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Friday, 22 February 2013
Charly Boy: My lifestyle was planned by God
Love him or hate him, Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa is not new to controversies. Charly Boy, as he’s fondly called, has been truthful to his brand for over three decades and does not mind whose ox is gored. SEGUN ADEBAYO met the former President of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), who opened up on his maverick lifestyle and why he left Nigerian Idol. Excerpts:
I had tried several times to book an interactive session with the controversial musician and probably the most talked about celebrity in the music industry, Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa, also known as Charly Boy, though CB, as he’s fondly called, prefers to call himself the Area Fada.
I had called and sent him a torrent of messages to notify him of my intention to have a session with him, but to no avail.
But on Wednesday, the 9th of January to be precise, my phone rang at exactly 7 a.m., and the voice at the other end of the line was Charly Boy.
CB was quick to apologise for not picking my calls and not replying any of my text messages. “I am sorry I have not been able to reply your text messages or return your calls. Kindly pardon me. You want to have an interactive session with me? Would you mind coming to Abuja? He asked, waiting for my response. I paused momentarily, and, finally, I said yes.
Eventually, I arrived at his Gwarimpa residence in Abuja. I had hardly taken my seat when the weird entertainer walked in, wearing a black jean that was almost dropping off his buttocks (he sagged) and a black singlet that sufficiently revealed his tattooed hand and chest.
What struck me most that afternoon was the fact that Charly Boy, who had just marked his 61st birthday, was buffling with energy. He was not looking his age. It was hard to believe he was a grandfather with his maverick lifestyle.
A rebel for a cause. Charly began the adventurous story of his life, especially how he rebelled to chart a different course for himself.
“I had always wanted to do what is totally different from others since I was young. I am not rude. But I don’t believe I have to die because everybody is dying. Since I was young, when everybody decided to go towards a particular direction, I would choose to follow a different path.I am in my element. I have to do what I have to do. I keep telling people that I am not different from my father;I like to see justice and I detest hyprocricy. I don’t mind whose ox is gored, I just want to be different.
“I love to encourage young people who stand out. I am willing to work with the Inspector General of police (IGP) to fight against the rot in the police because he stands out. If I have my way, I would go to every major street to cater for these young minds. To convince them that there is hope for them if they believe in their dreams and pursue it vigoroulsy”, he said.
Area Fada of youths. At 61 and with nine grandchildren, CB is not slowing down. Controversies have continued to trail him. He said controversies had been trailing his life since he decided to abandon the smooth path that his father, a retired Supreme Court Judge, had prepared for him, having graduated from the Harvard University, saying one is as old as the person believes.
“Age is a mind thing. It is because of these youths that I will forever stay young at heart. My lifestyle and brand is youthful and that’s why it is called Charly Boy and not Charly Man. I am not in a rush to get old either. I may be a 61 young old person. I tend to channel my energy towards the youth because they are the ones that inspire me, not these rogues that call themselves the leaders of our country. I actually invited you here for this interview because I discovered that you are dedicated and committed to your work. I have read some of your interviews and I am impressed. This is something you hardly see in some youths today; they always want the quick way to success.
“Forget all these things you are seeing here today; the cars, houses and accessories, I worked hard, toiled doing my thing my way without minding what people might say. I am bitter because young people are regrettably losing the struggle; they are getting carried away by the peanuts they get from these politicians who are trading away their destinies”, he said with a pensive look.
His father’s boy. “I know a lot has been said and written about me over the years. Each time I sit here flipping through the pages of different national dailies that had fed the public with false tales, I come to the conclusion that I had been misunderstood over the years. My brand is different from my life as Charles Oputa. Sometimes I find it very difficult to understand why our people are so myopic in nature. That is why I love to fool them”.
“When I started this brand, many people wrote me off, including my father. They felt there was no way I could have a bright future as an entertainer. After I returned from the United States of America, I told my parents that I was going into full-time entertainment, but I paid dearly for that decision. I was abandoned by my family for following my passion. I was left with nothing except my wife. Anyway, I am happy because I have a good story to tell today. I have every reason to be happy. I love my family so much; it is my rock. I decided to bring them to my house so that I can take care of them very well. My dad was very furious. He wanted me to become a lawyer, but I told him I was not interested in that. He left me alone, but I am happy that we are happy together today”.
Asked if he ever got tired of controversy and if he actually cooked some of the controversial issues in the media just to remain relevant in the industry, the father of nine, who was once rated as the richest celebrity in Africa, said: “I studied Mass Communication so that I can get people to think of me in one way and by tomorrow I can change it to something else. I understand the mind-set of my people; I love to play on their intelligence. I like to pull people’s buttons; I like to dare and shock them. Many of them are myopic in the way they think.
