Secret of my strenght @ 82—Chief Jimoh Aliu (Aworo) + How he started acting 60 years ago

Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR)

Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR)  aka Aworo is a movie legend in Nigeria. He is one of the last soldiers
of the olden days theater industry in Nigeria. He started acting in 1956 when
Nigeria was yet to discover what is today described as Nollywood. The
Oke-Imesis, Ekiti State (South West Nigeria) born actor is today a Cultural
Ambassador in Yoruba Land after 60 years on stage as writer, director,
producer and actor. An old soldier in the Nigerian Army, Chief Aliu is an
encyclopaedia of arts and one of the founding fathers of the Association of Nigerian Theater Practitioners (ANTP). Chief Aliu who is famous for his star TV series of the
80s and 90s eg, Arelu, Yanponyanrin and Fopomoyo is one celebrity that is a reporter’s delight any day any
time. Always full of wits, drama, oriki, native intelligence, wisdom and strength that can not be compared with anything. In a recent encounter with
your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika inside a Lagos 3 Star Hotel suite, Chief Jimoh Aliu who was on his way to America for a special movie
project shared some of his best kept secrets with us. It is an interview you
have not read anywhere before. An Asabeafrika
exclusive. Enjoy the excerpts.

I saw you last in 2015 when you
clocked 80. Today, I am meeting you again and you are now 82 years of age. Can
I start by asking what the secret of your good health is?

The GDA meets the Chief in his Hotel Suite in Lagos

Thank you
very much for coming around. Yes, that I look smart and healthy is not by my
power but by the power of God. I don’t even understand myself. I always pray to
God to keep me fit to be able to continue to make people happy. I thank you for
coming and I will like to use this opportunity to greet everyone that is
reading this interview, our royal fathers, governors, iyalajes, iyalojas,
doctors, ministers, commissioners, senators, I greet all of you reading me and
all my fans across the globe. I am Chief Jimoh Aliu, everybody know me
as Aworo
of Arelu and
fame. And for now,
I am known as Oba Asa. I am from Ekiti
, Oke-Imesi in Ekiti West LGA. I am a theatre man at
all time. I am never tired and I am still on the screen even at 82.
What keeps you going at 82?

Baba Aworo explaining a point to Asabeafrika

I have
nothing to say than to thank God for keeping me alive. He created me in a very
unique way and I am now 82. I still have my two eyes and my body moves very
well with my mental alertness clear. I just finished a 52 episode series on TV,
titled Sir Chukwu on Galaxy TV;
you can watch that movie every Saturday,
Sunday and Monday. I had about 478 artistes on location at Osun-Oshogbo for the series. We produced
for about 4 months and I can’t recall falling sick or ill for once. I am still
strong enough to even do more of such TV series.
Where do you get the strength to
write, direct, act and be in charge of your game at 82?

Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika…’My Strength is a special gift from God’

Thank you
for this question. I want to say it is a special gift. If God create you and
gives you a talent to continue to dominate your industry, I think you should
appreciate God for it. Sometimes, if I sleep, I will see some beings come to
teach me how to write a story through the dream. When the dream is running, I
will rise up immediately and call my children and say ‘pick your pen and start to write this, write that, etc’. I
have been doing this since 1956 when I started. Some people will say ‘oh, I am forty-something on stage or
fifty-something on stage’
. They start counting their age but my own is not
like that. I thank you for doing everything possible to come and hear from me
and learn about life. I pray by the special grace of God, you will continue to
be a winner in anything you do in life and you will crush all your enemies.
Amen, sir

Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika….’Youths should stay away from vices’

Yes, you are
my son and I your father, please, continue to do what you are doing. Now, I
want to advice (Nigerian) youths, please, be honest. In anything you do in
life, ensure that you move closer to God; don’t be a liar, don’t be a
womanizer, don’t be a smoker or a drinker. If you drink, don’t over drink or
over smoking. Don’t do that, respect your God, respect your father, respect
your mother and respect your leader. The Bible says ‘B’owo fun iya, b’owo fun baba re’, not only your father or mother
but anybody that seniors you in all endeavor of life. Please, respect that
person and God will continue to back you up. You won’t have any problem. But if
you disrespect, then you are in trouble.
How did the journey to fame started
for you?

