•What Dudu Heritage Said About His Life
Last week, the sad news broke that Ola Ibironke (Dudu Heritage boss) slumped and died in Ibadan. Until his death, he was the captain of Ibadan Gold Club.
Ola Ibironke is a big name in the entertainment world. He was popularly called ‘Dudu Heritage’’, by many. He was not your everyday celebrity. Though quite popular and sociable, yet he was reserved and detested unnecessary noise around himself. Despite the publicity that his job as a music promoter exposed him to, he still loved to keep it real and simple. That is why he rarely grants interviews. But like a golden fish that has no hidden place, Ola Ibironke was made the Captain of the prestigious Ibadan Golf Club (IGC). And for the first time ever last year, he spoke about his very private life, family and many other things people don’t know about him.
It was a no-holds-barred interview, as City People Magazine’s Correspondent, DARE ADENIRAN engaged this suave, cool and amiable man called Ola Ibironke. The interview, held at Ibadan Golf Club, was an explosive one as ‘Dudu Heritage’, as he was popularly known, opened up on many interesting issues. What informed the name Dudu Heritage? Why did he relocate back to Nigeria from America some years back? He spoke about his marriage to the popular actress, Bimbo Oshin and his vision for Ibadan Golf Club, as well as several other issues. Ola Ibironke was able to also shed more light on his involvement with popular Fuji artist, Abass Akande Obesere’s ‘Omorapala Overthrow’ album. Enjoy it.
Let me, first of all, congratulate you on your emergence as the new Captain of Ibadan Golf Club. How would you describe the experience so far?
Yes, it’s been worth it. You know I have served in about two or three excos. So I am not new when it comes to the administration of the club. I have garnered my experience from various captains under whom I have served. I was the second vice-captain before becoming the captain.
But due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we had so many challenges because when we came in there had been directives from both Federal and state governments, that you can’t open.
But simply because golf is a sport you play in the open, we were able to manoeuvre. At least, to exercise the body.
Tell us about your efforts in fighting the pandemic?
We have put a lot of measures in place. Initially, before you could enter here, there is a washing hand basin outside. You have to follow all the rules. They take your temperature, which we are still doing anyways. We also restricted to members only so that in case of anything there could be easy contact tracing. Also, we have continued lending our voices together with other groups and individuals in making sure that the general public is well sensitised about the deadly virus.
But to God be the glory, we haven’t had any issue so far. So we have been able to get around it and we still play golf.
Having been around for a while and served as exco member, you must have noticed some challenges facing this prestigious club. What are the challenges and how do you plan to address them?
The beauty of any golf club is the course. The clubhouse is just an aesthetics aspect of it. So the challenge of any golf club is the equipment, which we still face in this part of the world. Because most of this equipment is not easily accessible; they are very expensive.
So we always look unto the well to do among us, cooperate bodies and government to support us. You will see that we levy ourselves all the time, to make available some of this equipment. The kind-hearted individuals among us, we have been able to survive over the years. If not, and like you know, the course is not what you can just put an ordinary caterpillar. There is a special treatment to cut the course. Those are the major challenge in any golf course. The equipment to maintain the course, to be at the required standard all the time.
What are your projections for the club?
I always say in this life you do your best and leave the rest. The founding fathers that started here, started with a little cubicle. Over the years, captains coming have been adding to it and they will leave. Another person will add and go. In my own case, however, I am projecting that, at least, by the time I leave office, Ibadan golf club would rank among the best, if not the best, in the country. Because our terrain is natural. It is a course constructed on natural terrain. That is the uniqueness of Ibadan Golf Club. So I could see in the future, even other states governors in the country coming here to play because of the natural ambience we have around us.
Until you emerged as the Captain of Ibadan Golf Club, many of our readers may not know that you play golf. How did it all start?
It is very funny I tell you because years back I was twice my size. My friend that brought me to the golf club is Prince Bayo Adeleke of BANIK. When I was in Lagos, he would come with his friends to come and play in Ikoyi. He would leave Ibadan as early as 4 am because he has a game at 7 o’clock, and they need to beat the traffic. So I was always telling them, it’s like you are not all right. Because if you are all right you won’t be leaving your family at 4 am just to come and play one tiny ball in Ikoyi Golf Club. They even say it’s not a strenuous game if you want to exercise why don’t you go and play soccer or play long tennis?
But an incident now happened. I came visiting in Ibadan so we travelled to Ilorin, they had a game. He said I would be right back but I was stuck in my hotel room from morning till 8 pm before they came back. I was like wait a minute, if this is how it is going to be, don’t invite me to any of your golf activities again.
Then he said, come and join. So it was like he forced me to join, he bought the bag and the kit I needed to start playing, and he paid for a professional to teach me. I could not believe it when I started, I always thought it was just walking and all. The exercise I got, the mental alert these it gave me. How fast it dropped my weight, and my blood pressure was so bad then. I couldn’t believe it, it was like magic. That was what attracted me to the golf games, and since then I have been addicted to the game.
Apart from the health benefits, you have mentioned, what are the significances of golf to society and its development?
