“Most of the White Men who came to colonise Nigeria came through these rivers. We were taught how to live civilised. If people term that wild, then fine!”
Looking really exotic as she performed last Sunday at Leads Awards held at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Muma Gee held the audience spellbound. Shortly after the show, the charming mother of three opened up to Entertainer on issues ranging from her music to lifestyle, crashed marriage, and of course, her yet-to-be released song, ‘Double Your Hustle’.
How has life been with you lately?
The latest is that I am telling people to please double their hustle with my current song titled, ‘Double Your Hustle’. ‘Double Your Hustle’ is borne out of the inspiration that one needs to upgrade oneself and push oneself. If we don’t do it for ourselves, who will? We need to also see the need to do more than just one job. We need to think about the various areas of income flow available to us and then take advantage. Doubling your hustle goes beyond just doing two jobs, it goes as far as trying to upgrade your life so that you can contribute your own quota to building a better society for us all.
How many songs/albums have you released so far?
Honestly, I can’t lay count on it, but I have done quite a lot of work. I have over 25 years experience on stage and the craftsmanship has not reduced in any way. But, you know we are here today talking about innovation, this brand has gone through some kind of innovation, we are pulling what the brand Muma Gee stands for and blending it with the new wave of the moment in the entertainment industry. That is to say, the way you hear the song that I do today, is quite different from the usual Muma Gee that you used to hear – it’s kind of inspiring and makes you strong-willed. So, that is what it is and I’m so happy about that because it took a lot of hard work, a lot of recording, condemning the song, and seeing the need to keep upgrading before we arrived at that.
What actually inspired Double Your Hustle?
I have this very special person in my life that keeps telling me all the time, ‘Double your hustle; forget about the odds and circumstances around you’. And then I’m like maybe it shouldn’t just be me gaining from this personally. I should also sell it to people out there, especially to youths, because due to lack of encouragement, a lot of them are giving up on life these days, they have gone into drugs and cultism and all the wrong things, because no one is really encouraging their hustles. That was what inspired the song, ‘Double Your Hustle’. So, any time I do that song, it makes me feel good and when I got into the studio, everything that was ringing in my head is: you just have to double your hustle.
Is the song out yet?
No, it hasn’t. Funny enough, I performed it for the first time on stage today (last week). It is fresh from the studio. We are working on the video and it is going to drop on or before my birthday, which comes up on November 18.
Tell us the high and low moments of your life as an artiste?
My case is very peculiar, because when I started music, people were forced to believe that I was way older than my age. My high moment as an artiste came like too high at a very young age. I was performing with the likes of Miriam Makeba and Yvonne Chaka Chaka because of my brand of music. I was able to carve a niche for myself and created my brand to be way more matured than it was supposed to be. So, my high moments were so remarkable. I would say I was one of those few Nigerian female artistes that started earning so high at a time, because I was able to build a brand that was maybe unique or maybe it’s just God.
Low moments of my career, I would say are those moments that it becomes so hectic and boring to be a popular artiste, because you want to go into the market sometimes and feel like a real woman, but at times you can’t do that because you are Muma Gee. And sometimes you want to walk on the street and may be get yourself a boli (roasted plantain) from the roadside seller because you just feel the urge to do so like every other person does, but you can’t do it. Sometimes, you want to walk around freely on the streets like every other common man does but you can’t. So, my low moments are those times I can’t do certain things I wish to do just because I am subjected to be in closed doors. All these have a devastating feeling on you and sometimes might drive you into depression because you are not mixing up and relating with people, as you desire. I am by nature an indoor person but sometimes I want to wangle my way out and do something like going to the market and choosing my kind of fabric myself. I am a fashion freak and also a fashion designer. I design most of what I wear, so sometimes people can’t really get across to me with the sort of fabrics I would want to use for my designs and all of that. Another thing is that part where the opposite sex feels that you are a sex object because you are an artiste; they think you are loose, when you are really not. So, you are misinterpreted as a female artiste most times.
You dress sense on stage is wild. What informs your kind of dressing?
