Popular actor, Adekola Tijani, may not immediately ring a bell to many followers of Yoruba speaking movies, but names like Golugo, Kamilu Kompo, Jonathan immediately draw their attention.
You were said to have been detained in Amsterdam recently. What exactly happened at the airport?
I have not told anybody the experience, because it was not as big as many people had feared. When I got to the airport, I was accosted by an interpol officer who insisted that he must see what I had in my luggage. I told them I was an actor and gave them the jacket of some of my movies to prove I was one, but they said they needed something more than that to prove I was not coming into their country for another mission. I asked them to Google my name and they searched for it. When they got it, they were the ones that took me to where I was going to board another flight to my destination, because we only had a stopover in Amsterdam.
But it was reported that you were delayed for more than a day, is that true?
No, that is a lie. I don’t know why people write what they don’t know. I have just told you that I was not detained, let alone delayed for more than a day. We had a stop over and it was only normal for them to check everybody, especially someone who was carrying a bigger luggage. I always tell my friends that whenever you are travelling, make sure you are clean and never help anybody to carry their luggage for them. You never can tell what the other person is carrying in his bag.
You have become a household name in the movie industry, could you tell us how you got to this level today?
I have come a long way and I have had my fair share of challenges, some of which almost forced me out of the business. If I start to tell you what I have gone through before getting to this meaningful level, it will shock you.
Your fans will want to know. Shocking tales could be exciting sometimes…
Let me give you an example of what I went through. Can you imagine a man sleeping inside a room where more than 20 guys sleep every night? This guy slept inside this room for more than 30 years. Out of those 30 people, if one of them now builds a mansion and starts living a good life where he has access to everything he needs, I am sure he won’t remember that he once lived in a one room that housed more than 20 guys. That was exactly what happened to my life. My story is what you can describe as somebody who rose from grass to grace.
Tell me what led you into that kind of situation and how did you manage to come out of it. Was acting the saving grace?
My dad is a farmer and you know what it means when one’s father is a farmer. What kind of life do you think that person would live, especially in a time when life was very difficult for many of us? You are right to say that acting was my saving grace; it took me out of a very bad situation and placed me among the big and mighty as the case may be.
Could you explain further on how acting changed your life?
I started acting in 1992. I am sure a baby that was born in that year would have become a graduate today and probably planning to settle down. I have been in the industry since 1992, doing all sorts of things with no hope of something good coming one’s way.
All sorts of things? How do you mean?
I have been through a lot in my life. Don’t let’s dwell on that for now. The journey has been very tough and rough for me but I thank God that things have changed for me today and I am enjoying my career today because God favoured me.
From 1992 to 2012 when the name Kamilu Kompo surfaced, what did you do differently that actually helped your career?
What could I have done without the help of God? The fact is that when God is ready to change the story of your life, you will only be imagining what is happening. You won’t understand it. One thing I can tell you is that I have been very hardworking over the years and I have never given up on myself even though there were days that I felt like quitting. The ability to have come this far must have come from God and nobody else.
What actually led you into theatre?
My passion for acting pushed me into theatre.
What were you doing before you started acting?
I was in school and I worked at a bakery. I was about leaving Ansar-ud-deen secondary school in Oyo town when I saw some theatre group that came to my school for a stage performance. I was very impressed when I saw them and I felt I could do it if I get the opportunity but there was no money.
You and your friend, Sanyeri, have come a long way. Could you tell us how your relationship started?
I have known Olaniyi Afonja, who most people call Sanyeri, since I was very young. We received the same training under the same boss, the late Prince Seyi Adeoye. We have been friends for many years before we came to Lagos. In fact, I was the one who encouraged him to come to Lagos. We both got to Lagos in 1994.
From Oyo to Lagos, what was the experience like?
It was not easy. To say things were hard would be an understatement. I could remember that we slept under the staircase for four years. When we got to Lagos, we had no place to stay, so we had to put up with my sister, who also had five grown up children. It was not easy for us to stay inside their house with them, because there was even no where to stay. So, we had to sleep under the staircase over the night.Whenever they moved out in the morning, we would quickly go inside to shower, sleep for some hours and go out. In 1996, another friend, Bayo Tijani, joined us in the same place.
Why do you think your friendship with Sanyeri has remained strong till date?
That is because we both know each other very well. We have come a long way and don’t forget that we received the same training in Oyo. So our working relationship is deeper than what our fans see at home.
Some people have argued that using abusive and vulgar words does not make you a comedian. You and Sanyeri are fond of this. What’s your reaction to this?
I don’t have any reaction to this. I told you that I didn’t start out as a comedian. Comedy only came few years back as a result of what the industry demands. I am an actor. I take any role that comes my way, whether comedy or whatever.
What’s the difference between Kamilu Kompo and Adekola Tijani?
Adekola tijani is the one talking to you right now. He is different from other names that I answer. Many people have tried to force me to talk and act like Kamilu Kompo when I walk in the streets but I always tell them, I can’t do it.
How do you intend to sustain this brand?
I will continue to do what I have been doing in a better way every time I am given the opportunity to express myself. Only God can sustain a man, no matter how hard you try, if God does not help you, you will only be trying.
Your colleagues keep complaining about poor payment, but we hear that they travel out of the country frequently, buy exotic cars and live large. What do you think about this?
I don’t know about others but I can speak for myself. If anybody tells you he is making money on this job these days, the person is not telling you the truth. We work hard but we make peanuts as proceeds. Some of us are lucky to have been able to get certain things through the help of some well connected people, but that does not mean we are enjoying. The thing is that if you know how to live within your income, you will enjoy your life but when you start living above your means, you will end up blaming yourself.
Now that fame has come, do you want to go back to school?
Yes, I am actually working on that with my management and very soon they will find me a suitable one that won’t really clash with my commitments. I can tell you that we have been working on it. I am not disappointed that fame came before my education but I am still grateful because a lot of people would actually go to school and come out looking for what God has given me. I will go back to school.