June 16, 2014


Dr Sola Fosudo is no stranger to the Tinseltown in the country and a veteran of some sorts spanning decades who has seen it all in the Nigerian film industry .In this scintilating interview  with Ibikunle Laniyan the blogger-editor-in-chief,the Director of LASU CENTRE FOR PRESS ,INFORMATION AND PUBLIC RELATION  bares it all about his life ,the film  industry-its evolution  and the  challenges of teaching proffession in Nigeria in general .
-I think i have started Sir ,the interview .Sir ...it s wonderful and amazing that i was given the opportunity to talk to my  greatest icon in Nollywood .The fact remains that you are the only actor-scholar  that i know in the industry .I dont know of any .How has it been combining the two works together-lecturing and acting  How has it been ,the journey so far ?
--No .1,there are so many other acting or actor-scholars,there are so many other.......
--Yea,....like who and who Sir ?
--Kola Oyewo is one.At least , that is another one.And also ,he has a PHD and is teaching at Redeemer University]laughing hysterically].Prof.Ayo Akinwale is another ]clearing his throat twice ].He teaches at the University of Ilorin  and he acts.So,Tunji Sotimire is another one .So i say.....you want me to be counting .
-Let me ..It is a great challenge actually how do you cope with the rigour  ?
-Which rigour?
-Those people you have mentioned now ..going to locations and all that hell of teaching....
-there is no rigour ,everything in life is based on time .Each time am in the office here if i have to go on location on Friday ,Sat..i wont be in the office .I would go and do those ones .On monday, am back in my office .Since am not the one directing the film ,i dont have to be there 24hrs ,the people   who are directing or producing  or who are  members of the crew ,they are the people that would stay on lovation . An actor  can just go ,they would record  your own scene within a day within two days then you leave]slows down].So is all baout working out a timetable with the people who are engaging you ,so that you know the time that you can come and then you do what you have to do with them and then you leave .I want to believe it is the same system that all other actor scholars are using .
-Who is Dr Sola Fosudo ? Can we know a bit  about your .........?
]cuts in]
-What do you want to know ,there are so many things 2x.I can tell you .It depends on what you want to know
--Like where do you hail from your state of origin were you born in Lagos ?
--Am an Ijebu Man  born in Ijebu in Ejinrin,Lagos State.My village is Igbo Oye in Epe Local government of Lagos State.So am a Lagosian.
-How many years now have you been teaching in LASU?
--I have been here now 19 years or 18 plus .Let' s say 18 years
-Can you compare the condition of teaching in the University setting then to today ? The climate in the University as at the time  you started to today ]He cleared his throat twice]?
--When i started?
--When i started  in LASU?
--Well, i dont think there is ,maybe if you want me to compare ,when i was in school well things  have changed .When i was in School , the environment was more academic ,more scholarly but today there are so many distractions for students .I think there are cults too at the time i was in school but now is like a common you know phenomenon and also ,the economic situation of the country ,you know is a big challenge to many parents you know so the political situation in the country is also very unstable .And all this definitely ,i believe will negatively affect the pattern of education for those who are in school right now .You know but if you want me to compare when i join LASU to now ,i think that there is ,some kind of improvement ,because  ,when i came to LASU ,the whole  of LASU ,was just from that junction there to this place ]pointificating ].But now there is alot of development in LASU .I joined LASU through the English department and after a few years ,i recommended ,the establishment of theatre arts department and it was approved and it has taken up .When i join LASU from the time i join LASU to this  time ,there have been phenomenal growth and dvelopment in term of academic life so , that s the comparison that i can give .So many things have happened since i joined LASU, a lot of water you know has [run under the bridge ]chorused with the reporter coincidentally
--But when exactly did you venture into acting  Which year particularly ?
--I can t remember .I have been acting since i was in primary school ,secondary school
--No ,am talking now of Nollywood?