They always say I am a devil because I sleep inside a coffin. They said I belong to the Illuminati group because of my weird brand. I can never be tired of my brand, because I am the originator of it and I can never run out of tricks”.
“I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. I have fallen many times, but I always get up. The good thing about what I do that people have failed to realise is that this is my calling and it is like I am satisfying my second nature. It took my parents many years to understand my brand. I was in my village for eight years when I came back from America”.
Charly Boy, the magician, trickster. “As I said I had tried several crafts before now, but none of it worked. I had wanted to become a priest, but I found out that it was not my style. So I moved on with my life.
“I wanted to be a magician, and I actually did a little bit of magic when I was in the secondary school. People thought I had strange powers. If you ask anybody who attended Holy Ghost College around Owerri in the 70s, they will tell you that guy was the biggest native doctor in the school. In fact, they felt I was the one who made my school win all the cups because I was sitting behind the pole”.
“I love pranks. I love to see people’s reactions, because I love to fool them. That was why I believed in magic because I thought magic was an illusion. My life, since I was born till date, appears like it was actually planned by God. If you understand God’s calling for your life, just go for it and don’t look back, because there are many things in this country that could deter you from reaching your destiny and fulfilling your dreams”.
A loving father. “My people have come to understand that this man that we didn’t take seriously because of his eccentric way of life is always happy and loved by many. I live a charmed life. The kind of life I have lived over the years, not a lot of people would live it in 10 lifetimes and still remain relevant. Just name it, I have done, I have felt it and I have seen it all. But I have decided to be that phenomenon called Charly Boy. I have remained the same, when people say at 61, you should be slowing down. I really don’t see the difference from when I was 25 years old or 30 years old. Charly Boy is not about piercing all your body, wearing rings or weird clothes. It is about determination and discipline. My children had fought me many times. We do talk like father to child, but they have discovered that this thing makes this man happy. They have decided to let me be. They have also realsied, over the years, that Charly Boy is a concept, not a person. As far as I am concerned, CB does not exist; it is a lifestyle. This is what life is about. It is about going through all the bends, not knowing what to expect, but whenever anything comes up, experience would have thought how to deal with it”.
Entertainment industry. “There can’t be good structures because Nigerians are very unprogressive. Nigerians are very individualistic and are deadly ignorant. Music business is where you find a lot of those kind of people; very ignorant and unprogressive. Before I became Performing Musician Association Of Nigeria (PMAN) president, there had been presidents before me, but I can say it with all boldness, I no send anybody. If you remove Tony Okoroji, even though I don’t like his face, after Okoroji was Christy Igbokwe, she tried to do her thing, she created a lot of jobs for artistes, after Igbokwe came Charly Boy. The association never collected any performance levy for artistes before I came on board. I was the one who introduced that concept and a lot of artistes benefited and are still benefiting from it till today. They had no insurance; I was the one who introduced insurance and the big money they all now enjoy. I gave out memos to all corporate bodies in the country that no A ‘list artiste in the country should earn more than one million naira. I did my best for PMAN for two years and I can say that my tenure was the most controversial and most eventful. It is unfortunate that the people who came after me could not keep up with the trend; they didn’t have that money, doggedness and zeal to run the show”.
On Nigerian Idol Season 3 “I was very committed to the show during the second edition and I did everything possible to make sure that everybody enjoyed the show. I didn’t pull out of the show as against what some people reported in the media. We just didn’t agree on certain issues. I will not take such offer because I was not happy with the organisers of the show; I couldn’t see the improvement of life for these contestants I knew it was not going anywhere. I will not take it when I know I will be under a gagged condition; I will not take it when I know that my partners do not want to make as much progress as I would love to see; I will not accept when I am beginning to see that a lot of things are just for the talk; I will not take it when I could not see where the thing is going; I knew there was no future for these people; I knew it was going to just end there”.
Saying no to smoking. While speaking on the rumours doing the rounds that he had quit smoking. CB, who had been an ardent smoker for four decades said he had been battling to quit smoking many times before he finally quit almost a year ago. “I stopped smoking about a year ago. I never thought it was possible to quit like that. I believe if I can stop smoking, I can actually stop some of the things I had battled to stop doing for years. I have been smoking since I was 16 years old. I know a lot of my associates who smoke and the funny thing is that when I am not smoking and they are smoking, it turns my stomach. I quit smoking because I was becoming a health freak and I equally always want to smell clean at all times”, he concluded.