Darlington is one of the children of the late high-life musician and guitarist, Sunday Akanite, otherwise called Oliver de Coque. He talks about the life of his father off the stage with PUNCH
What was it like growing up with your father?
It was awesome. My siblings and I didn’t see him as a famous figure. He was a normal, caring, jovial and loving dad to us. Whenever I went out with him, I was treated in a special way. I always loved going out with him. Home was home to him. He always made his time at home a special moment. He was definitely fun to be with.
Describe his personality at home?
He was a type of father that commanded fear. I personally became frightened whenever he shouted at me. We always avoided getting him upset. At the same time, he was very funny at home. Whenever he entered the house, he became his real self, Sunday Akanite, and no longer Oliver De Coque. He loved to watch cartoons and play around with his children. He also loved to play his guitar and sing for us.
What interesting places did he take you to?
He took me to the United States to watch the 1994 World Cup. I was quite young then. He and his band members were invited to perform. I also remember when I travelled to South Africa. It was an interesting trip. It was during the late Nelson Mandela’s birthday celebration.
Was he strict while you were growing up?
Yes he was strict but friendly too. I remember the only time he beat me really well. I had spent the night at a friend’s house without informing him. When I got home the next day, he pounced on me. At other times, rather than beat me, he deprived me of accompanying him to functions whenever I misbehaved. I disliked that a lot. I really enjoyed the VIP treatment I received whenever I accompanied him.
You chose music like your father. Did he influence your decision?
He never influenced my decision to become a singer. I believe my love for music came naturally. I still remember performing in school. That was how my love for hip-hop grew. I began to write songs within a short while. He was happy about my decision. I’m not the only one who is into music; my brothers are too.
How many children did your father have?
We are 12; seven boys and five girls.
How has his family been able to manage what he left behind?
My father settled his will while he was alive. He clearly spelt out what belonged to each one of us.
How did he come up with the name, ‘Oliver De Coque’?
His other name is Oliver. But while growing up, he was popularly called the Game Master. This is because he was good at the game of draft. Draft in Igbo language is ‘Okwe.’ People began to call him Oliver di ka okwe. He then changed the name to sound more like a French name that was how he came up with Oliver De Coque.
How did he relax after performing at shows?
He loved to eat fruits. He always said that as a family man, no matter how bad your day went, you should always buy something for your children. Whenever he was coming home, he would buy fruits. He also loved to watch Nigerian movies and listen to Fela. He liked other artistes including Sunny Ade, Tupac, Bob Marley and the then hip-hop group, Plantashun Boiz.
What was the most important advice he gave you?
He said whenever I go out to perform, I should not focus on the monetary aspect. Instead, I should be more concerned about pleasing the crowd and making them happy. He also warned me not to spoil the family name. My father lived a life of purpose. He was also disciplined, straight-forward and had a listening ear.
Was he an overprotective father?
He was to me. This is because I lost my mother when I was 11 months old. That made both of us so close. The day he died, I was by his side.
Who were the famous faces you saw at your home while growing up?
The likes of Fela, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Sir Shina Peters and many others.
What were his likes and dislikes?
He liked those who are straight forward; he detested lies. He also liked hard-working young men and disliked lazy people.
What were his hobbies?
He liked to play his guitar and games too. He particularly liked to play video games.
At what point did he experience his saddest moment?
It was the year he lost his mother. They were very close. He said after she died, he felt as if a part of him had gone. He couldn’t step out of the house. He was sad. She died in 2007.
Would he have loved to change anything about himself?
I think his flamboyant lifestyle. He always said he wasn’t proud of some of the financial decisions he made.
What were those things he liked to splurge on?
He loved to buy clothes. He spent a lot of money maintaining his looks. In fact, he spent N30,000 on his beard weekly. It may sound funny but taking care of his beard alone cost him N30,000. He went to his salon twice a week. He always said his beard was his signature look. He said if someone decided to keep beard, it was right to maintain it.
What were the challenges he faced in life?
