Mr. Bolaji Amusan a.k.a. Mr. Latin, a talented comedian, is a household name in the Yoruba movie industry. Our correspondent, ABIODUN OLUWAROTIMI, came across him in New York and they had an exclusive interview. Mr. Latin, as he is popularly known, speaks on piracy and the problems within the ANTP. He also reacts on the recent death rumour about him. Excerpts:
Can you tell us why you are here in the United States this time around?
We are for a summer tour here with Alhaji Sefiu Alao. We plan to visit places like New Jersey, New York, Houston, Chicago, Rhode Island, Baltimore, Washington DC and many others, and we will return to Nigeria in the first week of July.
There was this rumour going round in April that you were dead. What can you say about this?
Like I have told some of my people, it was a very wicked rumour. I never knew anything. I was at home and my phones kept ringing, people were asking me if I was still alive. They said they read it in the news that I was dead.
I asked them how could they be asking me if I was alive and they said there was a rumour on the internet that I was dead, and I told them that to the glory of God, I was alive and I am still alive. I have no grudge against anybody as regards this wicked rumour. I just believe that what will be will be.
Do you believe that this rumour was borne out of hatred from your colleagues in the movie industry?
Like a Yoruba adage says Eni ti o ba nwa eni ti iya e je l’owo, ti ko ba so’ra, a ri eni ti baba e je l’owo. This means, anybody who is looking for those that are indebted to his mother, if care is not taken, he will see those his own father is indebted to as well. I want to remain silent over this issue and focus on my job and life. I do not want to dig out several things that I already know.
Are you saying that you have your own suspicion but decided to put it behind your mind?
No, I do not have any suspicion over this matter. We are talking about death here and I do not want to probe it further, because we do not know who really loves or hates you. Wickedness is not written on anybody’s face, so I want to put the whole episode behind my mind and move on with my life.
So what lesson have you learnt from that rumour?
Well, it makes me happy because it allows me to know the kind of love that people have for me. It educates me more on how I should be more careful. It also teaches me to be of good behaviour to others.
What are your personal views about the problems in the ANTP?
Let me tell you something right now. There is no professional association where things like these don’t happen. It is peculiar to every professional group. In ANTP, we need divine intervention. All these must happen so we can have a lasting peace and I can assure you that every problem we have in ANTP now will be resolved before the end of this year.
These problems are affecting us negatively, because we cannot speak with one single voice. We do not have anybody that will speak on our behalf. It is affecting us seriously, but it is clear that the problems will soon be over. We are working on it.
So, do you like to serve as a national officer of the association?
Yes, I will love to. I have the pedigree already. I started as an Assistant Secretary in Egba zone, I later became the Secretary of Egba zone, I have served as Chairman of Abeokuta North Local Government of ANTP, I have served as State Secretary of ANTP in Ogun State, I have also served as State Governor of ANTP in the same Ogun State for four years and I did my best for the association. So, if they need me to come and serve as a national officer to contribute my own quota to the association, who am I to say no?
So are you saying that you have the ambition to serve at the national level?
Of course. I even have the ambition to become the president of the association, though I do not know when. I really want to lead the association at the national level, and when the time comes, God will lead me.
It is going to be my pride and joy to use my talents to help the association at the national level. It is going to be my pride when you address Mr. Bolaji Amusan a.k.a. Mr. Latin as the President of ANTP. It may be 10 years, it may be 15 years, but I’m working towards it.
What can you say about the rumour that you are not in good terms with Mr. Odunlade Adekola?
That is a lie. Odunlade Adekola is like my first son, so we can never quarrel. He holds me in a high esteem and I respect him a lot. He is a very good actor, he is a very responsible human being who gives me all the respect I deserve. So you understand my point. Odunlade is a confidant, a brother and a friend. You can call him and confirm. We speak on daily basis.
What is your take on the issue of piracy that has become a major challenge that you people face?
There is nothing that an ordinary human being or an ordinary professional can do about piracy. It is only the government that can assist us combat piracy, because the law of piracy is a very weak law.
When a suspect is arrested and taken to the police station, he will be released on bail because it is a bail-able offence. We may be in court for more than five years. We need the National Assembly to enact a very strong law to fight piracy.
Do you intend to go into politics later in life?
Yes, because everybody is a political animal. I intend to go into politics, but certainly not now.
So what do we expect from Mr. Latin Film Productions this time around?
Yes, there is a latest one and the title is “Awa Meje”. The movie is doing very well in the market.
What is your advice for the artists that are just coming up?
They have to be patient. They have to respect the culture of the association. Recently, Yinka Quadri was at our function here and I took the microphone and went straight to greet him like a leader and a superior colleague in the association. That is a laid down culture in the industry.
The young artists should learn how to respect elders in the association because one day they too will become elders. The young artists should not make money their priority. They should look for fame first because when you are famous, every other thing will be added to it.
How do you unwind?
I watch football, I write scripts, I watch films and I enjoy myself with my people.
Do you drink too?
(Cuts in) yes I drink, don’t you drink water?
No, I meant alcohol (general laughter)
No, I don’t drink beer and I don’t smoke.
You do not drink or smoke. What of the third one?
What is the third one?
Women. Do you womanise?
No, I do not. I am a responsible married man. I am married to my very beautiful wife. I do not engage in extra marital affairs.