Veteran Actor, Agbako clocks 101 years, speaks about his life, career, other issues

Veteran actor, Abdulsalam Sanyaolu, fondly called Charles Olumo and Agbako, speaks to BANKOLE TAIWO about his life at 101, career and other issues

Let me start by congratulating you sir for clocking 101 years old earlier this year. Did you ever think you would attain this milestone?

(Laughs) How could I have ever thought I would be this old or celebrate 101 years on earth? I never thought of it.

Why didn’t you envisage it?

There are a lot of troubles in this world. It is a life of uncertainties, so, how can someone think he could survive all the challenges in Nigeria, and live to be 101 years old and still counting? I have just received mercy from God. It is God that is doing wonders in my life. I have not done anything spectacular.

Does this kind of longevity run in your family?

None that I know of. God has just decided to favour me, and here I am bouncing and still active to a reasonable extent. I will forever be grateful to God.

Some people think that your longevity could be a result of concoctions or charms you might have used in your heydays. What’s your reaction to that?

There’s nothing like that. I don’t have any charms, neither have I taken any concoction so that I can grow old. All those thoughts are just fantasies; they don’t exist. It has been God all the way. Some people used to think I would be full of charms, because of the way I acted in films. But, all that was just stage action to thrill the audience. My trust is only in God Almighty.

Do you still go to film locations?

Yes, I still go to film locations if I am invited.

Do you go there to act, or just to watch what is being done?

I go there to act. They are always surprised that I am still full of action. It is in the blood, and it is God’s gift to me.

When last were you invited to shoot a film?

I was on a film set in April. Doyin Amodu is the one producing the movie, so he invited me to be part of the production, and I am grateful to him and others, who out of courtesy, respect and love for me give me such an honour.

What kind of relationship exists between you and the younger generation of actors?

I have a good relationship with them, as a father and one of the elders in the industry. I advise them on what to do, and what not to do. Sometimes, they consult me on some issues, and I gladly offer my counsel.

Do these actors offer you any form of support?

Yes, they are trying; the likes of Mama Rainbow, Foluke Daramola, Doyin Amodu, Fatimo Amodu, and Kunle Afod. The popular juju musician and respected man of God, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, has been very supportive too. I am grateful to all of them.

How would you describe your relationship with Ebenezer Obey?

We are like siblings. We are both from Egbaland (Abeokuta). I had known him since he was with the late Fatai Rolling Dollars, so it’s been a very long relationship. I pray God will continually bless him for his love and support for me over the years.

When you look back at your life, is there anything you wish you had done differently?

One can make mistakes in life because no one is infallible. Sometimes, the spirit could be willing, but the flesh might be weak. It is only God who is perfect, so whatever error I might have committed belongs to the past.

What do you make of the movies of nowadays compared to those produced during your time?

These days, there seems to be a rush by everyone to produce their own movies without having what it takes to make that happen, such as money and a good storyline. Movie production requires money, and that usually affects the quality of the movies produced these days, though there are many good ones too.

In the past, I was among those who acted in many great movies, produced by the late Hubert Ogunde, Ade Love, and many others.

What is your daily routine like these days?

Once I wake up at about 6 am, I say my prayers and go to the living room to do some exercise. I could also walk around for some time.

I try throwing punches too to exercise my arms. I take deep breaths as well. I would then drink a lot of water because it is good for the body. I would then go back to relax in my room and wait for my breakfast. After eating, I would rest for a while, go to the sitting room to relax, and receive whoever came to visit me.

Do you still watch movies?

Due to old age, my sight is no longer good enough. Even if I attempt to watch a movie, it would get to a time that I won’t see anything again, so I have stopped troubling myself.

Do you think the government is doing enough to support the industry?

The support is not even there, talk more of being enough. I have never got any such support, and I don’t know anyone who has enjoyed it as well. The news our children who are abroad give us about how governments support entertainers over there is really making us sad. The government should be able to support us, given our roles in nation-building.

We serve as the conscience of society by pointing out the ills, as well as their consequences, and the way out. We bring joy to many homes and contribute to the growth of the economy. We deserve all the support we can get.

Could you take a walk down memory lane and tell us how you developed an interest in acting?

I started way back in my village— Egba Owode— in the Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State. I actually started while I was in primary school. I was about seven years old then. After I completed my primary education, I continued acting and also trained as an automobile technician and mechanic.

In your heydays, you often acted the role of a dangerous villain, with many having the impression that you must be truly callous in real life with plenty of charms. What’s your take on that?

(Laughs) That was just acting, and nothing more. I was only interpreting the roles assigned to me. I don’t have charms, and I am not a wicked person.

Do you have any unfulfilled dreams?

