Tony Ogaga and Damiete Braide
At almost 70, Charley boy still cuts a cute figure you’d think he’s almost two decades younger than his real age. The eccentric was at The Sun Newspapers recently and he had a chat with the Entertainment Desk where he opened up on the recent Okada ban, growing up, the state of the nation and his lesbian daughter among other interesting issues.
When are you releasing your new body of work?
I am releasing my new single on Friday, February 14, Valentine’s Day, and it is coming out of my love for the streets. The following day, Saturday, I am hosting about 200 street boys. Why on Valentine’s Day you may ask? It is because of my love for the streets and the people on the streets. That is the only way I can show my love for them. So, my single is dropping on February 14, and it is entitled God of Men, and not Men of God. I chose to title it God of Men because I see that most Nigerians are worshiping their pastors, not God, so pastors have become gods of men. The song talks about fake pastors and I mentioned names of some fake pastors that I know.
Names? You called out names?
Yes, I no send anybody. Anybody who feels offended can go and call the police. I called out some names and they are people I consider very fake.
Can you mention some of them?
No, go and listen to the music. I know that religion is part of our problem. The blind, robotic, zombielike beliefs and how they follow these gods of men have become a problem, because the gods of men have not helped us to grow spiritually. They encourage especially young people to believe in ‘zazavu’, that you can get something out of nothing. And this is why I say religion has been a problem for us. If you switch over to Islam, you will see that Islam is supposed to be a peaceful religion, but you start to notice that it is the fundamentalists and the jihadists that are causing problems, and they are the ones we have in the Nigerian space right now. So, I say religion is an ass! The fake pastors are yeye people. When religion came to Africa, it came as a business, it was not to save anybody’s soul and that is why we are singing about gods of men. In the song, I collaborated with a very dynamic young chap in the music industry; he is Falz the bad Guy. Ever since I met him, I have learnt a few things from him. I have had the honour and pleasure of working with him, and he is one of the people I admire in the music business. So, I am glad that we did this collaboration. I want you to know that, at my age, I am no longer a spring chicken, even though I don’t admit it all the time, I am no longer into street protests, running around with young people who I don’t know where their hearts are. So, I decided to give street protest a break since I have been at this for the past 30 years. I am like ‘okay, let me take a break and go back to my first love which is music’, and that is why I am back in Lagos, to launch my body of work with the single coming first and subsequently, I will release like three more singles before the album.
Could you talk about the other songs?
I did one song with Oritsefemi called Your Mumu Never Do? I did one with my wife, Lady D, a love song, and I have songs that are very critical of government. All my songs are conscious. I have another song called, Scam because Nigeria is a scam. Everybody is scamming everybody. Pastors are scamming congregations; Nigerians are scamming each other. Everything here is transactional. Boko Haram is transactional. Everything that you see is transactional. People are making money from killing people these days. That is transactional!
Compared to your own time, what we have now are songs glorifying booze, money, women, big boobs and whatever. Why is it that contemporary musicians are not singing conscious music?
It’s because that is what you want to hear. If you don’t want to hear it, they will play something else but that is what a lot of people want to hear.
But some people say it’s a reflection of the society…
Yes, it shows the poto poto in the society. But there are a few people who are also playing conscious music.
Is there anything elders like you can do about it?
No, in this business, everybody sticks to his own lane. I am sticking to my lane. I am not asking anybody to change how they are. It depends on why you are doing music. It is called showbusiness and don’t forget the business side of it. If I know that talking about nyash will sell more records and make me money, then I’ll talk about nyash. But for me, I am not into music because of the money. That is why I am focusing on talking about my frustration as a Nigerian, talking about the Nigeria I see today. I have another song called, Poto Poto. It explains the decay in the system. Every institution in the country has been affected. I have another song called Fire for Fire, and the message is that some people are no longer mumus. If government cannot protect us, we must protect ourselves, and that is why I give kudos to IPOB and Amotekun and any region that is trying to defend itself, because government has failed and does not care. I know that the cabal and the people in leadership positions are riff raffs. They don’t understand what governance is and they want to take us back to the Stone Age. We are living in the 21st century but they want to take us back to the Stone Age. That is the mentality of the people who are not leading Nigeria, but ruling Nigeria.
