Please tell us briefly about your background.
My name is Hafeez Oyetoro. I am from Iseyin Oyo state. My primary and secondary education was in Iseyin and I had my first degree in Dramatic Arts at the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). I had my Masters’ degree in University of Ibadan (UI), I am presently running my PHD in UI, at the Institute of African Studies. I lecture at Adeniran Ogunsaya College of Education, teaching Theatre Arts. I am married with kids.
How do you cope with your job as an actor and at the same time being a lecturer?
I teach Theatre Arts, hence it is what I teach that I go out to practice. So it is not difficult. God has made it so easy for me hence it is not a great task, I practice what I teach and I teach what I practice. Most directors and producers know that I am a lecturer and as a lecturer, I am a civil servant, who must be in the office during the week. So most of them programme my own shooting schedule for weekends or during holidays. So God, with the help of directors and producers, has made the task of combining acting and lecturing very easy for me.
With such a busy schedule, do you really have time for pleasure?
Of course, I have. I have time to rest; during the week that I teach I go home. My employers, Adeniran Ogusanya College of Education gave me a flat; I am married like I told you with kids, so when I finish in the office I drive home to rest.
How did you come about the name ‘Saka’?
‘Saka’ is a screen name. It’s a character in a television series that myself and my friend (Mr Oyindapo) created. We wrote that play and it was produced by Greg Odutayo and his wife, Debbie Odutayo of Royal Roots Communication. They produced it and packaged it very well, and it was transmitted by a lot of television stations and that was how it became very popular. The name stick to me with the popularity of the series.
How many films have you written or produced?
I have written some stories for producers but I have not produced any of my own. What I’m trying to do now together with my friend is a television series titled ‘WE-WE’. It is a story that runs through Nigeria and London, we just finished the London bit and we want to do the Nigeria scene now. We will shoot the Nigerian scenes during the holiday and that is after the exams.
Have you directed any movie?
No not really but I have assisted in directing in so many areas; I have assisted in producing; I have even directed a television series; I have directed three quarters of the television series, Papa Ajasco; but I have not really handled a film of my own actually. I am rather an average lecturer, who spends most of his time in the classroom teaching and few time outside to go and shoot.
So many of your colleagues are now into politics: we have seen the likes of Richard Mofe – Damijo, Rotimi Makinde, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Nkiru Sylvanus and others in politics. Do you have any intention of going into politics now or future?
That is a very dicey question, but basically Hafeez Oyetoro is not a politician. Unless I’m given an appointment, I don’t intend going out for elective positions and all that. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow but as I’m speaking with you now I don’t have the intention; anything can happen in future that I don’t know now but as it is now I do not have any intention of going into elective positions. But if I’m given an appointment or called to serve in a position I can come and do that, but I’m not keen on going for any elective position. I am an “Osere” (theatre arts practitioner) not “Oselu” (politician).
Do you really like sex?
Every man likes sex. A man who does not have sex is not a man; that means something is wrong with him. But I am not obsessed with sex. I am very faithful to my wife since I married her I have not had any extra marital affairs. Of course I have children and you cannot have children without sex, that means that I do have sex.
Then how many times do you have sex in a week?
That is a very private question, which I will not answer. Actually, I don’t really have specific time, I just have it when I feel like. Sometimes once a week; another time I may not have anything for one month; sometime I have it every day; but I’m not really addicted to it.
In Ija Asewo, a film you featured in, you lied to your wife, Ronke Oshodi-Oke that you placed a bet on Barcelona beating Chelsea and lost; are you a Barca fan?
I do not support any team but my son is a very good fan of Barcelona. When my son was small at the age of three and half before my cousin came to live with us; my son used to be an Arsenal fan but after sometime whenever and Arsenal started losing, he complained a lot. So when my cousin came, he is a very strong Barca fan, so that one convinced him to join Barcelona and since Barcelona is winning and they are playing good football according to them, he became a Barcelona fan. So when I talk about Barcelona, it is my son I’m talking about. The only thing I can tell you about soccer is that I like this coach, (Jose) Mourinho; if Mourinho is Arsenal coach today I will support Arsenal; if he leaves Arsenal and go to IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan, my club will be IICC Shooting Stars; if he leaves there and go to Rangers of Enugu, my club will be Enugu Rangers. That’s for me as far as football is concerned.
