By Bolatito Adebayo
Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk, popularly known as Iyanya, is a Nigerian musician. He has made a lot of impact with his music which has also won him multiple awards. In this interview , he shared with us his relationship with his mum, his music as well as sundry issues.
What’s the acceptance of your new album like now?
It’s been amazing. My fans are falling in love with it and even without the videos, you can see their interest. Now, you will see that the songs are easy to learn, like a nursery rhyme and everybody is falling in love with it.
You wrote a song for your mum titled “Not forgotten.” What inspired that song?
I did that song and finished it after Eric Arubayi died. Although, I already started the song before he died, but he made me finish the song. He inspired me to put the song together on my EP, because he was a good friend of mine. He was an amazing guy and his death to me was like losing my family member. It was very painful and I felt like crying on this EP, it will be nice to dedicate this song to people that inspired me.
When did your mum die?
My mum died in 2010. You know, Not forgotten is for everyone who has lost a loved one at a certain time. You know when you remember them you say a prayer for them, so, I did this song for such people.
What did she do for a living?
My mum was a teacher. She was a headmistress and so, all that school life about respecting people and behaving well she imparted on me. She believed in training up a child in the way of the Lord and stuffs like that.
Did she ever teach you?
Yes she did. At some point I was in her class.
What was it like being the son of a teacher?
It was a lot of pressure, because when your mum is a teacher you can’t fail. You have no excuse to fail and because she is your mum, if you are not doing well in class, then you are in trouble. So, you had to do what you had to do; I had to study hard and not depend on her for pass mark. You know, I wanted to be the child of whom someone would ask “who is that intelligent kid?,” and my mum comes up to say “He’s my son”.
What was the best advice she ever gave you that you cherish?
One of the things she taught me was humility. She taught me so much, but all of them put together in one word is humility, because I saw her live a humble life. She told me to always share what I have with others who don’t have and never to oppress other people as things of this world don’t have much value, and so I shouldn’t place much value on them.
As a teenager, how did she curb your excesses back then?
My mum was a teacher like I said, and when it was time to flog me, she did. When it was time to correct me with words she did. Sometimes when I did something bad, the look in her eyes told me I was in trouble.
Which did you prefer; flogging or her tongue-lashing?
She didn’t flog like that with bruises, it was just on my bum she flogged and every time she did that, I got the message. When it was something I did and she thought I deserved whipping, she whipped me. But when she felt I deserved a talk, she sat me down and talked to me. So, I don’t think any of her disciplinary measures were wrong because I needed it at that point. I never felt like she was being unfair, she did what she had to do as a mother.
What was her favorite food that you enjoyed?
I don’t know how they call it in English but in Calabar they call it oto. It was made of water yam, crayfish and other things and I miss that dish greatly now.
Aside her food what else do you miss about her?
I miss everything about my mum. Sometimes,especially now that I am famous. I wish I could call her and she would speak to me. Sometimes, I need somebody real and it’s not that there are no real people around, but it’s hard to trust people these days. Family is blood and your mum will always tell you the truth even if it hurts because she doesn’t want you to get hurt.
What really happened to her?
I lost my brother and she was the one taking care of him while I was in Lagos , coupled with the stress and all that, we lost her too.
Did she object to your singing career?
My mum was the one who made sure I joined the choir then. You know when I started chasing this kind of music, she felt like I didn’t really need it. She felt I should go to a good school, get pocket money and after a while get a good Calabar girl to marry then start a family. She didn’t like me sleeping outside and coming back home by 4am; you know how mothers can be? But when people started coming to her and complimenting my songs, then she was encouraged. You know I am not the type of guy that sings in the shower, although I do sometimes, but she never really heard me sing. But one day, she came to watch me and then that was it.
What did she tell you about girls?
She said never tell a girl you want to marry her when you don’t want to.
How soon are you settling down now?
I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t want to settle down but there’s too much pressure now especially with settling down. You know, you see people who have settled down and they are moving out of it, so I just figured out that all this is not about rushing because you feel it’s time. I think it’s about meeting the right person.