Idowu Adenekan is one of the veteran Yoruba actors, who is popular for his herbalist role in movies. It was the role that shot him to limelight many years ago after playing many roles in different movies. His first film was Ojulowa, where Mr. Latin was the star actor.
This producer and actor has produced about 10 movies. A few weeks back, he spoke with City People’s SHOLA BAMIDELE, in a bare-it-all conversation about his growing up years in Abeokuta. He spoke about his challenges as a young boy, who lost his mother at age 6. He also spoke an why he acts herbalist role in movies. It is a revealing story.
Can you be called a Chief based on your movies roles?
Yes, because of my movies roles, but in real life, I haven’t had any chieftaincy title. I have been offered, but I didn’t accept. I see myself as God’s messenger. And when you see some of us who are actors or singers, directly or indirectly, we are messengers, because at times, your stories always serve as lessons givers to some people. Some of our messages or stories talk about life experiences.;It could also be stories that will touch, even actors’ personal lives without knowing.
There are some stories you put out, and when you listen to it later, you realise it also touches your lives. That’s why I said, some of us who teach people are God’s messagers.
Everytime I wake up in the morning, I give thanks to God for my life. It’s His grace. We have seen so many things happened. My age mates, my juniors and those who are olders, many have passed on. If we put all these into consideration,, we must always give God the praise.
Idowu Adenekan is a son of the late Chief Nasirudeen Ojebiyi Araba of Iranwo, Abeokuta. Iranwo Abeokuta is a town in Ake side. Iranwo and Itoko are almost the same thing. So, I am from Iranwo.
I was born in 1966. My mother was from Owu. My father is Egba Ake.
I was born in a village called “Robiyan”. “Robiyan a place near Ijoko Railway Station and Agbado. That is also the village of Dayo Kujo’re. That was the village where I had my primary education.
My father was an “Ifa” priest; a competent Ifa priest. If I should narrate everything that happened to me in the past, it could divide my family, and you know that Yoruba people believe so much in family tie and unity. If I should recount my life story, it will tear the family bond, which I won’t do.
I was 6- year- old when I lost my mother. My step mum brought me up. I was like an orphan then and you know the suffering that comes with such experience. I saw a lot of things, but I thank God because everything I went through is now a lesson and that has made me to believe that, if you don’t have problems, you wouldn’t have experience. The bigger your problem is, the the larger your experience. So, my experience enabled me to have a rich experience, but instead of getting angry on the way I was treated by my step mum, I just gave God the grace because I have realised it’s a lesson. If I hadn’t been treated that way, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today. Some of my siblings are close to me and I try as much as possible to forget the wrong things someone has done to me.
Early in life, I loved to go school. And among all my fathe’s children, I’m the one who shared striking semblance with him.
In my primary school days, I was loved by my teachers, school mates because I was very brilliant. African Church School, Igbore, Robiyan is the name of my school. I specialised in English; English language was my favourite subject. Even when I finished my secondary education, I was still good in the language
What did you have in mind to do that time?
I wanted to be a pilot. My mother’s siblings promised to help me relies my ambition. So, I had two things in mind. First was to become a soldier and the second one was to become a pilot. But when I was growing up, I was told I couldn’t be a soldier because of my height. I was a bit short. I was very determined to go to school, but a lot of things happened during that period.
There was a year in my school that an opportunity came to win scholarship. I was picked among those to go for the scholarship exam. It was at Agbado Railway station we had that exam. Mr. A.A. Falade was the teacher who took us to the exam hall(That was the man who taught me theatre arts.but he is late now). What happened was that, when we got to that big hall… and I was about to do English text, I became blank.
Immediately, I was given question sheet, I forget everything I’ve ever learnt. I couldn’t remember anything. I was just flipping through the pages until I heard pens up, It was at that point that my memory was restored, but I couldn’t write anything again. My teacher and I cried back to Robiyan.
Immdiately, some of my teachers then understood what happened to me. So the following Monday, I was summoned by my Headmaster. I was asked about the exams, and I told them I could not understand. The Headmaster also wept for me. They took me to my father, that they needed to talk to my dad, but when they saw my father, my step mum was there. So, they were reluctant to talk to my father in her presence, but they had to anyway. They said they knew him to be a powerful man whose son shouldn’t have experience what happened to me that day.. They told him everything that happened when I went to write that exam. . Guess what my father did? He gave me a hard knock on the head and also said I wouldn’t be given food with meat for a days. Our Headmaster cautioned my dad then that, the issue was not a beating matter. He told my father that I was the best student . That is some of the stories of my life. What I went through at the age of 8, I still remember till today.