I don’t think I have any that I can remember, although some people think I should have built a mansion. But, I am okay with this bungalow that God has provided for me. I am happy and content with it.

A lot has been said about your relationship with the late mum of popular fuji singer, Pasuma. What can you tell us about it?

Let’s leave that in the past, please.

Do you have a relationship with Pasuma?

Yes, Pasuma is a good child, and it is safe to say that he is not far from me. It will seem like I am asking for too much if I say anything otherwise.

Entertainers are known to always have women flocking around them. How were you able to handle that aspect of your career?

I had my fair share too, but I was never reckless with it. I was not the type of entertainer that wanted every woman for themselves alone. I behaved decently.

Are stakeholders in the industry doing enough to take care of veterans like you?

Things are changing now, and God has begun to use these young artistes to make a lot of difference in the lives of people like myself. People like Kunle Afod, Foluke Daramola, Doyin Amodu, Fatimo Amodu, Mama Rainbow, and Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi (have been doing well). A son to my younger sister, Owolabi, also does a lot for me. I pray that the Almighty God will continually bless them, and take care of them in their old age too.

What about Primate Ayodele who promised to pay you salary for life when you marked your 100th birthday?

The Almighty God will continue to bless him too, because he has remained faithful to his pledge. I really cannot thank him enough. I am grateful to all of them; though, there are many who promised me heaven and earth then but have refused to fulfil their promises.

Does the Ogun State government support you in any way?

We have received nothing from the state government, though the former governor, Ibikunle Amosun, once gave me money, which I used to buy the flat screen television that is currently in my living room. Since then, I have not received anything from the government. This is however not good enough, considering our contributions to national development. We deserve all the support that the government can give us.

Are you a Muslim or a Christian?

While we were growing up, one could choose to be a Christian or Muslim. My father was a Muslim, and I was given the name, Abdusalam Sanyaolu. But, in the course of moving around, especially going to churches to act, I developed an interest in Christianity; moreso, my father’s younger brother was a Christian, and I loved the way he was taking care of us. The Christians also used to have programmes such as harvest which attracted little children. So, we were always at one church or the other to act. I was later baptized, and I picked Charles as my baptismal name. But, as we speak now, I am a Muslim, and I have gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca. But, I don’t have anything against Christians.

At your age now, if a young woman is asked to take care of you, will you be able to get intimate with her?

I will rub her back (laughs). I have actually had my fill of things like that, and nothing else remains. There is time for everything.

Have you ever had any near death experience?

Yes, something happened many years ago when I went to Igbara-Odo in the then Ondo State for a stage performance. I had actually been warned about the hills along the road to the town. As our vehicle was ascending one of the hills, it could no longer move, and it began to go backwards. Everyone in the vehicle, including my children, thought that the end had come. I had already concluded that we would find ourselves in the deep ditch, but miraculously, the vehicle was stopped by a tree trunk. After leaving the scene, the vehicle’s brake had some issues, and we asked a mechanic to fix it. We didn’t know that he did not do a thorough job. While going to another town from Igbara-Odo, the brake failed, and the vehicle ended up in a sugarcane plantation. It was really shocking and scary.

What is the story behind your stage name, ‘Agbako’?

It is a name I gave myself when we went to shoot a film titled, Anikura in Iwo town (then in Oyo State, but now in Osun State). The owner of the film gave it another title, but I felt it was not good enough, so I suggested Anikura. He accepted, and I was given the role of ‘Anikura’ in the movie. That was when I started addressing myself as Agbako. I used to say, “Emi Agbako Anikura (Me, Agbako Anikura). It was a way to build fear around the character further because Anikura was a very dangerous and mean person.

Has the name, ‘Agbako’, ever brought any negative repercussion to you?

None that I know of. Rather, it has brought me fame and made me peculiar in the industry. It is a name that has travelled around the world.

Considering the harsh economic condition of the country, what advice do you have for the government?

Government officials should stop being selfish. They should take care of the masses. People are suffering, and the government must help to make life more comfortable for all.

President Bola Tinubu, and his wife, Oluremi, should remember me too. I have known the President and his wife for many years. The First Lady knows me very well, and they should please help me while I am still alive.

Credit: Culled from the PUNCH NEWSPAPER

Ooni Denies Receiving $180,000 From Woman To Make Her His Queen

President Tinubu appoints new Head of Civil Service

Why We relocated Our Refinery From Olokola To Lagos – Dangote

401 Osun LG caretaker chairmen, members resign after S’Court judgment

Ooni Denies Receiving $180,000 From Woman To Make Her His Queen

President Tinubu appoints new Head of Civil Service

Why We relocated Our Refinery From Olokola To Lagos – Dangote

401 Osun LG caretaker chairmen, members resign after S’Court judgment