It’s the end of the world, as we know it,
It’s the end of the world as we know it …and I feel fine.
This chorus is from the popular REM song, which became a hit from their 1987 album, Document. But is today really the doomsday? Is today really the much-dreaded Armageddon? Will the world come to an end today? These questions are necessary simply because the Mayans have insinuated that the world may cease to exist today.
The Mayans are a group of ancient civilization in Guatemala and Central America, who through sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems plot the relationship between the stars and events on planet earth. By using a long-count calendar, the Mayans were able to measure long periods of time and concluded that there’s a 5,125-year-cycle that ends today.
The Mayan calendar has been regarded to be extremely accurate, even more accurate than the Christian calendar system in use today. Buttressing the hype is a book entitled, The Maya, published in 1966 and in which the author writes thus: “There is a suggestion . . . that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the thirteenth [baktun]. Thus … our present universe … [would] be annihilated on December 23, 2012, when the Great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion”.
Now, this is a great source of worry for many people who think that if the Mayan calendar that has over several millions of years proven itself to be astronomically precise comes to an end today then the world itself will cease to exist!
During the week, scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (www.USA.gov) said they have received several letters from young people contemplating suicide because they are convinced that the world will surely end today, based on the Mayan calendar. NASA, however, went further to debunk the rumour by stating that “the world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012.”
Just like the scientists have indicated, the world as we know it will not end today. In deed, for the mere fact that you are alive and reading this means that the much-dreaded Armageddon is still far from here.
In this edition of TS WEEKEND, we bring you a story that sheds more light on the Mayan apocalyptic prediction. Our cover is an exclusive interview with movie star, Emeka Ike, who admits that he’s a rebel but with a cause. In the sport section, we also bring you an exclusive chat with ex-international and former Super Eagles defender, Ben Iroha who chronicles how he rose from being a mere ball boy to an iconic football player. And don’t forget to look out for all the other regulars like Lifestyle, Uptown, Gourmet Lounge and foreign sport gist.
It’s three days to Christmas; so its not too late to go out for shopping if you haven’t done so already. Enjoy yourself this Yuletide. Eat, drink and have fun. Please drive safely and give consideration to other road users. Only the living celebrate!
Wishing you a merry Christmas in advance.
By Tony Ogaga Erhariefe
Emeka Ike emerged as one of the most popular faces to rule the tubes back in the day when Nollywood was hot and practitioners took home six-figure cheque per flick.
From Deadly Affair, the movie in which he made his acting debut in the late 1980s to Right Man for Me, Passion And pain, Passions, and Queen Sheba among others, he has secured a place for himself and today admits that he has lost count of movies he has featured in.
Having made a name for himself as an actor, Emeka decided to get married at a time when most of his peers were still ‘sampling’ ladies that came with fame and fortune. Today, the union is blessed with four kids. However, still hungry for success, Emeka veered into movie production and founded a school, St. Nicholas College located in Magodo, Lagos.
The actor cum businessman has over the years earned the title of a rebel and is viewed as controversial due to what he describes as his opinionated stand on issues bordering on the movie industry and in the process has made more than a dozen enemies.
Recently, TS Weekend caught up with the actor during the end of year party of his school, and he opened up on Nollywood, marriage, and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Why are we gathered here today?
It’s end of year party for St. Nicholas College, which is my school. We are celebrating our students and saying a big and resounding thank you to our parents and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. There would be award presentations today. It’s been a long and fruitful journey. We are taking stock and thanking God for taking us this far so we have every reason to want to sit together and celebrate.
How old is St Nicolas?
This is our fifth year. We started in 2007. I work with very resourceful people who are outstanding in their chosen fields of endeavour and are result oriented. These are the people driving the St. Nicholas vision, which is delivering quality education to youngsters.
At a time when most of your peers are looking elsewhere, what made you invest in education?
It is my belief that we need to encourage our youths and reach out to them a lot more as far as education is concerned. Every child deserves the best of education. A lot of our youths see education as non-beneficial and this is a tragic development. Today, for our youths it’s all about Hennessy, Moet, and more alcohol then more Hennessey and Moet; that’s all our youths are bombarded with today as far as music is concerned. And at the rate at which our country is going, if we don’t contribute our little quota, posterity will not forgive us. The Nigerian youth is in dire need of reorientation and I feel education; quality education is an avenue through which we can reach out to them. My dream is that years later when I look back, I would be able to say that ‘yes, I contributed positively to uplifting and changing their mindsets’.