--You see]looking discouraged] am not a Nollywood actor.We started acting ,we started doing .........Before Nollywood caqme , we were already acting .So ,how you say ,when did i join Nollywood Before Nollywood came ,we were already acting .Nollywood is a recent development here .Before Nollywood i have acted in  several Soap operas.Village headmaster -is it part of Nollywood ]reporter replied no].Sound Of Destinywhich i did in  1980,was it part of Nollywood The Third Eye which we did in NTA ,was it part of Nollywood  Ripples which was a national programme  ,was that part of Nollywood ]interviewer laughing ].So that is why i said am not a Nollywood actor .I t was some of the things that we were doing that actually prepared the ground for Nollywood ]the interviewer laughing and pouring ecomiums].
-We want to know which film really brought you to limelight ?For example Segun Arinze would aggree that Chico Ejiro' s Silent Night brought him to .........
He cuts in........
-You are still asking me ,you are going back again]reporter rattles ,then he concluded ],Ripples brought me to limelight .It is a soap opera .Infact if i want to tell you it was Ripples ,i would tell you that even before even before Ripples ,Sound Of Destiny .Micheal Enahoro s  Sound Of Destiny brought me to lime light and because it s a network programme ,NTA Network ......Because you knew me maybe four or five years ago does not mean that there have been several journalists  who have interviewed me in the early 80s ,90s.So , dont be asking me about Nollywood .Am not a Nollywood Person .
--Actually , sir how do you compare the industry generally then when you started to today?
Well,we have to look at it from different aspects.In those days ,most of the people ,who are involved in the biz were trained and so when you see any production ,it would be qualitative both in term of acting and in term of production qualitative  .And then you also see ,you know attempt at creating something that is artistic ,you would see creativity you would you know artistic efffort but these days ,no.1 ,most of the people ,who are in the industry today many of them are untrained .Secondly, most of them are commercial people ,they are not concerned with creativity , you know and artistic -you know quality.They are just  interested in financial gain .However , having said that ,one can also say that the activity of the marketers and the  igbo producers have actually opened up the space for the industry.There is alot of money circulating now Because they came in and pumping money and they were doing all kinds of things .........So economically , the industry has become income earning avenue for many people .So many people are making a living out of that proffession even though most of the people making a living are you know are roadside people ,they are roadside people roadside ,...people who are not trained who just ...Awon Ayaba We wont say because they are roadside people that is nonsense because at least they are busy ,they are making  money acting ,they are not carrying gun ,they are not armed robbers .You Know .The  summary is that what the industry just need is regulation .That is what they just need .It has become an industry that has made Nigeria popular .Nigerian films  are known everywhere in the world .So , in ohter words ,you know  is foreign exchange earner for the country but it needs to be regulated .A lot of development has happened .A lot of people are engaged empoloyed through the industry .And so that is from positive things it s positve alright .
-How many movies and soaps have you done so far?
--The problem is that you are just ,you are insisting at seing me as Nollywood  person .So many films -You ll be surprised i ve not done many films .You ll be surprised  i tell you that the total  films i ve done both Yoruba and English ,they are not more than like 30-40 something  films .
--Was it because of that problem of poor quality you are talking about or what?
--]He insisted fiercely ]Am not a Nollywood person .When we started,we just started because we are interested in establishing a viable proffesion -a proffession that people would also look at us and say okay you know people who are serious minded are into this proffession of theatre .I studied theatre arts .I didnt study films .If you ask me now that how many plays  have i acted in .I can tell you over a hundred
]Interviewer marvelled cuts in]Q-....''plays! ''..was schocked to the bone marrow
--Yes.But these people just because you see somebody on television ,you think that the person is Nollywood ,Nollywood,Nollywood person .I didnt study films i studied theatrte arts and we performed plays on stage ]then he paused and soared again].Nollywood,Nollywood Nollywood ,what is Nollywood
''I think some of my question were based on Nollywood ''....He cuts in again......''because you are thinking you will come and be asking about Nollywood'' .
I really want to know who really founded the indigenous film industry in the country .Who is the pioneeer really especially for viewers out there or for their education ?
-Hubert Ogunde
--Some people you use to say that but what about the man they called ...Alade Aromire ..?
--You said who started who started indigenous film industry .Are you talking about Cinemas or film
-No ,am not talking about Cinemas ?