If you want to know what life is, play golf because golf is life. Why? Golf takes every worry away from you. When you get on that course, it is not like football whereby when you kick and your target is the goalkeeper. It is not lawn tennis whereby you are facing an opponent.
When you play golf you can see two or three people play together, you are not opponents. All of you are playing against that course.
It is the only sport you play with about fourteen instruments, whereby they want you to gage how far you can go. And it is the only game they give you room for your mistakes. The more you know how to play, the lower your mistakes. When you start, they will give you 28 handicaps, that is called 28 mistakes. So if you stay within your 28 mistakes, if you are better than me and they only give you three mistakes, if you are on your three mistakes and I am on my twenty-eight mistakes, we play the same thing. We are going to return the same score because they know I don’t know how to play. That is life.
They give you chances. And if you get on the course with anybody, aside of what is your name, what do you do for a living and the rest of it, nobody would ask about your handicap.
Before you play from here to the next two or three holes, you can tell the kind of person the other person is. If he is the temperamental type, you see them when they miss a shot or play badly, they start sweating, swearing, cursing, shouting, putting the blame on their cadre. They played the ball but they will put the blame on others.
If they are the cheating type, they expect you to play from here to that place in three times. Maybe by way of not knowing how to play or whatever, you play seven times. They now say how many times did you play? You said I played five times, it is a cheat. They will say that man is a cheat. They won’t tell you, it is like assessing your personality. That is why I said golf is life, and by the time we get on that course, if you go with any trouble you have you can’t play well. So you have to leave whatever troubles you have behind you and concentrate. Because when you play a shot, you want to plan how you want to hit your next shot.
There was this man, a rich billionaire in the United States of America and a golfer. He lost all his wealth due to the crash of stocks. A lot of people thought he was going to commit suicide. So the next day people started contacting him, he switched his phone off. They thought he was in for another trouble, he was divorced, he was the only one staying in the house. So they went to his house, the door was locked, they couldn’t see him. They left a note on his doorsteps that, oh boy, we have gone to the golf club, meet us there. By the time they got to the golf club the man was on the golf course already playing. He said to them, “you know I made those money I lost, if I let it weigh me down, I won’t make another one. So to get it off my mind, I have to come and play golf.” That is why I said sometimes, golf is life.
Our club is now 30 years so we are planning an event, hopefully towards the end of the year. Tentatively, it would be the last week in November or the first week in December. We were 30 on the first of May this year. So something is coming which I know we are going to partner City People on it.
Let’s get personal now, you were doing great back in the U.S.A but decided to relocate back to Nigeria some years ago. What prompted that decision?
You see they say East, West, North or South, home is the best. I see travelling abroad as survival. Most people who travel go there for greener pastures. They make use of the better part of what they had over there; education, stability and the rest of it. You could plan abroad, here in Nigeria it is very difficult. So what now brought me back home? I have my children in America up till now.
But when you are doing good in any business, you would really want to come back home and establish. I am not the type that wants to live all my life abroad. I enjoy going there now for holidays, to check on my children and come back. Then age is no more on anybody’s side. The first kid that I had in the U.S. is going to be 30 years old now. So I just felt with what I have been able to acquire, I will do better back in Nigeria and touch some souls. That was the main reason why I came back.
You have this business name (Dudu Heritage) that has kind of overshadowed your real name. How did Dudu Heritage come about?
That is the irony of life. Because I have heard so many rumours about that, people saying all sorts of things. But to be honest, I wanted to set up an African store in the United States of America. So I was thinking of what I could call it. I chose Oracle, I chose Black Heritage and about three other names. But something now came to me, because of what the store will be dealing with, African items, music and all the rest of it. And it wasn’t Nigerians perse I want to serve. I wanted to service the black Americans and the white Americans. Nigerians already know what we are into but the people that don’t know, I needed a catch that will draw them in. My wife then suggested that why don’t we put our native language in front of the heritage as earlier noted, ‘Dudu Heritage’. And you know in America when they say doo-doo, it means shit. But our own is ‘Dudu Heritage’.
So, I adopted Dudu Heritage, Home of African Culture, Entertainments & Arts. In less than three weeks, about three black Americans walked in, they wanted to find out the meaning of ‘Dudu’. I had to explain to them that it means Black and not the other doo-doo. That was how I came about Dudu Heritage.
Popular Fuji musician Obesere recorded his soaraway album ‘Omorapala Overthrow’ under Dudu Heritage Entertainment, which then sparked a kind of controversy. Some say the album was targeted at K1?
That is not true. You see because I am an introvert, it is the making of God that the name became a household name. But if you know me personally, you will know I don’t like noise. I don’t like being on pages of newspapers. If not that events have healed so many things, I might not even have acceded to granting this interview. But because of the fact that I am now the captain of this club, definitely, I would want to talk about my club and position it in a very good light. And I would want to be as transparent as I could in every question you ask, that is why I am opening up. I have never granted this kind of interview that I am granting you today.
