You Must Endure To Be Successful – Marvel Ojo – Taiwo
A Prince of Erinjogunola Ruling House in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Pastor Marvel Ojo in an interview with Wale Adegbuyi, opens up on the development recently witnessed at the drum festival that took place in the state and the steps taken to move the arts industry forward towards achie
ving a futuristic goal in creating wealth through arts.
Prince Marvel Ojo – Taiwo, a man with over three decades experience in the artistic industry, speaks on government’s insensitivity to the money spinning industry, as he said that the government does not believe in the sector.
He made it clear to us that he returned to Nigeria after his studies in the United States of America with the intention to add values to the film industry in Nigeria.
He stated that he is disappointed with the attitude of Nigerian leaders, who he said do not care about the art industry.
Can we meet you sir?
I’m Prince Marvel T. Ojo-Taiwo from Erinjogunola Ruling House of Abeokuta, Ogun State. I was born in Lagos in 1959. I spent a little part of my life in Ibadan, Oyo State before I moved down to Abeokuta for my education because, my dad was a disciplinarian and he believed that charity starts from home. He cherishes his background and hometown so much.
I started my education earlier enough at Omolewa Nursery and Primary School in Ibadan, Oyo State. When I got to Abeokuta, I was first enrolled at St. Peters Primary School, Ake, and I later left for St. Johns Roman Catholic Primary School, Lafenwa, Abeokuta. My secondary schools education was at Agunbiade Continuing Education Centre and Abeokuta Grammar School. I proceeded to College of Health Technology, in Ijebu-Ode, and I later went to Ogun State Polytechnic were I studied Marketing.
Can you tell us something about your sojourn in the artistic world and what motivated you into the sector because during your era, most parents did not support the industry?
My father is someone that loved culture and he partook in it. He’ll be 90 this year by the grace of God. My parents never objected to my venturing into art and culture. I’ve been encouraged right from my class one in primary school, where I played the role of the famous King Solomon and I surprised everyone at the event including the then Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adesina Gbadebo. I used to be a Disco Jockey in secondary school because of my love for music, which I inherited from my parents.
Having started this long sir, what has been your challenges considering how tough it was before the digital era?
I’ve encountered a lot of challenges. Actually, what I expected to see in the Nigerian Entertainment industry is not there our government too is not helping the industry. When, I finished my Audiovisual/Recording engineering course at Cornel University in New York, USA, I came back to Nigeria immediately hoping to make a huge success with the experience I garnered, but this was not to be. Infact, my friends in the States advised me not to come back to Nigeria, but I turned my deaf ear. My belief was that if musical groups like Whispers, Shalamar, Cameo and a host of them are making it so well, and I believed that we Nigerians can also be like them.
“I just love to mingle with people of integrity because I love learning new things always”.
Can you also tell us something about your parents’ love for culture and for inheriting Disc Jockey from your father, He must be a toast of his community at the time?
My father used to buy records of the famous musicians such as Abba, Boney M, Don Williams, Herbie Hancock, Teddy Pendagrass, The Beatles, and our local artistes here such as Yusuf Olatunji (Baba L’Egba), Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade, Segun Bucknor, Fela and a host of others. Whenever he came home for weekend, because he travels a lot due to the nature of his job as a Sales Distribution Executive at Nigerian Breweries. He would slot in the records and play it with a loud noise to the neighbours, which they liked too. I started picking interest in it from there. Whenever some of my friends wanted to celebrate their birthdays, I’ll take some records along for them.
Now as an elder, what do you think we can do better to make the industry acceptable by the government and make them invest in the industry and restructure it in the interest of the sector?
That’s a big question. We have a lot to do. Firstly, do we have representatives among the rulers of this nation? I can say yes and no. Why, the few people like Desmond Elliott and Ben Bruce Murray we have there are not helping the matter. What has come from the government through them since they were there? Absolutely nothing. The only State government that cherishes, and appreciates our efforts and really trying to put us in our rightful place is the government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State. Look at the just concluded African Drums Festival, which the Federal Government has now embraced and promised to put into National Festival Calendar.
“I played many pranks in secondary school, but time would not permit me to state all of them here”.
The answer lies with us in the industry. Let’s put ethnicity aside and come together as one. Let’s leave superiority apart and come under one umbrella to push our case forward starting from the grassroots (Local Government) to Zenith (the Federal Government). Let’s make a loud noise to them. See what is happening among the Actors Guild of Nigeria? Is that how we’ll be heard?
Aside that, we’re all creative. Let workshops, seminars and all sorts be organized and invite corporate bodies. There are some of them out there, who crave to be recognized with art and culture, but we’re not giving them a chance.