At the beginning of his career, he started as a vocalist. He didn’t know how to play guitar. Whenever he had gigs, he would invite people to play for him, and most times they ended up disappointing him. He was forced to learn how to play the instrument. Also, it took time before he became popular. He once begged to perform at hotels and he wasn’t paid for his performances.
Can you name things Nigerians don’t know about him?
He had a good sense of humour; he loved to crack jokes. He loved to give people money; the day he died, he gave N5, 000 to some boys who hawked sausage roll on the street. He was also a shy person.
What led to his death?
He fell ill at the end of year 2007. He was diabetic and hypertensive. I believe most artistes don’t like to disclose their health challenge. I think that mentality is wrong. I feel if he had disclosed his health challenge, he would have gotten help quick. He was ill for three months. He then recovered in February 2008 and began to go for shows. He died on June 20 but he had planned to travel to the US on July 2 for checkup.
It was as if he knew he was going to die because on the day he died, he decided not to go out and he wanted me to stay by his side. That morning, after he had his breakfast, he began to feel ill. He said he was going to cancel his appointment for that day. I didn’t know it was a serious matter; all I did was to console him. I went to the bathroom to take a shower and then told him that I wanted to visit a few friends.
He begged me not to leave his side; I became upset. I thought he was depriving me of catching fun. I grudgingly stayed back. While I was with him, he began to tell me the story of how he started his career. While talking, he complained of not breathing well. He then decided to go to the hospital. On our way to the hospital, he called the driver to increase the temperature of the air conditioner; he said he was feeling hot. I became scared when he began to shout ‘wheelbarrow! wheelbarrow! ‘Darlington, please bring a wheelbarrow.’ I was wondering what was happening. It was after he died I realised he was referring to a wheel chair.
What did he need a wheelchair for?
I think he was becoming paralysed and unconscious. When we got to the hospital, he was rushed to the emergency ward. Throughout his time at the hospital, he kept begging me to save him but there was nothing I could have done. Before he died, he held my hand close to his side and took his last breathe. I closed his eyes and kissed him on the forehead. I was so confused about all that happened.
I told him to make his health condition public. I believe more than 200 Igbo people can lay their life down for him. He is gone and the vacuum he left can’t be filled. It is a lesson for us all, whenever one is facing a challenge, one shouldn’t keep quiet about it. I want people to learn from his death.
Can you describe him in three words?
He was fearless, courageous and honest. These are the words I can use to describe him.
What do you miss about him?
I miss his face and voice. Most times to console myself, I listen to his voice. I feel blessed that I can still hear his voice through his music. Whenever I listen to his song, it is as if he is talking to me. I feel lucky that despite his death, his presence still remains with me.
Do you feel under pressure to surpass his feats?
My father and I are different. Great men like my father come once in a life time. I don’t think I can break his record; maybe my children will achieve that.
His music promotes Igbo culture. What is your family doing to preserve his songs?
We are planning to hold a big event for him next year. We have spoken to big companies about our plan. We also hope to build a school of music/foundation in his memory.
What made him happy?
He enjoyed listening to music and watching news channels. He particularly enjoyed being with his family; that made him happy.
He was referred to as the most popular high-life king of Africa. How did he feel about the title?
He felt honoured but he was a bit shy of his success. Sometimes, he felt he didn’t deserve all the titles he had.
What age would he have loved to die?
He said he would have loved to die at 110 years. Sadly, he died at the age of 61.
What was his favourite food?
He loved wheat with oha soup.
How did he like to dress?
If he wasn’t dressed in his native attire, he loved to wear suit or sweatshirt with jeans.
Lagos govt. grants pardon to Funke Akindele, husband over breach of COVID-19 regulations
The Lagos state government on Friday granted pardon to actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, Abdulrasheed Bello, who had earlier been convicted for an offence related to the disobedience of COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
The Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Kayode Oyekanmi, in a statement noted that the couple was granted pardon because they were non-custodial convicts.
The statement also revealed that 56 inmates from various correctional Centres were granted state pardon.
