SCANDALS KEEP ME RELEVANT –MUMA GEE
We know you studied Theatre Arts, but did you suddenly just realise that you could be an actress?
I have always wanted to be an actress. I am always somebody who believes in time; that is, you achieve something before you move to another level. I had been in school before I moved to Lagos to face my musical career. I have done that bit, I have achieved enough recognition. I think it is time I try my hands on other things.
Is it that you are bored with music?
Oh, no! The musical career is so good for me. It is very much okay for me. I can't be bored. It is a handful on its own. I hardly find time to go and shoot films. In any event, I select the scripts that I get involved in. I have come a long way already in music and in the entertainment industry in the country. I have my own principles, and my belief as well.
You said music is already a handful. Do you think you will be able to handle both movies and music?
Yes. It depends on my bookings. When I take a script, I tell the producers when I will be free. If it is convenient for them, we go ahead and shoot. And then if anything comes out impromptu, they give me a break to go and perform and then come back to the set.
Granted, you have made a mark in the music industry; do you think you can break through in the movie world?
Everything comes with time. I am not in the movie industry because I want to be relevant or because I want o be a star. I am already a star in the Nigerian entertainment industry and that is okay for me. I am in the movies because I want to make a statement and use the medium to correct societal ills. That was the reason I went to the university to study Theatre Arts. I can't just waste all that because I am too busy singing on the stage. This dream of mine has to come true, and it is only me that can make it work.
Somehow you have remained relevant in the music industry. How have you been able to achieve this when many others have come and gone?
It is just by doing the work and leaving the rest for God to handle. Relevance is not my making. I think it is God's work. It is just like you, a journalist now; there are many journalists, but not all of them have the opportunity to talk to Muma Gee.
It depends on how hard you work. I know how long we have been trying to conduct this interview and you persevered. Some other person might have gotten upset. They wouldn't have understood the fact that I have been very busy, travelling here and there. I just have to struggle and work hard.
That wisdom to persevere is what has kept me going. We have to do our own part and leave the rest to God.
Still on your career, your latest single, 'Kade' is okay; but I think many believe that the first song, 'Love for Peace and Progress', which brought you to prominence, is doing better than the latest.
I don't think so. Love for Peace and Progress is not an album. It is a single. Over the years, I have been experimenting with my work. I have been producing songs in the studios, shooting my videos and promoting them just to keep myself relevant and to build an image and a name for myself in the industry. I have achieved that now.
Kade album contains all the songs I have been recording over the years, including the Love for Peace and Progress track. We remixed them and brought them up to date and we compiled them and put them in one album. Kade is just one single in the album.
That means you have just one album.
It is not how many, but how well the album is. We think it is a one-way thing, but that is wrong. It is not about getting into the studio, doing an album and releasing the album. The reason I have not released many albums is that the genre of music that I am into is not common. I am pioneering it.
It is not easy for me to come out with something stupid and just give it to the people, and tomorrow it dies off. It took me three years to do investigation, research and do the concepts; and at the end of the day, I decided it was time I produced and put all I learnt into an album. We are working already on the next album. Now that we have started, we are not going to stop.
It is starting well that is important. Is it not a thing of joy that my first album got me all the attention? If I had done it some years' back, probably I would have been dead now, you wouldn't be talking to me now because I would have dished out something that is not ripe for people's consumption.
As good as the 'Kade' video is, how come it has not won you any award?
It has not won any award, but it has got a lot of nominations. It is not as if I am consoling myself. I can tell you, being nominated is just like winning an award. It is really great to be remembered and be compared with other acts. How about if I did it and I wasn't even looked at?
I am not regretting anything. I am glad with the nominations. Maybe it is not yet time. God's time is the best. You and I know that the video is one of the best videos. There was a time it was nominated for the Best Costume Video award. But the award was given to some other person. It is questionable; but then, the organisers must have had a reason for choosing the other video. I don't query anybody. I only appreciate the fact that I have been nominated and invited. It shows that I am relevant and valued.
