It was an arid Sunday evening, most people preferred to remain indoors, away from the unforgiving Lagos heat.
However, it was not just any other Sunday evening, it was April 27, 2014, the evening veteran actor and Yoruba movie superstar, Yinka Quadri (Kura Matete) rolled his existence on earth, spanning more than 50 years into a book.
A wide array of stars and celebrities, friends and family, put on their nicest garbs to celebrate with the exemplary role interpreter as he officially released his autobiography, Yinka Quadri: Scent of a Legend at a lavish event, held at the Blue Roof, LTV ground, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos.
Guests which included the wife of the Lagos state governor, Dame Abimbola Fashola, National leader of the Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC) Otunba Gani Adams, as well as his friends and colleagues such as Oga Bello, Jide Kosoko, and many more were full of praises for the versatile actor.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with the multiple award-winning actor on 36 years on screen as well as his motive for his autobiography, among other issues. Friends and colleagues also had one or two things to say about the man, Yinka Quadri.
‘I WANTED TO BE FAMOUS LIKE HUBERT OGUNDE, EDDIE MURPHY, AMITABH BACHAN’
– Yinka Quadri
Congrats on your 36 years on stage?
Thank you very much.
When did you conceive the idea to write the book?
I would say the idea just came overnight. It just occurred to me that no one knows tomorrow. People have this habit of rewriting someone’s history. They would leave the truth and tell lies, so, I decided to write about myself. I would eventually grow old as I age. Even while we are alive, they are arguing with us over what we know, so I just had the inspiration to put my story in writing.
It is also important because the story includes that of the film industry in Nigeria, its relevance to the industry, especially the Yoruba genre. With this book now, there won’t be any argument when it comes to Yinka Quadri, they’ll say bring his book and the matter will be settled.
Is it written in Yoruba or English?
It was written in English
How long did it take you to write it?
It took me eight months. It took me that long because it is my life history, from the beginning of my existence to now, over 50 years. One has to be meticulous.
How has the journey been?
We passed through rough and hard ways, but we thank God, that we overcame by His grace. How many instances do we want to give? The days there is something to eat and those of hunger, but with the help of God, I thank Him for my life.
What are you most thankful for in your enduring career?
Back then when I started, I used to look forward to seeing a day like this because I’m always looking to the future. Back then, my ambition was to be like Eddie Murphy, Amitabh Bachan, Sylvester Stallone and other superstars. In Nigeria, I wanted to be like the late Hubert Ogunde, late Adeyemi Afolayan and so many others of that time. I thank God because I know we have achieved that level now. We are not going to stop aspiring for more but I am thankful for a successful career so far.
Do you have any regret as an actor?
I don’t have any regrets at all. The reason is I was not pushed to do that job. When you are doing something that comes from your heart, you are doing it with passion, you are doing it with love so you can’t have any regret.
‘I pray that people will keep appreciating him and his work’
MRS. SADIAT QUADRI, wife
How do you feel today as your husband celebrates?
I thank God for making today a reality, I am very happy. For my husband to celebrate 36 years in the industry, I pray he will do many more by God’s grace.
Do you feel fulfilled now after staying with him all these years?
Any wife that wants the progress of her husband will give him all the support he needs. I pray that people will keep appreciating him and his work and his star will never go dim.
In the last 36 years, the press has said different things about your husband, how have you handled it?
Since we have been together, there is nothing they write, true or false that bothers me. I always see them as publicity for him because I want his success.
‘He’s very accommodating and hardworking’
– OGA BELLO
How do you feel about this event?
I feel so glad and I’m happy for the celebrant because he has come a long way. He is my junior colleague and we have been together since inception. I can say one or two things about him. He’s very accommodating, hard working and at the same time, he is very focused on whatever he sets out to do. He is a born leader, organized and I congratulate him.
What is your advice for upcoming actors who aspire to become successful like this?
I would advice them to be more focused and make sure they emulate their senior colleagues. Also training is import-ant, you have to properly learn what you want to do if you want to excel.