-Aromire started ......was instrumental to the starting of video film in Nigeria .Alade Aromire was very instrumental ,starting of video film in Nig. but the indigenous  cinemas .........
--Hubert Ogunde was the one.
--So ,what informed the transfer into the video stuff from celluloid ...?
--It was when those films that they use to produce and show in the cinema became very expensive ,became too expensive to shoot on Celluloid  and you know developed when it became very expensive that was why they moved into producing with video  and when they produce with video ,even when they started producing with video they first started taken them to the cinemas  but  the quality of those films were not really the best until some people would just record and package into video cassette and just go and sell directly to the people .So all these things moved in stages ,these are stages ,but the person who started  the indigenous cinemas in Nigeria is Hubert Ogunde .
The early people who laid the foundation for Nollywood were  interested in creativity  and artistic quality and they were really not running after financial gains  but that the people who are in it now , most of the people who are in it now most of them are nottrained they dont care about quality ,they care about quantity and they are not also very interested in creativity you know artistic ingenuity ,they are not really concerned about  art in ,what they they are doing ,they are just commercial..Let s just do it and le get our money and go away .So,under that kind of condition certainly quality would  drop ,where people..there is something we call motivation for coming into the theatre  biz.What is your motivation Are you socially motivated   Is it because you want to be popular or you want to be famous  A re you motivated by finance  Is it because you think that they are making a lot of money  there ,you  want to also come and make  money or are you motivated by the humanistic nature of the arts  Are youb artist Do you want  to contribute to the creative development  of that biz  of that industry . Or you just want to come and make whatever money you can make and go away .So ,if you come with that kind of  of you know motivation just to make money then it doesnt , wont matter to you theb  quality  of what is being done .So, the question trherefore you know ..........contd........because when they were doing their live theatre shows they used to travel from town to town  and they would carry their families ,their set all the member of the crew,they carry about  two or three vehicles .They would be traveling to Akure, to Ondo ,after a while it became foolish  to be embarking on such venture
-Why  in what sense?
--In monetary sense ,monetary sense you spent money to transport yourself ,,you have to feed ,you know it became a big problem because that means you almost spent much more than you are going to make but in film you record your film only once .If you want to travel to show your films in Akure  you dont need to  take any three vehicles , you dont need to go with entire crew ,you have already recorded the film and you record the film only once .So, when you are going to Akure to go and and show your film only about two or three people can go with the projector .It became economic al you know to venture into films .That was why Ogunded and  Co.and all the troops ,people that followed his footsteps ,that s why they all moved into film.THat was the reason they all moved into films.
--Actually , how do you compare Soap Operas  and the business of home video ;Which one is profitable ?
--Well , you would need to go and ask those who are doing soaps 2x.Ive not done soap before as a producer ,i ve only acted in it ..And i can tell you ,i would say a soap opera is more profitable even as an actor because am collecting money every week as actor in soap opera,but if i can act in a film  they would give you money only once .But if you are using soap opera you already  earning money everyweek even though the money may not be big money .....
Interviwer cuts in Q-- ....Consistent..!
--It may not be big money but is consistent .SO which one is more profitable therefore  Is it the one that you collect money once and go away or the one that you will be collecting money regularly For you which one is more profitable
Interviwer replied ;i think i support you .
-You must have had mentors ,during your early days in the business .Who are your mentors or those who actually motivated you?
--I have many mentors .I have those...who are ...some of them who taught me  and i also have external mentors Those i did not even see
--Interviwer adds......Distant methors?
--Yes distant menthors .Those i didnt meet.Those are  the  people i read about have seen their works and i was influenced by what they were doing or what they did .So .Wole Soyinka taught me .Dapo Adelugba in Ibadan Bode Osanyin,Kole Omotosho,...
Interviwer adds..
--Jimi Solanke...?
