Gift Uwame a.k.a. Muma Gee is a reporterâ€™s delight any day. And she showed it when she visited the Saturday Vanguard during the week.
In this interview she not only lays to rest the ghost of her acclaimed love tango with star actor Emeka Ike on the set of the Gulder Ultimate Celebrity, she also shares her experiences with Chioma Chukwuka andÂ how she sold pap as a child to support her mother and more. Enjoy.
What happened at the Gulder Ultimate Search Celebrity show. We saw you lose your comportment?
Was I really very angry? I just took back the apology I tendered. We were all making jokes.
Theyâ€™d been talking for so long and I just decided to say one thing and it triggered problems. So, I said Iâ€™m sorry.
But the sorry was not well deserved so I withdrew it. I think I was just being human.
Your actions with Emeka Ike in camp suggested that you had soft spot for each other, even before GUS presented you with an opportunity to play out the feelings.
No, no, no. I happen to have known Emeka Ike for long but we donâ€™t see often. Who wouldnâ€™t fall in love with someone who cares for you so much? What we shared was emotional attachment and Agape love. If I cook food for you all the time and you enjoy eating my food, definitely, youâ€™ll get emotionally attached to the food I make.
Even to the pointÂ you were ready to fight every other person to keep his things where you…?
No, that wasnâ€™t what happened. I had settled already at my corner and he brought his stuff to me asking that I helped him take care of them. That was what happened. And the ladies thought he wanted to settle there; that was the misunderstanding. And they said to me to move his things away and I said, â€˜the guy is still alive, why donâ€™t you meet him and let him do that himself.Â Iâ€™m only a caretaker.â€™ I couldnâ€™t have said no because heâ€™s my friend.
What do you make of Chioma Chukwukaâ€™s attitude in camp?
Oh, disgusting, that attitude she put up. I was really disappointed. I used to be one of her greatest fans. I like the fact that sheâ€™s really good at what she does but for now Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™ll be able to watch her movies again. She has lost a fan.
I was not impressed. I never thought a person could act so callously towards another human without having a prior misunderstanding or quarrel.
She has come to say that she was merely acting in camp.
Well, we are all educated. Since we know that was a reality TV show, we were meant to be real and not to pretend. You can only pretend when youâ€™re re-enacting something. You donâ€™t fake what is real. We were supposed to be ourselves. I was being myself. That I was apologetic when something went wrong was the real me and that I withdrew the apology when I felt it wasnâ€™t well received is my real self too.
What if that was her strategy to winning the show?
Well, if thatâ€™s what it was to her, to God be the glory for her. But for me, Iâ€™m sorry, I saw it as highly antagonising and dehumanising and thatâ€™s not fun to me.
How come you left a note for Emeka when you left the camp?
Like I said, Iâ€™m human. I did exactly what came into my head. That was what I felt. I wasnâ€™t going to pretend to say â€˜let me leave a note for every other person!â€™ At some point, I thought that I was going to miss him. So, I was being real. I felt deeply emotionally attached to him like Iâ€™m very passionate about my singing, my kind of music and Iâ€™m not in anyway wanting to change it.
So, when I get emotionally attached to something, I stick with it. Iâ€™m very straight forward when it comes to attachment. It doesnâ€™t necessarily matter how deep or how shallow the attachment is.
What do you think about the Gus Celebrity concept?
Itâ€™s a wonderful one. Itâ€™s a good concept in the sense that it’s an avenue to showcase the other side of celebrities. Like myself, for many years, Iâ€™ve had it locked down on professional basis that people think I am very wild. But getting into GUS, a lot of people saw my other side and trust me, itâ€™s a very good initiative, I must say.
If I had 50 per cent people loving me before, I have over a 100 per cent loving me now, knowing that Iâ€™m human. Thatâ€™s why when I was asked during profiling, what I was going to do to win, I knew I was not going to win but I didnâ€™t say that.
