•The LAGOS Socialite’s 60th Birthday Interview
Popular Lagos Socialite, Bolaji Basia is 60. That is the big news rocking the Entertainment world right now. He lives in Canada with his family, but recently, he was in town for K1’s installation as the new Maiyegun of Yorubaland in Oyo. Don’t forget he is K1’s best friend. K1 himself told us so.
Bolaji Basia recently spoke to City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE about K1 and their relationship. He was looking very fresh. He also spoke about what has changed about him at 60. He was in white Buba & Sokoto and nothing seems to have changed fundamentally about this socialite who rocked the 80s & 90s with K1. In those good old days, Bolaji Basia was one of the big names in the entertainment circuit. He was a big promoter, promoting the likes of K1 and others like Ayuba. But he has mellowed a bit. Age and the effect of his wife Bukky has changed him a bit.
He has since moved into other businesses. He has become a big investor in the Entertainment industry.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
You are 60 now. How true is it that age has mellowed you?
(Laughs). Do you know the truth? A lot has changed about me (Hmmm!). Growing up, I was not a gentleman at all. I am telling you the truth. I was never a gentleman at all. But, it was God, who knew that I couldn’t continue that way. He now blessed me with a wonderful wife. A superpartner. I realised that it takes 2 to fight.
When you have somebody who is very gentle as a wife, who is not ready to fight with you, you will calm down. That mellowed me down a lot in the beginning. My wife played the biggest role in my life. She played a super mega role in my life because many don’t know this, I am very, very temperamental. Very, very. Extremely! Haa! That is why some people say myself and Wasiu, deserved each other because he was too. There is nothing he does that I don’t support.
We do things together. We think alike, in most cases. Our friends know this and they use it to address us. That is why people find it very hard to believe that our friendship will last this long because of our character.
If I am asked, who made this our relationship work more I will say its Wasiu.
Because of the kind of person he is, he can play both side. He can be very, very hot and he can be very, very, very water cool, ice cool. I have learnt so much from him. So much, as a friend.
The person that really changed my life is my wife. Then age came in later. Now, I am 60. There are so many things I am no longer cool with.
I don’t take somethings easy anymore especially when I started seeing my friends dropping dead here and there and seeing what we have lost through anger. I have seen that its not worth it. I have dropped so many old habits. There are so many things, I am no longer cool with. Not only that.
Practising it. I now get to enjoy life more when I keep quiet when I look at other people shouting on top of their voice, I now say: so this is how I was before? So, I am getting to understand the thing, better. I have come to realise that life is simple.
Life is not as tough as we take it. So, to answer your question in a straight forward manner, I will say my wife and age.
Tell us how your friendship with K1 started. How have you been able to sustain your relationship with him over time?
The relationship started about almost 4 decades back. As with every relationship we have our ups and downs. We respect each other. We understand each other. He is an understanding person, we do fight. At times, we would fight. We would go. Nobody has ever come to say Bolaji & Wasiu sit down, lets settle this rift. It has never happened. We may have our misunderstanding and go separate ways, but anytime I meet him anywhere or I feel I have missed my friend, its been a while, let me go to his house, once I see him, he is not going to talk about it. The same thing with him. If we have been fighting and we have not been talking, whenever he sees me, it just going to be as if nothing has ever happened.
Can you recollect the very first day you met him?
I cannot recollect the 1st day we met precisely. We both grew up on the Island. If you grow up on the Island its going to be very difficult if you are a member of our generation not to notice his presence. We had so many Fuji musicians at that time, a lot of them that were his contemporaries. But his own kind of music stood out.
Growing up on the Island, Isale Eko to be precise, the artiste I grew up to know, through our brothers, was Barrister. I love his music and I was following it up till when he died. He knew my favourite artiste was Barrister. That was when we were growing up. Me, I am not generally into fuji. I am not a Fuji person perse. I am not really, really a Fuji person. Growing up, I love going to clubs, partying, disco parties, going to different kinds of clubs. There is no club in Lagos then that I don’t patronise. I love music. I don’t like a particular kind of music, its any kind of music. Music has no language. Even the ones that I don’t understand the lyrics, once the rhythm is ok, it is ok by me. That is the way I see music.
Wasiu too was playing. Once in a while I will go with one of our friends to his party. I knew him. He was playing good music. There is no way you will live in the Island and will not have anything to do with him. He dominated the scene then, right from when he took off. And I am talking about early 80s. When we were all very young. He dominated the scene, but there were many singing Fuji. His kind of music stood out.
