Author Topic: ?I Lost My Real Name To Teacher Ogene?  (Read 1853 times)

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?I Lost My Real Name To Teacher Ogene?
« on: June 05, 2013, 06:18:50 AM »
?I lost my real name to Teacher Ogene?

Do you know the real name of the character, Teacher Ogene, in the rested television series, The Village Headmaster? In this interview, he tells Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME that he lost his real name, Melville Obriango, to Teacher Ogene on the sitcom.

The Village Headmaster. Mirror In The Sun. New Masquerade. Jaguar. Behind The Cloud and Checkmate. These were popular television soaps in the 70s and 80s, which many homes could not afford to miss. About three decades after, most Nigerians who watched the television series then still have strong memories of the dramas, especially The Village Headmaster, created by the late Ambassador Segun Olusola of the lead character in the rested television series, Mr. Melville Obriango, who acted Teacher Ogene, a teacher in Oja village School, said the drama which brought him popularity, literarily usurped his real name. He said the name Teacher Ogene did not only become a brand but a conflicting identity, which he had to contend with at the beginning of his role as a teacher in The Village Headmaster. He noted that despite the initial resistance, the name stuck and there was nothing he could do about it. The Nembe-born dramatist said most of his fans and admirers did not know he was not an Urhobo man.

?For me, the name Teacher Ogene actually became a brand. But it also usurped my real name. In the beginning, it was disturbing managing the conflict created by the role. Each time I visited my late mother then, she would always say: ?I did not give you that name, Ogene?. But, the name got stuck and there was nothing I could do about it. Unfortunately too, most people did not know I am not an Urhobo man. However, the name opened some doors of goodwill, to some extent,? he added.

According to Obriango, one other challenge he contended with while on the cast of The Village Headmaster was how to manage the ?rich man status? the drama conferred on him. He observed that most Nigerians believe that featuring in a popular television series makes one a rich man. This, he said, exposed him to the perceptions of many about actors.

?Again, you have to be careful how you relate with people because so much is expected from you. Sometime, you get embarrassed in public. The funny aspect is that most people see you as a rich man, whereas, allowances paid for featuring in The Village Headmaster were peanuts,? he said.

Obriango, who also featured in comedy plays such as Play of The week, Join the bandwagon, Never say die on radio and television before the birth of The Village Headmaster, stated that the cast of the soap never thought the drama would last this long in peoples? memories, to the extent that many are still calling for its return to the screen, years after it has been off air. He said the cast thought the drama would fade away soon as they never expected it to last this long.

?Though we never envisaged the drama to last so long, we were committed to the production. In those days, we mind details in scripting. We enjoyed doing what we loved and there were no regrets,? he said.

He noted that the essence of the drama was to present Nigerians with a multi-cultural community of Oja village as a transit settlement that accommodates all. He added that Oja Village was to serve as a melting pot of different ethnic groups. ?The headmaster was not an indigene of Oja, so was his wife. Yet, they worked with Oloja of Oja.

It was designed for viewers to appreciate the diverse cultural setting of the country as well as promote unity among all. We were simply enjoying ourselves on stage,? he noted.

He said the drama would have been an eye opener to the need to live in unity if it was still running on the television stations. He stressed that ?if we work conscientiously and look at ourselves on the face, we can bring sanity to the system.? Linking this to the state of insecurity in the country, he wondered where Nigeria got it wrong saying: ?We have lost love and care for one another.?

He said: ?Why we lost these, I don?t know. In Oja village, if a child is missing, everybody in the village will not have peace. It is everybody?s headache. Unfortunately, people mistake civilisation for bad habits and selfishness.?

On how he became part of the cast of The Village Headmaster, Obriango said with nostalgia: ?Before joining The Village Headmaster, I was presenting comedy programmes in radio and television. I was later invited for audition twice and I refused to go because I was scared and was enjoying radio. At one of the auditions, I was also asked if I don?t mind wearing a short as a character from Jabako, the administrative headquarters of Oja village.

In fact, I love spoken words and I followed those who were into it. I enjoyed theatre much. I found my role in The Village Headmaster so fulfilling and there were no dull moments.

?The synopsis of Teacher Ogene?s role was that he was created as a little educated teacher more than Mr. Garuba who was an experienced teacher. Garuba was always aspiring to be the headmaster of the school. So, the conflict was deliberately created from onset.?

Obriango who had a diploma in Advertising and Salesmanship from Surrey, United Kingdom, frowned at the mad rush of dramatists for Nollywood, which he described as less creative to live theatre. He said many artistes who might find it difficult to find their feet on live theatre, become ?super star? after managing to secure roles in two movies. He tasked movie producers to look the direction of some important epics such as Akasa raid, Aba women riot as a way to tell our stories to the world.

?Why is Chinua Achebe?s Things Fall Apart, which has been translated into many foreign languages not translated into any Nigerian languages, especially the Igbo language where the book has its roots?? he asked.

He observed that in-depth creativity is fast waning in the creative industry, saying creativity driven by sense of achievement is dying gradually.

The former secretary of Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN), said it took the practitioners a long battle to convince clients and other stakeholders of the potency of ?pidgin? English as medium of expression for any advert campaign.


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?I Lost My Real Name To Teacher Ogene?
« on: June 05, 2013, 06:18:50 AM »


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