From GODWIN TSA and AIDOGHIE PAULINUS
Legal luminary, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has explained why he has consistently maintained a particular hairstyle for over four decades. Ozekhome who clocked 60 recently, told Saturday Sun that the hairstyle fits his face, his head, gives him a particular signature, saying that he just loves the brand.
Revealing the attitude of ladies towards his hairstyle, Ozekhome, in his characteristic manner, said: “I am a lady’s man in terms of my gregariousness. I am very gregarious, I am very sociable and I meet a lot with people.”
He added: “When I go out with my wife either for dinner, for lunch or events, with all sense of humility, some people see me as a super celebrity. So, I am used to ladies coming to me, to hug me, to peck me and my wife would take one or two steps back.”
Amongst other issues, the Iviukwe, Edo State-born Ozekhome, goes down memory lane to relieve his childhood experience and the journey towards attaining three scores.
I have been noticing this hairstyle for a very long time and you have consistently been maintaining it and it makes you look as if you are 42 years old. What is the secret behind it?
The style is my signature. Actually, I started this style in primary six in 1969 and I carried it to Saint Peter’s College, Agenegbode in 1970 when I entered form one. And I think if you look at 1970 to now, that would be about 47 years now. So, I have been maintaining this style for about 47 years with the path. If you see some of my pictures even when I was about 12, 13, you will see that I already had this path. I just loved it. It fits my face, it fits my head and it gives me a particular signature, a brand. So, at times, when journalists, newspapers want to cartoon me, they cartoon me with the hairstyle.
What do you call your brand?
This is Ozekhome brand. I have seen some people trying to imitate it. They couldn’t cope, either the position of their head does not go with it or for one reason or the other, they dropped it. But I have maintained it; I have been consistent with it. So, it is Ozekhome brand of hairstyle.
Or can we call it Akpakpavighivighi brand?
You can call it Akpakpavighivighi brand if you want (he laughs).
Do you have a particular barber?
No! Not a particular barber. In all my houses, what I do is to have my own barbing kit and I would send my Personal Assistant (PA) or my driver to go and call me a barber. And I will first of all tell the barber, can you see how this hairstyle is? They will say yes. I would say it is like punk, but not children’s punk (general laughter) which is too high. I would say the two sides of my face are lower; the two sides of the head are lower and the top is flat. Can you get it? They would say yes. But from the beginning to the end, I will start controlling them as to how they cut the hair. I would say wait, don’t go there, that one would spoil the style. Take it left, take it right, slow down.
Let me surprise you. I even cut my hair by myself. When I travel abroad and I can’t quickly get a barber and I am going to stay for a long time, I cut my hair by myself with scissors because I know the style. I just go in front of a mirror, look at it and I will cut the side first, the other side and the top. And to get the path, I will use a shaving powder, use a shaving stick and just put it narrowly across here (showing The Sun reporters how he cuts his hair) and it will come out fine. So, I have been known with this style as my signature.
I think some people must have told you something about this hairstyle…
(Cuts in) Everybody, virtually everybody! They say it is good, it fits me; they say it is good for me.
What about the ladies?
You can be sure of that. I am a lady’s man (general laughter). I am a lady’s man in terms of my gregariousness. I am very gregarious, I am very sociable and I meet a lot with people. When I go out with my wife either for dinner, for lunch or events, with all sense of humility, some people see me as a super celebrity. So, I am used to ladies coming to me, to hug me, to peck me and my wife would take one or two steps back.
Does she get jealous?
No. She never gets jealous. She will just joke and say you are a public property, let me just give you a chance. My wife is the most understanding woman that I think God has ever created. She has never asked me question about girls, about women. She is not the jealous type at that. She is very matured and very educated and very enlightened. She doesn’t believe it worths it. She continues to tell me women who run after men, checking them, you are just wasting your time because if a man wants to play, he can still play even if you monitor him 24 hours a day. I know my husband. Even if he were to play, one thing is sure, he is a family man. He will be back here. And for him as a public figure, for me to begin to monitor which girl talks to him, or which girl discusses with him or which girl pecks him on the cheek, it is not worth it. So, she is very understanding because she knows that these are just social matters.
Chief, how do you feel at 60?
At 60, I feel very strong, very energetic, I bubble with the sap of life like a yam tendering in the rainy season, to use Chinua Achebe’s description in his epic ‘Things Fall Apart.’ You will see my swimming pool there. I can swim for two hours. I still play football for 90 minutes for the fun of it and not necessarily competitive football. I still score goals. Three of my children are very good footballers and they wonder how I can still play competitive football with them. Notwithstanding my busy schedule, I try to create time for aerobics and fitness moves. So, every Saturday for example, once I am within the premises, I go out jogging with my dogs. And I pace them. At times, I allow my dogs to pace me or I pace them, particularly when we are doing some rounds across some streets in my neighbourhood. And when we are getting home, the animals seem to remember that we are getting to the final stage. They will look at me and increase their steps to tell me, boss, we are getting there and I will also increase my steps to show that the competition is on, who is going to win. I do a lot of jogging, I do some shadow boxing at times to keep fit, I do a lot of body press-ups and I count. I can do 150 press-ups at a time, using both hands and then, one hand, with the other hand on my back and then, the other hand on my back again. So, I can do both of them up to 150 at a time (he excuses himself to demonstrate on the ground).
You mean 150 at a time?
Yes, at a time.
Football and swimming, did you start practising them at Iviukwe because there is the river Niger at Agenebode?
When I was growing up, I started football at a very, very early age. In the village, we didn’t have the kind of footballs you have nowadays. We had some rubber trees behind our house. We will go and tap the rubber, the water that comes from the rubber, we roll it together and it becomes a very hard object. We call it atsaghadi. It is as strong as rock. You can see some of my toes broken because when you hit it, you will think you are hitting a rock. That was how we grew up in the rusty village in the 60s and 70s.
Agenebode is actually about 10 minutes from Iviukwe where I really come from. So, the river Niger is at Agenebode. But we have to first learn how to swim in the village and the nearest streams and rivers in our Iviukwe village were about two to three hours away trekking.
Are you referring to river Obe?
Not river Obe. River Obe is between Iviukwe and Fugar. But these are small rivers, small streams in the rocky terrains, hills and valleys, and at times, spirogyras and guinea worms infested. And as children, we didn’t care. We just found ourselves swimming. So, every person of my generation knows how to swim. And we will go to Agenebode on market days. We used to trek there from Iviukwe to Agenebode in those days when there were no roads. It used to be up to three hours journey, trekking.