A great event is about to take place in Ibadan on Thursday, 19th December 2019, at the Jogor Centre, Liberty Stadium Road, Ibadan. It is the 85th birthday of a movie icon, Chief Jimoh Aliu. Last week, City People stormed Ibadan to interview him.
Below are excerpts of the 2-hour interview on his life.
How do you plan to celebrate your forthcoming 85th birthday and how are you preparing for it?
Thank you so much. Preparations are ongoing. We are celebrating it in Ibadan. I was born in Okemesi, Ekiti State. I went to school briefly at Okemesi before I went further to learn Theatre Arts Practitioning from the late Akin Ogungbe. I got to Lagos in 1940. I was also a Military man as well, for like 7-and-half-years. I have many titles to my credit through my theatre arts practice.
Many people know me through my work. I have dined and wined with mighty men through my career. I am known in many countries, name it, Germany, America, Britain, Saudi Arabia and all over the world. Moving from one school to another made people to know me. Kings know me, noble men know me. And I want to use this medium to appreciate them for all their support. I also know many religious people, Christians Muslims and Traditionalists, I appreciate them all for loving me unconditionally. I have also received many awards by the grace of God.
I have celebrated my birthday in my home-town in Ekiti. I have celebrated it in Lagos. But I have a hunch that I need to celebrate it in Ibadan as well, because it is the Centre of Yorubaland. Oyo is No 1 when we talk of our culture, heritage, politics and language.
It’s only God who enables one to clock 90. So, I must celebrate this 85th while I am still alive and it will be better for me to celebrate it in Ibadan, and I know many people will come out and support me and honour me.
That made me to meet with my Kabiyeesi, Onirisa, Alaafin and other notable monarchs. I have been to many of them to invite them to the party, including the Olubadan, who will be the royal host to all the Kings. I have invited many governors and other dignitaries. There is no one in Yorubaland who knows what I have done so far in propagating our culture all over the world who will not assist me, even at this my age. Many dignitaries have promised to honour me on that day.
What can you say life has taught you at 85 sir?
Life has taught me so many lessons at 85. How many will I count? Is it what I have faced in my theatre career or my journey in life? Is it what I faced when I was in the military or when I was moving all over the world acting, dancing e.t.c.? I have been to many dreaded places where they didn’t even want to see theatre arts practitioners at all before. They always dragged us down from buses where we were dancing, they believed we are unbelievers, I would have to do so many things to convince them, speak their language.
At times, they would ask me to pray in the Islamic way and I would do it before they would believe us and allow us to stage our plays. It’s from there they gave me a note to all secondary schools in the North. And I started moving from one place to another. They thought with the way we were dancing, we were unbelievers, not knowing that we were just doing our own things to make people happy. They don’t know the difference between culture and religion.
How many difficulties will I count?
Was it when I lost my children or wives? Or the day people burnt all our equipment? I have experienced so many things in life. The day I got to London, I thought nobody would know me not until I got there and people started hailing and praising us. So many people wanted me to sleep in their houses. Same thing when I got to Mecca. If I am in any place, people would troop out just to see me, even till date.
How many experiences will I count, is it in London, where we edited and launched one of my movies, or when I was taken to BBC in London. I did another movie, “Agbaarin” in Ibadan and 3 governors were present, and launched it, or when my popular movie, “Arelu” came out in Ibadan?
It a must for me to celebrate my birthday here in Ibadan with Yemi Faronbi, the former Ambassador to Philipine, and I did a lot in seeing that many of my movies were accepted “Arelu”, “Igbo Olodumare” were transmitted live on NTA Ibadan, Akure, BCOS, Ibadan, we also moved to NTA 7 in Lagos. We also moved to National Theatre. I have seen so many things in life, both negative and positive, but I thank God for everything. I am begging everyone to show me love on that day. It shall be well with all of you. God will preserve all our children in the diaspora. They will not mourn over anybody. City People Media House too will continue to grow from strength to strength. God will love you more than the way you love me.
And God will preserve everyone of us, all my children in the theatre participating, TAMPAN, ANTP etc. God will be with them. They will not die suddenly. I am a father to all of them and I will continue to pray for them. They will all continue to progress. Please I beg all of you to come and honour me at my 85th birthday.
