How was life growing up with your late father?
It was good although he was not always around. He was always on locations but the few times that we spent with him were fun. He was a playful person.
How many siblings do you have?
I have five siblings.
Did he encourage any of his children to follow in his career path?
Not really. Actually, when I finished the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, I ventured into acting. He registered me in the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria but as time went by, he would not let me go for most auditions because it was becoming addictive. At the time, I actually did not want to go to school again because I always feared that I was missing out on most auditions. Because of that, he wasn’t encouraging me that much to do it.
Is any of his children in the film industry?
Not really. I mean, I am into it but not Nollywood. I am into Christian drama ministry as much as time allows me. I am also a lawyer.
Your father had a good sense of humour. How much did he make the home lively?
We laughed a lot. In fact, when I secured admission to study law, he would always tease me and make reference to how the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi would beat me in court. It was always funny around him but at the same time, he was a very strict person. He would not take any rubbish.
Why did you study law?
It is actually a funny story. I was in Enugu with my father. I was in boarding school in Enugu then and he was staying in a hotel. When I was on holiday, he lodged me in the hotel. I had some friends staying in Gariki, Enugu, and I visited them there. We were chatting when some policemen entered the room. My friends were afraid and they all knelt down and raised their hands. I did not kneel down immediately but the policemen were shouting at me to do as others did. Eventually, I did as ordered.
It was clear that I was not afraid of them. Then they asked us if we had money. I had N100 in my pocket and my friends brought out the money that they had. I told them that I had money but I was not going to give them. They beat me and after beating me, they asked me where I lived and my parents’ name.
I told them the hotel I was staying in and I showed them my AGN card. Then, they asked me how I was able to pay for the hotel. It was at that moment that my friends said my father paid for it and they asked me who my father was. My friends told them who he was and the police told me to stand up. They said that I should have told them who my father was.
My father used to buy drinks for them. They started begging me and gave me back my money and left. I wanted to report them to their DPO but my friends said I shouldn’t. I did not go but it was that day I promised myself that I would study law to prevent such a thing from happening and would fight for the oppressed.
What did your father say when you told him you wanted to study law?
He was very supportive. In fact, he was very excited when I got admission to study law. Unfortunately, he died a day before I started my bar finals; he was not at my call to bar.
How did he spend time with his family during his free time?
We used to go to Enugu from Lagos to visit him. He usually doesn’t wake up early. We always had to wait till around 1pm because that was when he usually woke up. We would sit and play around. We always used to go out a lot and it was always fun going out with him.
What values did he instil in his children?
My father was a very strict man and he believed in working hard to get what one deserves. He knew many important people and a word from him could have gone a long way, but he would even be angry if such was brought up. He believed in working hard to get what one wants.
What kind of songs did he listen to?
He listened to hignlife and Igbo gospel. There is an Igbo gospel song that he used to listen to and play in his car. Anytime I hear it, I always remember him. Funny enough, the first time I listened to Westlife was with him. I saw the CD in his room and I played it and I liked it. He also listened to Lionel Richie a lot.
What was his favourite food?
He loved white soup with any solid and cow leg.
What did he wear mostly?
At home, he would usually put on jeans and a T-shirt but if we were going out, he would wear well-starched native attire.
How would you describe his relationship with those around him?
It was always fun. You would never find him alone. His friends were always around him and that was one of the things we almost fought over because one might want to discuss something serious but there would be many people there and one would not be able to bring it up.
How do you feel watching his movies?
It was always normal for me because at some point, I was always with him on location. When most people were watching the movies, I had already seen them. It made me smile. It was also one of the periods where he acted a lot with Nkem Owoh (Osoufia).
How was it watching him act?
It was great fun because a scene that was supposed to take about 20 minutes to shoot, could end in two hours especially with Nkem Owoh because they were a ‘dangerous’ combination. They would make the crew laugh so much that they would not be able to film and they would have to re-shoot.
What of your father’s movies is your favourite and why?
I would say ‘Police Recruits’ because the people who acted in the movie apart from my father were actors that I really love and they are funny. I have watched it over and over again and I still do. It is a movie that most of my friends will always talk about.
What was your experience in school with your friends knowing who your father was?
It was normal to me although most people did not know initially. I remember one day when someone was arguing in school that Sam Loco was from his village in Delta State and that he knew Sam Loco’s father. I did not say anything but then, someone told him that I was Sam Loco’s son and he came to meet me and asked why I did not say anything. On campus, I also used to act a lot in comedy films and people used to say, ‘Like father, like son’.
Would you say his name opens doors for you?
Not really. I will not say his name does. I hardly use his name.
What would you say was his impression of Nollywood?
There was a time when he used to think that there were lots of young actors in Nollywood who did not want to develop themselves. He believed that an actor should always strive to be better. It was also a growing industry at the time;so, he believed that things would get better as time went on.
What were the challenges he faced in his career?
He had to sacrifice a lot and he was not always around. There was a time that we did not even see him for about two years. I started seeing him more when I went to Enugu for schooling.
How would you like him to be remembered?
I think he is already being remembered for who he was and what he did. I hear people talk about how much they love him. They say that when they are angry or upset, they watch the movies he featured in to laugh. Also, we had a procession for him in Bayelsa during the burial, and there were lots of people praising him. I think his fans will always remember him.
What advice did he give you that guides you today?
He did not sit me down to give me any advice as a father but he always taught me to be hard-working and focused. I remember a day when a friend of mine came to visit me in the hotel where we were staying and after she left, he told me that if I got her pregnant, it was my school fees that he would use to feed the child. He believed in being focused in what one wanted in life.
What do you miss about him?
He was a friend. I miss not being able to call him and play around with him.
How did he discipline his children?
He never beat me. The only person he beat was my elder sister. He did not use to beat us but he could scold you to the point that you would almost want to kill yourself and he could do it in public or before his fellow actors. That could make one cry and one’s age wouldn’t matter in such a situation.
He spoke a lot of grammar in movies sometimes. Was that how he spoke at home?
No. He spoke simply.
How true is the report that he died at a film location in Imo State?
Yes, it’s true. He was editing a movie at the time.
How does the family remember him annually?
The first two years, we held a remembrance for him. After that, due to the fact that everyone is busy, everyone does it on their own.
Would you say he achieved his dreams before he died?
I would say to an extent. One of his dreams was to retire to his farm in Abakaliki. Unfortunately, he could not do that. He loved to act and so to an extent, I believe he achieved his dreams.