January 2nd, 2016 – Nigerian Actor Hafiz Oyetoro Saka Now A PhD Student At UI, University Of Ibadan
Comic Nollywood actor Afeez Oyetoro aka Saka in a recent chat with Olushola Ricketts talked about his life as a lecturer and things people don’t know about him.
See interview excerpts:
How do you combine acting with teaching?
I thank God for His blessings. The last few years as a lecturer have been very interesting. I teach theatre arts and I also practice theatre arts, so it is not really hectic for me.
There is one that I teach officially and the other I teach unofficially. You would agree with me that acting is an informal way of teaching and when you are in the classroom you are teaching under a formal environment.
I have a stable home too, a good wife who is like a sister, mother and friend. She takes care of my home, so I don’t have any extra emotional burden. I just work and I am enjoying the two sides of my life.
What happens to your teaching job if you have to be away for months?
In Nigeria, a film doesn’t take more than three weeks and I am not in all the films. The producers and directors understand my situation; so during school sessions I don’t stay too long at locations. But during holidays I spend weeks at locations without being disturbed. I just try to look for a balance.
Considering that you play hilarious roles in movies, how do you instill discipline in your students?
You need to see me when I am teaching. As a theatre practitioner there is a line between the role you are playing and the person you are. Afeez Oyetoro the teacher is different from Afeez Oyetoro Saka. Since the students study theatre they know the difference between a role and the character within the first three weeks in the department.
Once I am in the front of the classroom they know I am not Saka and they listen. It has been very interesting and the training I have had makes it possible to differentiate the various roles in my life.
When I am at home I am a sweet father to my kids and a darling husband to my wife. My wife, my children and I sit together and watch Saka on the screen. But my children understand that the Saka on the screen is different from daddy.
You must be tagged a “wicked” lecturer in school?
My students always enjoy my lectures because as an artist I make my lectures very interesting, though they know that this is not Saka. I started lecturing professionally in 2001, but I have been in the academia close to 19 years. I have been practicing theatre arts close to 28 years.
Don’t you find it awkward watching yourself on TV?
It is not awkward; I am watching a character on television like any other. I have gone through various training and I want to thank all my lecturers for that. I had my first degree in dramatic arts, I did my master’s and I am currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Ibadan. My children and wife also understand the difference.
What I am on screen is different from what I am at home. Forget the fact that I make people laugh and make noise on screen; I am quiet by nature.
At times, when I tell people I am a lecturer, they are surprised. But it doesn’t really matter to me; it means that I have been able to play those roles very well.
If I play a drunk and people feel I am a real drunk, it means I am successful in portraying that character. But when you meet me at home or in the classroom, you will see a different person. Most people haven’t met Afeez Oyetoro; they only know Saka.
Acting is demanding enough, why did you take up lecturing job too?
I like sharing my opinions, knowledge with people. Acting is a way of imparting knowledge and making people happy. I like to share the little knowledge I have and the only way I can do that is through teaching. Thousands of students have passed through me and I am glad about that. If I were teaching a different course entirely maybe it would be a bit difficult.
Was it that you feared that acting alone couldn’t sustain you?
I am not a billionaire, but I want to share the little grace I have with people. As an actor I am comfortable and as a teacher I am also comfortable. When I teach I go out to practice, so there is no difference between both.
My experience outside the classroom enhances my teaching methodology and what I teach in class enhances my acting skills as well. You said you were not a billionaire but we were made to understand that you made a lot of money from the Etisalat, MTN commercials… I have paid my dues and I am enjoying it now. My children are going to good schools. I don’t have so many children; I have three children. I eat what I want to eat.
How much did you make from the Etisalat, MTN deals?
I made as much as the favour of the Almighty Allah. I am still am ambassador of MTN and I am proud to say that. It is three years now and I feel useful, blessed and privileged.
Why did you leave Etisalat? People misunderstood the whole thing. If you read what my agency put out then and my previous interviews you would know that Afeez Oyetoro was never an ambassador of Etisalat. I just did a commercial for an agency who was handling Etisalat’s account at a time. It didn’t stop me from doing any other job. There was never any contract between Etisalat and I.
Could you share how the name Saka came about?
I got the name in 2004. My friend Gbenga Windapo and I conceived the idea of a television comedy series and we told another friend Mr. Grey Odutayo. Odutayo and his wife now have a television station. Then, they had a production
company and they were very much interested in the concept. We wrote the script and I played the role of Saka while Gbenga played the role of Sule. The first episode of this television series was put on major TV stations in Nigeria and Ghana. The series became very popular and when a series is popular the actors become popular too. The title of the series was ‘House Apart’ produced and directed Royal Roots Communication.
What did you aspire to be as a child?
I wanted to be a pilot. My parents were farmers, so whenever visited them I saw airplane. My father told me it carried people and I said to myself that ‘one day I would be a passenger in it too.’ But something told me at a time ‘why can’t I be the driver of that plane?’ I never knew they were called pilots then. When I started school I saw that arts was my path. Right from primary school I started participating actively in drama, debating and literary activities.
[By Saturday Telegraph]