“A statement signed by the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, said Mr. Sanwo-Olu acted based on the recommendations of the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, under the powers conferred on the Governor by Section 212 (1) & (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended,” the statement read in part.
“The 56 released inmates were recommended by the Advisory Council after due examination of their case files and consideration of the length of time served, the gravity of offence, old age and ill-health among other parameters.
“The Attorney General has also enjoined the beneficiaries to be good citizens and stay away from crime”.
It will be recalled that eight-member Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, headed by Dr. Abayomi Finnih was inaugurated by Governor Sanwo-Olu in December 2019.
Nigerian film Eyimofe set for London premiere, debuts trailer
As part of activities to celebrate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Day anniversary, a film, Eyimofe (This is my desire) is set to premiere in the United Kingdom, at the BFI London Film Festival on October 11.
The film, which had its world premiere at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival in February, is also billed to celebrate its U.S premiere at the AFI Fest on October 20.
Ahead of the London screening, which will create an opportunity for the Nigerian community in the United Kingdom to join in the country’s 60th anniversary celebration, Eyimofe has debuted its official trailer for the festival, which is already generating interest from the global film community.
A GDN Studios production, the 114 minutes film directed by twin brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri, features Jude Akuwudike, Temi Ami-Williams, Cynthia Ebijie, Sadiq Daba, Tomiwa Edun, Jacobs Alexander, Tomiwa Edun, Chioma ‘Chigul’ Omeruah and others.
Funded entirely in Nigeria and shot in 16mm and filmed across 48 locations in Lagos, the two chapter drama follows the stories of Mofe (Jude Akuwudike), a factory technician, and Rosa (Temi Ami-Williams), a hairdresser, on their quest for what they believe will be a better life on foreign shores.
A passport, photos and a visa form recurring elements. The characters’ misfortunes are part of their everyday life and they are sketching out the need to leave Nigeria at the same time.
At the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, status, money, gender, skin colour and family structures are inextricably connected. The longing for another life is but one thread in this complex mesh, a promise that floats above things at once near and far away.
It would be recalled that Eyimofe is the 2020 official selection for Vancouver International Film Festival, an annual film festival held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
PHOTOS: Odebunmi facilitates film making training for constituents
The lawmaker representing Ogo Oluwa/ Surulere Federal Constituency, Hon. Segun Dokun Odebunmi has facilitated an empowerment training program for members of his Constituency on Film Making and Cinematography for self reliance.
Odebunmi, who also chairs the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values on Thursday informed that the training was part of his quest for human development.
Remarking, the lawmaker justified the training as one of the ways of encouraging the youths to think out of the box and make use of the technology advancement to create another source of income.
” I grew up in this community and I know what majority of our people are passing through especially now that the economy of the world is being challenged, people need multiple streams of income and I am making use of every opportunity to assist my people by training them on how to make use of their talents and make more money through entertainment”, he said.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly for the opportunity, urging the participants to take the advantage to better their lots .
The lead speaker, Mr Maruff Ajibolu charged participants to take full compliment of the training as Nigeria’s creative industries are slowly breaking new grounds and currently recognised as among the biggest globally. This he noted led to its marking as a priority sector in the FGN’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan with a very high projected income over the coming years and also led the Federal government to grant most segments within the creative industries including Nollywood conditional access to pioneer status incentives which include holidays from the payment of companies’ income taxes as well as withholding tax on dividends from pioneer profits for an initial period of three years.
Also remarking, a key player in the creative industry, Mr. Muyiwa Ademola also harped on the huge potential subsumed in cinematography and film making. The Nollywood star further noted that the event was a rare opportunity, because it has always been either FG , CBN and World bank projects.
“It was designed to help people discover their talents and passion with the intent of turning it into a source of income”, Ademola added.
The training which took place concurrently at Resource Centre, Igbo-Ile Surulere LG and Ajaawa Town Hall, Ajaawa, Ogo-Oluwa LG, had other notable speakers which included, Mr Yemi Ogunyemi, Mr Ojo Oluwatona.
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