I knew I was going to use the opportunity to gain some kind of experience which I actually gained. And whether it was going to turn negative or positive was what I did not know.
Did you expect to be evicted when you were?
If you had watched the eviction, youâ€™d see that I descendedÂ from the plank myself. They gave us a plank to rock on, that was my last task. I thought â€˜why should I ruin my legs when I love my shoes?â€™ Iâ€™m highly emotionally attached to shoes.
I invest a lot of money into buying them and they are high heeled shoes. I need my legs to rock them. This is like the beginning of my career. So, I thought, â€˜if I rock this thing successfully, and scale though this task, what if I now have problems with my ankles?â€™ I already sprained my left ankle on the 7th of February, when I had a government show in Rivers State.
I thought it was all okay before I left for the GUS but the rigorous tasks we had and other exercises rejuvenated the pain at some point. I couldnâ€™t worsen it by rocking that plank, especially when the night before was bad. It rained on us while we slept outside.
Were you all actually passing the night in the jungle?
Yes, we sleep at night and wake up in the morning. There were mosquitoes in the forest and we had to make our tents in the evening. I mean thatâ€™s where Emeka comes to use. Emeka would use his masculinity to build my tent in the night and dismantle it in the morning. What more can somebody ask? He was always there for me.
What if your feelings had developed further than that?
We didnâ€™t want that. Iâ€™m a human being that has absolute control of herself. Iâ€™m an adult. Iâ€™ve been independent for many years and Iâ€™m in charge of my life. Iâ€™m very comfortable just like that. Iâ€™m in control.
Was your romp with Emeka Ike on TV to tell the world that youâ€™re not a lesbian as sometimes reported about you…?
People ask me why Iâ€™m so controversial in interviews but really I donâ€™t know how people became extremely controversial about me.
They just misinterpret me. Iâ€™m such a different human being from what people say I am. And because they donâ€™t have the privilege to get close to me, to know me, they make their conclusions. Sometime ago, it came as a shock to me that
I was a lesbian. (laughs). It’s strange and funny.
The truth is, Iâ€™m so spiritually and religiously conscious. Iâ€™m a Christian and Iâ€™m so self conscious such that I can never be bi-sexual or lesbian because it’s against my religion. Fornication is a problem already, let alone messing around with another womanâ€™s body. It’s disgusting, Iâ€™m sorry to say.
Would you like to go back on the GUS Celeb show if you are invited again?
Oh no, I wonâ€™t. You know we artistes donâ€™t see ourselves often and GUS was a good concept to unify us and to enable usÂ to understudy ourselves. It was supposed to be a perfect avenue for us to share and learn from each other but it became an avenue where people could take advantage and ridicule others. You rub people in the mud when ordinarily you would not have the privilege or chance to see each other on such platform.
I mean, we are all celebs but there are some people who have managed to build themselves to certain levels and some still struggling to build ourselves to the level which others already are. So when I meet people who are bigger than me,
Iâ€™m respectful. I pay dues to the person because he/she deserves it. But some people on the show saw it as an opportunity to disrespect others, undermining the historical background or standard of living of the person. I remember somebody making a silly comment to me that â€˜if I light matches close to you, you will burn to ashes. Youâ€™re too fake.
Youâ€™re too artificial.â€™ I am not artificial. Is it a crime to take good care of myself? That says to me that a lot of women that we respect out there and are supposed to be role models donâ€™t even take care of themselves.
Maybe, they felt using six different types of powder in one make-over application was extreme…
But my dear, was that supposed to be their problem? Itâ€™s not supposed to be the next personâ€™s problem. If it was I who noticed a thing like that with somebody else, it would have amazed me and I would be curious. I donâ€™t drink or smoke like some people do. But if my addiction is to make-up, why shouldnâ€™t I….?