At 68, do you still ride power bike?
There is a time and season for everything. I stopped riding power bike four years ago.
How do you see the Okada ban, which is affecting your people?
I support Okada ban for the simple reason that the people I am seeing in the Okada business are not the people I used to know. These are strange people. The people that I see are not even Nigerians. Somebody stood up and said we are closing all the borders. Fine, you close all the borders but you leave Sokoto and all the borders up north porous, and people are pouring in. And then somebody said again ‘ehh, everybody come to Nigeria?’ Who is everybody? Who are these people we are in bed with? Everyday, I look around Igbo land and Yoruba land and I realise that they have been infiltrated by these strangers who are coming from God knows where, and that is why I said, since government cannot protect us, since police cannot protect us and the army cannot protect us, it is time to protect ourselves. And rather than have all these criminals and jihadists prancing around as Okada people, we need to take measures to curb them. Let us reorganize the Okada sector. I am begging the Lagos State government to please, put more busses on the streets to alleviate the stress and hardship. I know this is going to explode sooner or later because I know for a fact that nobody gives you anything, so if you cant take it by force, if you can’t stand up for your rights and defend your household, you will die like a chicken. And that is why I said in my song, Fire for Fire that we no go gree. Nobody is going to scare me away from Nigeria, God punish their fathers!
You don’t look 68, what is the secret to your youth?
My lifestyle. Even though, 50 per cent of it is good genes. I can be boastful of that because I come from a very good stock; unbeatable! My people have longevity. My mother lived to be 101 and dad lived till 98. I don’t want to live that long but I want to know that I am healthy till I die. Health is the only thing that I can brag about. If you nor get money and you nor get health, that na winch, na double wahala! But if you nor get money but you get good health, you are okay. Some people have all the money in the world but they don’t have good health. And you know, when you are terminally ill, you surfer it alone and when you die, you die alone.
I don’t intend to go anywhere just yet. I have always been conscious of my lifestyle. I don’t drink, I only smoke weed. I don’t mess around, I don’t chase skirts and I watch what I eat. I have no time for small talk. I don’t want to watch destruction on TV and I am into my family very much. I am not really a social person; I am an introvert. I am a couched potato. Maybe, because I was a vegetarian for a long time, that could explain it. I am always in the gym working out and making sure my joints are lubricated. You see a parked car and it is shining and you say ‘wow! This is a new car’. How do you know it is not Tokunbo? How do you know the engine has not been overhauled thrice? So, because the car is shining like Charly Boy is shining, you don’t know what is happening inside my body. I just thank God.
A while ago, you talked about Indian hemp and glorified it so much. Why?
It’s not Indian hemp as you know it, but because of our mumu nature, na so we go dey condemn our own thing. Now, oyibo don come take Indian hemp, dem don go modify am, put am as oil and the whole world has found that this oil is a special oil, it helps in arthritis, cancer and so many things. But for me, I don discover how I go take Igbo plants and some other exotic plants together. I feel it slows down the aging process. I have been experimenting on this for the past 15 years. I think I am into something very big. So, when people are talking about Igbo, I just look at them, they don’t even know how far.
Are you in support of the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who is clamouring for the legalisation of Indian hemp?
Him get sense. He sees the future. I am telling you that it can bring unimaginable revenue to that state if they get it right. The whole world is scrambling for African weed. If you go to Obiaruku or Kwale, the weed there is superb. One foreign musician smoked Kwale weed when he came to Nigeria and he went crazy. It was during my tenure as the president of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN).
I heared you have finally relocated to Lagos…
I am in Lagos now. Lagos keeps me younger and bubbling. Abuja is for thieves, rogues, prostitutes etc.
Do you think your conscious music will bring the expected change in Nigeria?
