|Tessy Yembra with Famous Actress, Nike Peller|
creative dance steps in the albums of late Fuji Music Lord, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister’s Fuji Gabbage and Afro Juju music creator, Sir Shina Peters’s iconic album, Ace aka Ijo Shina launched her to
national limelight in the early 90s.
talent, Delta State born Princess Tessy Alero Yembra has earned a house-hold reputation across
Nigeria with media reviews announcing
her as the new “Queen of Fast Dance” or “Queen of Afro Juju” or better still, “Princess of Fuji Gabbage”.
grandmother and that was what your soar away Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity
Encounter blog, Asabeafrika sought to
know recently, when we paid her a courtesy visit at her moderate apartment
somewhere in Fadeyi Area of Lagos (South
Years on stage any time from now told us the story of her early life and
why her two marriages didn’t work. Like a moving thriller movie, the veteran
entertainment consultant for the first time in history narrated the story of
her two marriages with Asabeafrika. Tessy who
added a year on Monday, October 24th told us about her relationship with her
ex-boss, Sir Shina Peters and first
civilian Governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke aka Serubawon. Enjoy the excerpts.
|Tessy, daughter, Dolly and grand child|
shouldn’t be even talking about what life taught one, because life is a
timeless university; no summer holiday, no semester break and no mid-term
holiday. The only holiday you get out of life is the one the grave permits and
no one really want to touch that end of life without spending a reasonable time
on the surface. I think I should be much grateful to God for giving me the
opportunity to become a grandmother early enough. The Devil played a fast one
on me sometimes back, I was down with a sudden cardiovascular illness but Jesus
the greatest healer, the one that reigneth in kindness and mercy showed me his
mercy in good time. I thank God I was revived and today I am a living soul. I can’t
hide the joy of being a grandmother and that really calls for celebration. So,
the biggest lesson life has taught me is that Jesus is Lord over all
our earthly affairs.
|Tessy Yembra with veteran actor Jimoh Aliu (Baba Aworo)|
experience as a celebrity dancer of over three decades?
|Tessy Alero Yembra, the Dance Queen|
have come a long way in the Nigerian entertainment industry and I will proudly call
myself a veteran. I created Nigeria’s two most popular dancing steps; Number is
Gabbage for the late Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and the
other one is for Sir Shina Peter’s Ace album. I am proud the two albums
were monster hits. I was part of the success story, I remember when (Chief) Dele
Momodu published the second edition of Ovation International Magazine
in 1996, he wrote a story on “Hundred Influential Women
in Nigeria” and I was shocked to find my name as number 45th.
That was the day we were burying Papa IK Dairo, Paul Play Dairo’s father.
I was in Ilesa when someone brought
the magazine to me from London. I
never imagine I could be remembered for creating those two dance steps—Fuji Gabbage and Ijo Shina. I felt fulfilled, the late Barrister himself crowned me
as “Fuji Gabbage Queen”. I introduced Afro-Juju
music dancing steps and the media crowned me as Afro-Juju Music Queen. Today we have several dancers who are doing
exploits in the industry, Yeni Kuti is one of them; I respect
her so much. Look at Kaffy, she has brought in a lot of innovation
to her dance steps. So, I am very proud that I initiated something that became
a source of livelihood for many others. Till date, people still consult me for
dancers and I am principally into events management. I organize ushers for
events, I handle artiste promotional stuff for old and up and coming artistes.