You know what, I can fix myself with five to 10 different kinds of make ups if I know the rudiment of application. There was a time I went swimming in a natural water at the camp. I came out of the water and someone said, â€˜Waow Muma, I canâ€™t believe it. Your make-up is still on.â€™ I said, well my make-up is waterproof. So, she doesnâ€™t even know that make-up could be waterproof. It’s shocking and surprising.
Some people argue that the idea of a Celebrity version ofÂ GUS was to enable fans to see their stars the way they really are at home, when theyâ€™re not on the red carpet or on stage.
Iâ€™m glad you mentioned the way we are at home. That girl seated there (pointing at an assistant who came with her) lives with me in my home. I sleep and wake up with make-up. So, if I make up in my home, why shouldnâ€™t I make-up because Iâ€™m on a reality TV show?
So, when does anyone get to see you without make-up?
When Iâ€™m probably fixing my face or maybe in the bath. But honestly, when Iâ€™m at home, Iâ€™m always wearing make-up. There are the kinds you wear in the kitchen too.
So youâ€™re addicted to make up?
No, Iâ€™m not. Iâ€™m just highly exposed. I travel worldwide. I go to Paris just to shop for shoes. Iâ€™m that kind of a crazy person. When Iâ€™m attached to something, I just do it and do it well.
Muma, no one has ever heard you talk about love or marriage?
(Laughs) Thatâ€™s extremely private.
Isnâ€™t there some man taking care of this body?
I do. Fornication is a sin and that is why I try as much as possible not to indulge myself.
Do you love kids?
So when are you going to have one?
When Iâ€™m married. I donâ€™t believe in having kids outside wedlock. I have some very silly principles in life and this is one of them.
But sometimes, you have sexual urges. How do you handle them?
In all honesty, at this stage of my life, my priority is my career and not love. I know I can get emotionally attached but it doesnâ€™t go beyond that. As a human being, youâ€™re a sinner already. So, why let another human make you commit more. If I donâ€™t want to answer a question, I wonâ€™t, rather than lie.
Truly, sometimes, I feel the emptiness. But because I do designing, music, cooking, cleaning or gisting, I try to distract the feelings. Sometimes, I tell my girl, when she brings me food, â€˜gist with while I eatâ€™. Sheâ€™s like my best friend.Â But some other times, as human, I feel the emptiness of not having the opposite sex.
But then, when you look at your vision, you know that having an active love life would be a distraction at this point. My dream is to drive my music career to a certain level where it can stand on its own so that when I get involved (with a man) I can take a break and go and have babies and come back again and the music wonâ€™t die off.
Most people live with their priorities. That was why when on the GUS, and the marriage ridicule came up, I just saw them (the celebrities involved) as shallow minded people. If your priority is to get married and have two kids, youâ€™re not the first and wonâ€™t be the last. And if my priority, for now, is to face my career, you donâ€™t put into your career as much energy as I put in mine.
Acting is what I can do as well. This (Theatre arts) is what I studied in school. Musicians rack their brains to write and then go to the studio to record. Meanwhile, a marketer pays you (an actor) to act his scripts. We pay people to produce our songs.
So, the brain racking on how to raise money to push yourself alone is very tasking.Â And you, whoâ€™s in the luxury of just walking up to set, act and get paid,Â it doesnâ€™t matter how much, canâ€™t be compared in the same measure with a musician.
Iâ€™m more energetically involved in my career. Itâ€™s a whole lot of investment which you donâ€™t have to do as an actor or actress. You donâ€™t push yourself. You just act a movie and it pushes you. We have to push for ourselves. So you should just give God the glory for your life.
Let’s talk about your new album. Why did it take so long for a follow-up?
I needed that long time to be able to do my research Iâ€™ve re-invented myself. Before now, I used to be extremely traditional. My style of music used to be African traditional but now my music style is called Afrotastic because it’s still Afrocentric but not in the traditional way.
It’s shifting away from the folk style and going contemporary. For me to re-invent my music, I had to first re-invent myself as a human being. So, between 2006 when I released Kade and now, Iâ€™ve been in the studio working till January this year.
