t drink or smoke, so from day one, I said I’m going to build something where I can stay. Whatever I can’t consume I will not give my people to take. That knocked out alcohol, smoking and drugs. There is a Yoruba adage that says if you take out food from poverty, the problem is more or less solved. Food is a major driver amongst all classes of people we must all eat. Even when you are sick, doctors advise you to eat food. Food brings everybody together. I’m just lucky that I have entertainment background and that is why we have infused things like table tennis, video games, snooker, and live football viewing, amongst others.

You talked about not drinking or smoking. Was it deliberate or you have never indulged in any?
It’s just not in my DNA. I love sweet things like cakes. Ice cream is my weak point not alcohol and smoking. My kind of music is Fela and so people wonder how I don’t drink. We all have different things that give us different vibes, and for me it’s neither drinking nor smoking.

What is happening to Stand-up Nigeria show?
It’s still standing. We are going digital now. I’m brushing up my YouTube knowledge, once that is properly done, we’ll fire on digital platforms. Content is not our problem.

What is your assessment of the entertainment industry in the last 62 years?
It has radically changed. COVID-19 changed a lot of things. It’s only people who don’t want to think that will keep complaining that the country is not good. Foreigners are coming into this country, that means they are seeing something that we are refusing to see. The country is what we call it. If we call it good, it is good, if we call it bad, it’s bad. That’s the mindset that we should imbibe. The last two years, for those that have had positive mindset, check their stories and you will discover they have great stories to tell.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you are doing now?
I have never thought of it, probably I would be in a company handling events or doing something around that. I would probably be working in the corporate affairs department of a big company or I’d still be doing it by extension somehow. But getting into full time regular structure is another thing entirely. If they don’t sack me, I will sack myself. I didn’t go for paid employment because its essence is to earn a living and to be happy. I am happy doing what I am doing.

Describe Bunmi Davies.
Bunmi Davies is a simple family man who enjoys communal living from time to time.

What’s your favourite dish?
I’m a fan of various derivatives that go with fried soft plantain. It is preferably the very soft ones – dodo and rice, dodo and boiled yam with egg sauce, dodo and beans.

What does fashion mean to you?
There is a popular belief that fashion is pain. A lot of people follow trends but I’m more particular about simplicity, functionality and comfort. Personally, my idea of fashion also includes an unseen element – the sense of smell. My fashion is not complete without a touch of nice scent. Great fragrance complements an individual. I like strong middle-eastern colognes.

What advice do you have for young people looking at having a career path in the entertainment world?
My response to this is not limited to building careers in the entertainment space only, it is universal. Continuously improve yourself. Regularly put your service/products out there. Ensure your integrity is intact. Build good relationships with people, communities and organisations.

What is your life mantra?
I’m not sure the depth of what guides me is best explained in English. The summary in English is ‘whatever the situation, we should always do good’, while in Yoruba, we simply say Ka Sa Ma Se Daada – A short but extremely deep saying.