Veteran actor, Ganiyu Nofiu popularly known as Alapinni Oosa is one of the actors still making waves in the make-believe industry.
Alapinni Oosa hardly grants interviews, so, we were so excited when he gave us an appointment to meet at a movie location in Arepo and we drove down in company of City People Publisher, DR. SEYE KEHINDE, Head of City People TV, SUNDAY ADIGUN and Photo Journalist, ABDULRASHEED SANNI.
Alapinni Oosa is a veteran actor who is highly respected in the industry. He started at a very tender age and he is still relevant to date.
He is a pleasant man you will love to be around with any day, any time. He told us his real age, 63 years, for the first time but he doesn’t look it a bit.
Also, the good news is that he is set to celebrate his 50 years on stage.
In this exclusive interview, Alapinni revealed how he started his acting career, how he was trained by two late veteran actors and how he was attacked spiritually a few years ago because of the roles he usually plays in movies. Many will also want to know how he got the name Alapinni Oosa his unique voice. Kindly relax and enjoy the conversation.
Who is Alapinni Oosa?
I am Ganiu Nofiu, but people call me Alapinni Oosa. This is my 50th year in acting by the grace of God. I first started on my own by mimicking most of our seniors then; later I discovered that I needed to learn more, so I joined late Akin Ogungbe for few years. Then, I left there and joined the late Ray Eyiwunmi. I spent a few years with him too before I returned back to Lagos and I started on my own. Since then, I have been practising. I have never done any other thing apart from acting. I wasn’t opportune to go to school, but I went to primary school in Dalar, Kano State. I also went to Arabic School, while still practicing.
Where did you start from?
I started from Lagos because I am from Awori. I was also born in Agege and I grew up there. But when I wanted to start, I moved to Abeokuta because that was where the late Akin Ogungbe resides. And my second boss is based in Ilorin. I joined him there before I returned back to Lagos finally. I have done many stage plays before the use of Celluloid & VHS. I took part in many big projects before the home video. I became popular through little projects and home video movies. I also faced so many challenges.
There was a year I travelled to somewhere in the Ijebu area and I was spiritually attacked. I fell sik when I left there and I spent close to 1 year on the sick bed. During the sickness, I lost a 4-year-old child. While recovering from all that, I lost my first child who was already 37 years. On that sickness, I lost many of my properties and my two cars. But I thank God because His plan is different from our own.
I believe that is his own destiny. To God be the glory, God has been helping us to face and overcome little, little challenges.
What really inspired your love for acting?
I can’t really say what actually inspired me then, but I love acting so much. Ever since I have been watching all our senior colleagues in “Atoka” and on television, I developed an interest. Then, it was easy for us to copy some of our veteran comedians. So, we started with that, by dressing funny to people’s parties, just to make them laugh. So, because I love it that was why I decided to go fully into it. And more so, I like anything culture and that made me join the late Ray Eyiwunmi because I realised that the man that taught him was also a traditional actor, they were all with late Duro Ladipo. That was why I made up my mind.
More reason why people prefer me to act like Babalawo (Herbalist) in their movies, even though I was born into it, I came from a family that worships masquerade, even though my father was a Muslim. My mother is not a Yoruba but was born here, in that same Agege. My father was a traditionalist but I didn’t join him in practice. Everything I am doing is through God’s knowledge and many lessons I have learnt while moving from one place to another.
How did you get the name “Alapinni Oosa”?
After leaving my boss, the late Ray Eyiwunmi, they always invite me for stage performances, I will go and come back to Lagos. There is also a theatre group called “Iginla Theatre Group, owned by Fala. Then, he was running a 2hrs programme for NTA Channel 7 and a friend of mine told me that Fala wanted to shoot for TV and needed good actors. I followed him, on getting there I was cast as one of the chiefs. The title of the movie was “Bashorun Taku”. They wanted me to be one of the chiefs but all the names we usually give chiefs then had already been taken, like Osi, Otun, Bashorun etc. They were now deliberating on the name to give me since they wanted me to also act as Chief, so, I was the one that suggested Alapinni to them, since there is an Alapinni title in Oyo, and it’s a very important title in Oyo town. Also in my family, there is the Alapinni title, the biggest of all in the masquerade family. So, I suggested Alapinni to them and they agreed. Fala later fell in love with me and asked me to join him since I was alone then and we started working together. When the VHS film came, any movie he wants me to act, they always call me Chief Alapinni, that was how the name became a brand.
What about your unique voice?
(Laughs). That is what I don’t understand too. I think I will need to ask God because I grew up with that voice. At times I will record and listen to my own voice. God gave me the talent, and it’s not different from the way I speak in real life, I can only add a professional touch to it while on stage.
What is the difference between Alapinni the actor and normal Alapinni, a family man?
There is a difference. Like I said as I am talking now will definitely be different from when I am on set. I don’t talk much when I am outside I always think of the work I came to do. I play a lot with my family at home, in fact, I am a comedian at home. You will see me in the midst of children playing Ludo when I am at home.
While you are going through all these challenges, what were the thoughts in your mind?
I surrendered everything to God because I believe in Him through my religion, that whatever happens to one has been predestined, despite the fact that people believe prayers do change destiny, but not all destines. If God tests you and you pass, then the situation can change.
But if God says His will must come to pass it will surely be, and nothing can change it. So, I believe everything that happened to me was from God.
What has life taught you, or let me say what have you learnt so far from your journey in life?
This life is too short, and our characters are different. I have had several experiences with different people in life. You and I can become best of friends if we can endure each other. If you have a funny attitude and I notice I can’t correct you I will definitely run from you. I have learnt so many lessons in life, because I have been to so many places that I can’t even remember. I didn’t even know I was passing through any challenges because I am happy with what I am doing and I love it so much. Though, as a man you will think otherwise when you cannot cater for some things; but I have surrendered everything to God. I just lost the only car I have, a Jeep to a minor accident, a tipper driver ran into where I parked it. Initially, I got him arrested but I later released him. That is life, life has taught me so many lessons and I have learnt a lot too.
How do you take some of the criticisms about actors?
It has to be like that. But the painful thing is that when an actor misbehaves they judge all of us. I used to tell them, when we started it was different from when some of these young actors started. The orientation we had is different from their own. We just have to keep begging God to always lead them right, so they don’t spoil the work for us. Not really happy with some situations we are hearing or seeing but like I said, we would keep on praying for them.
How was it when you started and now?
We never thought we could make money from acting when we started, ask any of the veterans. How much were they giving us then, maybe N10, and with that our bosses will still deduct from it if we misbehave or you didn’t perfect your work. There was no star actor when we started, talkless of endorsement or ambassadorial appointments. No parent even wanted you to go into that profession then. People will even call you a thief, a lazy person. If you are a lady they will call you a prostitute. But now everything has changed. It is now showbiz. But we thank God for His mercy.
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