Even now, Iâ€™m back working. Weâ€™re shooting the video for â€˜freeâ€™ and weâ€™re working on my tour around Nigeria and Africa because I also have a pet project called ‘The woman in Question’. Thatâ€™s why my latest album is titled ‘The woman in question’. The project is basically a re-appraisal of womanhood, going into issues that affect women and how to tackle them. I know it’s not a dayâ€™s job but Iâ€™m on it.
How many songs are on the album?
We have 18 tracks and it’s dedicated to the project. I wrote all the songs but I allowed my producer to influence me. I used a couple of Nigerian and Ghanaian producers. Thereâ€™s a collaboration with VIP, Samini, Terry G, OJB, LKT & Frenzy.
What were you hoping to achieve with the collabos?
Itâ€™s the unification of artistes and coming together of ideas. Most of the tracks talk on the topics that affect womenâ€™s lives.
For instance, I featured Samini on â€˜African woman (one of the tracks on the album) so that he could speak about the African woman from the male perspective. And all the other guys on the album speak about the woman from the male perspective.
How were you able to be industrious as a student. We hear you had an eatery?
Yes, and I had a beauty parlour too. It was the passion for business that drove me into it. Iâ€™ve always been a survivor. Iâ€™m very passionate about business because thatâ€™s the only way I can foot my bills. I live a very expensive life and showbizness at this stage cannot foot my bills.
Though I make a lot of money each time I perform but how many times do I get to perform when I select the shows that I perform because of the sort of image Iâ€™m trying to build? In the next 10-15 years’ time, youâ€™ll see what Iâ€™m talking about or maybe in the next five years.
When I was studying at the University of Port Harcourt, you had to drive far to get food to eat and there were only a few places that sold snacks and all that. It was after I launched out with my eatery that Mr Biggs now stepped in.
How did you get to be so business inclined?
My mum has always been a hardworking mum and I took a lot from her. My Christian life and not-drinking alcoholic stuffs, I got from her. Iâ€™m not particularly from a poor family but after we lost our dad, a particular Uncle took over everything he (her dad) left behind. We were two girls and four boys but we were all very young. My mum brought us up in a way such that you donâ€™t drag things.
If youâ€™d watched the GUS, youâ€™d notice that you could be messing with me and Iâ€™ll just be looking at you. So, when my Uncle took over those things, it was the same. My mum had always been supportive and told us stories about our grand mumâ€™s industrious life- going to the farm and all that. She had passed that down to us even though our dad was a medical personnel in the army and he had things going for him, real good during his life time.
After his death, my mum was back to square one. And I remember, she would get corn, we would peel it from the cob, take it to grind, soak it then wash the Akamu up until very late at night. Even now, it still affects me because Iâ€™m unable to sleep early.
Do you mean you hawked akamu as a child?
Yes,Â I sold akamu and akara. My mum used to sell akamu and we used to assist her. Forget the car I drive today and who I am now.Â That I am successful today is by the grace of God and I give God the glory. Trust me, after we lost our dad, it was tough. My mum refused to remarry and she did everything possible to raise us.
So she helped you set up your businesses at the University?
She didnâ€™t help me with that but she had helped me enough by laying the foundation and showing me the way. We would wash akamu till 2a.m in the morning and by 5a.m, sheâ€™s up, gone to the market and we would go to school. So, I got that industrious training from her. I like to say that Iâ€™m socially high but Iâ€™m domestically sealed. I do everything domestic that any woman can do. As much as I am Muma Gee, you can take me to any village and Iâ€™ll farm conveniently for you.
With your long and artificial nails?
Na wa for you o. When it’s time, Iâ€™ll take off these nails and be normal.. When I go home. I take off my shoes. I dress normal and take away all the glamour. I blend.
Funke said you were domineering on the show. Are you like that?
Well a lot of people say that.