It is my pride to see the industry grow. It is my pride to be a custodian of
the industry. I thank God for His mercy upon my life till this moment.
|Tessy Yembra with Yemi Sax and Aralola|
dancing academy, how far have you gone with the project?
students taking tutelage under me but I don’t have a studio. We are looking
into having one and I believe God to establish one for us. But in terms of
utility arena, I have a place I use for my rehearsals, that is if you are a
musician and you need dancers for your video shoot, we can organize a place for
you to have the rehearsal and you can pay us our bill. But if you want me to do
it for you as the chaperon, then be ready to pay a premium price. My models are
beautiful and creative.
|Tessy Alero Yembra to Asabeafrika ‘Life has taught me so many things’|
entertainment industry in Nigeria today, would you say the industry has come of
age or you think we need to do more?
anything to say, I will say the dancing entertainment industry has gone far in
terms of prestige and honor. Dancers today are well respected than what obtains
in our own time. During our time, our parents try to discourage us and they
labeled us as ‘never do wells’ but today the story have changed. And how did we
know, today, Corporate Nigeria is beginning to invest in Dancing as a creative
venture. Dancing is not just all about entertainment but it is a form of
relaxation for those who care to dance. Dancing is now a big business and that is why
you see a big companies like Nigerian Breweries pumping millions
of naira through Corporate Social Responsibility Schemes with the promotion of
Dancing Competitions. We have the Multina Dance Hall event that gives
fame and fortune to hundreds of homes in Nigeria every year. The winner takes
home a car and other emoluments and that is how to measure success. We can
point to several successful dancers today who have done their industry proud.
|Tessy Yembra, lighted up by the good and bad of times past|
Look at Yeni Kuti, she is a dancer with a difference. We have several
other people in that industry and we just thank God for the level of
development and awareness. But let me just say we need to give kudos to the
organizers of the Multina Dance Hall event, that is Nigerian Breweries who
brought fame and fortunes into that sub-industry of our mega entertainment
industry. We are proud of the new vision from corporate Nigeria.
Governor, Senator Isiaka Adeleke aka Serubawon, tongues were wagging at a time
that you are having a fling with him, how true is this?
very unfortunate impression that people had of me and the much respected
senator. Senator Adeleke is like a father to me; in fact he is both my
father and my mother. When I was sick sometimes ago, he was one of the very few
Good Samaritans who bailed me out; he paid for my medical bills. He is a very
kind person, and one of his weaknesses is that he hates to see people live in
distress. He will surely do something to ameliorate your distress. When I fell
ill, we also had kind hearted Nigerians like Princess Toyin Kolade, Are
Remi Bakare, Chief (Mrs.) Emily Sakpere and so
many other people who came to my aide. But Senator Adeleke played the role of a
father; he has done so many things for me including the education of my
daughter when she was still in the University. Throughout her study at the University
of Benin, Senator Isiaka Adeleke was there for us. He is somebody who
relates to me more or less like a sister or even a daughter. I think he is a
very peculiar person and that is why till date, he still has massive
followership in Osun State and in the South West. Such a humble and gentle man,
do you know at times if he is in America, I will ask my son, Henry
who lives in America to help send things through him to me, yet he (Serubawon)
wont’t see it as bad. Some people will feel proud and say “Se omo odo e
ni mi ni?” (Am I your servant?) But that is not his character; he is
not just educated but very enlightened, philosophical. He loves my two
children, both Dolapo and Henry. So, Senator Adeleke is my
godfather, and if they say I am dating him, that’s quite unfortunate for their
|Tessy Yembra with late Iyalode Adunni Bankole, Mr. James Oluwafemi Adejuwon (Scooba), Aralola and a Guest|
is a very disturbing impression but that is how people chose to see things
especially if there is a mutual relationship between two high profile people.
You will be shocked to know the number of orphans and less privileged children
Adeleke fund their education but he does not like talking about it. I
was part of his gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns and I can tell you that Senator
Adeleke is a humanist. My relationship started with his campaign
project and because he is a humanist, till date he still do stuffs for some of
us who work with him. He is just a good man. That is all.
|Tessy Yembra with ex-Ifako Ijaiye LGA boss, Deji Doherty|
not in good term with Sir Shina Peters your former boss?
any problem with Shina Peter, when he heard that I had a grandchild, he was so
happy. I met him at Oba Adekeye’s party sometimes ago and when he saw me he was the
first to announce my new status as a grandmother. He started praise singing me
and even named my grandson, Ayomiposi. He was so delighted and
for a whole hour he was singing my praise. We do talk; he is my brother and
boss for life. Of course, God is my supreme boss, but Shina Peters remains my
boss for life.