‘He deserves the honour’
– JIDE KOSOKO
This is a man that has contributed in no small measure to the development of the theatre and film industry in Nigeria. He deserves the honour he is getting today. I’m so happy for him, I’m equally happy that people of great substance are here to honour him.
What kind of man is he to you?
Yinka is my kid brother, he is a chap I love so much. He is really focused, he is a fantastic actor and aside all these, we are very close.
What word of advice do you have for him?
There is no perfect human being. Every one of us has one or two occasions we display our ego, Yinka himself knows this. He should keep doing what he knows how to do and he will continue to be successful.
‘He is pastoring through the theatre’
– ABIMBOLA FASHOLA
We pray that God will let him do more for us, and that in all that he would be doing, he would be teaching us in his own way because we all cannot be doctors, lecturers, or pastors. He is pastoring through the theatre, so, that is his own ministry. And I pray that God will continue to bless his family, and the has only just began.
God is not through with him. Happiness that he is giving to us through the movies, God will give to him and his family. May God be with all of us.
‘He is a very accommodating and humble’
– MERCY AIGBE-GENTRY
What’s your view about this event?
I’m pleased to be here for the book launch of Alhaji Yinka Quadri. To me, he’s a mentor, he’s a veteran, a seasoned and evergreen actor, one of the true icons in the industry who paved the way for people like us. Having a book written by him is awesome, people can buy and tap from his experience in the industry. He knows the intricacies of this job, he has seen it all, surviving different eras, from his time to our own era, so he has a wealth of experience.
What kind of a man is he to you?
He is a very nice person. He’s actually my boss, someone I look up to as a mentor because the first Yoruba movie I acted in, I was priviledged to be his wife and the way he accepted me and took his time to help me, I won’t forget because I wasn’t so fluent in Yoruba when I started. He is a very accommodating and humble person.
What advice do you have for him?
I’ll like to say I wish him all the best, I wish him many more years in this industry.
‘Nothing good comes easy’
– TOMORI WILLIAMS
Why are you here to support Yinka Quadri?
I’m Yoruba, and I have to support anything that promotes our culture. I’m here to join notable people in celebrating Alhaji Yinka Quadri because he is one of the promoters of Yoruba culture. He is also exporting the Yoruba culture to the world, so, I feel good being here today.
How would you describe him?
I’ve met him a number of times, I’ve always watched his movies, especially when I was younger, because time would not permit me now to watch much movies. I want to ask upcoming and young actors to take a cue from this man. They need to work hard because nothing good comes easy and I know that with time, they would also benefit even more than what he is benefiting now.
What’s your advice for the celebrant?
I would urge him to continue to promote our culture as well as expand his territory, especially to the younger ones. He should also not relent.
‘We are like brothers’
SOLOMON MAJEKODUNMI (Baba kekere)
Yinka Quadri is a childhood friend to me, in fact, we are no longer friends, we are now like brothers. We have been together for so long and I make bold to say that if you look for someone that can say much about him in this industry, I am the one. He is a nice guy, I have no regret whatsoever today for my association with him.
Your advice to upcoming actors hoping to go this far?
God will elevate them, He would make them go as far as us and even beyond, all they need is to work very hard and not be lazy. They should not come into the industry looking for money, they should make a name first. When they work hard and have the name, money would follow.
‘I wish him luck’ – KEJI YUSSUF
What is your impression of this event today?
As a member of the Odunfa caucus (I was there before I left) I know Alhaji Yinka Quadri as a good man. I think what he is doing today is a good development because he has been around for a very long time, he is well known as a hard working and fantastic actor. There is no role you give him that he wouldn’t interpret easily. He deserves this.
What is your wish for him?
He has been there for a very long time. I wish him luck, I wish him more success in the years to come and I wish him well and I know he would continue to be successful.
‘He’s a good man’
– GORIOLA HASSAN
How do you feel about today’s event?
I’m having fun. So far, it’s a very colourful event as you can see. There are many top people around, many stars and I’m impressed with the turn out.
What can you say about the celebrant?
Yinka Quadri is my brother. I really like him a lot, he’s a nice person. He doesn’t look down on people and he respects you, regardless of your age. I respect him a lot, I really like him because he’s a good man.
– DANIEL FAYEMI