At what point did you decide to jettison the idea of being a pilot and you opted for acting?
When I left primary school, When it was 5-days to resume at a secondary school (Free Education has started then), I have sewn my uniform and my step mum told my dad that he shouldn’t allow me to futher my education, that when my father is gone, I should be the one take over. my father’s trade. He agreed with her. So, when I entered the house that day, my father called me to suspend my schooling as he told me that he wanted me to learn his trade.
I cried uncontrollably.. The following day, and I wanted to tell him to allow me to go to school and return to learn his trade, he did not allow me to talk.
So, I was sent to Lagos the following day. I was sent to Chief Agesin’ Jawefa (Awolumate) of Isolo. So, I was with Agesin ‘Jawefa, I was learning ‘Ifa”. So, I surrender to fate. I joined the children of the man to play football and I also told them I wanted to go to school. They helped me do that. I was given admission to Okota High School.
When my father knew I was going to school, he didn’t react. And all that period I was the one who used to write accounts book for Chief Agesin Jaweola. During that period, I met a brother, Tunji in Chief Agesin Jaweola’s house and he happened that he was related to my step mum. After a year, he came to Ijoko to see his dad and that day was a market day in Ijoko and people from my own village, Robiyan will come to market. And that was how my step mum saw that brother Tunji and she asked after me, and he just said I was doing well, but also attending school. And that was how she went to tell my dad about it.. I was taken
away from that man’s house, and I returned to Abeokuta. When I got back to Abeokuta, I drank only pap and milk for 6 months because I don’t eat eba. At that time I had known much about Ifa. So, at the end of the day, the person who initiated me into learning Ifa had started regretting it because I had gained a lot from it.
How did theatre arts start for you?
There was a family of mine, but he is late now, we used to ask if there were no theatre people around and we were told Segun, Olaiya was into theatre. And Segun and I belong to the same family. So, we all joined and became friends. Even our brother,, Odule, because I don’t know when he started.
Igwe is a ruggedman. And in all these people I was the only one working because I worked then as a driver. We used to do things together.
So, when I knew I had learnt what I needed I told the man to follow me to my dad, to tell him I was done with Ifa and pray for me. So, when we got there, he prayed for me.
So, when we pursued theatre arts and there was no headway, I joined government work; I was working with government. So, I was there working, but I seldom visit them. I thought I was going to even become “Akewi” because I have the talent. Chief Lanrewaju Adepoju liked me so much because I was the Secretary of Akewi in Ogun State. I used to wax records then. I focused more on Ewi. Igwe, Yemi were fully into acting. Latin, our President today would always tell me to come back into acting. He used to disturb me. My first film then was Ojulowa and Latin was the leading actor, about 1994. That was the first film Latin showed his Latin skill.
Alasari before he died, I used to tell him that I would be coming back, you should create space for me because one day, I would retire and come back into acting. Alasari was the only one who brought me back into acting. He would say, ID, you don’t know my plan for you; anytime I see you, I see your father, because in all these period, I used to act normal character, like a Policeman, Chief etc.
He said there were some areas I see you acting. And not quite long,, he called me and told me I would act as Babalawo (Herbalist) in a movie called Ilu Awon Oku. I agreed. And after that film, I became popular. Everybody started talking about it.
A year they showed that film at cultural centre, it was so crowded. Igwe was there and when it was my scene and he saw me, Igwe said yes, ID is the only one who could act that role perfectly.
And since then, they have been calling for to act Babalawo in films.
How many films have you done since then?
I have done about 10 films of my own.
Can you remember their titles?
I did “Isu’boji”. After Isu’boji, I did Deola Alajo. I did Sibe-Sibe Awolase. After that, I did Eran-Oku. I like to choose big title for my movie. After this, I did Ina-Loju Ekun. In our industry, thereare some people I respect, people like Odunlade Adekola. I approached him then that I wanted to do movie. So, when we began casting; and the person I wanted for the main actor of Oju Ekun was Yinka Quadri and I would be Oluwo. And when Odunlade looked through the story, he advised we needed money to execute the project and he followed me and we sorted that out. He also advised me to play the role of Oju Ekun. I yielded to his advice. It was a sell out. I didn’t even plan for Part 2, but I was asked to by my promoter. So, we did Part 2 called Okanran. So after this, I did Grandpa. After this I did Apeyinda Oba. I also did Kogbagoje at Ohunto’Pa’mo