Calabash | 1 August 2008 15:50 CET

Performing with Miriam Makeba was a dream come true-Muma G


Controversial self styled singer, Muma G burst onto the music scene some years ago and drew attention to herself with her outlandish appearance. In this interview with Mercy Michael and Dupe Ayinla, she speaks on why she chose the wild look, as well as her yet-to-be-released album.

You are currently working on your album, what have you done to make it better than the first album?

After my first album Kade, I had to do a whole lot of research. I always implore people around me to always update their knowledge. I'm a scholar and I will be a scholar till I die because nature keeps springing up new challenges everyday. You may feel you know how to do a certain thing but you sometimes find out that someone else does it better. That's how my life is. I go through a lot, life is not a bed roses but some people think it is. If you look at me, you will think it is. I'm sure seeing me from afar you won't know I work this hard; you won't know I put this much energy into being who I am now. It is not until you get close that you notice that I am quite a busy person.

How soon is the album coming out?

As soon as possible, we're doubling up; on the other hand a good food has to take time to cook. On the 14th of September, we're going to be having an event titled 'An evening with Muma G'. It's a peace initiative campaign, we are going to have a presentation. I have a passion for mankind and I love peace and God has given me the talent, not only to use for my own advancement but also for the good of the society. And music is a very strong medium of communication. I've chosen to use myself as a vehicle to preach peace and so, I've a track titled Peace and Harmony. There is also a track like Amebo. We've finished shooting Amebo, and it's the first single to be out as an extract from the forth coming album. On the 14th of September we are going to be presenting Muma G in her peace initiative campaign project and there we will unfold a whole lot. There will be a showcase of most of the songs in the album, we will have the DJ play it and I will perform it live on stage and people can criticize the other tracks as well before we finally wax the full album.

Having read Theatre Arts in school, how soon do you intend to veer into acting?

I have started acting but because of my very tight schedule I have not featured in as much videos as I would want. On the other hand, it's not every script that I do. I jump at very good scripts; my latest movie I featured in is the Four Sisters. Before that movie, I had done quite a few like Lord of Host and Last Dance. I'm into acting now but then we look up to God for more promotion, and because I have a very tight schedule I can't do just any script. I choose my story; I do stories that are relevant to the society in terms of teaching morals, which is what I stand for. I also have an NGO Muma 'G' kade foundation, under the umbrella of my NGO which is where we're carrying out the event titled 'An evening with Muma G'. Under the same platform of my NGO, we do a lot of humanitarian activities like visiting the motherless babies' homes, we assist widows: advice them on how to start small scale businesses. By God's grace, I educate myself on entrepreneurship and I've attended a few workshops and conferences. For instance the workshop organized by the UN and Enpretech Nigeria is one of those I've attended in recent times. I've also been trained in entrepreneurship and to use the little experience I have gathered to impact positively on the society.

Do you have any political ambition now or in the nearest future?

No! Service to humanity doesn't have to be tied to politics but if God has a purpose for that, why not, but what I'm doing is really far from politics.

What's you assessment of the Nigerian music industry?

I'm impressed with the growth of the Nigerian music industry, not particularly the music. Because we are tilting from traditional music to the trend of time and then we are fast losing our cultural reflection in our music and even the audience now prefers to listen to hip-hop, they call it Afro hip-hop, well, if it has a lot of Afro in it, then it makes sense but I don't see how we speak and our local dialect and then we now start singing slangs, American slang in the name of rap. I'm not condemning rap music, it started from Africa but first and foremost it is not our culture traditionally. Traditional music like Juju, Apala, Highlife are being relegated to the background. For instance, those who do traditional music do shows once in a month but those who do hip-hop do shows like five times a week. So, you see the society is tilting from our usual traditional music. And that is why for some of us who had done research before I went back to the studio; I'm also trying to carry along the youths, by putting a bit of the elements that makes up 'Afro hip-hop' music in my traditional music. So I might be coming out this time in a different way in order to carry along the youths instead of following the trend of present time. I would say basically, the industry is growing, real fast and quick and I'm impressed with that.

What is your involvement with PMAN in Rivers state?

Well, I was the chief person at one point, and my regime was over and next election came and that was it.
How was your encounter with Miriam Makeba?
In 2001, I had a show with her in London at the Royal Festival Hall. That was the greatest moment of my life. Because I love Miriam Makeba so much, she's gone through the test of time, which people like us have not been privileged to. First and foremost you pray God for long life and secondly to sustain yourself as an artiste over a period of years is not easy .She's my icon, she's my role model and when I met her physically I was shocked, and amazed. I was so excited, I've never been that excited before in my life. She was so warm, she's such a nice woman and at the end of the day I felt fulfilled as an artiste. Performing on the stage with Miriam Makeba, whom I've heard so much about since I was a child, to me, was a dream come true. It was a remarkable moment. I felt so honored and privileged.

What is it about your outlandish style, is it to attract attention to yourself?
Well, I won't say that but it's one of those crazy stuff. At a point I was thinking I was being too sane so I wanted to look insane for once because I don't smoke, I don't drink alcohol. So I wanted to do something out of the way. I'm going off blond for now, besides I look very attractive and I have bold looks; it didn't help matters, it was making me look like a white woman. So at some point, I said to myself, 'enough of this madness.' For now, we've cut down on that madness but don't be surprised it might come back again.

So, you are giving it up completely?
Well, if I'm bribed I could stop there but if I'm not I could just go back to that madness one day (Laughs).

You blend a lot of colours together, are you a fashion freak?

Yes I am. And that's one of the things that informed my fashion inclination. I love colours, most but importantly burgundy is my best colour.

We noticed that at each of your performances, your dancers are heavily costumed and colourful. How much does it cost Muma G to cloth each dancer?

That is the essence. But let's not talk about the cost, there was a time I did that and it was Peter Thomas and he kept saying 'Muma just tell me, it's between me and you I would not publish it' and he agreed. On the paper he wrote that she begged me not to publish it but it cost about N400, 000 to put her own costume together. I was so embarrassed when I saw it. Categorically; it is expensive to put things together.

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