Halima Abubakar is angry and she makes no pretence about it! The diminutive Nollywood actress is upset with a lot of things. Hear the Ebira, Kogi State-born thespian: “I have really gone through many things in my life. It has not been an easy journey, but I thank God I was not broken. Sometimes people make you lose confidence in yourself and you just want to give up. So I am really happy for my strength and God.
“People are annoying and suddenly they are saying things about me, but it is okay, it means I'm doing something great, because if you are not doing anything great, they won't talk about you,” she adds.
Asked to comment on her once robust relationship with Nollywood pal, Tonto Dikeh, Miss Abubakar waxes philosophical. “Ok, after a while some people just grow apart in life,” she begins.
“That was the only problem we had, there was never any verbal exchange between us. Don't forget that between us, there were too many friends. Now, I don't even have time for friendship, which is the truth because I have grown wiser now. At a point in life, people just need to go achieve something and come back. I didn't want to feel awkward in any relationship that is why I decided to do my own thing. Tonto is an amazing person.”
Halima Abububakar, in this touching interview opens up on her love life, business, upbringing and many other issues.
Of late, what has been happening to Halima Abubakar?
I have been very busy from the beginning of this year. In fact, I am dehydrated. I was very busy last year. I overdid it and I thought I could do the same this year but my body can't take it. At the moment, I am treating stress. My doctor told me that I need a rest. That is why I am at home now.
So what are the current projects taking your time?
I have been shooting movies in Owerri and Awka but I have not been to any location in Asaba this year. I have been to Enugu three times and now I am shooting in Lagos. I am doing a documentary about bullying. You can call it my pet project. It won't be more than 40 minutes because we don't intend to waste anyone's time.
Of all charitable causes, why bullying?
Because I have been bullied for most part of my childhood and adolescent years. I want to focus on this because a lot of people are scared to speak-up maybe because of threats. These things are serious, parents need to talk to their kids to find out about this especially kids in boarding schools. It is not as rosy as it seems. I am inspired by things that has happened to me in my life to put them in writing and pictures. It is just a subject that I like. We don't always have to do romance all the time. And whether we admit it or not, bullying is one of the reasons so many people do what they are not supposed to do. Some go into smoking weed just for self-worth among peers especially to prove a point to bullies.
How far have you gone with the project?
I am doing it bit by bit. I have done about 20 scenes so far. I have involved students from two schools. I will see how far we can go before the end of August and I will complete it.
Are you financing a big project of this nature by yourself?
Well, we overspent on my movie project, The Mistress. We went way overboard because I lost some tapes from the movie. We are re-shooting about 20 scenes and that is a lot of money gone down the drain. I now have to recall some actors. It was really a stressful thing. But I believe it will come out pretty fine. That is why I have to go through all this stress. I have gotten angry at others when they call me back for a re-shoot and I can imagine how the people I am calling back now must be feeling.
Bullying must have been a traumatic experience for you to decide to make a movie out of it. Could you share some of the experience with us?
Oh yes! While I was in primary and secondary schools and all the way to my career in Nollywood, most of my friends have exploited my being quiet in a very disrespectful manner. Perhaps, because one is not a star or don't have what they possess and because of this, they don't think you belong to whatever class they have. I have been through this from fellow actors especially the female ones. When I look back, I can't fathom what I have put up with in the name of friendships. But seriously shame on them for making another human being like them feel worthless.
I am surprised that you are bringing up something that happens among celebrities, which many don't like to admit
I have no fear about saying this, will they come and beat me for this? I am sure some of them will think that I am mentioning names but I am not here to do that. I am sure when they see the movie I am doing now, everybody will know their characters. People will never come out and say this but when I come out to talk, they would say whatever. Bullying can come in different forms.
Can you tell us what kind of bullying exists among celebrities?
For instance, some people just don't think that you belong to their clique or class. Once a friend invited me to be a member of celebrity group on Blackberry Messenger and I accepted. Not long after, my friend told me that a certain star just queried my invitation to the group because I am a friend with people they are not friends with. I was like are they sharing money for being a member of this group? I am so ashamed of the person. Interestingly, this is a person that calls me on the phone often. So obviously, the so called stars or whatever have their own clique and they oppress one another and I don't want to belong to anyone.
But has this kind of rivalry ever degenerated to physical assault?
