Musician Oristefemi Majemite Ekele, otherwise known as Oristefemi, speaks with recently Punch about his music career, controversies, finding a wife and why he is in support of one Nigeria.
How did your recent tour go?
It was my world tour for this year and it ended well. I had the opportunity to touch the places that I’ve touched before and some places I never been to. The importance of the tour is to export our sound to other parts of the world. As we speak now, Afrobeat is now recognised all over the world. This is a good development for Nigeria, as it shows that we are developing musically. I also advise all my colleagues to continue to look beyond Nigeria and Africa.
Why did you decide to hold your white wedding in Lagos, unlike some of your colleagues who did theirs outside the country?
People who are very familiar with me know that I am a man of the people. Most of my fans and friends reside in Nigeria, and I want them to be part of the special day of my life, November 25.
My initial plan was to cater for 2,000 guests on that day, but the management of Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, advised me to prepare for 3,000 guests. According to them, I have many fans and they don’t want us to be caught unawares. So, they volunteered to give me an additional space for 1,000 people.
How did you meet your wife?
I met her in Nigeria, at a show. I just got back from my tour then in 2016, when I was hired by MultiChoice to spearhead an event. When I was at the backstage with Daddy Showkey and other colleagues, she was the one attending to the needs of everyone. Despite her beauty, I also liked the way she was relating to the artistes. I was far from her so she didn’t notice I was observing her. At that time, we were yet to meet formally.
After my performance, they invited us upstairs for a certain Nabila Fash’s birthday. I didn’t really show interest because I was tired and I didn’t know she was the one. It was when I saw the pictures of the celebrant a day after, I wished I was there. The event lasted for five-day; we were moving from a place to another. I knew she was a nice lady and I felt terrible I didn’t honour her birthday.
We later met at the backstage of the next day’s event. The first event was held in Port Harcourt while the other was in Enugu. I introduced myself to her and she did the same. From the onset, she knew I wanted something from her. He told me she was not my kind of person, but I should let her know what I wanted.
When I told her I wanted to marry her, she thought I was joking. She said she knew Oritsefem’s music but didn’t know the person behind the music. She said she needed to know me more before she could say a word.
To cut the long story, she thought I was down-to-earth regardless of the fame and felt she could handle me. She had already taken her time to know me more before she started hearing negative things about me. All that she later heard didn’t change her perception of me, however.
How did a street boy get to convince an educated lady like her?
Most women are very intelligent. But I have always told God that among these intelligent ones, I needed just one to stand by me for the rest of my life.
I think she saw that I was sincere to her from the beginning. I am always truthful to her and she is always truthful to me.
Are you satisfied with the performance of your last album?
Inasmuch as I don’t want to praise myself, when it comes to the production of albums, people always embrace my albums. I prefer releasing albums than singles because I believe my music cut across the country and some fans don’t listen to radio stations or have access to the internet. All they do is to buy albums.
Even before I drop an album, marketers always approach me. Though the sales of albums have dropped hugely in Nigeria, I still make money from it. You will always see my albums everywhere, even in traffic.
Apart from music, do you make money from other things?
I am an entrepreneur, but I prefer to keep it privately. I believe some parts of me need to be kept secretly. Already, people know a lot about; I even think my name is bigger than me.
Was there a time you were evicted by your landlord?
Where are you right now? People believe most of these rumours because they don’t know the person personally. I am always indoor except when I have a place to go. They only see me on stage or on their television screens. And I can’t be telling the public everything about life because I want to prove that I am not broke or evicted from my house.
How did you take it when you heard the eviction news?
I just felt the rumour emanated from people who were close to me. Everyone cannot be happy with you.
Whenever I am with my friends, I try to advise them on how to move forward. They know that I don’t like to be static. I am a competitive person; I want to be ahead all the time. So, if anyone wants to move with me he must be ready to move whenever I am moving. But some of them who were not ready to move at a time became annoyed. If we are all travelling, for instance, and you missed the plane for some reason, is it my fault? Having missed the plane, you now took my issues to the public and cooked up things to ensure that you bring me down. But regardless of what the person had said, I’ve entered the plane and nothing will bring me down except God.
If I admire something in you, I look for ways to get it too. The truth is you have to motivate yourself to get anything in this life.
Do you plan to stage a concert in December?
On January 1, I always give back to my people in Ajegunle. But I plan to make the next edition bigger. There is no gate fee attached to it. I have a lot of concerts I will be attending, but the Ajegunle’s gig is special to me.
Do you still visit Quilox Nightclub?
If I see reasons to go there, I will go there. But I have not been there for a while now. I am not just happy with the club. I don’t like it when you treat people differently because some are wealthy and the others are not. We should respect human beings because money goes and comes. The person who doesn’t have money today may have tomorrow, while the person who is rich today may be poor tomorrow. That is my philosophy to life.
They didn’t even feel remorseful for me after they snatched my gold chain, which worth N8.5 million. I lost the chain that day. Till date, nobody from the club has talked to me about it. I will be a joke if I expect them to refund the money, but at least they should show me little respect.
I will always insist that what they did to me was totally wrong. They treated me as if I was nobody and made me look like a terrible person in the sight of my fans. I didn’t take legal actions because I don’t like trouble. Whether the management agrees with me or not, the club has lost its relevance and it is simply because of how lowly they treat customers.
Even God is not happy with what they did to me. I have challenged the club to upload the picture of what they did to me, but they didn’t. I still insist that if they dare upload the footage, it is the end of the club.
So, I have not been to Quilox since the fight I had with them. I don’t even plan to go there because I don’t want problems for myself. If anything happened to me at the club, people would ask why I went to a place I wasn’t welcomed or wanted. I am as free as a bird, but I watch my ways too.
Are you in support of the division of Nigeria?
A lot is happening in this country and I believe anger started the Biafra agitation. But the whole Nigeria is angry, not just a region. What we need in this country is neither violence nor war. Peaceful agitation is okay and it should be one voice. We should fight for one Nigeria, not a region because we have children and unborn children. Once a war breaks out, apart from lives that would be lost, all that we’ve worked for would be destroyed as well. I believe in dialogue, as it is essential to always think of tomorrow in everything we do. I am from Niger Delta too, but I have never agitated for a breakup.
The late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti didn’t use a gun but word of mouth. We are still enjoying the benefit of the things he did or spoke against. When you embark on peaceful agitation, nobody will touch you and the world will hear you. But once you carry weapons, I will never be part of that.
But how come you hardly take part in a major protest?
Don’t get it wrong! I took part in the subsidy removal protest in 2o12. If I see reasons to join a protest, I will join. If the agitation is for the youth and the success of the country, I will even lead it. I am certain that a lot of learned people will join also. But I will not be part of a one-sided or selfish agitation. This is the reason you think I don’t take part in most of these protests.