Like I said, I have invited many Kabiyeesi. I appreciate Ooni of Ife. I appreciate Alaafin. I appreciate Olubadan of Ibadanland, any time I go to him he always honours me, same thing with Alaafin, same thing in Ife, they always honour and appreciate me. I also appreciate “Ebora Owu, Ogbongbodu, Olusegun Obasanjo, Eni Taale ta o ba, ta a ba ta le fi se nkankan ta le pa, ti o se pa, ti won di te mo amo bi won se di te mo na n lo se nga si. I appreciate everyone. I also thank Falana and Afe Babalola, for over 30 years we have known one another. Any time I call them, they always answer, they never get tired of me. I appreciate everyone.
There is no one among them who has not contributed to my success. What about Onitori, many people before they become King like Kabiyeesi Oba Elerin whom I had known in London before he became King, including Onitori and many others. I appreciate everybody who has contributed in one way or the other to the success of this man called, Aworo. God will be with them and their Oloris.
What plans did you have for your life while growing up?
When I was growing up, I never had any concrete plan for myself as to a career to pursue. I never knew I could even be successful or do well in life because, to enjoy and play around was my major priority then, moving about without pants on, roaming street, dancing with Masqueraders. Mostly, I would join those who were druming on their own and I will start dancing with them.
My parents would be looking for me. I won’t return home until late at night and my parents would beat me mercilessly because I was very stubborn. When I joined Ogungbe, I never thought I could also be successful in acting, but I was always happy because it was my passion. And people did applaud me whenever I danced very well. They always hailed me that I knew how to drum, I play many instruments too.
Late Isho Pepper may his soul rest in peace, was my contemporary then. We would be beating drum and dancing. I never thought it would get to this stage at all. That is why it always amazes me, who did menial jobs for 7 years in Lagos, a bus conductor has now become a celebrity. What I am saying here today, I have seen it in the life of many people, people that nobody believed could become somebody in life. It’s only God who makes someone in this life. God created us differently. Many are just created special, who witches and wizards could not harm. They are specially made by God and God is using them as examples to human beings that. He is the one who created heaven and earth, and we must obey His words. Take a look at what happened in Tampan, when they were about to start it, Ashaolu was manipulating everything and I told them not to fight him again, because God used Ashaolu to scatter them for Tampan to make head way.
There is nothing Tampan is doing today that I will not go there, because I am their father. If ANTP calls me I will go. If Saidi Balogun calls me I will answer him. I am standing now as their overall father. May the soul of Ogunde continue to rest in peace. God has destined it now that I will be their father and I must not get angry with or have any beef with anybody, even my religion does not permit that. We should not betray one another. Let Tampan, ANTP and Ambassador come together. Let them work together. All of them have already excelled in life, while many are still excelling in this career. Elesho and Latin should work together and put an end to the differences between them, including Saidi Balogun.
Let people see them together, not that this one would go to the government to back stab others. It is a sin to antagonise or criticise your colleague. Let there be unity. The sky is wide enough for every bird to fly, without being an obstacle to one another. And they should run away from sleeping with the same women. It causes enemity. You can easily betray your friend if you are sleeping with the same woman. Bible is against it, Quaran is against it. Ifa also is against it. Read what the Bible says in Psalm 109 and Psalm 120. Go to Kurisiyu and Tabatiada and hear what God says there. Once you know all these things, you will run from making many mistakes in life. The person you are cursing might have prayed for you this morning, he may not even know that you are not at peace with him, but you started cursing him and getting mad at him unnecessarily. As you are cursing the nature is sending it back to you, and you are also activating it for yourself as well. I have seen and learnt so many things in life before I got to this stage and age.
There is nothing that bothers me anymore. If you promise me something and you didn’t do it, I will know that God did not tell you to do it for me. You will, or know some people who are rich, yet you won’t benefit anything from them, and you can be with someone who doesn’t have anything but he would always want to appreciate you with everything he has. That is how God made it. It is our obligation to take everything easy in life. There are so many things you are doing now that you won’t be able to do again, later in life. If you think you can sleep with 6 women at a time today, a time, a day is coming, they will even open pant to you and you won’t be able to do anything again. Your mind will not even go there. Everything that looks beautiful to you now will become old later. Even to wear clothe will become a serious punishment for you. As I am, I am not bothered about so many things in life again. At this age, I can’t be thinking of building house again, my next house is my grave, I can not be thinking of buying car now, it is only if they dash me, my days and years are already numbered.