That was when the romance started. I had so many friends who were members of social clubs. They all had social clubs and they would from time to time do their annual club ceremony. I will be invited. Then, I will go. But I don’t do social club activities. Uptill today, I am not into social clubs. I just don’t see any reason I should be into it. Its not my kind of thing.
Many don’t know this about me, surprisingly I am an Introvert. I don’t go out. I hardly go out. I like going to where I would not be recognised. I enjoy myself more when I go to clubs, lounge where I can sit down, have fun, enjoy myself. I enjoy that much rather than going to our parties. That was what I was doing back then.
So, when my friends invite me to such parties I will go there. We all know him. We would greet each other, Omo, Bawo Ni. We all grew up together in different parts of that Isale Eko area. The whole area is very small. Yes, its on the Island but we all know who is who, who is where. There is usually an event that will bring everybody together most especially parties or Eyo Festival or Fanti, those cultural things that bring us together. So, we knew each other. We may not have been very close because of the differences in the area we were in. He is from Agarawu, and I am from Isale Eko. Agarawu to Isale Eko is not too far. Sometimes its 10 minutes walk or 15 minutes walk. We are all interwoven. So, I knew K1 from childhood but we were not that close then until we started growing up. That is when the relationship developed. He was with a lot of friends who were very, very close to him. Friendship is not how long, in most cases, its how well you people are able to connect. One of the things that makes our relationship grow stronger was because as we began to get closer, being my friend, I had to do everything possible to make sure his music improves.
At that time there were a lot of musicians. There was a time Sony Music just came. Mrs. Keji Olounwo was behind it. She was a promoter. She had a couple of artistes signed to that label. K1 was invited to join. He negotiated with them but the deal didn’t work out. He is the kind of person that loves his independence. The thing about him is that everything is not usually about money. Its about his Independence. When they invited him, the deal wasn’t quite ok, he opted out. They signed Shina Peters, Ayuba, and other artistes, so Wasiu was left on his own, with Babalaje then.
So, we were like Omo, what can we do to grow your music career? You cannot be left out. These people are bringing in money, we don’t have money, but we have the street, (fortunately for us). We are not going to allow these people to take the street from us. That was how we came together to float a promotional outfit. That was what let to the setting up of Abosa Promotions, locally. We never planned on moving it abroad. It was from Abosa Promotions that we started putting up shows too. We used to organise shows at the clubs. We were moving round all the shops. To make the shows to be jampacked I now introduced GoGo into it. We took the risk then because Nigeria was not ready for something like that. We did the 1st one, people were not aware of what we were doing. They kept asking what is GoGo. After the 1st one, we put the video out on the street. People saw the video, that some girls can actually take off their clothes and be dancing naked in front of people? When we did the 2nd one, it was jampacked. That was how we took off.
To answer, your question directly. Between K1 and I, it was a friendship that turned into doing everything I could to assist the brand called K1. That is what has kept together for so long. It is not only about himself alone, but about his music and career. That was how we started everything.
How old were you guys when you started your friendship at that time?
We were in our 20s. I was in my early 20s.
How did you see the phenomenal growth of the K1 brand over the years?
To be honest with you, I am not so surprised because if you are very close to Wasiu, you will know that he is not a regular person. He is a special human being. He is so blessed that he has a very sound memory. His memory cannot be compared to most people I have met in life. He has a retentive memory that is 2nd to none. If you give him your name, your wife’s name, uncle, mum, dads name for the 1st time if he sees you 10 years after he will still remember.
You don’t have such memory for anything. He is a very, very hardworking person. He cannot stay in one place for more than 5 minutes. He has to be doing something. He has to be busy doing something. If you are in Wasius preserve he will be the one controlling the conversation. That is the kind of person he is. He likes talking. It helps his singing. He is so gifted. He is so smart. He is so highly intelligent. He is a fast learner. When he is around you he keeps learning every day. That is why he grows fast. The other day, a friend made a remark that with all that is happening to Wasiu now, he is so lucky ooo. I quickly told him what is happening to Wasiu is not luck because luck is something that just happens to you once. When somebody is doing something consistently and he is growing with it, that is not luck. He puts so much into it. He works very hard. Luck does not make somebody great. Great people are just great people. Lucky people are people who go to buy ticket and win a lotto. That is why you see people who win Lotto can’t maintain or sustain it. 90% of them go broke because they can’t handle it. That is luck. In Wasiu’s situation, is not luck. It is the result of hard work.
