The name Wale Oluwaleimu is no doubt synonymous to entertainment in Nigeria. The quiet, dynamic and easy going man of style is a seasoned entertainment guru of international repute. In fact, there`s hardly no show in Nigeria and beyond that his expertise and creative prowess have not been sought as far as events management is concerned. He`s label owner, projects coordinator, an all round entertainer with some twenty five years of experience. He`s been doing events as far back as the days of FAME Music Awards, and he`s the coordinator of the annual Nigeria Entertainment Awards that holds in America, this is in addition to other government sponsored big shows. He believes so much in selling Nigeria’s culture to the rest of the world and this he has done through a number of his projects. The gentleman had a chat with Murphy FADAIRO where he took us on his upbringing, life as an entertainer, what keeps him going and other interesting issues. Enjoy the excerpts:
Who`s Wale Oluwaleimu?
I am an Entertainment Consultant; the name of my company is Events and Entertainment Consult. When I say entertainment consultant it comprises of events management, artistes management, I own a record label and I consult for corporate bodies, state governments and individuals as regards to events branding. Basically I manage people`s persecution about other people and products.
How long have you been in this line of business and how has the journey been so far?
I started some 23 years ago but I will say for me it is a passion. When I was in the University, I didn’t do it professionally but we had things like dance groups at events and stuff like that then, so when I left the University I was part of the team that did the Children of Africa in 1990. Then immediately after that it has been one thing after the other from Nigeria Music Awards, FAME Music Awards; we have packaged a lot of events since then. For me it is a passion, so I take it with every strive.
When you say you have passion for this, does it mean you were not after the monetary part of the business?
Initially it was a passion but you know that when you do things and you love it; it will bring money for you. If you love anything you do and you do it passionately it will eventually turn out to monetary values. After a while people started paying me for what I was doing and right then I knew I could make money from it. And when I became a man for myself I knew that this wasn’t me alone anymore, I needed to take care of the home front so I took it a step further by starting my own company and got serious about it. So we repackaged ourselves and we started doing major consulting for blue chip companies and individuals that could pay.
When did you make your first mega deal which registered your feet in the entertainment industry; were there times you wanted to give up?
If you are passionate about something, you won’t know when your break through will come because for you it might not be financially; it might be doing an event with the biggest artiste in the world. But for me I was also part of the Rothmans Mega Groove that brought Caron Willa to Nigeria and that was big for me it was sponsored by Rothmans cigarette and we had a crowd of over ten thousand people; I was part of the management of the artiste and the stage. To me that was a breakthrough for me; not financially but if I could be a part of that I will say it was really big for me and since then I have gained and be part of other international concerts. I have done things that I was not passionate about and made more money but breakthrough for me is when I do something that I am really passionate about and I get a pat on the back. Last year, 2011 I did something for my state government; I have been doing something for other states but last year I was called by the Commissioner for Tourism and Culture in Ondo State to handle the state`s festival. I did it and after the event my governor and the commissioner were extremely excited and I got so much recommendation from them. Although I got paid for my service but it is not more about the money for me, it is more about the pat on the back that the event was fantastic; for me that is breakthrough.
So what new project are you working on now in the year 2012?
