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Friday, August 19, 2011

How I exposes my boobs before God called me - Tope Alabi

Most Nigerians will be familiar with the young beautiful lady who swept the music industry between 2004 and 2006 with her melodious voice and songs of inspiration. We talk about no one else but Tope Alabi. Join us as Tope Alabi opens up on her life experience and her journey into the music industry.

Were you ever a comedian?
I was never a comedian.

But you were once a member of the comedy group of Jacob, Papilolo and Aderupoko.
That I joined their group then did not make me a comedian.

Why then did you join them?
I was only acting. Maybe people thought I was a comedian because the group was called Jesters International. But I know I am a funny person. I joined them because I loved acting. My mother used to be an actress when she was in school. So, it could be that the blood is flowing in me. I was in Class 3 when the
drama group of Ishola Ogunshola came to my school to stage a play. I then fell in love with drama. So, when I was looking for a drama group to join, it was the Jesters International that was available.

Did your mother like your decision?
She didn’t like it. But I asked what she was talking about. Was it not what she was doing that I wanted to do? She said she feared that it would affect my education, but I told her it would not. My parents did not like it at all because I was born and bred as a Catholic and most of my brothers and sisters are reverend fathers and sisters. You know that a Catholic would not like something like that. They thought that something was wrong with me.

I had to run away from my base in Ibadan. I was not living with my parents then. Because of poverty, my parents had to take me to Ibadan to live with a family, but they treated me badly because I was not their biological child. It was like they enslaved me because my parents were paupers and could not feed us. We were actually 11 children, but eight of us died and only three two boys and a girl are remaining.

What was always on your mind then?
I felt the world would come to an end. My mother used to make ogi (pap). After sieving the waste product called eri, we would grind and eat it with ewedu or ila alasepo. We even had to beg the miller to grind it for us, because we couldn’t pay. It was so bad. So, they had to take me to Ibadan to live with my mother’s elder sister. But her second child treated me as if I was brought there to be a maid. It was always on my mind that a trailer should just come and crush everybody because of the suffering.

What led you into acting?
I love acting, no doubt about that. Again, I saw actors as happy people, so I thought I would be happy if I joined them. Because in the house where I lived, I could not afford to open my teeth to smile. It was that bad. While they ate on the dining table, I would go to the back of the kitchen to eat. Because I did not rinse a cup well, I received 72 strokes of the cane. They are still alive.

Many girls in that condition would have gone into something like prostitution…
It was just God, because I wanted a man who would take me away, but I was too young to get the attention of any man. I made suggestive moves to get their attention. I entered a train from there to the North when they stopped me from going away with the drama group of Isho Pepper. I was always running away from home.

When you found yourself in the North, what did you do?
I entered the train again to come back. I hid myself in the (train’s) toilet.

What lesson did that experience teach you?
It taught me so many things. Although it is bad to be maltreated, it is not good to attempt to run away from home simply because you are not treated well. You can see some girls around. None of them is a member of my family. But having had that kind of experience, I don’t want any girl to go through it. So, any one of them I see around, I ask them to come to me and tell me what they want to do. I later realised that it was not good for me to be running here and there, because I could not have saved myself. After all, I was not the only person being maltreated by a family. I remember a guy called Nurein, now Kunle. We were there together. He is now a big person. He lives in his own house.

How did you get out of it?
My brothers were growing up and my mother was making something from her ogi business. My father was also a tailor. Things started getting better for us. I came back to live with my parents.

I learnt you are the champion of movie title tracks…
I am not the champion. I only do movie soundtracks for people.

But all this while, you were not a born again Christian.
Yes, before I was born again, I was doing soundtracks for all manner of movies. But after I became born again, I began to discriminate, especially against movies where there is so much emphasis on voodoo powers. Apart from singing soundtracks, I still act. I have my own outfit for Christian movies. I told you I love acting.

Actresses usually find it difficult to get married, that is what they say but here you are married, how did you make it?
It is not that actresses can not get married because they are actresses, it is the way you present yourself. Acting movies, secular or otherwise, does not make you a bad person, it is what is in you. If you are the type that knows your God, you can act and still get married except if the person that wants to get married to you does not like acting.

Would you have stopped acting if your husband wanted you to?
I am not sure I would. In any case, my husband likes me acting. He does not like to act but he likes me to act.

How did you meet him?
He is a studio engineer. We met in the studio while I was doing the soundtrack stuff and advertising for movies. Actually, I was his convert. He was the person that stopped me from wearing clothes that were showing off my body. I wore bad dresses. In fact, any dress that would not show my boobs and body outline, I would not buy it. I wanted to show off everything about my body. Then, I was being paid N2,000 for a job. With that, I would go to Katankowa Market and buy the showy dresses for between N30 and N40 each.

