Prince Jide Kosoko, one of the pioneers of the Yoruba movie industry is very, very angry right now. He is angry that there are some ANTP leaders who are joking with the seriousness that the movie industry deserves.
Prince Jide Kosoko is one of the industry leaders. He is a very talented movie icon, who features both in English and Yoruba movies and has remained relevant in the industry for close to six decades.
He fits into any role and interprets roles perfectly. The multi-talented actor who will be celebrating his 55 years on stage this year has been dragged into the crisis surrounding the ongoing frosty relationship between ANTP and Tampan (the 2 major associations actors belong to in the Yoruba movie sector). Even though he was reluctant to respond to the accusations, he still took his time to explain the many sacrifices he made to ensure peace and unity in the industry and why he had to agree to the formation of Tampan, plus why he feels fulfilled with his life. He also spoke about why all association in the industry will soon collapse into a bigger association to be called MOPICON. All these he discussed with City People Team shortly after the 60th birthday party hosted by City People for star actor, Yemi Solade, who he maintains a very cordial relationship with.
How have you been able to remain relevant both in English and the Yoruba movie industry?
Honestly, it is the grace of God. Most of the time, I ask myself that same question. Even at times, I say to myself that God is really with me. Secondly, as a professional, you need to really be on top of your game, you can not relax. You must upgrade, develop more skills and that is what we keep telling the younger ones. The fact that they call Jide Kosoko here and there doesn’t mean it’s the ultimate and I have arrived, so there’s room for improvement and that improvement can not come if you don’t improve on what you have been doing and keep upgrading.
How do you interpret your roles so perfectly in both languages?
I am not illiterate. I studied Business Administration from Yaba Technical School of Technology and in 2015, I was at Ogun State University. I did a course there too. I always say this, acting in English, Yoruba or Igbo movies is the same thing, the difference is just the language. So, if you are able to go through your scripts properly, you will be able to interpret it perfectly, study and understand the script, then develop how you intend interpreting it, so those are just the major things.
How do you feel, when you know that you are known all over the world?
I am always very happy, and grateful to God Almighty for everything.
How long have you been acting?
In fact, this is one of the things I wanted to see and discuss with you. Last year, I ought to have celebrated my 55 years on stage, so that is 1964. Though I will still want to maintain that 55 years, but I will celebrate it this year. I intend launching my book as well, which is titled “The Warrior’s Lamentation”.
You see when we were building this industry, there were lots of challenges and the challenges I had differed from that of other persons, from various angles, so our stories differ. So the energy that we all put in ensuring that we have an industry also differs. But notwithstanding, we all contributed our quota in one way or the other to ensure we have an industry. Even then we never knew we were building an industry. We just thought we were doing something we love and have passion for.
But late Hubert Ogunde, the doyen always tells us, that you people should be careful, do it right now. If you don’t do it properly, the younger ones who never suffered for the industry like you are coming to take it from you and if you ask me, is that not really happening now? But as far as I am concerned, it is a welcome development. I can remember vividly at a point when there was criticism from our academicians. They will keep saying what we are doing is not right and that is not how to go about it. Those periods, I was never happy and I keep saying if they know how to do it, why not come on board and join forces with us, so we can jointly move the industry forward. Soon after, we started seeing some of them joining us and we appreciated it.
Many don’t know you and Yemi Solade share a close relationship. What do you like about him?
He is a very factual person to a fault. It is not as if most of his arguments are correct though, but at least he always pours out his mind. Those that will take it, while others could frown at it. There are also occasions that I call him and let him know he was wrong. I would say do it this way. Though you don’t expect people to always agree with you in your reassuring, some he will accept it but if he is so convinced with his argument he stands with it and I let him be because I used to be stubborn too myself. Yes, I remember in those days when I was still with ANTP, managers of different groups are not allowed to be part of the meeting, but I was lucky enough to have found my own group way back in 1972, people like Baba Wande, Aluwe, Samuel Eluwole who are managers and second to their leaders just overnight, I just said it should not be like that. I stood up, like one man soldier and spoke to the leaders that they should come in and be part of the meeting. They have been in the industry before me and now you are saying they can’t be part of the meeting, people like the majesty of blessed memory. I fought against it and the meeting was almost rowdy that day. So we needed it that time, to God be the glory, they accepted and admitted every one of them and since that day we started having a large crowd at our meeting. Initially, the leaders wanted it to be strictly leaders affairs, but I kicked against it, so if what I did then was good, so why stop.
Do you think, it’s possible to have all elders of all the associations coming together for sake of unity?