I am not under any illusion that whatever I do can change anything. I am not Jesus Christ but I know that I have inspired millions of youths. There are so many artistes that have passed through me during the Charly Boy Show or Zoom Time show. A case in point is Ali Baba, who started with the Charly Boy Show and he has made big it in the industry. The same thing with Mike Dada, the producer of All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), he passed through me. Most people that have passed through me are all big players in the industry. There is nobody that has passed through me and has not made it in the industry, and I thank God for that.
It’s not that all these things that I am saying will change the leadership because they are deaf, dumb, stupid and blind. But I am hoping that as I have inspired millions of youths, there will be one youth out there that will be more radical than me, organize and mobilize the people and give them back fire for fire. I know that the word is getting out and that is why I solicit for The Sun newspaper’s support. I am not the only one talking; there are other people out there who feel aggrieved, disenchanted and frustrated about things happening in the country. It could have been a much better country but it is all our fault, because we are not getting it right. We are guilty because of our inaction, being scared or not concerned. In fact, the thing wey don reach your neighbour’s house don reach your house. In fact, the enemy is living with us inside our compound. It is wake-up time for Nigeria. You either defend yourself or you will be killed. Before the end of the year, Nigeria will turn to something else. Most people are afraid that the economy is going to fail. Most people are afraid that this terror, bloodletting that we are seeing is all business. The top military personnel have broken into gangsters, controlling different areas. They can kill and maim for money. The Army is not together neither are all security agencies together, except the evil intentions of their agenda that they want to carry out.
Can Naira Marley turn the tide in the country among the youths?
He is somebody that I admire a lot. It may not take one person or five persons, but it takes constant messages from a lot of people so that the messages can sink into the minds of people. Some people are walking around, their mumu na follow come or factory fitted, so they don’t even know the things that will befall them. Ignorance is bliss and I wish I was ignorant. When you are too knowledgeable and you have a lot of things at the back of your mind, it becomes a burden. For me, I have seen civil war; do you think I want to see another war? I don’t see how this thing will end on a good note. Everybody go hear am. By June, you go see wetin go happen for Nigeria. Nigeria don hook, everybody must fight to defend themselves and their space, because for long, people have been sleeping. Now, the enemy don enter house. How you go do?
One of your daughters is gay and you refused to caution her?
I will ask, what kind of thinking are they doing? I am a cosmopolitan person. I am not a tribal man in the village neither am I a village person. I am exposed enough. When a child gets to a certain age, you don’t teach them what they want to do with their lives, all you can do is to advise them. If they take the advice, so be it, if they don’t take the advice, so be it. But if people are expecting that I will disown my child, may they be cursed because they are idiots. My child that is gay, I don’t like the fact that she is gay, but I can’t help it. It is not my life; it is her life. Whatever she wants to do, as long as she is happy or makes a success out of it, that is what she owes the family, to make a success out of her life. Her sex life is her prerogative, which one is my business?
Me, I no send anybody, anything anybody like, make dem dey talk, but I go dey live my life.
Who among your parents do you miss most, is it your dad or mum?
I miss both of them. My dad taught me a simple life, he taught me a life of contentment. It is not what you give a child but what you teach a child. My dad tried to break my head to put all the wisdom into it, and that was why I was resisting my dad for the first 30 years of my life. But then, I discovered that he was indeed my hero because of the way he lived his life. It was not like he had money but he had a good name. He was a man of integrity. One day, I asked him, why are you so happy, it is not like you have so much money and that was when the lesson of a simple life began to dawn on me. I miss my father for all the bullying that he gave me.
From my mother I learnt kindness and love for humanity. I used to think that all the house helps I brought into the house had some magical powers on my mum because she’s always caring for the house helps, even including their children in the village. I will miss both of them because they both stocked my DNA with very good qualities. They will remain eternal in my life.
What legacy do you want to leave behind?
People should remember me anyhow they like. I am not interested in legacy. My own is to keep doing things that speak to my soul. I’ll keep doing good until I drop dead. Anyhow I want to be remembered is people’s business.
How do you want to be buried? Do you want to be cremated?
I like to be cremated because I will be the first in my family.