Five years after, would you say St. Nicholas has been a success?
(Laughs) The question is how do you measure success? Is it by the depth or size of one’s bank account or fleet of cars? If it’s on this basis, then I can tell you that my success is zero. But I can tell you that three years after inception, my school emerged third best in Lagos State Junior WAEC in two subjects and that gives me so much joy; joy which all the money in the world cannot buy. When a mother tearfully tells me that at last, her child is doing better, that’s the happiest moment for me; my greatest reward. The fact that years of pain and disappointment have been corrected and these youngsters are looking to be their best inspires me. That’s the kind of environment we give our kids at St. Nicholas.
My kids can stand on any platform and take on anybody; that is the success that matters to me. Parents come here to thank me and I see tears in their eyes; tears that bring unquantifiable joy to my heart, and this tells me that I have achieved success.
As a movie star, you have a towering personality. How are your students warming up to you?
The status is big and it is impacting on them. They see me as a role model. And that’s why I advice a lot of my colleagues not to see themselves as finished products. You cannot be a finished product until you impact the life of the kid on the streets. These kids look up to me and relate with me and want to know the secret of my success and I tell them it’s education and that encourages them to want to strive to be their best by getting education. I tell them that if they want to be like me, the first thing they should get right is their education
Emeka Ike the actor, the educationist and businessman. How do you manage your time?
It’s getting crazier. As an actor, I thought I was a busy man. But now that I have got into business, it’s becoming even crazier but my mind is versatile and functional. What you feed your mind with is what you replicate. In between all these, I am able to free myself by employing seasoned professionals who know their onions and that takes the work load off my shoulders. All I do is pay and supervise. Luckily, my wife is also an academic; she’s been my pillar. She has an MBA, a postgraduate degree in education and has just finished her Masters. She is in charge of St. Nicholas. I also have capable hands running my other businesses. What I basically do is supervise. That way I realised that I can achieve so much.
What’s your staff strength at St. Nicholas?
At the moment, the staff strength is 22 and still counting while we have 50 students. We have eight students on scholarship right now.
What informed the name, St. Nicholas?
It’s my dad; his name was Elder Nicholas Ike. He was a church founder who dedicated his entire life to humanitarian and charitable works. He was not too wealthy and not too educated and that affected him so much so that he had to make me to see the pain he was going through as a consequence of his low level of education, with a view to compelling me to pursue my education.
While he was working at the Ministry of Health in those days, I was studying at Yaba College of Technology. He would send a message to me instructing me to come and see him in the office and when I got there, he would be in tears explaining to me in bitterness what he was going through because he did not have much of a formal education. He always ended up by telling me that I must complete my studies.
One day, I asked him, ‘dad, why education?’ And he said ‘my son, I don’t want you to go through what I am going through.’ He had this younger boss who was always ordering him around and he did not want that to happen to me. He made me to see the benefits of academics. I was a footballer then; I loved football so much I played all the time and I could do anything for the game and music and that was beginning to cause a quarrel at home. He was able to stop me by passionate persuasion.
Back then football and music were my dreams. But when I saw dad crying I was moved. I felt I had to go out there and get educated and get back at all those who undermined him because of his lack of education. So, it became like a revenge mission for me. As a young boy, I was not very serious because anything I wanted I got. I did not know the pain my parents were going through to get those things for me. After dad explained all this to me I saw his pain and I saw the benefits of education and I told myself, ‘Emeka, if there’s anything you need to do, education must be numero uno’. So when the time came, I named my institution after him.
What did you study in school?
I studied Mechanical Engineering.
How has it impacted on your career?
It has helped me to become a better person, a more thorough and painstaking person. It has helped me to be precise and be focused. It has enhanced my maintenance and creative abilities. Being educated has uplifted my brand no doubt. You don’t see me everywhere. I am not cheap; I have a prize. You can’t get me for nothing. I have a reason for everything that I do. I am a goal setter and goal getter.
You have been married for 12 years now. Tell us about the joy of marriage and fatherhood?
Wow! It’s been a great experience. My wife is the greatest gift God ever given to me. She is my pillar and a very understanding woman. I wonder what I will do without her. We have four kids and fatherhood has been a blessing. Living your life for my family means the world to me.
We’ve not being seeing you in movies. What have you been doing lately?