You see the issue of Obesere was just divine. It wasn’t meant to target anybody. I was not even a Fuji person then. I was just an entertainment person, just to catch fun. As a matter of fact, it was Rasheed Ayinde that first caught my attention when a brother brought him. I rendered what I could. We did promotions and sales for them. The issue of Abass Obesere however came after I promoted a show for K1 in New Jersey. That was in 1998, Oluaye in New Jersey. It was a successful show and the cd was all over the place. In fact, that show was what brought me and K1 very close. It was after he left that Abass came. And through my friend Bode D Way, we got connected and I did his show. After the show, he just said, “Egbon mi, I would like to do a record for you o”. That was how I sponsored that ‘Omorapala Overthrow’. And to me, I was just catching fun. To God be the glory, God made it a huge success. And that is what brought me and Abass together up till today. It is like a brother to brother relationship. If he doesn’t see or hear from me in a week, he would call me. Even if he travels to America and I am not there, he would still call me. Because there is no country in the world that he would travel to that the record didn’t get to. That was why I said it was just divine.
After Obesere I did Shola Allyson too, ‘Eji Owuro’. It was all over as well. So the sponsoring of Obesere hasn’t got anything to do with K1 or to spite anybody. It was pure business.
So what is your relationship with K1 now?
We are very good. He is a very good friend that I respect. He is close to me and my family. To me, K1 is just a fine gentleman that doesn’t want anything to mess up his career. So when he fights you on his career, you should know that anybody will guide his or her career jealously.
Not much has been heard about the entertainment aspect of your business lately, what is happening to Dudu Heritage generally?
Well, Dudu Heritage the company still stands. Ola Ibironke the man behind Dudu Heritage still stands. You know like I told you, entertainment to me is like a passion. It is just a fraction of what I do. Ironically that is what gave me the prominence. Entertainment generally in the whole world in the last couple of years is collapsing. Because when the developed countries have been embracing the Internet, the social media, to distribute their contents, we still so much believe in CDs and the rest of it. So before we could wake up some people have already been cashing in on what we laboured for. Don’t forget the piracy is still there, which is still up till tomorrow eating deep into the works of everybody.
Seriously if not for the new dimension, the corporate world sponsoring most of our artists, signing them, giving them endorsements like they do abroad, if they have to rely probably on materials they release, they won’t make any money.
Though we have the population, but the system we run doesn’t make everybody accessible to how they will get the materials.
Aside from entertainment, many of our readers don’t know the other aspect of your business. Tell us a little about what you are into presently?
I am into events management, I am into publication. I have a magazine called Society Facts Magazine. I am into contracts because we are also into ICT networking. So that is why I said entertainment is just a fraction of what I do. Basically, now that I am dedicating my time to being the captain of this club, I want to focus on how I can leave a legacy here too, before going back to the main thing that I do best.
What has been sustaining your marriage to the popular actress Bimbo Oshin, despite all the rumours?
Well, like I said I have never discussed this, it is my personal life, it is my personal issue. There are so many rumours out there that made me to develop a thick skin. So I keep them guessing all the time because the news still keeps circulating. The wedlock that has produced two lovely children; a boy and a girl. So what else to say? For a man clocking 60 and still talking about a marriage that has happened 2004/2005.
But there was a story recently that the marriage has collapsed. That your wife had left the house?
That is why I said I always keep them guessing. That is how you know if you are still newsworthy. The only way you let the media run after you is, when you answer every bit and piece of the stories they write about you. We have been around for a very long time so stories don’t bother us again. “But I can authoritatively tell you that Bimbo Oshin is in my house, any time, any day. Since she has been in my house she has never left. She is my wife. And to prove to you, maybe that would put the issue to rest, I will call her now for you to talk to her. (He called his wife, Bimbo Oshin and put the phone on speaker).
“Hello, I am with City People, we are having a small chat and they said they heard that you have left your husband’s house’’, Dudu Heritage asked his wife.
Bimbo Oshin responded from the other end, “eh, won ma se mistake laye won o!” (It’s a pity, they have made a grievous mistake of their lives). But why are they always saying all that, because we do hear most of these things ourselves? “Anyway, I am in my husband’s house and I have never left.” (Laughs…)
Tell us about yourself, who is Ola Ibironke?
Ola Ibironke is an Ijesha man to the core. The easiest person you can ever meet. I hate troubles. I am a peaceful man, and I cherish my family. I have children in America, I have children here and we are closely knitted.
As I said, my early life was in Nigeria, my university life was between London and U.S.A before I came back to Nigeria. But all my life I have been self-employed, an entrepreneur. Because I don’t believe if you can work for yourself, why work for people? What I hate most is people lying. I hate scandal so you will never see me around any. I always want to keep my life and my family personal because I cherish my children. So what they would read or hear that would derail them, I stay away from it.
Ola Ibironke the businessman, golfer, contractor, family man and socialite, how do you juggle between all these?
Those are the things that make one live long. When you occupy yourself, when there is no dull moment and you take care of your health and you have the grace of God, you will live long. They say an idle man is a devil’s workshop. When you have good things you occupy yourself with. Like I told you, I am not a party person. But the name of my company is all out there. Some people would see me outside, they don’t even know my real name. So when you are focused on everything you do in life, you won’t be deterred or distracted.