I told the guy, I said let’s forget music. If this guy had gone into any other trade he will still be successful because he does a whole lot of things. Yes, music is on stage, how about his relationship outside being on stage, his being smart, being able to take risks, all that is not luck.
Some will say it is Asiwaju that helped him bla, bla, bla. But is he the only one that has met Asiwaju? People meet Asiwaju every day. People have been meeting Asiwaju before Wasiu. After Wasiu met Asiwaju, thousands have met him. It is not meeting Asiwaju that is the issue, it is what you make out of it. Asiwaju does not give people money. I have never seen a situation where Asiwaju gave him money. Asiwaju does not give him money. I usually go with K1 to see Asiwaju, even when he was Governor. K1 and I are so close to the extent that he tells me very intimate thing. He tells me almost everything. I may not see him for a year or 2 but when we meet again all we need to do is to sit down for an hour and he will tell me all that has happened to him. He will tell me all that has happened in my absence. We don’t get to see often, but we communicate.
Now, it is easier because of WhatsApp. So we communicate more often. What I am saying is that Asiwaju does not give him money. K1 is the one who will think of what he can do and sell it to them. He makes money from them through his music. He goes to campaign with them. They will then pay him for services rendered. K1 adds value. He is brilliant. He will offer you services that will fetch him money. He can’t do a concert for you now and you won’t pay him his fees. People erroneously think they just give him money like that all the time. No. He works for it. All he has gotten is through his efforts. He is blessed. It doesn’t have to be music. He knows what he is doing. If he was a lawyer, he would be so great. If he was a mechanic, he will be a super mechanic because he is smart, he is gifted. He is so gifted. That is why he is doing well.
You made a big name for yourself many years ago as a big socialite and music promoter with K1 your friend of many years. When you look back at your life now at over 61 how do you feel? What are the lessons that life has taught you? Assess yourself…
My advice is Consistency in everything. No matter what you do, in everything, be consistent. In anything you do, in the first 10 years, you might not get the proper response until you break down that 10 years, that is when you start getting results about whatever you are doing. So you can’t call yourself a failure or a success. It applies to even marriage. Until you keep doing those things consistently for about 10 years. So, you cannot rate your success or your failure in less than 10 year period of time. That is how I see life. And that is how I have been taking life.
Many don’t know I am an introvert. I am a very shy person. Because of my being shy some people think I am arrogant because in public, I hardly talk. I just stay on my own. I don’t get involved in other peoples business. Even my friend K1, I hardly get involved in his business. He is a public person. I prefer to operate from behind. He is the star. He is the celebrity.
His business makes him to attract noise. I try to distance myself from him in public. That is why in most of those controversies, I try not to be part of it in the public. Once any controversy breaks affecting K1, I will immediately reach him and we would talk extensively about it and he too will reach me wherever in the world I am and we would agree what steps to take. Whenever I have to come out in the public, I have to support my friend. Whatever is going to happen, I don’t have a choice, we have to both suffer it. I have to be there to support him. The way Wasiu & I operate is this. My role is to compliment him. I try to put myself as a cooler part of him, in the public. Often times, people who have one issue or the other get to me and say K1 has done this or that. What I do is to take my time to explain the situation to them. I will tell them what I think is the correct perspective. If I need to reach him, I will reach him. Some of them will try to remove me from the equation, they don’t want to insult me, but they have issues with him. And I will categorically let them know that you don’t know this guy. He is not what you think he is. K1 has been grossly misunderstood. I discover that most of the people who have one issue or the other with him are always personal. I try to be gentle with them, look at the situation, especially in public, I don’t join issues with anybody. I don’t get myself involved in a situation I am not supposed to, because now I have grown up. I am no longer the young guy I used to be. I am matured now. I am no longer who I used to be. I try to be very careful about what I say or what I don’t say. Naturally, I am not the kind of person who likes to be in public.
Most times, people don’t know if I am in Nigeria or Canada. It’s not because of anything but I don’t have a reason to be. I also don’t like parties. Don’t get me wrong. Party is good. Party is part of us, but me, I don’t enjoy parties the way a lot of people enjoy it. Take for instance I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I watch what I eat. As a matter of fact, I eat at home before I go to parties. Part of my preparations for going to a party is to make sure I eat. So when I go to the party, I will just take small chops or take some drinks. I hardly mix with people. I am not the kind of person who will get to a party and begin to talk to you, just like that. If you talk to me, I will respond. We would have a very good conversation. But I am not the kind of person who will go to people and start talking. That is not me. Due to that, I don’t quite enjoy parties like people think. I am not what most people think I am. Unfortunately, I am not. If you see me go to a party with my wife, I have to be forced. I have to be forced to go to any party with my wife. She will say Bolaji lets go now. What will you be doing at home? Its because Nigerian parties to me are wahala. You go there and you will be faced with other peoples problems. What can attract me is if the artiste on the bandstand is good. It also depends on the relationship. I have with the celebrant. That can make me go. But I still have fun. I love music. I like having fun. I like to go to concerts to see those young people or older ones. I like going to concerts to sit down and enjoy myself. I like going to the club, sit down and have fun. That is me. Not in a lousy way.