|Tessy Yembra to the GDA ‘I feel like being in a marriage now’|
ex-Presidential Spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe’s brother, what is the relationship
like at the moment?
relationship with the larger Okupe family; there is no event they
organize that I don’t attend.
|The GDA with Tessy’s daughter, Dolapo Araba with mum & son|
Dr. Doyin Okupe?
alive, he stays in Washington DC. He stays there with his family.
does he relates to you?
adults and it is normal for us to relate. I speak with my son and once in a
while I hear his voice.
story and I don’t feel comfortable saying much of it on blogs or news papers.
Maybe everyone should wait for my memoir.
|The GDA with Tessy Yembra’s in-law, Mr. Femi Araba, daughter & grand son|
from your experience if you share it?
really want to discuss it; I think the whole essence of it is to educate
people. We suffered youth exuberance in those days; our marriage couldn’t work
as a result of our immaturity. We were young and immature, with various
interests and ambitions troubling our young souls. He wanted to travel to America
and I wanted to hit the television as a news caster. I became pregnant and I
couldn’t proceed further because you cannot work as either a news caster or air
hostess when you are pregnant. Already I and Caroline Akinloye were
signed then for the television, but when I became pregnant, I couldn’t go
further. And on his side, he was equally angry that if his mother should know
that I was pregnant, she wouldn’t allow him to travel again and all that. And I
said to him, ‘you can go and study, if
you are successful, it is my son’s grace. I won’t try to stop you’. And
that was how he left for America. He was the one who jilted me.
and married another woman after his studies. What do you expect me to do? Life
has to move on, I can’t kill myself. But it never came easy then yet I had to
face reality and move on.
|Tessy Yembra takes mind memory lane in encounter with Asabeafrika|
Why? I am not God, I have a son for him, I relate with his family. My son is
doing well in the United State of America. He (Tayo) has a senior sister, Titi
I have forgotten her husband’s name. She is in the US, she was the one who
reconciled us and started doing the necessary things for their son until they
took him to America. So, once they are good enough to recognize their
responsibilities, why am I angry? I thank God for my life, the boy is doing
fine in the United States and he relates well with me and his father. So,
would I say I want to marry him again? By gone is by gone. I thank God for the
evolution of time.
|The GDA with Tessy Yembra with daughter Dolapo, Hubby, Mr. Femi Araba and grand son|
which didn’t work as well; can you tell us the experience with your daughter’s
are not here to rubbish the core of my memoir? Any way, he was a gentle motor
dealer, very easy going guy from Ondo state in the Ilaje area. I am very close to his
family and he has a twin brother called Federick-Jaburata Egbayilo,
he has a mechanic workshop at Fola Agoro, he is doing well. Recently
when they lost their mother I was there, I played my role as a wife and in-law.
I even did the master of ceremony. And when he celebrated his birthday
recently, I was there. We are in very good term and his daughter has made both
of us proud in the sense that she has made me and him grandparent. I don’t have
problem with him, yes, I am a single parent and maybe that is what destiny
chose for me. The two men had their shortcomings, they had their flaws but life
must continue. A philosopher once said ‘life
is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think’. For me,
life remains a comedy.
what really happened?
didn’t like polygamy. That is my simple response to that question. He was a ladies’
man and that made me find my own path, I never wanted life to be a tragedy for
me. So, I married my children and Dr. Jesus was my husband and he is
still my husband.
|The GDA Speaks to Tessy Alero Yembra at the Back of her modest apartment with her grand son|
you say marriage is not a good experience?
say so. Marriage is for better or worse. Some people celebrate thirty, forty
years of marriage. I was not lucky with my own marriages; I had bitter
experience with my two marriages. It is not that I am happy to be a single
mother but at times, in life, you have to create your own happiness within you.