You are always booked for shows. How do you do it? Is it that you or your music is fantastic, or you do 'underground' moves?
Believe me, it is just God. I don't know how He does it. Don't you think it is the miraculous work of God for me to come all the way from Port Harcourt to Lagos, and be able to break through as quickly as I did?
In Lagos, we have loads of artistes. But I think God has given me the ability to be unique. It is that uniqueness that gets people attracted to me.
How have you been able to shoulder the responsibilities that come with stardom?
It is not easy at all. Sometimes, I actually sit back alone and I cry, because there are things I would want to do but I can't do them. There are things 'normal' people will do and get away with it, but I can't do such.
Sometimes I would want to go to the market but I can't. Why can't I be a human being just like every other person?
Are you saying your admirers would mob you if you go to the market?
I have been mobbed several times. There were times I went to the market without make-up. I tied up my hair and all that, but people still recognised me. I just had to run away.
In your line of duty, have you ever been embarrassed on stage?
Sometimes the microphones make noise and such things. That is about all.
But do you always flow with the crowd? Have you ever been booed at, especially when you were starting up?
That has never come up and it will never come up. I am confident of the fact that I have a very good stage craftsmanship. With this, I am able to handle the crowd and play with them. I make them work the way I would want them.
Sometimes, I get them to do the singing. That makes them feel good and it makes them love you. I am too loved to be embarrassed
Is that why you go as far as kissing some guys when you are performing?
Oh, my God! That is just a way to show love. Sometimes, most people who come to watch you on stage are not really your class. They are not up to your life standard and all that. But then I do some extraordinary things to make them feel human and feel highly appreciated.
To be honest with you, every man would die to kiss Muma Gee. It does not come cheap or easy. You don't even see Muma Gee to kiss. And then Muma comes on stage and kisses you. Oh my God! It is so daring and endearing.
I do that to show my love for mankind and to showcase my love for humanity. You don't have to be a president or a rich man to kiss Muma Gee. You can also be a commoner and have the privilege of kissing Muma Gee.
But I tell you, it is not a French kiss. It is just a peck or a kiss on my lips. That is all.
So, it's not that you enjoy kissing guys?
Did you dream of becoming a musician when you were growing up?
When I was growing up, I was very intelligent. I thought of becoming a medical doctor.
Along the line, I felt like coming into music and I am not regretting it. At least I have a degree to back it up. By God's grace, I am disciplined enough to handle it.
My family actually disowned me when I started. But when they found out that I was still sane, I wasn't smoking or doing drugs as an artiste, they had to take me back.
Being an artiste has actually made me a better person. I have my corporate life. It has not been easy, but we are striving to get there.
Have you ever thought of giving back to the society that gave you this much?
In several ways I think I have done that, but I don't think I have started. I am not doing enough in the sense that I have a foundation, but we have some shortcomings in the area of funding and all that.
We organise seminars where we gather youths and give them a focus and reorientation. I use Muma Gee as an example. I was nobody before, I started from nowhere but here I am today. If they put in a bit of hard work and God being on their side, they would get there.
I am very passionate about the way the youth behave. You never can tell who will be reasonable in future.
That is why I have decided to re-brand Muma Gee. In the past, I used to be highly mature in the way I do things and even in my dress sense. In fact, I had to increase my age by two years, just because I wanted to feel very mature. People think I am 31, but believe me I was born in 1978. I wanted to be on a high pedestal.
But I need to be myself. I need to be a youth. I consider myself committing a sin if I do not touch lives through my music because it is way up there. It is time for me to be who I am.
You were already a star before you went back to school. One would have thought you ignore education since you were already up here.
Education is very paramount in life. If I was not educated, I won't be sounding the way I am sounding now. If I weren't educated, I would have been in one village suffering or prostituting. You don't have to be an academic, just get the basics and that is all that.