Chief Jimoh Aliu on his 80th birthday…Became Oba Asa…

I got to
Lagos in the year 1946; I was load carrier (Alabaru) at Jankara market. I started at Oyingbo
and Iddo, if they call ‘Alaaru o’ I will say ‘hoo’ and rush to help people carry
their loads. You know the proverb of our fathers, it says oo k’ewu, oo
k’awe, won p’alaaru o sare’
(You didn’t attend a circular school or
Muslim school for education yet they offer you load carrying job and you are
lazy). When I knew that I had just a little education, so I must do something
to survive. But I never knew that from carrying loads for people in the market place
I will become a movie star today. I have won so many awards home and away; I am
a professor of theater art, I am a cultural ambassador and I am a Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR). When you get
to my house, you will see lot of plaques of awards I got here up to Saudi Arabia, Britain and elsewhere.

Chief Jimoh Aliu being honored by Fuji Music Star Dr. Osupa Sahidi

That is why I am very careful. I respect
people so much. If you see a small boy, don’t use your mouth to shout down that
person and say ‘Hee, you’. If you see
somebody that is jobless, walking up and down, don’t mess with him because God
can change that person at any fucking time. God changed me in so many ways. If
you were lucky to be in Oke-Imesi
last Saturday for the Ladunwo festival,
if you see how my town people embraced me, praising me, I was overwhelmed. It
was on television and everywhere because I am the coordinator of Ladunwo Festival. But my town never knew
I could be so great like that in life because when I was leaving Oke-Imesi in the 40s, we waka (trekked)
right from Oke-Imesi to Ilesha. It was a terrible experience,
and from Ilesha, they used 6 pence to transport me down to Lagos. But come and see me, today. I am
now a goodwill ambassador of Oke-Imesi
and Ekiti state.

So, how did you find yourself in theater?

Chief Jimoh Aliu with famous Actress Nike Peller

Yes, that is
why I said it is a special gift. I love to watch films in those days; I was a
regular face at Pen Cinema, Agege, Casino Cinema, Yaba and many other cinemas in town. If I don’t have
enough money to watch film, I will make sure I do enough load carrying at
Oyingbo or any of the markets to enable me gather enough money to buy my own
ticket and watch the particular movie I want to watch.

The Chief in an old shot with the GDA

I watched many Indian
film and local films and from there I got my inspiration to act. I wanted to be
like them. It was from visiting those cinemas that I met my late Oga, Akin
(Went into Oriki: Omo-Olumesi
malana, won ni k’oba ma lana, oni toun ba
lana, oun a l’ana l’ategba titi lo de ijebu ode, k’olorun ko ba mi
f’orun ke).
He came to see my master late Mubashiru Cole at Number
2, Kilani street, Mushin, Lagos. He is a patron to Akin
Ogungbe Theatre Group
. I saw the way his people were dancing and I said ‘this is the type of things I like’ and
I called my Oga and said ‘Please, sir, I
will like to join this group’
. And that was how I started with Akin Ogungbe Theatre Group.

You mean that was how Jimoh Aliu
became a member of Akin-Ogungbe Theatre Group?

Chief Jimoh Aliu explaining a point to Asabeafrika

Yes, I traveled far and wide and equally gained lots of experience from the group.
So, if you want to do your work, sit down and do it well. The story you are
going to write, let the story teach people morales, if it is about Osho (Wizard) or Aje (Witches) or Ole
(Thief) or Amugbo (Smoker), if you
want to write, let that story teach a lesson to everybody that will watch. You
must learn to write the story to teach a lesson. And as the ambassador of that
story line, what you try to teach people with your story, don’t do it. But in Nigeria today, some people write a story
to curse somebody, if you do this; you are going to be canned. Because if you
are doing something that is negative and against what you teach with your
story, you have already used that story to curse yourself.
You mean they write a story-line and
they themselves are accessories to actions they preach against?

Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika….’I don’t expect someone shooting a movie on robbery to be an armed robber in real life. That means you are cursed’

Exactly. You
say you are cursing armed robbers (with your story line) but you are equally
stealing. But people don’t know you are a robber, people don’t see you. But the
day God will catch you, he is going to expose you to everybody and people will
say ‘Ah, aaah???’. They will say ‘Asiri e tu’. And again, you must run
for women. If you want to succeed in life, you must not be women conscious. For
instance, you are invited for a job interview in an office and on getting
there, you see the PA, a very beautiful lady. Then, you come in and say ‘I want to see the MD or Chairman’ and she says ‘sit down, sir’. And you take a
newspaper and pretend to be reading, meanwhile you are using side of your eyes
to cross-check the lady. Then, you start joking with her and in the course of
that joke you tell her ‘I like you, you are beautiful bla,bla,bla’.
Then, suddenly, the boss invites you in. You enter and you pass the interview
but on leaving, you now asked for the lady’s phone contact.

Chief Jimoh Aliu with a Beauty Queen; say ‘Young People should not chase women before work’

‘I need your contact because I love your
. And you went away. Then, same lady goes in to see her boss and she
says ‘oh, Oga, is that man your friend?
He is not a serious man o, he kept chasing me etc’.
And the man will say ‘ehen?’. If he asks you to come the
second week for appointment, you will surely come back. But on getting there,
the same lady tells you ‘Oga does not
want to
see anybody now, he says I
should tell you to leave’
. And when you try to protest, she shouts you out
and you become confused. This is exactly what many young men do to destroy
their own lives. They want to belong and that impedes their success in life.
Theses are some of the cogent experiences I have gained from my waka-waka from here to America to London to Paris; to Kano, 
Kaduna, Maiduguri, Gboko, Markudi, Mubi, Numa, Okene down to Onitsha, Abakaliki, Ihiala, Nkalagwu, Ikot Epene, Uyo, Eket,
Edet, Asaba down to Seme down
to Cotonou, down to Degema, down to Kumasi, down Yashokoro,
down Monrovia. So, I have used my
several trips to gather many experience coupled with my seven and a half years
in the Army.

Yes, sir, I forgot you were once a
soldier, does the experience equally counts on you?

The Oba Asa stressing a point to the GDA

I worked
with (General) Oluleye at 2nd
Division; I worked with (General) Benjamin
Adekunle Scorpion at the 3rd
marine Commando before the arrival of General
Obasanjo. So, Obasanjo is my Oga. It was when Obasanjo
left (General T.Y) Danjuma took over that I resigned and came back home and
started my theater practice.
You mean you left the army because of
General TY Danjuma?

Chief Jimoh Aliu to Asabeafrika…’I joined the Army because i was beaten up by military boys’

Not, not
because of Danjuma. It was strictly
for my theater project. Even while I was in the military I was still doing my theater. It was just necessary that I retire and go back to my first love.
But why did you join the Army in the
first place?

The Oba Asa…Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR)

It was
because some military men punished me, I ran into them one day and I was
maltreated and I said ‘I must join this
army to find out what is special about them’
and that was it. I joined the
army because I am a theatre man and I can continue to play for this people
(Army) to make them happy. Some of those people I performed for in those days,
some are now senators, ministers, governors, justices, lawyers and that is why
people will say ‘Jimoh Aliu knows people
in high
places’. Yes, I know
people because I have found myself in various spheres of life. People always
wonder, if I knock this office someone will attend to me, if I knock the other
office, someone is there for me. If I get to London, they know me, America,
I have people there, so, they keep wondering why I am so favored with people in
high places.

Oba Asa High Chief Jimoh Aliu (MFR) with the GDA

The answer is simple; these are people I performed for when they
were students in Primary Schools and Secondary schools and some at colleges of
education, university and other places and till date, the bond is there. And
that is why I don’t want anything to tarnish my name; I don’t want anything to
tarnish my image. If someone pushes me or brush my car and I turn to fight or
say ‘ah, ah’. The moment the person
says ‘Baba Aworo’, I will quickly let
peace reign. Because getting angry might mean getting dirtied. So, I try to
live in harmony and work efficiently in order to promote peace around my
environment and for people around me. I am a man of peace.

 (To be continued)  


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