Charles Oputa, better known as Charly Boy, aka His Royal Punkness, aka Area Fada, is one man that has continued to astound many. After spending close to forty years of his life in showbiz (he turned 70 lately) he has continued to reinvent himself and keep the Charly Boy brand alive and very well in the minds of Nigerians. In showbiz, this is a rarity in this part of the world. Without a doubt, this enigmatic gentleman represents different things to different people. To many, he is perhaps one of the most consummate artistes to come out of this part of the world. His artistry, his stage presence and the depth of his craft remain his biggest strength as an artiste. To some others, Charly Boy would probably remain one of the most creatively gifted individuals they have ever known. He has also been variously described as one of the most incredibly brilliant minds the creative industry has ever produced. His ability to transit seamlessly from an accomplished artiste to a celebrated television presenter/personality and then to a social commentator and human rights activist, leading the line of protests with the likes of the late Gani Fawehinmi, has been nothing short of impressive. This is why till date, he has remained the authentic voice of the down trodden, creating and starting movements like #Ourmumudondo and #Nawebethe government. In the last couple of weeks, following the emergence of the #EndSars protest, Charly Boy has been pretty busy, encouraging and galvanizing the youths to stand up for what they believe in, while also working to put his new album together as well as wrap up his beat on the set of King of Boys part 2. He squeezed out time in between his busy schedule to speak to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, about what he thinks of the agitation of the youths and why they need to be encouraged. Here are excerpts.
Good evening, sir and how are you doing?
Sir no dey my name o. Sir na for people wey be knight for church, I think.
How has your day been?
Its been kind of boring. I just got off the set of King Of Boys (2) yesterday, so that’s one down, many more to go. So, I’m looking forward to hop on the next project in the next couple of days.
Tell us about King of Boys part 2, I know it’s coming out soon.
Yeah, I was never really into Nollywood because I’m a very bad movie watcher until I got a call from the producer and she said, oh, I want you to be in my movie. I said which movie is that, she said King of Boys part 2. I said so you want me to come and spoil your movie for you because me I’m not an actor na. She said no worry, you go act this one. So, that’s how I found myself in it. But before I got on set, I had to go watch the movie for real and I found it very captivating, very interesting, engaging. I’m happy that I agreed to do this with her. It’s been a very rewarding, fulfilling experience for me. As long as long as all the people who would like for me to do another one can keep this standard, then it’s okay.
Somebody says you look good for your age, Area Fada, what’s the secret?
Well, the secret is that I work hard, nothing drops from heaven. I think fifty percent of it is the gene and the other fifty is lifestyle. I no dey overdo myself. I don’t engage in habits that are not good for me. But I have one habit that I’ve been fighting with and that’s smoking cigarettes. I keep quitting, coming back and quitting. You know, there has to be something, and smoking cigarettes is that something that I really don’t like about myself.
You’ve been smoking for how long?
Well, it’s been off and on. There was a time I quit for about six years until I lost my mother and started smoking again. But that’s not an excuse anyway, it is what it is. Then the rest of it is, I work out every morning, I watch what I eat, what I even look at, the things I want to listen to. I have edited all aspects of my life to make sure that I keep all negativities away from me.
I was surprised to hear you’re back in Lagos, I thought you had settled comfortably in Abuja…
For where? Abuja was becoming depressing. I spent almost like seventeen years in Abuja, out of that time I spent almost twelve years looking after my parents, and now that they’re no more, there’s nothing in Abuja for me. Abuja is for the thieving politicians and the people who want to hawk their bodies and I don’t belong in any of those categories. So, I’m back to Lagos, I feel alive again, feel more youthful, mingle and mix with young outstanding Nigerian youths who are doing great stuff, so I’m happy to be back.
You spoke about youths just now, what do you make of the #EndSars protest?
To tell you the truth, Seye, I didn’t think that that kind of a thing would happen in my lifetime. I was so proud of them. I started this campaign called Our Mumu Don do and it seems to me that a certain group of young people think that true, true, their mumu don do. And I’ve always maintained that the salvation of this country lies in the hands of its exceptional people, especially the young ones. For me to see the twelve days of intense organisation, there was no fracas, everything was moving freely and it looked like it didn’t have any kind of leadership but they had a structure that was working until of course our enemies started to infiltrate from outside o, bringing in all the young people that they’ve frustrated their lives, rendered them useless, to come and disrupt the protests. I remember that morning of the massacre, I put out a post and my post was simply saying, listen, guys, I think you guys have tried. You’ve made such a statement, I think we should withdraw now because the people we’re dealing with are not ordinary, sensible people. You have to understand the enemy and their capacity and what they can do. People are speaking grammar, they say we should go and talk. We’ve been speaking all these years and nothing has come out of it. So, there’s a different way to fight this our enemy right now and it’s not by talking. You can only talk to somebody who is rational enough and who has your sympathy at heart that will listen to you. You can’t be talking to riff raffs who have nothing to offer, all they do is take, take, take, plunder, and kill. People who are from the 19th century. And people who are from the 19th century and the 20th century cannot come together. These are people who want to take us back to the barbaric times because killing, plundering, terrorizing, intimidation, this is their stock in trade. But unfortunately, that advice came a little too late because 12:14 hours after that post was a massacre. And I’ve always seen it coming, Seye, and that was what activated me to make that post because I was afraid for my children. I was afraid on their behalf because I know the kind of enemy that they’re fighting. Dem no send now! Dem no care! Even if 500 people died that day, it won’t be anything to them and nothing would come out of it. So, we need to look for more intelligent ways to fight this fight. But in the interim, we have to find a way to start reorganizing ourselves and restrategizing. I know the Endsars campaign was just like, my people would say, you clap before you enter dance. Sars wasn’t just the problem with Nigeria, it went beyond that, but you go start from somewhere. And I think that’s what they tried to do, start from somewhere, but unfortunately what happened, happened. I’ve been getting feedbacks from some of these youths and I admire and respect what they’re up to, how they’re planning and how they’re engaging. Like I advised, those ones who are not on social media, we should try to reach out to them and educate them some more because na the same market we dey go. Na the same problem wey I get dey too get. So for us to be at each other’s throat his not the best because all of us are affected by our environment right now and the people who run it.