Let me quickly say this, that should have been the best, but I am sorry. It is not likely. Let me say something, we are in a room, with about 5 to 6 people that over the years, some people behaviour are quite different from yours to the extent of always being afraid to sit in their midst. As far as I am concerned, the association is just a group. We are all still in the same industry. These association members should not be calling their members for works. I don’t subscribe to that, let people mix and do things together.
We are already agitating for The Motion Picture Council, that is “Mopicon”, by the time we succeed in having Mopicon, all associations and groups will collapse under Mopicon because it will be only this Mopicon that can regulate us, so whether you are from, all of us will fall under various guilds under Mopicon. Whether we like it or not, we must all adhere strictly to the roles.
How soon is this coming up?
We are still on it. We are waiting to hear from the National Assembly. By the special grace of God, let’s see what will happen this year.
Do you see the two associations coming together to settle again?
Who am I? I am not the President of Tampan, I am just a member of board of trustee. I am not even the Chairman. I am just the Secretary of the Board of Trustee. If there’s an attempt to do that I will not be against it, but I Jide Kosoko I cherish my life and I am not against unity. I fought so much for the unity of the association. Nobody living or dead fought for the unity of ANTP more than I did. That was why I was going to court to ensure that things went well. But we know what came out of it. We all know who destroyed the association through legal whatever. Till tomorrow, I don’t believe in the judgement delivered by that judge that day. I believe so many things went wrong, but when there was arrangement to have Tampan, I strongly wanted one association, but at the meeting where people were raising different points and reasons why we must leave some set of people, so the other association can move ahead, I had to agree with them because, as at that time, that was the only option. Because if we didn’t do that, by now, we will still remain in crisis in the association. We didn’t challenge or appeal the judgement, we just let it go.
We have people with different characters and I don’t want that situation that I will have to confront people older than me. It is better to excuse myself and allow peace to reign, and that was why I appreciate all those that sat to think of the way out. Now we left to form Tampan, which happens to be the largest organisation in the whole of this country.
The woman gave her judgement based on what she believes. We are not complaining but if there is still any plan under the leadership of Bolaji Amusan (Mr Latin) and the other leadership, whatever they decide on is their decision. If they think we can come together, why not. But personally, there are some people I may not want to sit with in my life again let alone talking about association. I have seen a lot. Let me tell you something? I had over 11 years set back in the industry. I was busy going to court every now and then, who were the people with me? The only person I can say was always there, though few of them, people like Dele Odule.
It is not like they were going to court alone. They were all in support of what I was doing. You understand what am saying. Maybe they saw the vision that it won’t work but I kept fighting, for 11 years. I kept going to one court or the other.
There were occasions that the man fighting us led petition and could even turn it into a criminal case if care was not taken. You can imagine, what I went through. Every opportunity I had to make small money, I put it into the court case. And of course Dele Odule, Yinka Quadri contributed what they could. But on the war front, I was the general.
You were accused of being the brain behind the crisis of ANTP…
Who said that? My dear brother, I would not want to exchange words with anybody. That is all I will say. I was even warned not to respond to all that. He doesn’t know what he is saying at all about the association. If truly what he said was true, in short, there is no point dwelling on such issue. I tried in my capacity in ensuring unity. I asked Ashaolu, who he wanted to work with. I did the same with Dele Odule, we had a progressive meeting in the association. In the previous meetings, there have always been problems, so we all knew what happened. The elders he was saying entered the room to deliberate if they will accept or not. I was the sitting President at that time. I was not part of it. I excused myself, legally that was not right. They discussed and concluded. They said by their own voting, 7 of them, Ashaolu won. The question is that could it have worked neatly if Dele accepted? But he refused. In fact, that guy is not supposed to be greeting me, because I persuaded him to accept, so we can move on, that I can make an arrangement that he will be the Deputy again. He said he would think about it. When he now came back with a letter quoting the constitution, that there is no elder forum that should make such a decision, do I want to go to another court?
Ordinarily, I am not supposed to respond to this because I have been advised to ignore all this. The stage we are now, we have our association, they have theirs. If there are moves by any of the leadership to discuss unity, I will accept it, but I can’t just sit down with some set of people to discuss anything anymore.
Having spent close to 6 decades in the industry, would you say you are fulfilled with the state of the industry now?
Without me telling you, you should know I am fulfilled. There are absolutely nothing people come to this world to do, that God has not blessed me with. I have vehicles. I have a house. I have good children who are doing great. I have another set of Jide Kosoko (grandchildren) who are fine too. And they are moving on. What else do I want God to do for me? And that is why I say, if there are means of unity, I will support it.
But I can’t sit with some set of people again for some obvious reasons.