--What ..Jimi Solanke is not my mentor..]then he banter  off into humorous scene while equally watching TV and occassionally cracking jokes and laughing with fellow visitor.]One of my mentors is Amitab Bashir -an indian actor because i used to watch  a lot of films  in those days-indian films.I said ,he was a Man after my heart .I love the way he acts and i wanted to be like him.You know when i was doing my own acting i would have gained one or two things from him .You know ,so he is one of my distant mentors.So, Awolowo, Obafemi Awolowo is also my distant mentors , though i ddidnt actually meet him -one on one .Having read about him and having learnt about him i think he is  a great one .I also like to model my life after that kind of person .
-Can you remember the most powerful book you ever read ?
-Theere are so many of them .There s one book -The Spirit Of Apollo by NewMan ,there is this book by Stephen Covey -The Seven Habbits Of Highly Influential People.These are very powerful books i ve read, but the most important book that i ve read is the Bible .Infact if somebody dont read the bible ,you dont read anything .
-Let s hang around about your works in LASU .What are the challenges facing the Nigerian lecturers in general ?
--Challenges facing Nigerian Lecturers ...They are poorly paid .They are poorly paid compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world .If am a Proffessor in LASU ,,there is another Proff. in Ethiopia or  Sydney ,or whereverer in U.K. I just give example .They are given 300,000 naira  and the Prof. in Sydney is collecting 11,000 dollars .And if i compare that that is am earning  one fifth of  the salary of my colleagues and these people ,we meet in conferences ,i go to Sydney .They also come to Nigeria ,we meet in conferences .We publish our  papers in their own journals  and they published in our journals here.We teach students,the same students and way we teach ,they are teaching their own students .I say some of the challenges of Nigerian lecturers  is thaT THEY ARE POORLY PAID .
Even inspite of all the fights and struggles,they are increasing the thing small small ,they are still being poorly paid .Then is the government ..are they serious about education .This office ]he looked sternly as the Director of information ,Press and  Public Relation in LASU ]  is an office where i have been appointed as the Director of the Centre -that is a non-academic work that just doing that s why this office is fine like this.My personal ]at the theatre arts,where we later moved to at the end of the first phase of the interview,justify his claims ]was not as fine  as this.Even that personal office ,most of theb things i got thre ,i bought them with my money ]no A.C,no flatscreen TV,no tesselated squares as noted in the centre office].So is government serious  about Education Government need to fund education .They need to provide infrastructure ,not only for lecturers but for students .Lecture halls ,libraries with books and so and so forth.I must say that Governor Fashola is trying now in LASU .I must say because he has started building so many things .Now in  LASU,they are building Senate building , they are building science faculties,they are building social science faculty ,they are building so many things in LASU now .Imagine ,if all Governors ,am just talking about LASU ,what about other federal universities  Imagine if all Governors who have been in LAGOS and probably see what Fashola did.If all of them are building 10 ,10 structures like Fashola is building now .They are just working under very harsh condition  All universities would have beeen filled with structures and then as a lecturer maybe my office would be fine as fine as this .So Govenrment across the country in Nigeria ,they need to make up their mind to fun education properly .So is part of the challenges of Nigerian lecturers.They are just working under very harsh condition .Controversy ,you have to fight ,you have to strike before they would  even answer you ]laughing].
--But for quite some fees in the varsities  have been going up . Govt.suddenly increased  tuition fees in LASU from a mere 25,000 naira to as high as 200,000 naira .They dont even give a damn to gradual increase .They just increase to as high as that much .How many poor children can afford that ?
-Are you asking me? How do i know how many poor children can afford that? Am not the person that effect the increase.Am sure the persons have made their research and investigation before they decided the increase ,That s no.1 ,no2,University education is not really for the poor
-Not for the poor..?
-University Education is not really for the poor
--But the problem now is that...]cuts in again]
--Is not also to be for the rich .University education is not for the rich and not supposed to be for the poor ..Anybody who want to go to the University they should go and look for the money but everybody is supposed to go the primary school secondary school both rich and poor so that there wont be illiteracy in the land but if you now want to be anengineer,a Doctor you need to go the university..Go and look for the money because that is the way i see it .That' s the way i see myself .
 -You said you have been involved in about  100 dramas and you have done quite a good number of soaps .How many of those films and movies have you handled yourself?

--Well ,i have produced some films  like 5 films


No comments:

Post a Comment