I have done several things but by the grace of God this year I will be releasing the first artiste on my label. I have worked with all the biggest name you can think of in the industry; I have demos of all the big stars you see from 2face, D`Banj when they were just kicking off they have come to me for advice and I put them through things and introduced them to other people to get them to where they are today. I just thought that I should start my own record label and see whether I can pick up one or two guys, if the advice I give other people can work, then I can actually improve on it by doing something with my artiste. My artiste has done some singles doing very well on radio and we just shot his video; it is going to be released next week. Then as regards events, I am talking to different state governments about how we can sell Nigeria to the international world because we have got so much bad press across the world. I think that people should rise up and try to clean the image of Nigeria in their own little ways. I`ve been part of the NEA, Nigerian Entertainment Awards for seven years now in the US, and the Nigerian Carnival in Dublin, Ireland. Through the years, we have been able to sell our culture and good values to the outside world. A lot of people that have seen Nigeria as “bad” are now seeing that good things are coming out of it which we have taken to them and it has also opened doors for us as a country. Now people come to Nigeria and want to see more of what we have shown them; a lot of people have contacted me from events that we have done abroad to come to Nigeria and see more of what we have shown them, so what am doing in Nigeria now is that I try to sell to state government, the idea to do what is been done in Calabar, Cross Rivers state; other states should emulate Cross Rivers state and sell their culture, food and fashion so that Nigeria will be brought up in a good light. So for me my plans for this year is to try our best possible to sell this country through events. And again I am also working on the Miss Global beauty pageant organized by the Enquirer group. I have been contacted based on my pedigree to come in and make the event huge. And I will tell you that the 2012 Miss Global event will be a lot different from the two previous ones. I will be managing the event and coordinating the stage.
I understand the event proper is June; with the short time you have, how do you think you can achieve this?
I need just two weeks to do an event. I have on my finger tips all the names I want to call and everybody I want to get involved in the project which will make it big. I have my team so we will spring into action and we are done. The planning of an event could take six months but the execution doesn’t take more than two weeks; we will try our best possible to make it a world class event with the limited finances we have and am sure it will be a lot better than what you have seen.
So who is this artiste on your record label?
His name is Eddy King. He is a young man who actually wrote Yahoozee for Olu Maintain; he has been underground for a while and he has been part of a lot of things like the Ovation Red Carol, My Pain (a song that was done for late Dagrin), he was on the JJC song, “We are Africans”. We are releasing him this year by the grace of God; his single came out last year, 2011 and we are releasing his album this year.
So how has it been selling Nigeria to the rest of the world through events; what is the selling point?
What I am doing in my own little way is to change the perception of people about Nigeria; so if everybody does his own little bit, it will probably get a lot better. I am not going to announce on the stage of any concert what am doing; my idea is let us do our own quota to clean this country and the only way I know I can do it is doing what I know how to do best which is through events. So I package events that will show our rich culture so people can see Nigeria and Nigerians from another perspective from the norm of being rogues and what have you. Nigerians all over the world are fantastic people and people find out that we are very hospitable; so for me selling Nigeria will just be doing my own thing. One day, I know we will get there, I don’t know when; maybe if the government takes it upon itself to put a lot of things in place, things will get better.
The Nigerian Entertainment Awards is really big in the US; how did you get to be part of the team?
We actually wanted to do the awards in Nigeria but the owners of the project felt since they live in the US; why don’t we just gather the Nigerians here and give awards to those people that are playing Nigerian music in America. But while they were brainstorming they found out that they could reach Nigeria by talking to people like us to get some Nigerian artistes to come and be part of the event; actors and actresses to come and present awards, grace the event and it started slowly and in seven years it has become big. It is the most glamorous Nigerian event right now in the US.
How was growing up like for you?
It was tedious. I was born into a polygamous family, my father had nine wives and you can imagine what will happen in that kind of settings. I left my father when I was four years old and I traced my way back home in my third year in secondary school because I just wanted to know who my father was and stuff. So since then I have been close to him till he died two years ago. I grew up with my Uncle and Aunty; they took very good care of me as they could. We had it rough; my mother was bent on making us having it good. Growing up was shaky for me, I had fun sometimes and other times it wasn’t easy, you know not having your father around you. I had made it a point of duty that I do not want my children to go through what I went through growing up. Growing up was just a learning process for me. I went to Mary Convent Private School in Ikeja, then Federal Government College Kaduna for my secondary after which I went to School of Survey in Oyo state then the University of Ibadan where I studied Geology.
What`s a Geologist looking for in entertainment?