As a Theatre Arts person – I studied Theatre Arts at the university and so costuming was part of my training. Apart from the fact that I have wild imaginations, I also have the technical know-how of stage management. And so, I know that as an artiste, to move around on stage, you need to feel free. Like the gown I am wearing right now is very elegant. I am supposed to be moving like a princess in it, but without the tearing on the both sides, as it is now, I won’t be able to move my legs. And so, people may think I deliberately did the slits to look sexy or wild. Sometimes, it goes beyond just looking sexy to the fact that I need to push around my legs while on stage. But outside the stage, I love to be very free, so I wear a lot of shorts. Maybe it’s because I have bowlegs and I am confident of being unique with the bowlegs.
For my wild Afro hairstyles – you know that in the olden days, we didn’t have chemicals to soften our hairs, they were usually very stiff; so my hairstyle is the enactment of what we truly are as Africans. But people just think ‘oh, she just likes to wear crazy bushy hairdos’.
Is it true that girls from Rivers State, most especially Port Harcourt, are wild?
I am from Rivers State but grew up in so many places including the North, so I can speak Hausa very well. I grew up a bit in Port Harcourt but in a very strict family background. It may shock you that in spite of how wild I look, I don’t smoke and I have never tried smoking till now, and I have never tasted alcohol. So, what’s wild about Rivers State girls? People keep saying that, not just you! Well, we don’t regret it because we look kind of more civilised maybe because of our early contact with civilisation – because of the riverine area we are from. Most of the White Men who came to colonise Nigeria came through these rivers and we came in contact with them, so a lot of our culture is exposed to the Western civilisation and so we were taught how to live a civilised life. And if people term that civilised way of living wild, then fine!
You seem to be saying your own wildness is a kind of camouflage?
It is not a camouflage; I am doing me! You need to see me drink water or eat just fufu with you and then go on stage; you would just see a totally different person, and that is because I allow my whole body to be controlled by the passion that I have in my prowess as regards expressing my art as Muma Gee.
What is your take on marriage and being a superstar?
To be sincere with you, I have always believed that before you go into marriage, you have to be ready and if you are not ready, don’t get in. So, I never believed in separation or divorce but unfortunately the things you believe in sometimes do not work out for you the way you believe them. The reality of life sometimes hits you and forces you into what is different from your ideology. So, now that I have fallen into the category of celebrities that were once married and no longer married, I am not regretting because I got three lovely children from a marriage that failed like two years back after only six years of the union. And in anyway, I will never regret having been married to the person I got married to, because that was God’s plan for me at that time. And when it didn’t work out the way I expected, I didn’t give up on life. It is only painful that I don’t believe in divorce or separation but separation met me.
So, my take on marriage is: think very well, be sure of yourself and make sure you are ready to settle down in the marriage before you go into it. If you noticed, for the six years I was married, I stayed off my career. I played down on my career not because I couldn’t be married and also be a star, but because I wanted to be sure I gave all to my marriage; and truly between God and man, I gave it all. I hung up my career and made sure I built a family and I actually built a good family but if it turned out the way it did, who am I to question God? Now, I don’t want to cast my mind back because I have moved on and life goes on.
Do you hope to remarry soon?
(Laughs) That’s funny! I am not even sure of an answer to that question. I am one that likes to leave my life in God’s hands. And I like God to take control. Even when I was to separate from my husband, I said to God ‘I have tried a couple of times to hold this turbulent water but the water keeps dripping off my hands, then God let your will be done’. So, if He says I’m going to be remarried, I will, and if He says no, I will be highly fulfilled with three beautiful kids. Honestly, I am letting God take over my life. Now, if I should decide to remarry, how am I sure this person will be better than the previous one? So, let God’s will be done in my life. What is important to me now is telling everybody out there, especially the Nigerian youths, to double their hustles.
Any plan to reconcile with your husband?
For now, all I am doing is give total attention to my new song, ‘Double Your Hustle’. My mind hardly travels that lane, while I let God take total control of my life on what to be or not.