Tuesday, October 29, 2019

My only regret is my tribal mark- Actor Olaiya Igwe

Everyone calls him Olaiya Igwe, but his real name is Ebun Oloyede. He is regarded as the Igwe of the movie industry. He has paid his dues.  He has put in 45 years. So, he is a veteran scriptwriter, actor and producer who has produced so many great movies until a few years back when his N52 million movie was pirated and that has been a big set back for him. In an interview with City People  he shared part of the story of his life at almost 60. He will be 60 in a few years time. He told City People that his biggest regret in life remains his parents’ decision to give him tribal mark. Olaiya Igwe insists that there is no need for parents to give their children tribal marks. Excerpt from the interview ...

How has it been maintaining your brand over the years and you are still relevant in the industry?

I feel so happy and excited. Though at times, I still feel bad because of the country I found myself; a country that doesn’t appreciate artistes; a country that doesn’t see artiste as somebody they need to appreciate or recognized; especially by our government. We are just trying, patching everything up, but we still have to thank God. If by now I have a jet, or you point to a jet and they said it belongs to Ebun Oloyede, I deserve it considering my input so far.

I formed my own theatre group; Olaiya Films Nig. Ltd., in 1979, about 40 years ago. It is very difficult for me to say I want to celebrate 40 years on stage because of the present situation, but like I said, I still have every reason to thank God, at least I’m still alive.

You keep looking young and younger, what is the secret?

I don’t know how he’s doing it. At times when I look at my contemporaries, I see them older than I am. Seriously, I see it like an act of God.

Are there any specific things that you do, like routine, what you eat or exercise to keep fit?

I was born in the village, Mogan in Abeokuta. At the age of 5 my mum took me to Oke Koto in Agege, Lagos, and then later returned me back to Abeokuta. Why am I saying this? I enjoyed a lot of natural things in the village especially food and fruits. Probably, I was given some herbs too that makes me look young always (laugh). I did not regret living, growing up from the village. The only thing I regret is the tribal mark.

Why sir?

Tribal mark is not a culture. It is an uncivilized act. It is not a DNA, because as at that time they believed it is Yoruba DNA. It is very easy to recognize one another outside that you are from the same compound, but who told them that I belong to their family or part of their family? It is only my mother that can tell if I belong to the family or not. What if my pregnancy belongs to her concubine, but she brought it to my father? Which is very possible then, and there was nothing like DNA test to check the true paternity of a child then. Look at our father, Alaafin Oyo, a very handsome man even with his tribal mark, though some of his children have tribal marks, but what about the grandchildren? None of them has a tribal mark. That is to tell you that tribal is not our tradition, it is not our culture, because if it is, somebody like Alaafin Oyo should keep and promote the custom till date because he’s our father. If it is our culture then it shouldn’t have disappeared from the palace; it shouldn’t have been erased from the palace. It is purely an act of wickedness. Thank God for civilization that completely erased it. If it is something important or part of our culture, all my 7 children should have it because I have it.

Was there any moment you regret having a mark in your journey in life?

Everyday! If it is part of our culture I might not feel bad. There are so many shenanigans done by our ancestors, forefathers that people think it is part of our culture simply because they were uncivilized. I will continue to say it, if it is that important we would have seen Alaafin Oyo keeping, nurturing it till now.