Author Topic: Why Im learning French at 60 Tunde Kelani  (Read 1250 times)

Offline furtune

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Why Im learning French at 60 Tunde Kelani
« on: April 19, 2008, 03:37:10 PM »
You recently marked your 60th birthday, but you dont look 60. What is the secret? I would attribute it to God. In fact, I wasnt sure that I was 60. I had to do some calculations to realise that 60 years had gone by. I just have to thank God, because most of our work entails physical, intellectual and spiritual efforts, and I seem to have been able to combine everything. It is also because I am a fit person.

As a very busy person, your job ought to have taken a toll on your health

No, because my work is something I enjoy doing. It does not really appear like stress. When I am working, it is like I have been able to raise millions of naira to entertain myself, bring together musicians and artistes and watch them perform. I believe I am having fun in such a creative endeavour. I know it could be stressful, but it leaves room for enjoyment. It is like you are in school and you wish your parents could afford to let you remain a student forever.

You still handle the camera at 60.

I do delegate filming to people who are very good. It is only a tool in the process of filmmaking, although I know that I am in control at various levels of expertise. The idea is to bring in a lot of experts and, at that point, you are in charge of channelling all that energy into something that is very productive.

Some people still argue that Nigeria does not have a standard film industry

Oh, we do have a standard film industry. But there are various challenges, especially in the area of capacity building. We have to make sure that we inject intellectualism, literature and all that into the industry in order to improve the overall quality and standard of the industry. The industry has contributed immensely to the economy, especially as it has empowered many young people. The industry is young and evolving. But in the last 12 years, there has been a marked improvement. We may not have arrived but we are certainly on course. In spite of all the flaws, Nigerian films are everywhere, just like our football.

Why did you decide to go into cinematography at a time when the film industry was virtually non-existent?

I grew up in a family compound in Abeokuta. I was very close to Yoruba culture, which borders a lot on creativity. I discovered Yoruba literature at a very young age by reading the likes of D.O. Fagunwa, J.F. Odunjo and Amos Tutuola. My education started from there. With these and my interest in photography and cinema, it was natural for me to head in that direction. Again, Western Nigeria brought the first television station to Africa. So, after I left secondary school and did my apprenticeship as a photographer, I was trained at that regional television station and I had the benefit of working with the best African managers at that time. In fact, I would have been a disappointment, a let down to my cultural heritage, if I had done something else.

Is that why you stick to Yoruba epics instead of churning out home videos like other movie producers?

In the 60s, I was privileged to be a part of an excursion to Ibadan to watch Kola Ogunmola in the first production of the Palmwine Drinkard produced by the University of Ibadan. I have the images in my head, so how could I have joined the bangwagon? I am a product of a creative environment. It is now that I should give Nigerians great films.

Even at 60 and with all you have done?

Everything I have done from Ti Oluwa Nile to Narrow Path are a learning process. They are just experimental. I have put all of that aside. At 60, with good health and Gods support, I think the show is just about to start.

With all you have achieved in the industry, how come you still keep a low profile ...

If you do a thing successfully, you cant be anything but humble, because you would realise that it is not just you. The inspiration comes from God. It is a collaborative effort where you bring artistes together and realise a goal. Each experience makes me more humble.

You have been around for a while and yet we dont hear scandalous stories about you

It is because I am heading in a different direction. I have various challenges and I want to document as much of my cultural experience as possible. Because of western influence, some of our culture may go into extinction, so it is a challenge for me to preserve and promote it.

What is your view about wealth?

I dont believe in the accumulation of wealth for its sake. How can wealth be meaningful without giving back to people? It is hopeless. When you buy the latest car only to die later, what is the meaning of that? So, it is not that important to me. There are other aspects of life that are more important to me than wealth.

Like what?

Like knowledge, like creativity. I believe that I am here just to play a role for a while.

How do you feel when you see all the stars you have made?

I am not a star; I am just an ordinary person. The so called stars were made by God, not me. I cant say that I made so, so and so person. Its only God that can do that. There are other people too who are instrumental to whatever I am.

How does your family fit into your busy schedule?

