Known popularly as the Elegant Stallion, Onyeka Onwenu is one of the most successful musicians Nigeria has ever produced. Starting at a very tender age, she had dazzled Nigerians with some of her popular songs. The multi-talented actress can also be described as a statesman, having served in different capacity to better the lot of Nigerians. In this no-holds-barred interview with Ada Onwuanum, the screen goddess speaks of her involvement in politics and sundry issues.
How is life with you?
Life is good. I thank God for His mercy; He has been wonderful to me. He blesses me everyday with His presence, with His protection, with His inspiration. I mean, if you are in Gods hand, you will not lack anything.
You seemed to have disappeared from public view, what have you been doing?
Im not a public person to start with. I dont like being seen every where. I come out when I needed to, Im a very private person and people find it very difficult to believe Im shy, very shy. I dont like crowd, life is simple and I like it simple. From office, I go home, look after my family and cook for them. Beside, I am the Chairman of the Board of Council of Art and Culture in Imo State . And right now we have a number of festivals coming up on 28 of October. The festival is going to attract so many important people from all over and our governor will be there too.
We are having a lecture and it is part of what we called Ozuru Imo festival in Imo State . This is my first Ozuru Imo festival, and we are putting everything. In all the local councils, we are having competition and then we are bringing every one to the state capital. And the lecture is all about Mbari concept, we are going to talk about an artistic orientation of the spiritual and physical life of the Igbo, our culture in artistic tradition.
An Mbari structure is filled with mud from ant-hill. It depicts what the Igbos believe, what happens in heaven and here on earth, it is just our cultural life. We have mbari structure and it brings in tourist from all over the world. We want to encourage people to preserve their culture, people are destroying their culture thinking is anti Christ but is not.
So its bye bye to music?
I have not left. Im in the studio right now, I have album coming up very soon.
When are we expecting a new song?
I will not tell you, the only thing I have to say is for you to wait for it and when it is out you will love it because Im loving it.
Are you into politics full time?
Oh yes! Definitely. Just that we have not held local government elections, which is what Im going for. But we hope it will be this December.
What are the challenges of being a politician?
I went in to it knowing that it will be challenging, but, I went into it with faith in God, knowing that he is the one that is sending me. If it is my father in heaven that is sending me, he will better prepare me and I will not be afraid. And I have never experienced fear. God has been so good and he has made me to understand that he is sending me there for his own purpose. Im not going there for Onyeka Onwenu.
If I were, I would have said no to it and look for something else to do with my time and make money. I have really given so much to politics but it is all for a purpose, it is all for the upliftment of Gods people and Im very happy that Im in it and Im learning everyday. It is just an incredible opportunity. I look forward to the election and I pray that the election will be fair and free. I have one individual in my local government that is giving me hard time because he want to control everything but Im telling him that I will give him a fight for his money.
He is a very rich individual, at some point he said to me that no woman will ever be a local government chairman in Ide-ato North again, and I told him look, you made a lot of money from women, you sell your product to women. I told him if you said that one more time Im going to tell the women of Nigeria to boycott your product. And he has not say it again. I think he is learning. I have told him that the people you are bringing are not the best for the local government but because they are people you think you can control. You can control me to do good things but you can not influence me to do bad thing. And this is what he is afraid of, so Im rather looking forward to this contest
But you once contested for the same position and you lost. What happened?
They just said that I wouldnt be able to play ball. And they were right because for me it is not a ball game.
What did they mean by playing ball?
I dont know for them.
Were you discouraged?
Never! It was just for me to pick up the lesson I can learn from this, use them in a better way next time, prepare my self in a better way, be strong and be determined.
Does not been in marriage have any effect on a woman in politics ?
The bible says in St. Paul that marriage is not for every one. There are those that will be married and there are those that will not be married. It does not stop you from doing whatever God has sent you to this world to do.
What was your job detail as a board member in NTA?
As a board member, you make guidelines but you dont see to the day to day running of the outfit and we did a very pretty job and that was when NTA went international.
What do you think about music industry with the death of Osadebe and Oliva?
We have lost many great people and when we are fighting for copyright issues, it is very sad that they are not around to really enjoy the fruit of their labour. But their children will, that is why we have really dedicated ourselves to making sure that very soon there is a registered collective society, one society that will see to it that when our music is used anywhere- both radio and television, we will get our dues.
How do you combine motherhood with acting, music, and politics?
To me it is not difficult at all. When my kids were younger, I used to play with them. I didnt enter politics until they were of certain age and right now I have more time to do my work and politics, because I wanted to raise my kids by myself, I didnt believe in leaving kids with nanny.
Were you legally married to the father of your two sons?
How was Gani Fawehinmi to you?
Gani was a special friend to me. Somebody who believed in me and always had kind words for me. He had high expectations for me. He made me promised that I was not going to let him down doing politics and I gave him that promise. By Gods grace, I will keep that promise to honour his memory. He stood up to for me any time I needed him. Gani worked so hard defending the right of Nigerian people. And we killed him, we killed our own.
Who is really Onyeka Onwenu?
Its not for me to say, because I see myself differently from the way other people see me. I see myself as ordinary person, very simple, that is who I am. My children dont even see me as a celebrity because they will say, is she not our mother, of course Im their mother, they see me everyday, I cook for them. But Im someone who is very professional. Anything that I put my hands on, I give it my best. A lot of Nigerians will tell you anything goes but Im not for anything goes because that is where you will have problem with me. If you are working with me you have to be serious because anything worth doing at all is worth doing well.
Why are you always on low cut?
It is very convenient, I love it. I dont like going to salon. Every morning, I pour water on my hair and it makes me feel cool.
How do you give back to the society
I live for society, I dont live for myself. I live for what I can contribute to make society a better place. I live for my family both the nuclear, immediate and extended families.
What was your growing up like?
Enjoyable, very enjoyable, very innocent until a certain age when I lost my father, I quickly then had to grow up. In my family it was only my father who spoilt me. Every other person would not even remember that Im the last child.
What about your mother?
My mum and I were not so close, because of my closeness to my dad. So most of the time I was on my own to protect myself because then, my immediate senior sister was closer to my mum and my mum will take her side. So that was it. My relationship with my mum is more like colleagues. It is a very big relationship, a relationship of respect for one another. Ofcourse she loved me, Im her daughter but I was not her favorite. I was called Nwunye Nnaya (her fathers wife), so we were mate. My mum was tough and also has integrity.
With all your busy schedule do you have time to relax at all?
In between, I make the time. There are days I will say Im just going to work from my house. Bake my cake, work in the garden and if my children are around, I hang out with them. That is how I relax.