Saturday, April 22, 2006

orlando owoh, from the kennery's mouth

A crack team of artists-cum-journalists interviewed ailing musician, Orlando Owoh, at his home in Ipaja-Agege, Lagos, earlier this month. Main interviewee was playwright Ben Tomoloju; others included Tunde Oladunjoye, Ropo Ewenla, poet Akeem Lasisi, and playwright Wole Oguntokun (see a picture of Orlando Owoh taken on the day - on Oguntokun's blog). Footage from the interview should end up as a 2-hour documentary on Owoh whose plight is now getting some media coverage.

"I Can't Play The Guitar Anymore"
What's the cause of your problem?
Well, I thank God I'm getting all right. I thank God. I thank Him for restoring me. I realized that it was a spiritual attack, but I'm gradually getting better. I thank God.

Have you taken any treatment?
Yeah, I'm taking some treatments.

Any help from anywhere?
Well, nothing yet but I just want to get to my promoters like Jolaoso and Transworld. You know, right now I don't have the strength to play music.

PMAN, some time ago, through their insurance company, WAPIC was to pay you some money?
I was not given any money.

I've done all I'm supposed to do, register and allof that. Yet, nothing came out from them, and I've not seen anybody from PMAN.

You're supposed to be in the hospital for better treatment?
Well, my wives and family members are taking good care of me. My daughter here is taking care of me,very well with Tianshi products and some machines. Now that there's light, I'll have the machine placed under my armpits. And my manager here is also carrying me around to different places to get herbal treatments from some herbalists in bid to get me better and well again. Right now, I don't depend solely on Oyinbo drugs alone as I also use our native herbs. But I thank God.

How old are you now?
Em..em. I'm 74 years old now.

As a father, how would you advise the youths playing music today?
Well, my advice to them is according to Oyinbo people who say, work while you work and play, while you play. They have to be very serious and if they want to compose, they should compose songs that can teach people, even children knowledge. These days, some people would sing, as if they don't think at all. They should use better composition that can teach wisdom to little children.

And to the government?
Well, I don talk, talk, so tay I don tire. I talk so tay, dem carry me go Alagbon prison. Now, it's left to them and I know Nigeria is for all of us. If dem spoil am, dem own children sef dey there. We cannot run away; after all, this is our papa's land.

How would you want people to remember Orlando Owoh?
Well, in those days when we're doing those records,there was no disc or video; the disc and the video now available would be used to remember us. Things have really improved musically these days.

We know you have received so many chieftaincy titles. Can you mention some of the titles?
You see the chief...chief stuff, is just for merriment.

Where are you really from?
I'm from Ifon. My father is from Ifon, while my mother is from Owo and I'm Owomoyela, by name. I now shortened it to read Orlando Owo, but some people erroneously called it Owoh. I cannot deny it since my mother is from Owoh and I'm Owomoyela. Both mean the same to me.

So, should it be Owoh or Owo?
I prefer it as Owoh.

Are you the first in the Owomoyela's lineage?
(Laughs) Ah, no I'd say I'm number 25 among my father's children. My father had many children.

From how many wives?
They were many and in fact, I can't remember how many of them.

Can you still play music now?
I can still play and by the grace of God, Ill play next week Thursday.

PMAN now have a new president, do you recognize him?
I don't know anybody! My own is just to do what I can do for PMAN, as we have been doing it before these small boys. I don't hate them, and I still have them at heart. President or no president, I'm only interested in knowing that they're pushing the body ahead. If there were any way I could help them, even financially, I would not hesitate to do so.

One of your best instruments is the guitar, and right now, it appears you can no longer play it. Are you not disturbed?
I cannot play the guitar now because of my right hand - I have a problem with it. But I can still give good vocals. I can sing. Right now, if I meet any good guitarist, I'll teach him the key and the position. Nowadays, it's not like before when I did everything on my own. Time has changed.


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