A couple of weeks back, the rumour mill was agog that top Yoruba actor, Alhaji Taiwo Hassan, popularly known as Ogogo had passed on. This had started generating reactions in the industry and among the teeming fans of the versatile role interpreter cum film maker. ENCOMIUM Weekly took Ogogo up on this and much more including his newly completed Ikorodu home when we visited him at Odunfa, Ebute Metta, Lagos.
How can we describe Ogogo at the moment, careerwise?
I am still the same Ogogo you knew yesterday. I still remain myself, very vibrant in my career, very relevant in the scheme of things as far as acting is concerned. I give all glory to God for He has been with me all through. Even when people thought it was finished, He said, ‘die not but move on.’ I thank God Almighty for all His blessings in our individual families and in our caucus here. A lot of wonderful things had happened to us, many are still happening. We have amongst us those that have moved into their houses while some are also warming up to join in that league. Some have given the hands of their daughters in marriage. By June this year, my first daughter will be getting married by the special grace of God. We have chieftaincy title holders among us, new cars and all that. So, we have every cause to say Alhamdullilahi because it’s a sign that we are not in a wrong profession.
Not even one, I have completed two movies that will soon be released. We are supposed to be on location for another movie now but due to some problems from the marketing aspect of it. For now, I think all the movie marketers are trying to adjust the number of movies being released monthly. Also, they are trying to tackle the issue of privacy which has eaten deep into the system, affecting all the major stakeholders in the industry. So, just like I said, I have two movies completed. The first one is entitled Opa Ase and the other one is entitled, Eni Ibi Ota Olohun. Those are the two flicks coming from the stable of Ogogo Film Production via Corporate Pictures.
We learnt you have completed your new house in Ikorodu, when are you moving in?
Where I am presently is also my house but by God’s grace, I will be moving into the new one before 2012 runs out. I am almost through with the project.
That one seems to be bigger than the one you’re living in now…
You’re the one that said so. All I know is that, it’s a befitting house. I thank God we are many in Ikorodu now, we don’t know whether we are going to rename Ikorodu Nollywood, Bollywood or Hollywood Town. It’s a very good development and we thank God for everything.
Like how much would you say the house gulped?
I can’t quantify that. Just like I said, I gave myself a befitting house to live in and I believe when people see it, they won’t say anything otherwise. But before Almighty God, it’s still a small thing and I am praying that He would do more than that for me in the nearest future.
You haven’t told us the exact time you’re moving in?
Everything is in the Hands of God.
Recently rumour mill was agog that you died, aren’t you tired of hearing this and why is it always you?
Before man and God I don’t follow that kind of rumour. Anytime I am not on location, people see me sitting here, playing games. At times, it may be Ludo or draft, we will be relaxing and when it’s time for our normal rehearsal, I join them and when it’s time to go home, I leave. I just discovered that a few days ago when I was playing cards with Yinka, somebody called him. I didn’t know exactly what the person called him for but his response was what I heard, telling the person Ogogo is right in front of me here. If you want to confirm truly, I will give him the phone now. There is nothing like that o. He now gave me the phone and the person started talking, ha, so you are alive, they have been saying all sorts of things about you. They said you’re dead and the rumour is all over town now. I now allowed the person and I said, that’s exactly what they want for themselves from God and not for me, Ogogo. I am hale and hearty. How can somebody just sit down somewhere and start fabricating things like that. It’s unfair.
That’s not the first time of hearing that. How do you normally feel about such a rumour?
I don’t feel in anyway different because I am sure I wasn’t destined to die young and I won’t die young. God will surely give me long life. I had experienced a lot, I had suffered a lot. Even when I was seriously ill, I never thought of death. Now that there is nothing wrong with me, people are now suggesting death. But, my prayer for them is that God should forgive them because they don’t know what they are saying.
But some people are saying that you’re the brain behind it for some reasons, perhaps for longevity?
(Laughs) Honestly speaking, I didn’t know anything not until when they started calling Yinka, even right in my presence.
Maybe because some people watched some of your performances shown in form of documentary on a TV station then, that made them suggest that probably you had passed on…
That maybe true because I was told they showed my previous roles in some movies, telling a little background of me but nobody contacted me for anything like that. Some are saying it’s on LTV 8, some are saying it’s Galaxy Television. But up till now, I don’t know the particular TV station that did that. The worst thing was that my younger brother in the US also called me but before he did that he had already answered those asking him whether I was dead or alive to keep shut, that if I had died, he would be the first to tell them not that the information will emanate from them. I told them there was nothing like that, the same they told him was also the way I was informed of my own death. There is no cause for alarm, I am hale and hearty.
How do you feel seeing all the young actors rising right in your very eyes?
I feel very fulfilled. I am honestly happy about the development. Anybody who has risen to the top and he is not happy seeing others coming to that top is a bad leader and he can’t live long in that profession. Those that were there before us loved us and accommodated us, that’s why we’re able to come this far. So, also we need to do to those coming behind us.
But some people are saying that with the emergence of Odunlade Adekola, producers are gradually abandoning Ogogo, what is your comment on that?
That’s not true, everybody with his own destiny. I have never envied anybody since I started out. I am always happy anytime I see others rising in the same trade I do. It’s a thing of joy. My success doesn’t hinder anybody’s, so also Odunlade Adekola’s rise has nothing to do with the success of Ogogo. People only like insinuating. Just a few days ago, Odun and I were on a movie location, he was even the one that directed the movie which I featured in. So, people only like talking rubbish. We are in good relationship, his success is my joy. I just left a location, very soon I am still moving to another one. I can’t even count the number of movies I take part in, I have also lost count of movie scripts I get in a month. Must it be Ogogo always. In the Yoruba movie genre alone, we can’t count the number of movies we shoot on a daily basis. So, all producers can use only one face to lead their movies. They must be dynamic, new entrants must be allowed to showcase the stuff they are made of.
So, Ogogo is still waxing stronger?
(Laughs) Maas ha Allah, I am there, still very relevant. And by the special grace of Almighty Allah, I will continue to be relevant and I will forever be relevant.
When was your happiest moment since you started out as an actor?
I am always a happy person because God has blessed me, even beyond my imagination. Just last Ei-id-kabir festival, my daughter did her introduction. She is a graduate. The younger one is also in the university. My happiest moment is that I produced graduates in my own family if at all I am not one. It’s a thing of honour when people know that you give your children sound education, you may not have cars nor build any house but I thank God. He has blessed me bountifully.
How do you feel that you are not a graduate?
I have never thought of it for once. It’s no big deal to me. A lot of my age peers are no more and a lot are alive but can’t even move close to where I am. So, one needs to be thankful to God in every situation. I am happy for what God has done in my life.
As you’re growing older, are women still disturbing you as before?
They have not stopped admiring me. It’s even increasing. At every blessed day I make new friends both male and female. I love them all and I pray God will continue to love them as well.
How does your wife feel about this?
She doesn’t feel in anyway different. She understands the nature of my job. And one thing is that, if you take good care of your wife, you give her what she wants at a time she wants it and you’re close to her, she won’t be troubling herself on unnecessary things. There would be peace at home.
What’s your message for your friend, Baba Oloye, that is Yinka Quadri?
O ye amori. It’s a thing of joy in our caucus especially and I thank God for the development. Almighty Allah will be with him in the discharge of his duty as a chieftaincy title holder and in his career as well. I say once again, congratulations to him.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 28, 2012