Celebrated actor, model and lecturer, Afeez Oyetoro, popularly known as “Saka”, talks about his experience as Saka, marriage, stardom, among other issues, in this interview with TONY OKUYEME
Who really is Afeez Oyetoro?
I was born in Adegbola, a village in Iseyin Local Government. My parents are from Iseyin; that time they were farmers, and they used to go to Adegbola to farm. But at a time it became a settlement, then, once in a while, anytime they went there they stay there for some time.
And it became a settlement for people from Eruwa, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Lanlate and other areas. So, I was born there, and the first nine years of my life was spent there; although they used to take me to Iseyin once in a while during festive period.
Then, at a point, after nine years they took me back to Iseyin permanently. I started my primary education in Iseyin at Baptist Day School, Koso, Iseyin.
From there I moved to Koso Community Grammar School. And from there I went to the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU).
I studied Dramatic Art for my first degree. And after about ten years I went back to the University of Ibadan to do masters degree programme in African Studies with special focus in African dance research. Presently, I am a lecturer, the head of the department of Theatre Arts, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Ijanikin, Lagos.
A lot of people find it hard to manage stardom. How have you been able to do this?
Well, let me say this; to God be the glory. I still believe that I am still striving to be a superstar. For now, I am a teacher in a College of Education, and a popular actor in Lagos.
That is the level I am now. I pray that one day I will become a superstar. But even as a popular actor, to the glory of God, I have been able to manage it. God has given me the grace to manage it.
Number one, I am not particularly attractive on screen; number two, the roles that I play are not the playboy or big roles; they are just gateman, houseboy, cook, and all those small small roles. So, it has not really attracted so much star- dom that will give me so much challenge. But to the glory of God, the little that I have achieved today, God has also given me the grace to manage it.
Generally, I think I am not an outgoing person; I don’t have such high level of social interaction. It is either from my class to location or from location back home, and all that.
So, I am not open to so much challenges of stardom. At school, my students know me as Hafiz Oyetoro, the lecturer. It is only when we are outside the class that they see Saka. Let me also say this, Hafiz Oyetoro and Saka, they are two different people.
Hafiz is the quiet, easy going, shy type; Saka is the comic, lousy type. We are two different people. As a matter of fact, Hafiz, his children and his wife, they normally sit down in the sitting room to watch Saka on the screen.
So, anytime I am in class my students see Oyetoro Hafiz, the lecturer; and I think that this is happening naturally, one, because of the type of the person that Hafiz is; two, because of the training that God has given me the grace to pass through. I have passed through good teachers, good lecturers both in primary, secondary and university, especially when I started studying dramatic art.
People like Chuck Mike, Okoh Atai. Chuck Mike especially took me like a son when I was in the university; and he did a lot to training me.
In fact, I have to thank God for Chuck Mike because everything that I am doing today, I will say that it is to the glory of God, and with the help of Chuck Mike. So the training is there to specifically identify your person and the roles you play in plays. That has been there, so when I am in class my role as a teacher is clear, and my role as Saka is also clear. My role as husband, father is also the
Your masters degree was in dance research. Were you also a dancer or choreographer?
It is just an area of interest to me. As I said, I did my masters degree on African Study, and in it I actually did dance research because of my interest in the cultural values of the African society. I see myself as a typical African. I grew up in a rural area – Adegbola, from there to Iseyin and so on. All my life I have been within the African cultural environment.
However, I am not really a dancer but I can talk about dance; I can also teach dancer; and I can also do a little bit of dance.
Talking about love, how did you meet your wife? Was it on stage or set?
My wife is a graduate of mathematics. I met her when I started my job as a lecturer in 2001, at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Ijanikin, Lagos. She actually came to submit her final year project. I just met her and I did a little inquiry about her and found that she is the simple, humble and quiet type. I got attracted to her and I invited her to my office. After submitting her project she went away.
From there I started monitoring, find out where she lives and all that. And one thing led to the other, and then to what it is today.
We are married, and we have three children. She is from Ogun State. Her name is Saidat Olaide Oyetoro. I always tell people that the greatest mistake any man can make is to marry a woman who does not share his vision. I have one grace, very unique grace, and the grace is that God gave me the opportunity to marry a woman who shares my vision.
That woman has changed everyt h i n g . She was there with me when I was nobody; and since I got married to her, I have never regretted marrying her. In fact, she is like my sister, my mother, my friend. She has turned an ordinary house to our home. So, I will always be grateful to God for marrying her.
How do you unwind?
I stay more in the house, playing with my children, my family. You know, most of the time, I go out of the house; I feel that I should know my children very well and my children should know me.
My wife and my children, first and foremost, they are my friends, very close friends. It is when it comes to the nitty-gritty that we now identify and define our position in family. But first and foremost, they are my friends; so I always like to enjoy spending my leisure time with them in the house.
Also, I enjoy listening to people; I gain more by listening, maybe because I don’t talk much outside the screen or on stage. Also because I am a very shy person, I don’t go out too much. I used to play badminton to unwind.
When the ‘I don Port’ thing came up, it generated a lot of reactions. What really happened?
The truth is, I was never an ambassador to Etisalat. If you read all the papers, even before the ‘port’, all the journalists then, who were saying that I am Etisalat ambassador, I used to correct them that I am not an Etisalat ambassador. I was never Etisalat ambassador.
I was just a model to an agency, Centerspread, who was handling Etisalat account. And when Centerspread left the account, it was given to another agency, which I was doing. I never had direct interaction between myself and Etisalat. I was just like any other model.
So, when DDB, which was the agency, called me and they spoke with my lawyer, and the issue of ambassadorial thing for MTN came up I went. I was just an ordinary model.
So, how has it been as MTN ambassador?
It has been fantastic. I want to thank God and I want to thank MTN for the opportunity. My position as an ambassador to MTN is very very rewarding in terms of everything. I want to thank God and I want to thank MTN for given me the opportunity, and for having the trust and believe in me that I will represent the brand well. I feel useful, and I feel grateful.