I think I inherited this entertainment thing from my father. My father used to own one of the first nightclubs in Lagos; it was called Oyemekun nightclub named after my village in Akure, Ondo state located in Ogba back then. The club was the rave of happenings then in the whole of the mainland axis; that was where people like King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, and IK Dairo used to go and perform those days. My father used to take these people about to his friends where they play their music so somehow it is related to what I am doing right now. Though it is not because my father did it; I think it is just the flair that I have for entertainment that made me take it up as a career instead of being a geologist. Entertainment and music for me is in the blood.
What has life taught you?
I think life is a learning school for everybody, so every step that you take there is a repercussion. You have to watch your step, put God first and everything will fall in place.
What is your belief about death?
Death is inevitable but I have never thought of death; I won’t like to die really if for anything not just now. I also don’t want to grow too old before I die so I don’t become a nuisance. I think God is faithful. My mother died when we didn’t expect and I took that really bad because I was young then and I could understand what was happening but now I understand that sometimes God will take you away when He thinks it is time for you to go.
How would you describe your wife?
She is a fantastic woman. She is my best friend and there is nothing as good as having a friend as your wife. We met at a friend’s bachelor’s eve and she had come from school. At that time I had an accident and I was carrying a POP on my hand so I was quiet throughout the party; she walked up to me and asked if I was okay, I said yes that it’s just my hand. As she was leaving I asked that we danced and right after that we became friends; we didn’t see for some time as there was no phone then but as God will have it we met again and that was how we started what is today fifteen years down the lane. She is a fantastic woman and we have two kids.
And your kids, how would you describe your relationship with them?
It took me eight years to have my first child after marriage. We did everything possible; we prayed, fasted, went to church, went to gaenacologists, went to different pastors but the only thing we didn’t do was to go to herbalists, yet it didn’t come. So Kenny Ogungbe told me about artificial insemination so I decided to do it; we went to see Dr. Ajayi at Bricks Clinic and he told us it was going to cost us so much money. I had to sell my car and we spent close to two million naira. While we were doing it we were told by other people that this thing doesn’t work and I was like God this has to work; and God gave us our first baby a girl. She is fantastic; she say things that adults would say and yet she is just three years old. If we had her when we got married she would have been ten years old. We now have two girls now, they are both fantastic.
Must have been hard for you those years waiting on God to give you a child; how was it like?
Well, we never had parents pressure because they were kind of calm about it. There was no rush about it. If God wants to give you a child He will, at the right time. I will just like to tell people that are waiting on God for children that they should be careful and patient. God that says we will go to the world and multiply will surely give you one because the anxiety itself might not let you have the baby; we should be patient, take it easy and the baby will come. Although it is difficult to do but my wife and I loved ourselves dearly for the first year of marriage but because of our not having a child we yell at each other at any slightest provocation but when we had our baby everything came back to normal. I will just advise that people that are married and don’t have children early should just be patient and God will surely make it come.
Has there ever been a horrible experience that you have had that you will want to share with us?
I have had so many horrible experiences in life but I think my robbery experience is one that I will never forget in a hurry because as we speak I use clutches now. I was attacked by hoodlums, they broke my legs in 2009; experiences like that we do not pray for our enemies. It was a bad experience for me; I had to be in the hospital for a long time undergoing major operations to fix my legs. I think that is the worst experience that I have ever had and I don’t pray that it happen to even my worst enemy.
What advice would you want to give those aspiring to go into the entertainment industry?
I will say the most important thing for anybody that wants to go into anything in life is passion; you must be passionate about what you want to do. That is when you will succeed. If you are doing something because of money you are not going to last; this is because it is your passion that will drive your output. If you don’t have a passion for something you will not crave to make it better. So for me, passion is very important. If somebody calls me today and give me fifty billion naira I will probably invest it in the entertainment industry because it is what I love doing. I will also tell new comers to follow this simple technique and they will go places. Look at Daddy Showkey, 2face and the rest they have been able to achieve so much today because they had passion for what they do and that made them successful people. It takes you to love what you do and be persistent in it for you to rise. If you love what you do, keep doing it and do it well and it will bring you money and fame.
It has been nice chatting with you