Yes once or twice, it got physical with people whom I call friends. You know, I just got tired of the shouting matches and the disrespect. I realized that such friendship is not adding anything positive to my life and they are not feeding me. In fact, one of those actresses told me that I have been in this industry for long enough and that I should try to find something else because obviously acting is not working for me. You can imagine an actress say these to my face and we are on the same set. Everybody's destiny can never be the same. I cannot be a star the same time as you. I hear people say stuff like you have been there before her, yet, you are playing a supporting role. For goodness sake, I don't care so long as I am working, besides I don't need to appear in every movie to become a star. In other climes, you don't have to feature in 100 movies to become a star, just a movie is enough to set one apart for life. Let them not forget that I left the Nollywood scene for five years yet I am back and still doing what I know how to do best. I think this is no mean feat. Anybody who is unhappy with that should go question God.
Lately, it was reported in the papers that you had a quarrel with actress Tonto Dikeh. What is the true picture?
Oh no, we never quarreled. I only read it in the papers just like everyone else did. We never had any verbal quarrel.
So what is your current relationship with her?
She is just my friend and colleague that is all.
But it is believed that both of you used to be very close friend
(Cuts in) Ok, after a while in life some people just grow apart. That was the only problem we had, there was never any verbal exchange between us. Don't forget that between us, there were too many friends. Now, I don't even have time for friendship, which is the truth because I have grown wiser . At a point in life, people just need to go achieve something and come back. I didn't want to feel awkward in any relationship that is why I decided to do my own thing. Tonto is an amazing person. I don't think that I have had any verbal quarrel with anybody. I am that kind of person who would not confront you but give you space.
What does friendship mean to you or who are your friends?
Hmm! The people I have known for over 10 years or people who I grew up with. Some of them are people who helped me as a young girl. I believe those are the people who can be real to me because they are only here because we have been friends for long. I prefer it that way, they are not in Nollywood because friends in Nollywood usually become jealous after a while.
Does it mean that you don't have friends in Nollywood?
(Laughs) I do have friends but everybody knows that I don't attach anything to that friendship thing because it will not change anything about my life. So, what I have are colleagues not friends.
Your frankness is amazing, where did you get this boldness from?
Well there is no need to pretend now. I know that the almighty Internet bullies will still criticize me anyway. However, it doesn't matter because I can't be living my life for them. Whether many will like to agree with this or not, I just want them to know that these things happen. People need to hear it. I am actually very frank and that has cost me a lot because people can't stand my frankness and bluntness; instead they take it for arrogance. If I am upset with you, I'll tell you instead of avoiding you and you start asking questions. It is good to know what you have done to me so that you can apologize, I will wait for your apology and if I don't get it, I'll move on.
Is it difficult to strike a friendship with you?
It is not difficult, only when I see the things that don't suit me, and if you cannot contribute to anything in my life. When you find out that you keep advising people and they don't advise you, you keep watching out for people and they don't watch out for you and they don't care what happen to you, back out. Over the years, I have learnt to keep my mouth shut where I am not being questioned. I might look very reserved, but the truth is if you have gone through what I have gone through in life, you will not want to have anything to do with a friend.
What are these things you have gone through in life?
I have really gone through many things in my life, it has not been an easy journey, but I thank God I was not broken. Sometimes people make you lose confidence in your self and you just want to give up. So I am really happy for my strength and God. People are annoying and suddenly they are saying things about me, but it is okay, it means I'm doing something great, because if you are not doing anything great, they won't talk about you. I am okay now; I am now overlooking things that are not important. My mother for example has not had a close friend for the last 20 years, and she tells me it is the best thing for me, but then I didn't listen, but now I know better.
So what happens after these things?
Well, I forgive but I can't forget their faces. So there are still people that I see. People that have framed me up severally for things that I have not done, and I didn't get to hear, and I just noticed that certain people started behaving funny to me, and they didn't ask me. Eventually after having in mind that Halima is this and that, they will later discover I'm not that kind of person.
There was a girl that was duping people; I didn't even know the girl, she was on my BBM at a point, only for me to start hearing this person is your friend, she is always using your picture as her Display Picture and I am like, this girl is a fan, I have never met her before. People would just commit crime and drop their names as your friend. But now things are falling in place, which is vindicating me. Now people are now calling me, Halima I am so sorry for all those times. But when they were attacking me, it was so painful. It has made me realize that people are not what they seem. Maybe because I have a good and clean mind that is why these things are happening to me.