I had to slow down a little bit so that I will not be counted among the chaffs of the industry. What we see lately is not movie making; this is not the kind of industry we used to have; we must tell ourselves the truth. When we were making movies back in the day, people went all out to get our movies. So much was spent on publicity and only me, Emeka Ike would collect over N1 million as payment for just a flick.
But right now, they are making movies with less than N3 million and sometimes you could have as much as 50 artistes on the set and I wonder how they squeeze themselves into all that. What they are doing is rehashing all those old movies we did. And you ask yourselves, what new thing are they bringing to the table? And you realise that they are not even improving on what we did. They are just showcasing models; fine boys and fine girls, beautiful accent but sorry to disappoint you, that’s not what I call movie making. That’s not how we started out.
Could you tell us what they are not doing right today?
We came in to correct the ills in our society. Movie was supposed to expose the evil in our society. We exposed things like Otokoto and made nonsense of ritual sacrifice. How about domestic issues, mothers-in-law fighting their daughters-in-law? We exposed and rubbished all this. You don’t see any one being proud of being a ritualist these days but now, movies have turned to romance and it’s all about showing your thighs, your tattoos and your swag and if that’s what movies have become all about then, I think I can achieve all that without being on TV. So, I have withdrawn from Nollywood. I will only show myself to my fans when the time is due. I am really angry. Nigerians should watch out for the kind of films we are going to be coming out with pretty soon. I want to stop moviemakers from going to premieres with wishy-washy and half-baked movies.
We were known for telling great stories. We made sure that the scripts we acted had depth and a message for society. We projected our country positively. I don’t belong to the group of Nigerians who want to do everything for money; that’s what’s going on right now and that’s why I stepped aside but I have not stepped out.
So, when are you stepping back into he ring?
In January I will be back.
What should your fans be expecting?
Hit movies, lots of blockbusters. Right now, I am working with the Niger Delta Ministry. I train some of the ex-militants for the Federal Government. It involves training them in movie making, cinematography, acting, directing, photography, 3D animation etc. Now when they are done, government is supposed to empower them with cameras and studios and then the new movie industry kicks-off. Now, the industry is confused, they don’t know what they are doing. Movie making is not about speaking English. You can do a movie in Ijaw language and e go sell well, well because people are going for the story.
I am training 50 students and they are graduating this December. We are making our first movie in January and we are bringing in a Hollywood star but I don’t want to mention names now. We need to start making movies that will compete at the Oscars; we need to compete internationally.
In the industry you’re viewed as a rebel. Why is it so?
(Laughs) It’s like saying Gani Fawehimi and Fela just because they stood for the truth are rebels; they were just activists. The only way they that oppress the masses describe those that stand in the gap for the masses is to describe them as rebels and make the masses believe that they’ve gone insane. They will go to any length to ostracize you. I have never carried a gun in my life. I have never shot any one so why are they calling me a rebel? I have never slapped or punched or sent thugs to beat up anybody but when I say black is black and white is white they say I am a rebel.
I said ‘Africa Magic, stop showing our movies without paying us royalties,’ and they called me a rebel. Is it fair to label me a rebel because I am saying ‘pay me my money?’ Imagine me, Geneivie, Omotola and the rest of us who grew this industry, none of us can beat our chests and say that we are being paid! This is a cause for shame. Why is it happening? Nobody is asking questions as a handful of Nigerians are robbing the entire industry blind. They have made no arrangement to protect us because they know that there is the hunger factor in Nigeria so, if one producer says ‘no’, they know the next will say ‘yes’. That’s how they have crippled our industry. Meanwhile, Africa Magic will go to Ghana and pay Jackie Appiah, Yvonne Nelson and Majid Michaels. Ironically, these are boys and girls that used to look up to us as heroes. Is that not a shame? We should be asking, ‘what is wrong with us? Everybody is quiet and Emeka Ike is the one asking questions. Now, I ask the question, ‘why should they pay Jackie Appiah and not pay me?’ They said they had paid some people. Who are these people? A few members of the board of trustees of AGN registered AGN as their personal company. It is sad most of my colleagues don’t know what’s going on and these are the people that stand in the gap for us and speak for us and then rob us when they take our money, and yet they are very broke and hungry. You see them go to governors to collect money. What do they do with the money?
You must have heard that I went to see Kogi State governor. Go and find out what I did when I went there. I did not request for N2 million. I requested for N250 million and hectares of land and that’s exactly what I got. Now that’s a project to take youths off the streets; it’s strictly a humanitarian cause.