If life throws it darts at you, don’t lose hope, don’t lose life, you must live
and find a new thing that will burn off
your energy. You need to be happy. Life should really be a comedy. For me,
marriage didn’t work and I cannot say I am happy about it. That is my honest
submission. And I won’ say marriage is bad, either.
|Tessy Yembra, Drummer Girl Ara Lola & Late Iyalode Adunni Bankole|
have it all over again, among the two men who would you honestly love to have
as a husband?
bad question and I don’t want to create confusion in their heart.
is a very lovely man. He is very loving and easy going man, I spent my youth
age with him and he was the first love of my life, the lover of my youth age.
If not that he travelled out, all these won’t happen. He was a great lover.
in marriage, having being a victim of marital break?
married and happy in your marriage, I congratulate you. If you are married and
your marriage broke up, I also congratulate you. Life like I said earlier is a
tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think. There are lots of
bad marriages in town, I call them marriage of bondage and you can also find
many single parents who are taking it in their own stride. If you see many of
them today, between the first and sixth month of marriage, they are out of wedlock,
they are not as patient as ours. Forget my own experience; mine is just one
among many. But the men of today are even lazy. They want to marry readymade
women who will feed them and clothe them at the same time. In those days, men
and women complemented each other in their union. I remember when I was married
to my last husband Prince Segun Beckley (Dolapo’s dad) there was a way we do
things to complement each other but the story is different today. The marriage
of today is one way marriage, the man does the home work while the wife wins
the bread. There is a huge industry of lazy men in town; these men want to date
readymade women. They want to date women older than them for material wealth.
No love again, there is no love in marriages again, what they now target is
money. You now have an industry of men who ask for your bank account before
they marry you. So, if you even ask those who stayed in their marriages for
years, like my good sister Sammie Peters, they will tell you
their experience which in most cases is not often rosy. So if you are lucky
with your marriage, I congratulate you. If you have it other way round, I
congratulate you as well.
loved to be in a marriage?
would have loved to marry if my men were not funny. I would have loved to live
with my husband till deaths do us apart. But see what fate has done to me in
the long run. Would I kill myself? I have taken it in my stride; I am married
to my children and their well being. I don’t pray it happens to any of my
children, though. I want them to be happy in their marriage life and live in
happiness. But for me, that was my destiny. I think my destiny was bound to
happen and like someone who thinks, life to me is a comedy.
chance after you lost the first two?
man comes around, what stops me? I am sorry to mention her name, look at Madam
Abbah Folawiyo, she had her bad moments but she was able to re-marry.
And she stood with the man till he died. If my case was like that I wouldn’t
have said no to God. If I find the right man, I will go with him.
kind, knowledgeable; and he must be able to take good care of me because I
don’t want to suffer with any man again. I have done that in the past. I am not
also going to be a liability to him. I am creatively engaged and I can fend for
myself. So, he won’t need to really break his neck to fend for me, all I need
is care and understanding, simple.
very available for marriage?
I am fully available. Love and marriage has no barrier. We have seen women in
their sixties re-marry. Pastor Kumuyi’s case with his new
wife is a classical example. Apart from that, I am still very young with lots
of experience. I am looking up to what God has in stock for me. Joke apart,
marriage is good and I so much desire it like any other woman. That I failed in
my early marriages does not mean I will fail in a subsequent one; all I want is
the man with the right attitude.
and partly Itsekiri and I have some Rivers blood in me. I am from Delta state.
name is late Chief Dickson Yembra, he was a chief accountant with UTC
before he passed away. My mother is a trader, her name is Victoria Yembra. She was
a very hardworking business woman before she passed away. A workaholic, she
believes in labor. My mother used to tell us that you cannot go bankrupt with
hard-work. A lot of people knew my mother in this Fadeyi area she used to
sell clothes, bags of Cassava flour, bush meat and later operated a restaurant.
She was famous in her life time; if you go around and say you want to know
about Mama Fadeyi, they will tell you about her. She was also called “Mama
Baby”. It was just two of us I and my elder brother, Richard,
who is now late.