Hakeem Rahman must have had a fair share of fame and fortune as an entertainer. Though he spent 20 years in the banking industry before he eventually resigned to kick off his passion, the talented role interpreter made his first appearance in the rested TV soap, Checkmate. He has also romanced the Yoruba and English genre clinching lead roles as a versatile actor.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with the former Vice President of Actors Guild of Nigeria as he added another year on Sunday, July 15, 2012. We also took him on sundry issues as well.
It may be wrong to ask people like you how you started acting but can you tell us your experience so far?
I don’t think it is wrong, you are just doing your job. I was in the banking sector before. I read Accounting in school. I did that job for close to 20 years not knowing that I was doing the wrong thing. Everyone I trained was promoted ahead of me. I noticed that I was a reckless person while I was in the banking sector.
I was always enjoying jokes with customers. While I was in the banking industry, I enrolled with Checkmate. I played the role of Dr. Kwame. I played a fantastic role. To be in Checkmate was difficult except you are very good because everybody usually run home to watch it. From there, I got to know there was acceptance, so I embraced it full time, though my acting career started in Kano State, on Lagos stress precisely. Baba Sala used to come to a hotel there to perform. I used to sneak to watch him after which, I will re-enact it for the children in our compound. My father wanted me to be an accountant, which I did to satisfy them. It is good to discover your path early before wasting time elsewhere, that was what happened to me. But I thank God because it was as if they were waiting for me to get into the industry. I started getting roles, here and there.
I have featured in Yoruba movies, English movies, I played a lot of roles, a Yoruba mallam, people even got confused at times about my identity, most people didn’t know that I am from Epe in Lagos State.
Any regret leaving the banking industry?
I wouldn’t say there is any regret. Banking job is like ministry job. You just sit down and money will come in monthly, even bonuses. But in acting, if you are not out there to look for script, you wouldn’t earn money, that is the only difference. This job is more challenging and fulfilling. It open doors everywhere you go, people embrace and accept you. Myself and my wife were travelling one day, they searched her bag but they didn’t search mine. Even in Liverpool, UK, I was shocked at the acceptance. I couldn’t attend all the events I went for, there was a guy that gave me a good reception, he is from Sierra Leone. He took good care of me abroad. People now see us as the mirror of the society. To God be the glory, I have appeared in over a 100 movies playing major roles. I have shot over 50 soaps playing lead roles as well.
How will you describe the challenges as an actor?
They are enormous, at times you finish shooting early in the morning and you still have to go home. There are some other challenges which I wouldn’t like to go into.
Can you us your comment on the crisis raging in AGN and the state of things now?
Nobody is happy with what is happening in AGN, the association has failed stakeholders as a body. Those who took in this far should be accountable to God that created them. Some people, established the body some years ago. Let the truth be told. Ifeanyi Dike spent a lot of money to build up the body, it has become bigger than him and thank God the body came to his rescue when he had health problem.
What I am trying to say is that we should do things because of the love we have for people, not for your personal benefit. A lot of people are after the immediate gain they will get from the body. I have sacrificed well over 12 years as the national vice president, I have created state chapters in different states. I created some chapters in East and Western states.
Having done all these, when they have another election, I should just sit down and watch. I am no longer interested in the politics of that place. if you are not a cult member, if you don’t belong to their caucus, you can never benefit anything, you will just be working. I suffered untold hardship for one of the leaders to get there, after getting there, he started remembering all his girlfriends. When the benefits started rolling in, he forgot all the people that fought the war. On the issue of AGN, I have been to Ikoyi Prisons fighting the cause of justice. Why they hate Hakeem Rahman is because I cannot stand dirty deals. I wouldn’t play dirty games, I will say it the way it is, I will not cheat my fellow human being. There are people in the helm of affairs who are not thorough.
Until they address the issue of those who have been sidelined and maligned, there can never be peace in AGN. A lot of people are not happy, we are all suffering and laboring for AGN but few are enjoying.
Can you tell us your specific contribution to Nollywood since you became an actor?
I have done a lot. There was a time Baba Adeboye wanted to pray for the industry because people are just dying, as a member of Redeemed Christian I was told that Baba Adeboye wanted to see me. I went there, I saw the assistant pastor, he gave me the necessary information. It was around the time the industry lost Sam Loco. I was able to bring the whole Nolllywood together. Pastor Adeboye was so happy. Others tried to do it but couldn’t, I was able to do it because I cut across all barriers and race.
A lot people believe you are comfortable with soaps than movies?
Yes, because we all started with soaps, like I told you, I started with Checkmate. There are no intrigues in soaps, if you are involved in 10 episodes and your money is like a N100,000, it will just be multiplied by 10 and you will collect your money, nobody will short-change you but in movies, they will short-change you, they will cheat you in films and I need more money to train my children. I have done a lot with Wale Adenuga, Nnenna and Friends, The Perfect Church, we were treated well. I also like working with Teco Benson, you will get whatever he promised to pay you. There are a lot of people who are owing me now, but you can’t kill them if they don’t have the money.
How does it feel to add a year to your age?
It feels wonderful, when there was tension all over me, people didn’t want me to be, they were pursuing me with juju, the tension affected me a lot. I was almost a dead man. I never thought I would live up till now, until I saw myself growing from strength to strength. God has even promised me long life. I thank God for everything. If you have life, there is hope. There are some rich people that their children are beggars today. I know a man that became rich at 70 and he only lived to enjoy the riches for five years. The most important thing is life.
What are these things that have changed in your life now?
When you are married to a woman that you live, and you don’t want to lose her, there is every tendency for you to calm down in other not to lose her. Women tame men, when the man is in love with them. I don’t take nonsense but I have to take some rubbish from my woman because I don’t want to lose her.
What will you say life has taught you at your age?
Life has taught me so many lessons, it has not been easy. I have gone through thick and thin. But I tell you, it has not been easy for a Carmel to pass through the eye of a needle. There are so many challenges both domestic and from the public. I told you I went to Ikoyi Prisons because of AGN because we challenged the autocratic leadership of the president then, I never went to jail working in a bank, no I came out spotless. I have been challenged but God has been wonderful to make me the way I am today.
Your philosophy of life?
Don’t cheat me, I wouldn’t cheat you, be straight-forward with me, I will be straight-forward with you. I like the truth, I hate lies. Whatever belongs to you should be given to you adequately and none of mine should be taken from me.
Will you describe the entertainment industry as fulfilling for you?
Yes, I am fulfilled as an artist though the acceptance is more than the money. I still want money, I am still looking forward to building houses in Magodo, leaving a good legacy for my children.
- SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 31, 2012