You talked like you have been hurt a lot because of friendship, what is the biggest price you have had to pay for friendship?
I don't even know right now I just want to be sincere and honest. People will be surprise that Halima is opening up a lot now that is because I am beginning to get a lot comfortable with my self. The truth is that I am not going to take any insult from anyone, so it is better for me not to start something that I won't finish. My best friend, my family and the one that I love are the only people close to me now. Friendship these days depends on what people can get from you, I have met people that have told me, please introduce me to this person, and that is just because of what they want to gain from that person and I am like are you here to meet these people or for me? People these days don't have genuine love for one another, they just want opportunity to mess things up for you or get something they want. So I have been used severally, either by a friend or a contact. I have had enough of that.
Has this new approach to life that you just adopted influence your interactions with guys too?
Guys are amazing, they don't have time for silly gossips, and women do that. The only men that do that are petty men; I don't expect men to do that. I have a lot of male friends in the past that people will say, I am dating them and I will be like how many men am I even dating? Can't I just have them as friends? Men are very encouraging, and some I didn't give any chance because I just felt they just wanted sex, but the ones I have had as friends have been wonderful.
How lucky have you been with your relationships?
I have had very few relationships; I had a boyfriend that died in 2003, and after that I think I have been in two solid relationships, people might say that it is a lie, but if anybody knows of any other one, he or she should come out and say it. I have had only two relationships, and I realize that these days people are getting headaches over when I will marry and all that, are they going to live with me, when I get married? Are they going to put food on my table when I get married? Will they come and live with us, so I won't get married because of what people are saying. Some of them don't even have a relationship. They just hate us because we are actresses, is it our fault? So you don't bring your frustrations into my own name. Most of the rumours on the Internet are all lies. Some don't even read the interviews before they comment, when they just see someone's name, they just scroll down to the comment, and they don't even know what you are saying on the Internet.
Do these things get to you?
No, there are things that I do that I would appreciate a commendation, but people don't do that. You find out that the good things you do, people don't read about it, what they want to read about is, an actress dating this and that, an actress smoking. When you say this person is doing charity, they don't get to highlight that. They highlight the rumours they hear, and not what they see or know. If they don't see pictures, they complain; when they see, they say you are advertising what you are doing. So I have given up on trying to convince people, I'll keep on doing what I want to do and forget about what people think. I see a lot of people fighting over my age, and it is silly, because at this time people don't lie about age. How old was I, when I came in, how old am I now? People say Halima should keep quiet; she is older than she is claiming.
How old are you?
I just clocked 29.
I am sure you have read recently that an oil baron dumped you?
Yes, I have read about it, which is what people love reading about. Somebody sent a link and that day I just wanted to laugh, I read a comment where somebody said stuffs, the person is a sad person I think. The person keeps commenting with a name Lalaland. The person is a hater, always commenting badly about me, the person is so hateful, I don't even understand why that person is still allowed to comment.
You think there should be a regulation on online journalism?
There should be. Why must a person have so much hate, I don't know. You see one person commenting severally with different names. On this particular, day, the person said that I was a dwarf. It was so funny, because I don't even know that person. If you don't like me, why click on my article, why say things you don't know about me?
Could you please tell us about the two relationships you had?
I loved them, they were people who encouraged me to be strong and they are people I have always learnt from.
Is there any serious thing that will be coming out of any of these relationships?
I don't like talking about that, if it happens, it's a good thing, but nobody should expect any invitation for any wedding. I just want to get married quietly and live my life in peace and happiness. I don't have time for all the noise making about weddings and all, trying to make it very expensive and all that. That money can pay the school fees of many people. If you know me very well, you'll know I don't get to spend money unnecessarily; I like to save and do things that are meaningful. You can make a lot of noise about your engagement, just to let people know you are engaged, but when it comes to the wedding, it should be with few people who love you. Half of the people that go to weddings don't go because they love the person, maybe because of people they want to meet there or what they want to get.
Tell us about the kind of man that can win your heart?
I already have a man so I don't need any man to impress me. People might say what they want to say because I don't flaunt my relationship, but I am happy.