I agree that there are some things we have done in the past which when you think back you will say now, so we did this? Most of these things are no longer cool today. Everybody has there own time. There was a time I used to go to parties. There was a time I used to spray and throw money here and there on stage, at parties. Then, it was cool. But now, it is no longer cool for somebody of 60+ to be in the public living that kind of lifestyle. Whenever I look at many things, it is no longer cool for me. With my age and new lifestyle its no longer cool for me to be doing all those old things
How easy has it been for you to have lived a life where many see you as a big socialite, yet in reality, you are a very reserved person?
To be honest with you. What brought me out into that social thing was my friendship with K1. You can’t have a friend like K1 whose nature of business is music and you won’t come out to hang out with him. I always compliment him. There is no way you want to sell a product or a brand to people and you selling it will be in a corner selling those things. Apart from when we were young when we were all having fun, going to parties, doing this and that, we were doing it to promote the K1 brand. That is why a lot of people know my name. they don’t know my face. If not for social media recently where my photos appear many can’t put a face to the name. Up till tomorrow, sometimes some people will meet me and when I am introduced as Bolaji Basir some will say: Are you sure this is Bolaji Basir? Really? Because this is not the picture of the Bolaji Basir they are expecting. So, the name Bolaji Basir is more popular than the person. Now people are getting to know the kind of person I really am. So, its not me, except back then. We were very young. We go to the clubs. We go to Wasiu’s show at Laparias, a couple of them. In those good old days when Wasiu used to do his jump at Laparias, it was all in a bid to promote my friend, K1. I will invite my friends to come and support my friend. Or how do you support your friend when he is doing a show and you are staying back at home because you are an introvert. It doesn’t work like that. You have to be there. Even my spraying in those days at Wasiu’s shows is to encourage people to spray, to do same. I was doing it to encourage people to do the same thing that I was doing.
So, when it was time for me to stop, I had to stop. I knew that right now I don’t need to be doing all these any longer. I had to move those actions to the background. I can do more for Wasiu at the background than in the public. So, I had to change my strategy. For me, doing all those old things was no longer cool, to be out there spraying money, throwing bundles. Then, when I spray bundles other big boys will try to outshine me and I made it look like a competition. They will say Basir ju pali mefa, emi na ma ju pali temi. The country was so nice then. People were making money, they were having fun. So, I was doing it for other people to come and support K1 to have fun. But personally, then my lifestyle was not a fuji thing then, I was simply doing it for my friend, Wasiu. That is why you will never see me even back then, with any artiste, or going before any artiste to spray any money. You will never see me, except it is Wasiu. If I did that, it means it must be an artiste that is taking part in Wasiu’s show. I remember a show we put up, when I put Wasiu with Ayuba. Then, Sony Music had just started pouring serious money on Ayuba then. Ayuba was big then, but not bigger than Wasiu. I picked him because he was doing very well in the eyes of the public then and they were putting money on him and Sina Peters. Ayuba is an artiste I was very close with, off stage, not on stage. He used to come to my house and we used to hang out, regardless of the competition between him and my friend. So, I put up a show between him and Wasiu, at the same time, not playing one after the other. Same time, collabo, same time on the stage at Peak Nite Club. I invited all the big boys in town. They all came. Then, Wasiu was using a box to collect money from shows. People spent so much money that day that the box was full to the brim in less than an hour. And we were looking for where to pack money. Wasiu tucked in his shirt and we were putting money inside it, everywhere. To me, the friendship between Wasiu & I is not really about me, but more about him. Wasiu for me is like a big brand that I support. I can liken it to what I see people do these days supporting Man U & Arsenal. Wasiu was my own ManU & Arsenal. I cannot sit down and see any artiste doing better than him.
People wrote stuff about him these days that are wrong. It’s very painful. These are people who don’t know him. They write all sorts of rubbish about him. It will not make sense for me to come on social media to be attacking them. I have to think and be smart with how I am going to respond to these issues.