You said you have never cheated on your wife, do you have the intention of marrying a second wife?
I don’t have any intention of doing so. My wife is okay, very homely, very reserved, she is a wife in all ramifications, so there is nothing I’m looking for that my wife does not have. We have three kids and we are struggling to take care of them, so what am I looking for again outside?
Many people are of the opinion that you cannot act any other role except comical one; what is your reaction to this?
That is how far they know Hafeez Oyetoro. Hafeez Oyetoro is a theatre practitioner to the core. I teach theatre, I know roles, I can write, I can direct, I can manage production, I can play any other roles. When I was in school as an undergraduate, I had played several roles; when I finished school before I became a lecturer; I was doing one man show that is a 1hour 45 minute package. When I finish I used to take it to Ibadan, Ife, Ilorin, I used to carry the one man show all over the place, like late Funsho Alabi.
So I am not a mono character, I am a round character as far as theatre art is concerned. I have never done anything since I was born, as a student, lecturer, practitioner, my life has always been in the theatre and I was brought up strongly in a true stage performer’s background, a stage actor can do anything go and ask. Directors in Nigeria, sorry to say, very few of them are not lazy and maybe because the facilities and resources are limited in Nigeria, producers and directors don’t want to do any extra work, once they see you in a role and they have a similar role, they just want readymade actors and actresses, so that it will save cost, it will save time, it will save stress, In an environment where the resources are there, people will call different actors together and the directors will work in the area of character interpretation, and character creation, so if I see Mr Lagbaja playing a drunk, I can decide as a director to change him to another character in another play so it will not look the same, but we don’t have that time and the resources in Nigeria. So once we see somebody that can play this we call him, you see the one that can play old man we call him, so there are ready made actors and actresses which save time, cost and everything, but for me I can play any role as a theatre practitioner.
Let’s go back to politics, are you not taking any part in the politics of ANTP?
I have told you earlier that I’m not a politician. I’m a strong member of all those associations but I don’t have to be secretary or whatever. As a strong member and committed member, it is what I do that matters, it is the value I add to the organisation that matter for me and not the position. Therefore, for me, it is the value I add to the union that matters.
Do you belong to any caucus?
No! My name is Hafeez Oyetoro, a lecturer at Adeniran Ogunsaya College of Education, Otto-Ijanikin, simple. I don’t belong to any caucus; I am a friend to everybody. Once you call me for your job, I come and do your job after the job I go back to my house. I am just me, I do not belong to any caucus, but I like as we have caucuses here and there because they are the one moving the industry so I like that but I do not belong to any one of them. I don’t have it in mind to become somebody in a group; I don’t have that mind; I am a very libral person. I like everybody.
If any caucus call me to come and do something; I will go and do it, I’m not loyal to a specific one, I am loyal to all of them and I like all of them as they are doing their bit.
You just won AMVCA award for the best comedian but some are saying you did not merit it, what is your reaction to this?
If they say I didn’t merit it that’s their own assessment; for those who say I merited it, that’s their own assessment too. Everyone has his/her own opinion on issues hence you cannot satisfy everybody. But if God says I merited it and it was given to me who am I to complain and those who are complaining who are they to complain? For me, I believe that’s what God has done for me. If I didn’t merit it or if God didn’t give me the grace to win it, I will not win it.
I believe it is the work of God, for me I think I have done a little bit of my own, that’s all I can say about it.
As a good muslim how often do you pray?
I pray five times daily, sometimes when I’m on location I miss, but when I finished I make sure I observe all my prayers. I am a practical Muslim but I’m not a fanatic I’m an average Muslim who believes in prayer and have been doing this since when I was in secondary school till now.
I have not missed my prayers; if I missed 2 o’clock may be as a result of being on stage, may be I’m on set for 2, 4, and 7, in the night when I get back to the hotel room, I will make sure I observe everything together but if I have time and I’m not working, once it is 2 o’clock, I will go to mosque, if you get to my car now you will see my rosary and my praying mat.