What kind of man is he?
For him to still be in my life means he is the kind of person I want, which is just all I have to say. Despite the fact that we are actresses does not mean our lives should not be private. But this is my relationship and I refuse to make it public.
What influence does your background have on you?
It has just made me stronger, to face the world and the challenges that will come with it. I am from a very big family, where you have all sorts of people and that made me to know what to expect from the outside world. After a while I just became used to the pains, I don't feel it anymore. Sometimes I just feel like crying, and I force myself, close my eyes and it refuses to come. So I am now strong that I don't care what people say or do. Right now I console myself, encourage myself when I do well, scold myself when I don't. I have gone through so many things in life from every angle.
Tell us about your parents?
My parents are amazing people; they have been married for 35 years now. My dad is from Kogi State, but I was born in Kano but I still speak our language (Ebira). In between growing up, it was the same people my parents helped that eventually got my mum fired from where she worked. Then my dad had problems too, Savannah bank closed so he went into something different, and for somebody who has been in banking for 19 years, it was a shock, the re-adjustments and change made a huge difference in our lives. I had to start working, I worked in a Chinese restaurant, I remember my Chinese boss always told me to kill flies (Laughs). And I was like, is that what I came here to do? So everyday I made sure I was killing flies. But looking back at those times I just laugh at the whole thing.
You earlier talked about reading, how often do you read?
I read a lot, it keeps me going. I read inspirational books; I listen to preaching from every angle, I do Yoga just to calm my nerve. There is a Spa owned by some Indian people, I go there and they play Indian songs for me, they massage me and I sleep off. So these are the kind of things I do. But when I want to let loose I just loud my music here in my parlour and dance till I am tired.
Which was your first movie and where was it shot?
It was shot in Lagos, Surulere, I can't remember the producer now, and we were all so young and I remembered I featured in like four scenes in the movie. We did the movie and up till now, they have not released it. So it is quite frustrating.
How did you get the role?
I went for the audition, my aunt was living in Lagos, so she brought me to Lagos when I was 14 because I told her I wanted to act and I wanted to come to Lagos.
You won an award last year and you celebrated with your friends, it must have meant something to you?
I won nine awards last year, so I did not celebrate only one award. Between last year and now, I have won four Best Actress Awards. I won Eminent Achievers Award for Best Actress, Global Leadership Awards for Best Actress. I also won City People awards for Best Actress, and Icon of the Year by my guild, which is the Actors' Guild of Nigeria (AGN, Lagos chapter). In November last year, I won Best Supporting Actress at the Nollywood Award in London; I have had certificates from many organizations. So it makes no sense if I don't celebrate with people. I just did that to appreciate my colleagues, both the ones that are happy and the ones that are not happy with me.
If you were to award yourself for any of the movies that you have done, which movie would that be?
It's my new movie Kiss From A Royal Balcony, and in another one Miss Queen. In Miss Queen it is a new character for me, I have never played mother of two before in a movie, so it was kind of interesting to me.
What inspired your new movie?
Nothing really, I just realized what people go through in relationships, and I see how unfaithful people are in relationships, and there are very few men and few women that are responsible. In the cast I have myself, Yvonne Nelson from Ghana, young ones like Lawan, while Ifeanyi Ogbonna directed the flick.
When will the new movie be coming out?
Hopefully later this year, we just have a few scenes we want to reshoot. So we are trying to get everybody into town to do that.
Any plans for it to be showing at cinemas?
No, I am not ready for that kind of stress. I'll have headache-trying to pursue my money and all that. I don't even have the time to even go to cinemas to monitor the progress of the movie.
Apart from movie making do you have any other thing you do?
Yes, I do. I have many things I do. We have a bakery in Kano, but the riots there now have affected it. Two years ago we got a small plot of land in Lokoja, and we now have a farm. Poultry farms, fish ponds, we do sugar cane; we do almost everything except rice. It is my father's company though; the name is Anacobe and Holdings in Kano, I am the co-chairman.
Our bread is one of the best selling breads in its area of location.
How rich are you now?
I am not rich, I just have money to spend and keep myself, buy fuel in my car. That is all. I just want to be successful, I don't have money that will make me go crazy and make me arrogant and rude to people. I just want enough for me and my family
and enough to help others.