He is one of the best actors Nollywood can boast of. When he came into the industry many years ago, there was virtually no blockbuster movie that didn’t feature him. From Candle Light to Sakobi, Goodbye Tomorrow to Heart of Gold, Festival of Fire to Executive Crime and his own production, Take Me to Mama, Obinna Nwafor popularly known as Saint Obi has scored big with his A-class performance. In this interview with Lawrence Enyoghasu, The Sun Weekend, the fair skinned actor, director and producer narrates how he found a new passion in music and what he intends doing with it. Excerpts.
What is your mission in music?
I was born in a very religious home. My passion for music started while growing up with my siblings through the choir and youth organisation. Over the years, acting took over. You know me as an actor but what you don’t know about me is that I have deep passion for music. People don’t know that I started in the choir. But acting has taken a bigger part of my life and career. As long as you have passion for something, it will always come back before long. Now, I have decided to step things up, not just me exercising my passion but to use my little resources to develop the young ones with talent; people with exceptional skills. There are so many of them out there. A lot of them do not have the opportunity to become something from the talent they have. So, Agwhyte Music label is all about bringing out the best of music. That is why the catchphrase is “sweet music”. And if you don’t hear sweet music, please feel free to return the DVD, I will pay you back.
What stands out Agwhyte from other labels?
To start up Agwhyte Music, we formed what is called ‘AM Krew’ consisting of D-Style and Wic-Moral, and have released Sarakute and You and I. At the moment, we have two hot guys who have dropped three sweet songs, which will convince people that we are not here for jokes.
Don’t you think it is late for you to do music?
On my part, I decided to put forth a song by the legendary John Lennon entitled, Imagine, which is a visionary, inspirational song. This song is about the future. I am a perennial optimist. I look forward to that day we can create a better world. Sometimes, I ask myself what is it that people gain from war? We are only here for a brief period, the most time we have on this earth is 80 years and we are gone. So what is all this killing about? That is why I feel that Imagine is a song that is very instructive and motivate change. Different governments are signing peace pacts, why can’t Nigeria sign one?
Okay then, why in the first instance did you opt for acting instead of music?
Despite the fact that I love music, acting took precedence because I thought being an actor I could address myself success. That was what pushed me towards acting. It doesn’t mean that music does not pay or is not a good profession.
Since you withdrew from acting, what did you value most in those days?
Being at the forefront of Nollywood was humbling. I feel it’s a privilege. There are people who don’t know that it is a privilege to be loved or for anybody to like what you do. I am humbled when people like what I do.
Why exactly did you withdraw from acting?
As one grows older, you realize that you do not need to be in all the movies. If you have been following my career, as years went by, from doing 10 movies in a year, I reduced it to six. I later reduced to one per year, because I felt that it’s not how many times you appear in a movie but how well you act. People call me all the time to come and feature in their movies, but I always decline. My reasons are that, as you move around you have other aspirations and other opportunities appear. In Igbo parlance, you don’t watch a masquerade display in one spot; you have to move around to get the total view. Any smart person will take advantage of any opportunity that comes, there are a million and one businesses out there that align with what one’s profession. The Dangotes of this world do a million businesses; they don’t stick to one business and become who they are today. I didn’t stop acting because jobs stopped coming but because I needed to do other things. However, I am still involved in the industry even though it is mostly behind the camera.
At a point, you made your own film; what was the experience like?
It was my first film as a producer. At that time, we didn’t have the technology that could create a good film stunt. And I didn’t want my first film to be unprofessional, because I had seen where cars were blown up in movies and it looked quite funny. In life, you never get a second chance for the first impression. So, I decided that the best thing to do was to put my car on the line and sacrifice it. As long as it gave Nigeria and the world the best, I was satisfied.
How profitable was the movie?
By the grace of God it paid over and over again. Because of the things we did with the car, Coca cola supported us. It was the first movie to be supported by an international company. Also, the Catholic Church supported us despite the fact that I was not a Catholic. But because of the things we did well in the Catholic ways; it was used as a point of sermon in church services. People aligned with the film because of the quality of production and societal vices it corrected. It won many awards; it was worth it!
In your video, I saw you carrying placards crusading for peace, what prompted it?
What I am doing now in terms of social crusading is not something I started today. It is something I have been doing ever since. I have Project Image Nigeria. I fight against the Osu syndrome in Igboland. Most important is that I use music to impact other people’s life. All I want is to impact one person and from there the positive influence will spread. There is so much injustice in the country and the world. In no time, it will consume the world and it will be a hell to live in.
What advice do you have for talented people who are yet to harness their talent?
They should be patient; their time will come. While doing so, they should start doing something that will grow with time.