FIRST female drummer, Aralolu Olamuyiwa has paid her dues in the entertainment industry. She has been doing what she knows how to do best for almost 20 years. She lost her father, Alhaji Hameed Oluwemimo Olamuyiwa, the Baba Adinni of Ondo Kingdom on June 28, 2013. He was buried on June 30, 2013, in Ondo State.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an exclusive interview with the mother of one child about the life and times of her father, her failed marriage and what the future holds.
What is new about Ara, what are you working on?
My new movie, Osunfunke was shot in February this year. It was supposed to be premiered during the Osun-Oshogbo Festival, but due to one or two reasons we couldn’t. We will definitely do that. We are taking it to Brazil, Cuba, United States, South Africa, Dubai but definitely, we will start in Nigeria. We will do the screening and also have Ara in concert. We will do both side by side.
We are already having talks with Osun village in Miami, Florida owned by Chief Nathaniel Styles. I am into so many things. It has been difficult to really settle down and work in the studio if you are in the mood. That is why I still don’t have my album out there in over 20 years of my career. Hopefully, I know I will get it out there. I have been working and still working. When I am chanced, I go into the studio and work.
Can you describe the experience working with 2Face in your last single?
2Face and I go way back to when we were working with the same producer, Nelson Brown. We ran into each other at Ice Prince’s album launch. We were all over each because it’s been 16 years we last saw each other. There and then, we decided to do something, work on a collaboration together. Fortunately for me, I was already working on the remix of one of the oldies of Chief Ebenezer Obey. It occurred to me to kick it off from there. We recorded and shut the video. It was beautiful. 2Face is a nice man, he is quite gentle and funny. We had fun, I wonder why he is not a comedian, we laughed and laughed especially while we were shooting the video. We really had fun.
What was the process of getting an approval from Chief Ebenezer Obey before remixing his song because a couple of artistes had issues remixing some of those oldies?
It was really funny for me. I had recorded the song and shot the video before going to Baba. I kept having it at the back of my mind to see him, but he wasn’t around. So, I decided to go ahead with the work before 2Face also travelled out of the country. After shooting, I bought some things and went to see Baba. He had given me an appointment. When I got there, I knelt down, told him what I had done. The response I got was that he already had it on his iPad. I was so ashamed of myself but he encouraged me, told me that he was proud of me. He prayed for me endlessly. That was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I am really grateful to him for that.
One unfortunate thing was that I couldn’t do a remix with Baba Rolling Dollar before he passed away. He would call but we never had the chance to do it.
What are the things you are missing about your late dad?
I miss a lot about him, he was a father like a mother. He fell ill about four and a half years ago. We started nursing him from then till he passed on. We took him to the United Kingdom, tried our best but God knows best. I am the closest to him, he encouraged my music career. He exposed me to a lot of music, both foreign and local. When I got into secondary school, he got me a keyboardist who was training with me. I can remember that I had an opportunity to perform at UBA staff party, then, my father was a senior branch manager in Akure. I took ill in the 80s, he stayed with me throughout. We were very close. He was my friend. I told him a lot of things. When I got into trouble, he will beat me very well. I miss him so much. It hurts me deeply that when I am supposed to have fun with him, take him around the world, spend more time with him, he just left.
My father gave all his kids the best. I can remember when I was very sick in the 80s, he promised me that I will be a star if I did not die. They had done everything medically for me but I didn’t recover. Later, I promised him I wouldn’t die, I recovered fully. He was able to fulfill his promise. He gave me an opportunity to perform with a band on television in 1988. I really miss him. I never got to dance with him on my wedding day, he fell ill in April of that year.
What was the nature of his sickness?
He was diabetic, he also had stroke. He was 74 before passing on.
What are the things you regret your dad not doing for you before passing on?
If my dad had been alright, I wouldn’t have passed through the things I went through in marriage. I wouldn’t. I was closer to him than my mom. I couldn’t talk to him about it. I didn’t want to burden him. When it eventually picked up and I moved back home, he would ask me, ‘Where is your husband?’ He had memory loss, so anytime he recovers a bit, he would ask me about my husband. But I usually told him that we were fine. One day I had the courage to tell him that it didn’t work. I can remember him once telling me not to marry my husband. I introduced him to my dad, but he said I can’t marry him. We couldn’t figure out the reason but he told me from his heart that I can’t marry the man. I disobeyed him and it cost me a lot. I am glad I had an opportunity to apologise before he passed on. When I told him that it didn’t work, my dad started crying. But he couldn’t talk, we both cried. I can never forget that.
