By ANOZIE EGOLE
Onyeka Onwenu is one of the personalities to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. Recently, she was unveiled as one of the judges in the ongoing Glo-X judges and her judgment in the show has shown that she is an icon in the field. In this revealing interview, she talks about her challenges, passion for music, among other issues.
Onyeka Onwenu has been a house-hold name in the Nigerian entertainment industry, what is the secret?
The “secret” is no secret at all. It’s all God’s grace. I have found that when you locate yourself in Him Who is the Author and Finisher, there is no limit as to what you can do.
How did you come about being one of the Glo X- factor judges and what has the experience been?
Rapid Blue, the producers of Glo X Factor sought me out and we came to an agreement. I am not a Glo Ambassador and I do not have a contract with Glo.
The experience has been interesting, challenging at times, because of the time we put in, but mostly enriching. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment, to be able to mentor young artistes and watch them grow right before your eyes.
From acting to music, why the diversion?
I started out as a Television journalist with NTA before I released my first Album in 1981. Acting came much later. None of it is a diversion. I am blessed with many talents and I explore and use most, to the glory of God.
For quite a long time now, you have not been seen on the big screen (acting), where have you been?
I am choosy as to what roles I accept, for professional and financial reasons. You should, however expect to see me in the soon to be released Half Of A Yellow Sun.
In one of the contests in the Glo X Factor competition,you wept, does it mean you are that emotional?
All artistes are emotional. As a creative person, I am affected by things around me.
You have featured in some movies now, which one would you say is most challenging and why?
I would say Conspiracy 1 and 2, as well as Women’s Cot and of course Half Of A Yellow Sun. These were challenging roles where I had to play characters that were opposites of who I was in real life. I had to completely leave myself out of them.
You dedicated the proceed you made from the sale of your CD plate, The Legend Reloaded to Church building, would you say you are very close to God?
I strive to be closer to God every day. It’s my life’s work.
What prompted the title of your album, The Legend Reloaded?
It was Obi Asika who gave it that title. You would have to ask him this question.
Aside you music career which is what you give most attention now, what else do you do?
I am a mother and a business woman as well. One has to have multiple streams of income.
How did your appointment as the Chairperson of the Imo State Council of Arts and Culture come about and how do you combine that with your music career?
For eight years, between the year 2002 and 2010, I vied for the Chairmanship of my LGA, Ideato North, in Imo State. I did not succeed because there was no level-playing field. The powers that were did not want someone like me who would display integrity, prevent them from stealing the LG funds and get the job of development done. It was a trying time but also of learning and service to my people at so many levels.
My appointment as Chairman of Imo State Council For Arts and Culture (ISCAC) by Dr Ikedi Ohakim, Governor at the time was well received by the people and the Board that I chaired gave a good account of itself. In fact, we turned the place around, renovated it and made it a profitable venture. We developed a blue print which was copied by others. I am very proud of what we did there. I left there in 2011, after two fruitful years.
What is your evolution into the entertainment world like?
This is too general a question. I would answer by saying that it started in 1981, when reality shows did not exist and division of labour, generally was minimal. You had to do most things by and for yourself. I wrote my own songs after my first album and managed myself mostly. I did my own costumes and makeup. After my 2nd Album, I financed and promoted my own recordings. It was not easy but we did what we had to do and kept going.
We fought the pirates and fought for copyright dues. We sacrificed for the union (PMAN) and ensured that artistes were given respect and honour in Nigeria.
What would you say is the worst thing that has happened to you?
The worst thing that ever happened to me, no doubt was the death of my beloved father, Hon. D.K Onwenu, at age 40, from a car accident. He was on his way back from Aba to Port Harcourt, from a meeting with the Union of Teachers there. Papa was a member of the Federal House, the first Arondizuogu man to attain that position. He was a brilliant and charismatic orator, a graduate of Fourah Bay University, Sierra Leone as well as the University of Durham, England. My dad loved me to distraction. I remember him well and I still miss him.
What do you think about this child marriage approved by the senate?
Child marriage is wrong in every way. It has disastrous implications for the development of our country. Consider the fact that a vast number of Nigerian women are kept away from education, they remain at the poverty level, disenfranchised and unable to contribute to the development of their communities and country. Their children go through the same cycle of lack, ignorance and abject poverty. This affects us all in Nigeria.
At your leisure time, what do you like doing?
At my leisure time, I relax and watch TV. I am also an avid gardner and I love cooking.
There are several cases of domestic violence in the country which sometimes, result in divorce especially in the entertainment industry, what do you think is the cause and the way forward?
Domestic violence is bad, very bad indeed. Women are getting killed and maimed inside their homes and it affects a large number of the womenfolk. Many never report it because they are ashamed and they are financially dependent on the man. This is why it is important for women to get education. You do not have to accept domestic violence. A woman should know her rights as a human being and insist on them.
What make-up can you not do without?
Some ladies say it is difficult to find an ideal man for marriage, what do you have to say about that?
What does love mean to you?
God is love. Loving Him with all your heart and loving your neighbour is the greatest commandment He gave man. Love means everything to me.
What are you missing most about your mother?
I still miss my mother’s wahala. She was my “mate” and colleague. I reminded her of herself in many ways and sometimes we agreed to disagree. We had great respect for one another and I took good care of her, just like my father would have done if he were alive. She trusted me.