You can not really be useful again at 90 and 100. It is not everywhere you used to go you would be able to go again at that age. Despite the fact that at this my age, there is no staircase I can’t climb, yet if I sit for long now, my legs will, swell up, that is why I derive pleasure in travelling most times. People have been doing so many things before we were born and they would still continue their interactions after we have gone. Do you remember what people did to Jesus? Do you remember what they did to Mohammed (SAW) and Orunmila.
Do you know what many kings experienced before they got to the throne?
Even, while on the throne, do you know what they are passing through? We just need to sit down and recognise the fact that God is the Supreme Being and you must always have trust in Him. I always regard everything as my destiny, even if my wife gets me angry. Then, there is none of my wives who could talk to me anyhow. When I was using charms 24/7. I move about with charms. I can fight with the whole community because I was fortified.
Though, my children and wives later discovered me. Some of my wives even regretted marrying me, because I was very tough. Whenever I was angry everybody would be in trouble, if they begged me, I won’t listen. If I am fighting and more than 10 persons move a closer, they would land in hospital. Like I said, my children and wives pleaded and they carried my charm’s box away. They knew many tactics I always used, and they discovered that I always tied charms on my hand and waist. Later I thought of everything and I surrendered all.
If I may ask sir, which one is your religion?. I can see you are knowledgeable in the Quran, Bible and even if tradition religion?
With the way I studied everything about religion. I can say I practise the 3. When I got to Mecca, I learnt by vote so many things they were saying there and retained them in my memory till tomorrow. I saw a lot here before getting there, on getting there, I still see us. In Christianity, I was a Celestial Church member, I practiced Cherubim, and my younger sister is one of the leaders in Cherubim and Seraphim in Lagos. Meanwhile, my father was a traditionalist before he converted to Muslim, but when he was alive, Christians and Muslims do come to him. So I discovered that, if a herbalist comes to me and I kill him will God not judge me. I thought if Muslims come to me and I harm him, won’t God harm me back, the same goes for Christian.
But why all the 3 religions adherents love me till date still remains a mystery to me. I know how many years I spent with Osoba as a friend. Is it Oyedepo I want to talk to or Adeboye I want to harm. God said, whenever 2 or 3 are gathered, there He is. I have gone through the Bible, I have read some portions of it, and I am scared of the word of God, also in the Quran. I always sit down and reflect on my life when I think of people, dignitaries I have met in my life. May the souls of Arisekola and Adedibu rest in peace.
There are none of these two people you would mention my name and they would not recognise me. Is it Alao Akala, Ladoja and the current Aare Musulumi of Ibadan? I thought of going to Sunday Igboho to inform him of the party, he said I should have invited him. And he gave me some gifts for the party. I got to Guru Marraji, they also honoured me there.
All these accolades made me fear God that while I am still alive and you are showing me all these. You know I would be disgraced if I exhibit pride with it. If I am wicked, I would be disgraced, if I am not respectful, I would be disgraced, if I don’t love others, I would be disgraced. These are what God told me, that if I lifted you, you must remain humble. And if anybody was persecuting you, leave that person to me. So, I am so liberal. I have done Atinga, I have done OLM, I have done OPC and I am the DCG for Vigilance Group of Nigeria. I am very close to Gani Adams before he became Aare Ona Kakanfo, also with the late Fasheun. They never disrespected me. As of today, I have received over 200 awards, I have many titles to my credit, many awards from both Christians and Muslims.
I was made Patron of Yoruba Community in Saudi Arabia, and I have been to Mecca about 9 times, I refused the 10th one and asked my wife to go for that. So, how many of God’s blessings will I deny?
My father spent 130 plus years in this life. On his own, he went to the praying ground on Ileya Day, prayed to God, and on getting home, slept on his bed and died. He was never sick nor blind. Let me shock you, for all the years he spent on earth, he did not buy land not to talk of building a house.
Then, I begged God to give me grace to build on the piece of land where my father was buried and I did, not even knowing that, the room I wanted to be sleeping was the same spot where my father was buried.
I told my children to also bury me there, so, what I am looking for again, than for people to continue praying for me.