How many children is he blessed with?
He was blessed with nine children. My eldest brother, Olatokunbo is based in the UK. He is into medical practice. My second brother, Anthony Olawale Abdullateef is also in the UK. Oladele Abduljubril is also into medical practice. My sister, Mrs. Olabayo Tawakalitu works with one of the ministries in Lagos. I have another sister, Kudirat then my eldest sister, Mrs. Shileola Akinfulire is into furniture business. I have two younger brothers, one is Olakunle Olamuyiwa; he works with Moneygram. Then the last born, Moshood Oluwafolajimi works with Sterling Bank. I am the only one into entertainment.
How many of your friends in the entertainment industry stood by you when your dad passed on?
I wouldn’t say friends but colleagues. A lot of people called – Stella Monye, KSA, Chief Ebenezer Obey, K1, Ayuba, Saidi Balogun. So many people called, some came for the funeral. Don’t let me mention names, I am really grateful to all of them – ex-president, governors. They were there for me. I am planning a tribute night for him, he deserves it. He gave Africa the first lady talking drummer in the history of Yoruba. There will be aso ebi, drama, concert, a whole lot of package for the day.
How will you describe your dad?
My dad was handsome, tall and gentle, generous and God fearing. He worked as a banker at UBA for 35 years.
How is your son doing?
I thank God, he is doing well.
How are you coping as a single parent?
It has not been easy at all because of my high principle and lifestyle. I have refused to be everywhere, I guard my heart jealously. I believe you have to write me a letter, court me, know me well before you can marry me. I still believe in love, I believe in keeping my values. I am afraid to get involved emotionally, I am on the defensive now.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes, I am in a relationship. I have someone I have a strong feeling for but I guess my fear of commitment has kept me from going further. I am going through counseling now, but I am afraid to live with a man again. I want to love again, I want to have more children but my fear is still there. My marriage didn’t pack up because of another woman. No, it was much deeper than that for me. I believe a man is capable of sharing his affection. After all, most of us come from a polygamous setting. Having more than one wife does not stop you from being happy, the tendency of getting violent will not even be there. It has not been easy but I don’t want to make another mistake. Then people will say she is the one that has the problem. I want to get married but I am being careful. I want to love again, share and care but I have to be careful. There is no age you cannot find love. For now, I am in a relationship.
Looking back at everything that happened, do you wish you were never separated?
I don’t wish, I am glad I did as at the time we separated. I didn’t really know that he was legally married to two other women. One of them called me and sent me her marriage certificate. We called each other and agreed to annul it where we got married. I have no regret at all.
Are you making efforts to make sure your son is not wrongly influenced?
Yes, I do. My son is an extremely intelligent boy. He used to ask me a lot of questions. At some point my son asked me to apologise to his dad and vice versa. That he wants us to come together. But I had to tell him it goes beyond that. He asked again, does my daddy have another wife but it is not that. If I want to marry him, I will marry him again. There are some things you cannot explain to a child, he can’t understand.
If you go into marriage again, what kind of man will it be?
He must have a mind of his own. He mustn’t be intimidated by who I am and what I do. He has to trust me. I am a down to earth person. He must know God and have a good heart. He has to love my son. If you don’t love my son, you cannot love me. He must have good human feelings, he must be a good person. I know that circumstances change people but he must be God fearing. He must be good looking. Though I am not looking for Mr. World anyway.
A lot of people didn’t know that Ara is also an entrepreneur, how did it start?
It has always been there. In my secondary school days, I used to buy Nutrend and sell to my friends. When I got into the university, I was selling accessories, panties, clothes, a lot of things. I used to go from one campus to another. In fact, room to room to sell. A lot of them still owe me till date. When I got my break as Ara, I stopped all business activities. It is not every day you are on stage. You have to keep the income coming, if you don’t want to sell your body and go the way others go. I thought of all that and decided to set up Lola Atlantis World, which is a boutique. I also have my salon, Ara Braid Clinic coming up soon. Everything is even set for that.
Very soon, I will go to the UK to learn the art of massage. I will own a spa very soon. My mom was a businesswoman years back, so it is inborn.