Nigerian-born radio presenter at Sky UK and Ireland, Abike Ade, in this interview, speaks on issues relating to her acting career, broadcasting, her late husband and other personal issues that many don’t know.
It’s been very very challenging.
How challenging? What kind of stress you go through?
The challenges vary. It starts from building one’s image, keeping it up and getting better and better on a daily basis.
So, have you been able to build your image to a level you are satisfied with?
The stress starts from meeting up with the required standard from fans, individuals and at the same time keeping with my duties as a mother. I continue to work on my image as one is never satisfied. I strive to continue climbing until I reach my best. My best is yet to come.
How did you come up with the idea of presenting a Yoruba programme in London? How has the acceptance level been?Good question. I started with acting. In 1998, I lost my husband to armed robbers in Nigeria. Just a month before the death of my husband, a young talented Nigerian, Ayo Coker, approached me to work with his newly established radio station. The radio station was named ‘N’Power Radio. I never thought that I could present anything but Mr. Coker encouraged me by saying that he saw me in some movies and he thought I could present on radio. I embraced the opportunity and that was how I ventured into radio broadcasting.
How was your first day on the job?
I was then the first female to present a Yoruba programme cum adverts on radio before others joined. My first day was quite daunting and let me say ‘scary;’ but with the support of Mr. Coker, it went well. However, let me say that I voiced jingles most of the time then. The Nigerian community, mostly Yorubas, embraced the idea of presenting in Yoruba language. It was a sort of relief in terms of being able to express their concerns in their mother tongue and having someone listen to their needs out there.
Tell us more about the death of your husband.
Well, my husband was the CEO of Layon Printing Press in Kaduna. He won contracts to print execrcise books in almost all the states in Nigeria during the regime of Babangida. He was said to have been assassinated by armed robbers on his way from Kaduna to Lagos in October 1998. His name is Mr. Adeyemi Asha-Layon; he was from Igosun in Offa, Kwara State.
Fifteen years down the line, how have you been coping without him? Do the children talk about him?
Certainly, I miss him so much. With God all things are possible. I’m coping well enough. Of course, his children miss him so much and we cannot but talk about him. Even though he is deceased but he remains my world, my role model, a friend and a father and we will continue to miss him.
What exactly do you miss most about him?
His bluntness, honest, love and care for humanity
So why do you believe it was an assasination and not just a random armed robbery incident?
He was singled out from all the people in the car and nothing was taken from him.
So, he was not travelling in his private car?
Ade never used to travel alone. There are employees and friends with him. It’s been a while now but the vacum left behind, no one can fill.
So, how do you feel?
Awful, angry, annoyed, disappointed in our system.
For how long were you married?
We were married for nine years.
Why did you relocate to London? You started acting in 1998 and by now you would have been a big shot on the Nigerian movie scene.I did not relocate to London initially. My husband sent me here to study. Mind you, I was working with the then Nigerian Airways before my husband asked me to travel out to further my education in order to benefit his business. Yes I would have been a big shot in Nigeria by now but let me remind you that I was not into full acting while in Nigeria. I only did some acting while I was in school. I only started to act in movies in London and stage shows before I ventured into home video acting in 1995. I did not return back to Nigeria due to the fact that first, I lost my husband. He was my backbone. Second, I have nothing to come home to even though I have family members back home. I decided to stay here in Britain and start a new life.
Tell us the actors and actresses you featured with in Nollywood films.
I have been acting while I was in secondary school back in Nigeria. When I came to UK, I joined a group of stage actors. I featured in my first home movie in 1995, alongside Laja Adedoyin and Lanre Adegun. It was titled, ‘Abomination’. I played a lead role called Alero.
Of course, I played a romantic role, kissing and making love. Listen, it’s just a movie, so don’t attach too much importance to it.
My second movie was ‘Otito’, which featured Jide Kosoko and Baba Suwe. There was another video I acted in with Racheal Oniga and Pasuma. It was titled ‘Ileri Ayo’. I also featured in ‘Faithful Lover’ with Ramsey Noah and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde.
Nobody ever asked me for sex before giving me a role because I’m never vulnerable. I’m not desperate to feature in movies, so there is no issue on that at all.
Why do you have a tatoo on your breast?
There is nothing wrong with having a tattoo on your body. It’s all about choice. Second, my own tattoo has something to do with my daughter and it’s personal. Therefore, I’m not talking about it and I have no regret having a tatoo on any part of my body. If you need to know, I do have more than one and it’s my choice, I love it.
Do you intend to remarry soon?
Of course, I would love to remarry at any time. I would love to remarry in God’s own time, because it is not good for any lady to be single. Apart from the Biblical aspect of it, our traditions and community do not respect a single woman. For a lady to command respect, she needs to settle down with a responsible man. I don’t have any problem dealing with men’s advances. Ladies are meant to be wooed by men. I’m a matured woman.
Starting a new life is not as easy as it sounds. How was it for you intially?
To God be the glory, things are great. All thanks and adoration to the most high God. Initially it was very very rough and I mean rough to the point that I became a destitute, begging to feed. I had no papers to remain in the country. I moved from one place to the other to avoid immigration. Though I came into the country with a student visa but after the death of my husband, I did not wish to return to Nigeria. But the UK Home Office asked me to leave their country. Then, I started sleeping rough. I had to fend for them and with God on my side, I tried my best. Now, my yesterday has now given birth to my today.
How has it been combining work and raising your two kids?
Well, it was not easy. However, God has been faithful and able in all areas, so I thank God.
Are you planning on coming back to Nigeria?
Not at the moment; I lost my sister to armed robbers in March.
Are you afraid to come because of the insecurity in the country?
Yes. Nigeria is a ‘no go area’ for me. I have a registered charity organisation here in UK. The charity is in support of the disabled, homeless persons and people/community suffering from poverty.
Why did you set it up?
The charity was set up in line with my experience as a destitute living without papers in the UK and also in line with the legacy of my late husband. There are so many people suffering out here and even in Nigeria. They are unable to feed, no family support, just like I was once in those shoes. There are others that were faced with the inevitable and therefore could not move on with their lives. Such individuals require support, both morally and financially. The organisation is called Abike Ade Foundation.