Comedian Hafiz Oyetoro, better known as Saka has revealed that he once suffered inferiority complex but overcame it after he took a course in psychology.
Saka told Tribune that his uncle who raised him instilled fear in him to the point that he had low self belief.
The interview is reproduced below:
Can you let us into your background?
I was born in Adegbola, a quiet village in Iseyin, Oyo State. My parents were farmers, so they used to go to Adegbola once in a while to farm, but at a point in time, they settled there and in the process of staying there, I was born.
What was growing up in Adegbola like?
I stayed there for nine years and after about nine years, I started my primary school education, I then moved to Iseyin to stay with my grandmother, after which my uncle came from Ibadan to settle down in Iseyin, and took up the role of being my guardian.
How strict was he?
He was very strict. As a matter of fact, I avoided him Whenever we had extra-curricular activities in school, I usually avoided those activities, so that I won’t have any opportunity to talk to him. So I lost out a little bit, because I had no freedom to express myself either artistically or socially. I could only attend family functions. Growing up was like living in bondage, but I want to thank God for that type of life because it brought out the rugged man in me. Contrary to what people may think, I loved my uncle very much, though I think he acted that way because he was carried away with the anxiety of bringing up a child.
Most people in those days did not know the difference between a child loving his parents and a child fearing his parents. They misunderstood respect for fear, but rather than make their child to love them, they went extra mile to make the child fear them. Most of the time, the issue of respect does not come up, but the issue of fear makes children rebellious and also makes children develop inferiority complex. I also developed very strong inferiority complex and I was a complete loner by the time I was leaving my uncle to study at the University of Ife. Though I am not accusing my uncle of anything, I know he wanted to raise me up to be a responsible person in the future. I don’t have anything against him because I believe he has learnt his lessons.
But what is that thing he did that added value to your life?
He made me a man of myself and I would say I am now a rugged man. As of that time, he had about five cars,but he made me trek long distances, he had drivers, but they never took us to school, we were to resume school as early as 7o’clock, so we had to trek six kilometres everyday. I was the one who washed and took care of the cars everyday and whenever he took me in any of his cars, it meant there was a purpose for him and not me. When I completed my secondary school, he had a company, which was in-charge of drinks and had a big restaurant, I used to take stock after collecting money from the sales girls and boys. He was using two banks which were miles apart from each other and I would trek from one end to the other, and by the time I got home, I was usually worn out . My uncle would not take me there or allow drivers take me there, unless they were to follow that route.
He had instilled so much fear in me that I became forgetful. Whenever he asked me to iron his clothes , I would burn the clothes, or whenever he asked me to count money, I usually miscounted because I was too afraid of him. But, when I gained admission to the University, I had to go and take special courses in psychology because of my inferiority complex and the fact that I had become a loner, I also could not interact with people or share my ideas whenever I was in the lecture theatre. Rather than sharing my ideas, I became a solo performer, even many years after. Though now, I am able to mix and go to locations with people, I am still that reserved, quiet and shy person. He wasn’t aware of what he was doing. Though my relationship with my uncle back then wasn’t really palatable, yet it was good for me.
So you did not enjoy the wealth?
It did not show. I was a poor person. Let me not go beyond that.
How then did you get into acting?
I actually wanted to become a pilot, whenever I was going to my father’s farm, I would see the strange (aeroplane) object flying about and wonder what it was, I always wished to be a passenger, then I later decided to be the “driver” of the object, though I later discovered that they were pilots. But as time went on, I discovered that my teachers always fixed me into any entertainment group whenever we had our end-of- the- year party in school. Then I became a very strong member of the society. I began to feel cool and comfortable whenever I did my own bit as a dramatist. I was studying physics and chemistry in school because I wanted to be in school but I couldn’t do it, so I switched back to the arts and studied Dramatic Arts at the University of Ife.
Are you now fulfilled having failed to make it as a pilot?
I have always been convinced in my mind since my secondary school days of acting, that I couldn’t go further as a pilot, because we had no facilities and it was while watching programmes on TV that I developed interest in acting and since then, it has been wonderful. I am really enjoying myself as a practitioner. The first 10 years after I gained admission was spent on the streets, doing my own thing until I got a job to teach Theatre Arts at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education.
Is it true that you don’t like buying cars?
What do I need cars for? I got married late. My children are still there. I am 51. If I have money now, I need to invest the money, or you want me to be running after school fees at 70? Two cars are just enough for myself and my wife. not selling cars. I don’t want my children to suffer the way I did. I don’t go out or drink. Some of the artistes buying big cars already have a good background and houses, but I had to start from the scratch. My father died at the age of 98, and I wept profusely, not because I did not want to spend money for the burial, but because he had worked in his lifetime and I wanted him to live a bit longer to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He was building a small house when I secured admission to the university, but he stopped the building despite the fact that his friends advised him to send me to learn a trade. So if I make anything today, I don’t want my children to suffer. Life is simple and I want to keep it that way. If I am hungry, I want to eat what I want to eat, I don’t want to pretend. I’m a village boy!
Is your deal with MTN still on?
It’s still on for now and it’s renewable every year.
There were many controversies during your ‘porting’ of contract from Etisalat to MTN, how did you handle it?
There was no controversy, if there was any controversy, you would have seen me in court. Nobody took anybody to court, so it means there is no problem.
If tomorrow, Etisalat offers you a better deal, will you go back to them?
How do you avoid scandals?
God and my fans. I really want to appreciate and thank the Nigerian media, both print and electronic. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, if a scandal will come up, it will come up, it only takes someone to write something, but the media has never portrayed me in the bad light. So I want to thank God because he has made it so. To the glory of God I have a good wife, she is my mother, friend and sister, she turned my house into a home. Anytime I go out, I am always eager to go home. I am living a very quiet life.
Where did you get the name Saka from?
My friend and I created a television comedy series, it was directed by Greg Odukoya, it was very popular in its time, I played the character Saka and the name sticks.
Is it true that you don’t want your children to go into acting?
Every child has his own potential, so I have given them freedom of expression and choice. I don’t want them to face what I faced. Whatever they want to do, as long as it’s beneficial to humanity, I will support.
Do you consider yourself lucky to be able to achieve what you have achieved?
In fact, I am very privileged. I can only say that it is the grace of God that has brought me thus far, because there are people better than me. This country is blessed with talents.
What are those things your fans don’t know about you?
I am very simple and shy. They think that Saka and Hafiz are the same, but Saka is a lousy, troublesome person, while Hafiz is very quiet, even if I wasn’t in the entertainment field, I will still be rich, but un- noticed. Sometimes, when I am out and fans run after me, people feel offended and call me a snob, but they don’t know I am trying to dodge them. It’s difficult to greet everybody one by one. I want to appeal to my fans and whoever has been offended to be patient with me.