You’ve been involved in the struggle for a better Nigeria for over forty years and Nigeria is still where it is. How does it make you feel when you wake up and you realize you’re still in the same country that you’ve been fighting to change?
I don’t want to get moody or sad, but it makes me feel less of a human being. I didn’t expect that I will be in my retirement age right now still in the same battle, talking the same talk after over four decades but is what it is. We’re here to stay because me, I’m not going anywhere, nobody is going to drive me comot for this country, but I will advice any young person, if you can run now, please, run!
Because how can we continue like this? We can’t. There is no way. And knowing the enemy like I know them, I know there is going to be a lot of bloodbath ahead. It’s unfortunate we can’t have a revolution without bloodshed, it can’t happen but it’s unfortunate that innocent people will go but this is a consequence of our docility, our inactions over the years. Now, e don concern everybody.
Like when we started mumu don do, it was to say that our stupidity and our docility was enough and be mindful of how you’re going to vote. But unfortunately, we also discovered that our votes really don’t count because they arrange the results in their bedroom. Then we decided to tweak that campaign a little bit because how will a slave that does not understand the concept and precept of freedom realize that they are even slaves? So we now started to sensitize especially the young people. Now, if you check your numbers and you check your weapon which you have in front of you, which is the social media, which I hear they’re trying to tamper but they can’t because my guys have plan B. That is why I am in love with these extraordinary Nigerians. Truth is, the people in Aso Rock are not supposed to be our Lord and Masters, they are servants of the people. Look at all the sufferings going on, just because some people have decided to make Nigeria their own property and everybody else can go to hell. No, it can’t work. How can you have a government that doesn’t care about the people its governing? I dare say that, look at the foundation on which this building is standing on, you can’t be talking about a very bogus foundation that can’t hold this building and then you’re talking about how to renovate the building and increase the size of the building, what kind of crap is that? So, for anything to work, we have to come to ground zero and start again, or like husband and wife, we come to the table and say, how do we move forward? But I’m not sure our enemies are ready for that kind of talk. That is why I say the beast has gotten their soul. We’re not even fighting incompetence of the highest order, we’re fighting something really demonic. I’m talking from a spiritual perspective now. We’re fighting something that’s very demonic beyond what you and I can fathom. I’m not one of those people who will say, na God hand we dey o. No. Because me and you, all of us, we are part of our problem because if we had been pushing long before now, may be things would be different. Before now, during the days of the military, whenever the youths came out, everywhere would be shaking. But now they act as if there is one remedy, if it gets too much, kill everybody. This is what we’re up against.
So, I’m trying to tell young people its not going to be easy, this revolution that is coming our way. Nobody needs to start it, it will start by itself because we’re all united by hopelessness, frustration, hunger. It’s like an airplane, we don’t know who the captain is. We’re in trouble, there is bad weather, we don’t know where to land, you don’t know who is flying the damn plane. You don’t know who the captain is. Basically, I think it will get worse before it gets better, and that has always been my prediction.
The whole campaign for a better Nigeria, what do you think others can do, I mean the older generation, how do you think they can give the youths hope that things can get better?
The generation before mine and my generation, we failed these young people. We are partially responsible for where we are now because there was no push back from us the way we should have. There was no push back from the generation before ours, and that’s why we’re in this mess. But, like I keep telling young people, if you’re bequeathed with something bad, it’s up to you because its their life, it’s their future. They keep saying the youths are the future leaders, how can they be future whatever when old people don’t want to vacate the seats?
When old people think that they are blessed with some stupid, myopic kind of wisdom that does not encourage progress! Now, all the riff raffs, the thieves, the thugs, they’ve taken over the whole space, now it becomes a problem to get rid of them. But I still say to young people, it is up to you, because this is a fight for their future, so the best we can do, or somebody like me, is to keep advising them. Keep talking to them. Keep gingering them. Like I said at the beginning of this interview, I was amazed. I was like, oh, na my pikin, na them dey do this now, until what happened, happened, which was so sad.
Even though I knew that was what would happen, still, when it did happen, it made me sad. I couldn’t sleep that night. But like I keep telling them, we can’t go through this revolution without bloodshed, it’s not possible. But I believe these kids of not the 21st century but 22nd century have their ways. They can maneuver these people. I believe in them so much because these people are used to their playbook. They set us at each other’s throat so much, they will say, yes, na tribal thing. They will knock Yoruba and Igbo head together, or they bring religion, this person na Christian, this one na Muslim, that’s what they always do. They are now looking at us like the ones that are the mumus, but I know that they are all played out because the children and the young people that I see today, they are not your normal average mumu Nigerian youths o. They get sense and the future of Nigeria, I dare say, is in their hands. If anybody can do this, they are the ones who can. Not me, not you. I don dey old now. After 70, how much more can I do? But they have the energy, they have the strength, they have the power, they have the intelligence, so get it done, that’s what I say to them. Its not going to be easy o, but this is their war to win.