Nigeria’s First Female Talking Drummer Ara Talks About Life As A Single Mother
In this chat with Dupe Ayinla Olasunkanmi, Nigeria’s most popular female talking drummer, Aralola Olumuyiwa talks about her life journey and how she is coping as a single mother.
What has kept the brand Ara the drummer going?
What has kept the Ara drummer brand going is the originality, discipline. We have had emerging female drummers, what makes your brand different?
Yes, there are emerging female drummers, but none of them is like Ara. Just recently at an event, Baba Obey, at the media briefing of the Evergreen Ariya Eko concert, made a point that even though his son sings juju, they don’t sing or sound like him. He has his own uniqueness. And that same goes for Ara; she is unique and different from every other female drummer. And the fact that she is the first, she is like a blueprint. You see most of them trying to be like me, but I always advise them to be unique in their own way, and not try to be like me. Even if I have a daughter today, and she starts drumming, she can never be like me. So, they can never be like me.
How do you feel when you are on stage for performance?
It is like I am in my realm; in my world and I rule my world. As a female drummer, some call me ‘Goddess of drum’ while some refer to me as ‘Queen of drum’. I am in control of the rhythm that comes of my drum and steps I take. I am also in control of how my spectators feel, so I rule my world.
How long have you been into music?
For over 25 years now. I will be 45 years old come January 3rd, 2020. And the journey has been a potpourri; good times, not so good times, learning process, disappointments, heartbreak – all these are the ingredients that amount to being successful. And the reason I said that is because if you do not fail, you will not succeed. I have made some mistakes, but I do not have any regrets. Some were necessary mistakes, and some not. But growing up, you try your hand on so many things; personal and career-wise. Yes, it has been a beautiful journey so far, and been privileged to be alive and to still be recognised globally as the first female drummer.
There is more to you than just being a drummer. Tell us this aspect of your life.
Yes, there is more to me than being just a drummer, you are absolutely right. I am a singer, a content provider, I love taking care of people, I create loads of ideas and to all these, I say I am blessed to be able to do all that. And I am a very loving, romantic woman and I might be eccentric. It is one of the features of being an Aquarian. I am eccentric, I know and it is not detrimental to my being. It is actually a plus, I am everything, and every good woman wants to be.
There was a time, you changed your look, any reason behind it and why have you gone back to your braids?
There was a time I changed my look. I was just trying to take pressure away from my scalp. I lost part of my hair due to the long years of braiding, not taking care of it because there was no time. Once I take it off, I am conditioning and having another one done immediately. Sometimes I have time to steam and other times, I just don’t have times to do the necessary things that the hair required due to my busy schedule. So I decided to play with other hairstyles like weaves, but I have partially gained my hair back and I am able to braid back currently. But I still do other hairstyles too, like what I have on currently is crochet; dreads.
How long does it take to make your braids which have become a signature?
It takes over 12 hours to make my braids depending on the number of guys doing the braids. Depending on the size of the braids; if four to six guys come on the braids, the minimum is 12 hours to make my signature braids.
Do you feel insecure being a single mother?
I do not feel insecure being a single mother. I have never felt that way. You see, life chooses those that it gives gifts and rewards to in different ways, at different times. There are some that have been married for over 20years and do not have a child; God has a way of doing His things. Yoruba will say ‘A seyi owu ni Olorun’. And he does it in the unlikely ways. Some girl from nowhere who does not know her right from wrong has become a mother. So, being a single mum, I look at the gift God has given me, and I bless His name all the time. Yes it is not what I wanted, but I found myself in it and I won’t say it is all rosy, but I don’t feel insecure at all.
What happened to your movie project?
It is still on. Everything is set. I think it is a personal thing now. The year 2020 is the year of Ara. So, you will see a lot of things coming from my brand.
Any plans to go into movies fully?
No, I have no plans to go into movies full time but I have plans to do things in the movie sector.
Do you have people look down on you being a single mum?
If I have such situation, I will feel sorry for them. It means they don’t understand life and God. You don’t look down on anybody because of their present situation. I won’t even consider it. The only thing I think someone has said to me that got me upset as a single mom, was saying that we women do not know how to raise children. It was a man that said it. It upset me, but I didn’t show it. That is his own perspective.
Would you reconsider marriage if you feel he is the right person?
Yes, definitely I will get married again. And left to me, I don’t want anything loud. But it is not totally in my hand. That is because my partner might oppose it and say ‘I want to celebrate you. You are a woman worth celebrating.’