Then again, my family's influence was one of the things that made me go back to school. Even when I ran away from home, I knew there was no way I was going to face my parents if I didn't get back to school.
For somebody who sounds so modest, is it not amazing that you have so many scandals following you?
Most of these scandals are lies. They don't even bother me. I see them as distractions. In life, you must face that hurdle. Life is not a bed of roses. You cannot be successful without obstructions.
I see these scandals as malicious evil. In everything I have achieved, all you can see to talk about is how Muma Gee squatted with someone?
But you squatted with somebody...
Yes. What is the big deal? I was staying in a hotel, but at some point, I felt I was bound to run out of cash because I am not Central Bank. Along the line, I met someone who said she had a place and I could come and stay with her before I go back to Port Harcourt. I stayed there for like two months. I was surprised when I read in the papers that it was for eight months. That is not true.
But no man is an island. Nobody has made it in life without the help of one or two persons. I am very appreciative of everything. But then, it is all part of life.
At the time I squatted with this person in Lagos, I had built my duplex in Port Harcourt. What is the crime in squatting with somebody for a while? Obasanjo can never say he not squatted with somebody.
But you bit the finger that fed you, as some people would say.
Let me tell you, I had a Rav 4 before I came to this town. I was organised. It was just by accident that I ran into this person. Genuine people who help people do not make noise. Anybody saying that I bit the finger that fed me never really fed me. Look at the life of the person who said she fed you. What kind of a car does she ride? I was driving a Rav 4 eight years before I came to this town. If the person fed me, let him or her feed himself or herself to the standard that he or she has fed me.
Why would you want to take the shine on me just because you came in contact with me? Well, if telling journalists all sorts of stories that are not true would make you a star, then I wish you good luck! I am glad that it is my name that is making you a star. The more you talk, the more I feel glad that I am bettering your life.
Say all sorts of stories about me; news is news. It keeps me relevant.
But what of the guys they say you date?
Oh, my God! What is wrong in dating somebody? But they should try and find out if it is true that I am dating all the people they say I am dating.
I should be proud of whomever I am dating, but not when it is unreal.
We also hear that you sent thugs after one female artiste because she was almost snatching your boyfriend.
I am too decent and too God-fearing to send thugs after someone. I don't dwell around evil. If you patronise evil people, evil people will also patronise you.
I think some people are myopic. They don't even know the class I deal with. They don't even know the standard of my living.
I don't own any man. I am not even in a relationship right now. I didn't send any thug to anybody.
I am not supposed to swear; but between God and man, I did not send thugs to anybody. Just look at how calm I am as I am saying this. May I not succeed as Muma Gee if I actually send thugs to anybody. If I were a thug, my community would not have made me a chief. I would not be respected. I am too decent, too patriotic to do such nonsense.
People sit down and think of how to tarnish my image. The supreme God I serve will not allow them. Let them go ahead. They will keep talking until there is nothing to talk about again, and everybody will rest. Let us just sit back and enjoy the ride.
This same person has tried to blackmail some male artistes, saying that they tried to rape her. My mouth is too glorious for me to mention her name. I don't think I will stoop to mention her name.
You said you don't own any man, when are you going to own one?
I am waiting for you. When you own a man, I will own one too. When you get married, I will follow you behind.
Anyway, I want to be married to my career; once I get into marriage, I will not be able to concentrate. I am an African woman in totality. I am very domesticated. Forget all the razzmatazz and the glamour. I mop my floors myself. I have maids, but I still do the cooking. I don't get satisfied with what my maids do.
So, once I am married, because I know the value of marriage, I will not have a divided attention on my home. I will concentrate on my children, on making babies and on my husband because I would not want to lose him.
Categorically, it is good to do one thing at a time. I am practising my career now. When I get to the height I want, then I can think of owning a man.
When you finally are ready, do you think the men will be there?
I have loads of suitors. I don't have to hurry over anything. This is my life. God will not come from heaven to get my dream materialised. The right man is there for me.