My home is my work. There is a very thin line between my home and my work. I lived together with my family in the office for more than 12 years. They knew no other home besides Mainframe. It was only recently that we moved into a flat to live together like a family. For me, work is home and home is work.

How did you become a family man?

As a matter of fact, I am happy for what happened to me. You know, the choice of a spouse for an art person is always very difficult, especially for a non-conformist like me. I was a late starter because I was too involved with my work. It is only my wife that could have tolerated my unconventional lifestyle. I am a head of a family who is never around. And when I am around, I am working on something. I hardly celebrate anything. I cant organise a party by myself because I will not have the time to attend. I dont even have a stomach for that. I am not a good example of a family man. From day one, I declared that it would be unlikely for me to have time to drive my children to school. I have never done it. They have to go on their own. And the children understood that from day one.

How did you meet your wife?

I think God provided her for me. I dont know what in-law would approve of me; somebody who decided not to dress in the western way, for instance. Not that I had not done that when I was much younger, but I have since apologised to God. There is nothing that can make me dress in that way again. I will die if I have to put on a tie. And even in my own traditional sense, I dont like lace materials or guinea brocade. I just love to design what I wear around our own fabrics. It has to be essentially, authentically African, and I top it with my traditional Yoruba cap anywhere in the world. Apart from giving me identity, it makes me comfortable and it makes a statement that what we need is in our environment.

As someone who is always not around, who runs your house?

I am lucky that everyone around me, including my wife, children, and friends have come to realise that we are in this together. They have supported me at various levels. That is why it is very difficult for me to claim credit for anything; I have various contributors who have made it easy for me to go on for this long. I have had my ups and downs, but I am lucky that God provides people who pull me up again.

Some people who do the kind of things you do rely on some ?stuffs. What do you take?

Nothing. I dont need anything in my bloodstream because it can be counterproductive. It is my work that gives me the capacity to learn forever. Even at 60, I am learning French. I want to go into the production of French works in the next two years. I encourage young people to be well rounded in many languages.

In this kind of industry where all manner of characters mill around you, what do you do to avoid scandals?

The point of focus is my work. I am addicted to my work. For me, anything that is likely to affect my goal is immaterial.

But your predecessors, like the Hubert Ogundes of this world, had many women

No. As a matter of fact, Ogunde tutored and influenced me a lot. Ogunde remained one of the most passionate persons to his work. As far as he was concerned, nothing else mattered. He had a single-minded manner of approaching his work and all his wives had to support him. I agree with you that Ogunde was a polygamist, but he was a polygamist with a difference. He could not have been caught in a hotel with a girlfriend. It was not possible. He was very disciplined, honest and reliable.

The industry is prone to pressure from ladies, how do you cope with them?

My cultural background does not permit that. It is only in the city that you can go to any girl and ask her out. Remember I am coming from a strong cultural style of the Yoruba which differentiates between what is good and what is bad. Somebody who is proud of his heritage and name does not allow such frivolities.

We hear stories of directors and actresses harassing one another. What is responsible for that?

It depends on your various levels of motivation. There is freedom. But as I told you, it depends on where you are coming from. My own first code of conduct is never to have a relationship during my work because it is a source of destruction. For me, having a relationship with any of my cast is a no-go area.

When do you want to retire?

I dont know. In fact, I really have not thought about it because my peers abroad, like Christopher Doyle, who is one of the greatest cinematographers in the world and who is based in Hong Kong, are over 70. And I meet them again and again and wish I were like them. I keep praying for good health.

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Why Im learning French at 60 Tunde Kelani
« on: April 19, 2008, 03:37:10 PM »

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Offline Prince

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Re: Why Im learning French at 60 Tunde Kelani
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2008, 07:21:32 PM »
Learning got no age limit.

Offline dont8

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Re: Why Im learning French at 60 Tunde Kelani
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2008, 12:19:27 AM »
is an inspiration to the young ones,that anything worth doing is worth doing fine,happy birthday to him and anyone celebrating on that day in the house.
God is good

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Re: Why Im learning French at 60 Tunde Kelani
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2008, 12:19:27 AM »

 

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