Can we as a body re-orientate ourselves and strategize to have a better industry?
For sure. That’s one of my objectives. If you look at it, film and music are interwoven. They’re twin. There’s a program in the offing which has been embraced by the Ogun State Government tagged: ‘Ogun State Film & Music Festival,’ where workshops, seminars and a lot of other activities will be showcased. Some of our big guns in the industry have sanctioned it to move on and also will partake. People like Tunde Kelani and Laolu Akins, Olu Jacobs, Tunji Oyelana or Sura the Tailor fame are going to be there. Just watch out. We’ll revive our art and culture together.
Several workshop and seminars were organized and festivals held, but that has not really had any meaningful impact on the general well-being of the sector but it was rather putting money in the pocket of the few considered smart in the industry…
Not at all. Like what we intend doing is building an everlasting legacy in Ogun State. You may be wondering why mentioning this particular state. It is because it’s the bedrock of entertainment in Nigeria. If you look at many of our long gone heroes and heroines, majority were from the state, even among the present stars. When we start from here, other states will follow. Just keep your cool. We’re planning to have a Film and Music Village of international standard, where series of activities will be going on all year round, and keep the youth busy rather than allowing then to engage in immortality.
“Success comes to those who endure and believe in their abilities to succeed coupled with eagerness to learn. Humility is the keyword”.
Ogun State is an entertainment root and we have records to substantiate this, but can we have a more focused Ogun art industry which will ensure the ministry of culture and tourism has a thespian as commissioner?
This is left to you and I. Aside that, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is making frantic efforts to get this done. I really commend the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ogun State, Bashorun Muyiwa Oladipo for his efforts and love for culture, arts and tourism. He’s a figure to reckon with. I pray God crown his efforts with astounding success. Just wait and see. The ministries are really working together now to bring back the ways of old and much more improve on it to get it into our educational system.
But to achieve this, don’t you think we need to reposition our language before they become extinct?
What should be done is to include our languages in the itinerary of all stakeholders in art and culture. I have a son who studied Music at the Lagos State University (LASU). He has taken it to a new level now, after I advised him to study about three languages to help him in his chosen pattern of performance. It’s helping him now. If not for the African Drums Festival, he would have been in Egypt now for International Drums Festival.
Can you take us through some of the pranks you played while growing up sir?
Ha, I was radical in school a bit. I remember the time I went to swim in the Ogun River behind my primary school. Actually we’ve closed for the day. I told some of my mates that we wanted to do some clearing on my school farm land along with a friend whom we lived together in the same house and who happened to be our big daddy, a nephew of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. We ought to have got home, but we were still not around after 5.00pm. They got to the school, and they didn’t see us in the school and in the school farm. My mother started panicking until I got back home. I nearly got drowned until a man saw me and brought me up. My friend had run home, leaving me behind. The following weekend, Baba Obasanjo came and they reported us to him. He flogged us seriously to the state of stupor. He later gave us one shilling each and warned us not to do that again. I played many pranks in secondary school, but time would not permit me to state all of them here.
In addition, what would you want to be remembered for in the sector you have chosen as a career?
What I will like to be remembered for in this industry is to leave an everlasting and very notable landmark like our late father, Pa Hubert Deji Ogunde, Fela Anikulapo Kuti did, his music is still unmatched. Be on the lookout.
“My belief was that if musical groups like Whispers, Shalamar, Cameo and a host of them are making it so well, and I believed that we Nigerians can also be like them”.
What is your favourite food and drink?
My favorite food is yam and fried eggs, which I ate this morning. The other foods I like are Rice and plantain with fresh fish. I don’t drink alcohol. But, occasionally I take red wine at home as I learnt it’s good for the heart. I just love to mingle with people of integrity because I love learning new things always.
We will like you to encourage the younger generation and also send a message of wisdom to the intending young minds coming into the industry to take it up as a career
My advice to the upcoming generation in the industry is for them to endure. Rome was not built in a day. Success comes to those who endure and believe in their abilities to succeed coupled with eagerness to learn. Humility is the keyword. Most importantly, prayers. Always ask for wisdom to deal with any situation you encounter on your way to success.
Sometime ago, our scripts and interpretations drew the attention of audience to the extent that they travel far to watch stage performances and when video came, they struggled to acquire the devices, but today most parents prevent their children from watching our films and listening to our music, what do you think we need to do curb this?
Like I mentioned earlier. When workshops and seminars are organized, it should be given adequate attention on our media platform. Make it known to all and sundry and bring in parents as stakeholders.
What is your opinion about www.movietainmentmagazine.com and what improvement do you look forward to?
My advice for them is to have many platforms. Like Sahara news, we want to be getting first-hand news on entertainment here every minute like no other.