By: Vanguard NGR
Hafiz Oyetoro popularly known as Saka has seen more than two decades in the movie industry and thus, has become a reservoir of knowledge that can only be appreciated. He lost his father some months ago, sad, he said he was, but agreed he was truly happy that the man lived long enough (98) to see him turning out to the success story he has become. In this interview, the Nollywood star opens up on his 25-year journey in Nollywood and who really is ‘Saka’. Excerpts:
BY RICHARD UDOFIA and IYABO AINA
CAN we meet you?
I am Hafiz Oyetoro, from Iseyin Town, in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State. I attended Baptist Day Primary school and Koso grammar School respectively, all in Iseyin, thereafter I moved to University of Ile Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University where I bagged B.A in Dramatic Arts, M.A from Institute of African studies in University of Ibadan.
Presently, I am running my Ph. D at the University of Ibadan. Aside entertainment, most people don’t know that I am a seasoned lecturer in Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos in the Theatre Arts Department. I am happily married and blessed with children too.
How did you come about the name “Saka”?
The name Saka was a prominent role I played in a T.V Series titled “House Apart” by Wale Windapo and me in early 2000 and it was produced by Royal Hood Communications.
Basically, ‘Saka’ is a stage name I got on stage, and since then, the name just stuck.
Evaluate the entertainment industry over the years?
In the past, it was very discouraging, both the industry and practitioners were not given due respect. The society saw entertainers as never-do-well people, failures, and wayward people with no future ambition, yet, passion was the aim of the practitioners, the content, message and values then were more relevant, meaningful and moral centred in all ramification.
Presently, the technicality is improving, radio live shows and the incorporation of technology has made it more glamorous, commercially viable, more regulations are now being experienced, but in terms of content and values, there seems to be a decline as more emphasis is now being placed on financial gains rather than the content itself. Dedication was the focal thing at a time but reverse is the case now.
In future, the audience and society will be selective as they are now raising eyebrows than before. I strongly believe that soonest, value will be the most utmost thing in the industry. Recent research reveals that we are second to Hollywood in the world, in terms of volume of production, but I believe that we will claim that first spot in future when the industry develops in its content and gets enough support from the Government.
Apart from entertainment, which other area would you have pursued a career?
Honestly speaking, I do not know yet, because I have not ventured into any other profession while growing up. Although as a child, I used to dream of being a pilot, but the academic environment where I found myself did not encourage me to go after the dream. I guess because I was not really good in mathematics.
So in my free periods, I joined a performing group called “Akewiebi Theatre Groups” based in Iseyin. In fact when I watched a TV series program in OGTV, the first year it was formed, that added flare to my quest for the entertainment field.
How have you benefited from the Federal Government intervention fund into the entertainment industry?
I am still looking forward to benefiting from it. I am not a producer yet as such, but I have some works I am working on and I intend producing in future. For now, I am a full-time lecturer, but from all feelers I get, those who try accessing the funds said the process is very cumbersome and stressful, yet they ended up not getting it, that is Nigeria for you.
How do you feel about all the awards you have won?
It is very encouraging, each time I realize I have such recognitions. I am praying to God to get there by His grace, but on the average, I have about fifteen awards excluding international awards, and presently, I am being nominated for an international award, one in London and the other in one of the African countries. I believe that one’s work always speaks for one anywhere one finds oneself, no matter the location.
What has stardom cost you?
Although I have not and will never allow my achievements to go into my head. I still live my normal life and still do those things which I would have done if I hadn’t hit stardom. I always feel grateful to God, my fans, my supporters, and my parents, who have spent so much in bringing me up over the years and my colleagues (lecturers) too, who have always believed in me.
How do you relate with people?
I entrench values in those I come across, that is why, most times, in the private I prefer spending more time on building myself because I know I am charged with the responsibility of impacting positively on lives of those I meet as an actor.
How do you relax?
I spend time with my wife and children. We watch programs and play games together. I listen a lot when I am relaxing and most people don’t know that I enjoy Badminton as a game a lot. I call my wife “Olomi,” my sister, my love and my mother.
Qualitative time with family
She accepted me the way I was few years ago without nothing, but believed in my future, so whenever I have any ample time to spend, I spend it qualitatively with my family. She has time for the children; she has built a home for me and not a house.
Will you accept political position if given the opportunity?
Based on my kind of person, I am very shy and sentimental. I love to be found where people are smiling and laughing and politicians are not noted for such. I can accept political appointment in an event where their philosophy is people-friendly, but for me to compete for a political position in an election, that, I will not do. To me, I don’t see that field as my calling any time.
How did you feel winning the African Viewers Choice Award last year?
Of course, I was very happy, coming at a time when this award was first introduced to us, “The best comedian actor award”. The memory is awesome. I want to use this medium to thank all those who voted for me during the voting process.
How has the war on piracy been in the Industry?
There seems to be no war in the industry at all. The law is there but no action to safeguard intellectual property.Marketers and producers need to come together to review their contracts because many producers are losing out to marketers.
Many producers work and labour in vain, but the marketers plough in little capital and gain millions of naira in return. Some producers even pirate their works because they know at the end of the day; they will end up becoming the losers after all. Again, we don’t have a united union, but these pirates have a unified union and strong cabal, and it only takes associations with strong unions and government backings to eliminate these leeches from our industry.
Recently you lost your father, any long lasting memory you can never forget?
Pa Oyetoro, my biological father passed away this year, January 2014, at the age of 98, and has since been buried according to Islamic rites. It is something I cannot just quantify, but one thing I am grateful to God for, is that he was alive to see me become that which he did desire before his demise. I have so many resounding memories of my late father that I cannot forget in my life time. He has lived his life and has left his mark on the sand of time.
We learnt you are a Rich man, how true is it?
Honestly, I am not a rich man, but I am comfortable, satisfied and happy.
What is the secret of your successful life?
It is simple, all you need is patience, humility, staying focused and most importantly, having the fear of God. It is only God that can give a man success. I have been in this industry for about 25- 26 years, but look at when my time to shine came. You cannot get to the top all of a sudden. The rhythm of life is step by step, stage by stage and from simple to complex.
If you do not follow this rule of life, you become irrelevant. God blesses what he finds in your hand. People should always learn to appreciate what is in their hands, never be satisfied with what you have achieved now, because the degree of work and quality of value you add to the society makes you an individual.