WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE DISABLED CHILDREN IN NIGERIA! – Bimbo Akintola
…. And Nollywood should stop doing “crappy jobs”
BY TAMILORE OMONIYI:
Spicy and feisty somehow describe popular Nigerian actress, Bimbo Akintola. A near veteran who stormed the Nigerian movie industry in a dramatic way as a cast in Tade Ogidan’s 1995 blockbuster, Owo Blow (headlined by Taiwo Ogogo Hassan). This splendid lady was a guest recently on a new TV talkshow hosted by Femi Akintunde-Johnson, appropriately named FAJ-ALIVE. She was characteristically blunt and straightforward in her delivery. She touched on both personal and professional issues currently agitating the minds of her numerous fans.
It’s a good read to launch exclusively on Treasure Online…so take a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy… Ms. Bimbo Akintola.
Question: .It looks as if you don’t suffer fools gladly…Is it easy working with your colleagues?
Bimbo Akintola (BA): In every industry there are people who are unprofessional, people who don’t know what they’re doing.
Yes, we have those sorts of people in our industry. But what I do… I have been here for so long, twenty years is not a short time, and I know all the good people – so I find myself working with the good people… the more established people. But recently, I’m also working with independent producers. Why? Because they are hungry and thirsty to prove themselves. So you just have to be careful who you pick. You talk to them, find out what they have, what they think about… you can decide if you want to work with them. I believe that at this time in our industry we should not be doing crappy jobs. We have passed that stage. Nollywood is 20 plus, we’re still babies but there are certain things we should have outgrown; which is why I’m doing less movies. Twenty years ago, I was playing a prostitute in a short skirt and twenty years after, I’m still playing the same role, it’d be ridiculous.
Q: Talking about jobs, I understand you are playing Dr. Adadevoh in an Ebola film…93 Days. Is it going to come out? I understand that there’s friction with a faction of the family?
BA: There’s no friction. I’ll tell you, being part of the cast. Everything that was done, was done properly. Dr. Adedevoh’s son, Bankole, talked to the boy that played him. We spoke with every other person, doctor, that’s part of First Consultants. (The film) It’s not about Dr. Adadevoh. But you cannot talk about the 93 days (that’s how long Ebola lasted in Nigeria) without talking about what she did. She was the one that found out that Sawyer (the first victim, a Liberian) had Ebola. If it wasn’t for her, God knows what would have happened to this country… So we can’t tell that story without mentioning what she did. They spoke to her husband, her son and to members of her family. They collected consent from them and from all the other doctors. They were with us when we were recording…. Dr. Ohiri was there throughout… (Scenes were shot at First Consultants) and all the younger doctors…they talked to the people playing them, to give them insights into who they are. We had someone playing Wendy who was with Lagos State Government. You know, it’s not just about Dr. Adadevoh. But you cannot talk about 93 Days without talking about what she did.
Q: So, what’s the grouse? Is it the characterization of her role, or her position? Or is something wrong with how you have characterized her?
BA: She hasn’t seen the film. The lady complaining… It’s not out yet.
Q: While others have the assistance of the real characters they were playing, you of course didn’t have anybody to ask, because she’s not with us…. how did you cope?
BA: I spoke to childhood friends, her son, to get a feel of how she was. I spoke to a lot of their friends. I learnt so much about her. I would have loved to have met her. She sounds like my kind of person. She was dedicated, courageous, and principled. She was a strong woman. She did it all. She was a superwoman, like my mom. I call my mom superwoman. She worked, took care of the house, took care of her in-laws. She was an AMAZING soul!
Q: May God bless her soul.
Q: I was at an event you organized for children, many from charity homes. What is it about? Some bouts of guilty conscience?
BA: Seven years ago, someone called me to appear at a children’s day event. And they brought children from different orphanages. There were a lot of celebrities there. And what I realized was that nobody went to play with the children that were challenged, who were mentally challenged. Not because they hated them. It was more the fact that they didn’t understand. Because in our society what we tend to do is hide children who have mental challenges. Next door to where I grew up, we had children with mental challenges… and they are one of the best, one of the most loving people you will ever find on earth. They give so freely without a thought. And I realized that people are actually scared of children who have mental challenges. And Christmas for me was an exciting period. We were six children. It was a happy home. We were all over the place. And Christmas was a special, special time. The anticipation first, the gifts, going out…the dinner on Christmas day. It was all the things I looked forward to. Then one day, I was thinking – I go to HEART OF GOLD HOSPICE – what about their Christmas? Do they have the same sort of anticipation, excitement that I used to have? Will they have memories about Christmas later on in life? And I thought, “I can bring this excitement to the children….” And that’s what I do.
Q: For how long now?
BA: Three years now…
Q: Is it an NGO sort of, that you seek support from others, and where International donors are involved?
BA: No, nobody is involved.
Q: Because the food we ate that day was sumptuous. It was at FUN FACTORY. I’m sure you spent a lot of money. How do you get this back?
BA: (Laughs) We don’t need to get it back. That’s not the point. But I do have partners. Fun Factory gave us (their space) for half the price… Cookie Jar – I love their cakes – gave me 200 cupcakes for the children. And also a friend of mine. Uche Ahubelem’s Centre for Human Development. I spoke to them…I told them “this is what I’m doing”. I represent them. And they said “Oh! We’ll support”. The food was from me. The gifts were from me.
Q: So you cooked the food?
BA : Yes I did. I like to cook
Q: Really, I enjoyed it. It’s surprising really, that you have time to cook.
BA: I do. I cook everyday.
Q: What’s next for you? What are you planning? Are you moving on to directing? Producing?
BA: This year, I’m going to be more visible. I have several films coming out this year. Some haven’t been shot yet. But we will soon .And I will produce a soap later in the year. And also my talkshow will be coming up soon…so, you’ll have a rival (laughs)!
Q: Hmm, the more the merrier… You love children?
BA: I do.
Q: So I’m sure you would want to have children one day…What kind of prayer would you pray for yourself, assuming I can make you wishes come true?
BA: My prayers are very simple. To be led by God. Direct my thoughts, my steps, my paths, my deeds, my actions. To open my eyes. To give me knowledge and understanding. Those are my prayers.