So, how has your marriage been?
Oh, it has been wonderful. I always tell him that if he comes again, I will marry him. He is my son. That is what I call him. He is my boy; he is my father.

How easy was it for him to make you a born again Christian?
It was not easy at all, because I was so wild as a theatre girl. Then, we used to see ourselves as classy girls. If I wanted to wear red, everything would be red, and I would be like a Sango worshipper. The same thing with orange. In fact, you would not like to see me at all. I saw a girls who dressed properly as uncivilised people. If any beautiful girl covered her body, I would be pained that she was covering her wonderful endowment instead of flaunting it.

Would you say it was a spirit propelling you?
The spirit was terrible. A spirit that was working with a girl like that was a devilish spirit. It would want to kill you, but you would not know. It was a deadly spirit. I was not comfortable with any girl who dressed properly instead of showing everything. The Bible tells us that we should keep everything for our husbands, but I didn’t want to hear anything like that. My husband was very gentle. He would not talk to me harshly. He would say what I put on was okay, but would ask why didn’t I do this or that. He would say, ‘Sister Tope,’ and I would say, ‘Soji, bawo ni?’ You know, theatre girls don’t call people brother; there is no respect. If he would not answer, that was his problem.

Were you going out with anyone in the movie industry then?
Yes, I was going out with a big actor then. He was my boyfriend.

Why didn’t you marry him?
He didn’t ask me to marry him. He only asked me to go out with him. Then, nobody was talking about marriage in the theatre industry. In fact, if any man told you that he wanted to marry you as a theatre girl, you would ask whether he was crazy. I would tell him that I still had a lot to sell. Marriage?

Did you have to expose your body?
Yes, of course; if only to make a statement that would get you noticed. When I see girls dressed like that now, I feel bad and I pity them. It is not entirely their fault. Then, I didn’t like to flirt around; I wanted a steady relationship. And if you said you were no longer interested in me, I would not cry. I would just go to my friend and say, so and so said he was no more interested, shouldn’t I give so, so and so the green light? But these days, girls cry when a man says he is no more interested in a relationship.

Did you imagine that you could become a born again Christian?
I actually thought I was a born again Christian, because I was going to church. I was going for the morning mass, afternoon mass, and all that. I never thought there was more to it until my husband sat me down and enlightened me. He said that if I thought that all the mass that I claimed to be attending would save me, I would just die and go to hell. He was my pastor then, and I liked him. You know if God loves you, he would send a person that you understand to you. That was what happened. He was not harsh; he was very gentle. He would not condemn anything I put on or did. Before I became born again, it was so tough, but he was patient with me. He took me to his church and I gave my life to God in the Apostolic Church. That was when I began to wear normal dresses. It took about two years. I still have some of those things that I was wearing for record purposes. I want to shoot a film portraying all the dresses I was wearing before.

I used to see anyone who claimed that God spoke to him as a liar. Even though my mum told me that a C & S prophet told her that her daughter would become known for preaching the word of God, I thought it was through acting that I would do that. I assured her that I would act in films, which would be seen all over the world.

How come you chose to do gospel music?
It came about when I was becoming more popular with soundtracks. Then the kind of compositions I was doing were so creative that script writers would want me to sing the soundtracks before they would shoot the films. Then my compositions became more and more inspirational and I began to think seriously. That was the point when Mr. Kushoro Aina, Highway Video Mart boss, said I should try my hands on a full album. He gave me money to do one. Then, I didn’t see Soji Alabi, my husband, so I went to another place to do the album. But the master tape was not done very well. I asked for another money but he didn’t give me anything again. So, I started looking for my husband. When I eventually saw him, I explained to him and he said we had to start afresh. He said I should try and look for N10,000 and promised to add to it so that I would do another album. We were ordinary friends then. When I did Baba Iwo La Kepe, I had not given my life to Jesus, and I believe it did not do well in the market because of that. After that effort, my husband and I started working together and the issue of marriage started. That was when we started working on Oore ti o Common. That was when I began to get messages that I should allow God in my heart for me to be able to get married and do something for God. That was when I began to listen to my husband. One thing then led to the other, we got married and my music career blossomed.

Do you think you could have done any other thing apart from showbiz?
Yes, I used to like selling provisions. My father has a small house in Mafoluku, Oshodi. I thought I would take a shop there and start selling something. I even started. I asked a carpenter to make a small counter for me. Then, I was poor. I went to a mallam to give me some items to sell and pay him later. It was rough and tough.

What is your short term plan?
I want to win souls for God. You know people are dying because of ignorance. Ask any girl that dresses nude why she does that and you would hear a lot. I want to see myself all over the world preaching the gospel to people. I want to have a school for up and coming singers and a rehabilitation home for all these girls around.

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