Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ewa Asa

Ewa Asa: Preserving Yoruba language In the last 25 years, the Chief Executive Officer African Mind Foundation, Rose Odika has maintained a consistent presence in stage theatre. Since the Ibadan-based actress debuted with Ododo-Eye, directed by Prince Wemimo Paul, her contributions have traversed different aspects of cultural life-acting, fashion designing, singing, skin care therapy and cultural activism. She spoke on her pet-project Ewa Asa, initiated to promote Yoruba language among students in Ibadan, Oyo State, why she has never acted in English movie and what she lost to acting, Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME, reports. Her passion for stage theatre and love for Nigerian heritage kept her hands full of ideas. The Delta State-born thespian who spent most parts of her life in Ibadan, Oyo State, believes her art knows no ethnic divide or race. Little wonder she founded African Mind Foundation solely for the preservation and promotion of Nigerian languages such as Yoruba and Ibo, which are facing extinction. Worried by the increasing security crises in the country, Odika is offering her current movie (still under production) titled Salujo- a movie that interrogates why go to war when we can dialogue- as a panacea to restoring peace in the land. This, she said, is part of her dream and fulfillment as an actress- to make people happy and put smiles on their faces. She recalled that the Ewa Asa project (beauty of culture) was inspired by her desire to preserve Yoruba language, which many indigenes of the state can’t speak fluently because of love for English among the elite. “I have been in Ibadan since 1978 though born in Lagos. I discovered that many youths in the West are losing Yoruba language in preference for English. I said to myself, I hardly speak Ibo Language, where then is my strength? So I said let me celebrate where I have been all my life,” she said, adding that when the project has been successful in the West, it will move to Delta State. She said the essence of the project blends with her career as an actress, describing the response to the maiden edition of Ewa Asa as wonderful. “To my surprise, people embraced the project as students kept coming for the entry forms for the competition. So far the only challenge is funding, which is lean. The event, which featured competition in ability to speak Yoruba language fluently and Oriki as well as awards to distinguished Nigerians such as veteran poet and actor, Alagba Adebayo Faleti was held at K S Motel, Ibadan last October. For this year, she said forms for competition, which is open to students between ages 15 and 30 will be available by August through on-line. But paucity of funds and the seeming lukewarm attitude of government officials to supporting the event are giving the organisers some concerns. “I will continue to push in the direction of the private sectors because government officials have not demonstrated enough interest to back the project. I am therefore making the sourcing of the fund a private sector driven. The project is not about money but to rejuvenate Nigerian rich heritage. However, I am fulfilled running the programme after all I had some sponsors in the corporate world such as Learn Africa (former Longman Publishers,” Odika said with pride. On why most actresses are single mothers, she explained that becoming a single mother is never a deliberate choice for most career women, noting that it is circumstantial because of their career. “Most career women are however paying the prizes in terms of not having the desired married life. It is not easy to be a career woman as well as be a happy mother in a husband’s home. In fact, it is not peculiar to the actress alone as every career woman faces such problem in the world. Notwithstanding, if I come back to this world, I will be an actress again and again,” she boasted nodding her head in affirmation. Odika recalled that but for her poor results in JAMB examination she would have studied law because she loves mediation a lot. She said at the moment, taking roles in movies has been slowed down because she is into production such that she can have time for the home front. Her dream “I want to be the best I can and as someone who passed through life as a mentor who is recognized as credible, morally upright intellectual. I want to be acknowledged as a point of reference in life-one who made it without much capital and get result. In fact, I want to be remembered that I can do it. Note that I was not born with silver spoon. Marketers and cheap roles Many marketers in the movie industry dictate to producers and actors on the scope and content of most movies. In fact, they determine close to 80 percent of what goes into a movie. All is to sell and make money not minding professionalism. Unfortunately, most young girls are embracing such cheap roles in order to get popularity. For me, before I take up any role in a movie, I will go through and decide, no matter the price I will turn down role. I have my credibility to protect. I will not stop low for money. I am a single parent but come from a humble background. And I still operate at that level. I don’t believe in gold and exotic cars, and I don’t owe anybody because of gold or car. Some of my movie include Iya Niyami, Alaporotu, Onfoloke, Aminu Madajo, Toriogun, Omo mi, Gbosewo, Prize of being a movie star My role has helped me a lot in relating with fans. I love eating rice (elewe) but because of my career I cannot do that in public. Also, to drink water from sachet (pure water) is a problem because you don’t know who is watching you. Again, I hardly see my daughter regularly because going to locations take me out of the home. However, you must win some and lose some. My role models are Iya Awero and Iya Rainbow. My first movie appearance fetched me twenty thousand naira in 1993. That was in Ododo Eye.”

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