BY IYABO AINA
His parents named him Saheed Muhammed but the entertainment world Christened him Funky Mallam and since the name stuck, the half-Fulani, half-Hausa, Bayero University Mass Communications graduate has metamorphosed into the stereotype, interpreting his Hausa roles with discerning dexterity that has endeared him to the hearts of many. Funky Mallam is currently busy on the set of Glo’s sponsored ‘Professor Johnbull’ TV series and his Hausa talk show.
In this thrilling session with Showtime Celebrity, the Funky Mallam tells his story; his journey so far, his career, his celebrated divorce and new-found love.
How it all began
As a matter of fact, my journey into mainstream entertainment started when I was living in Agbor. I was barely seven years old then. I remember that me and some friends used to visit the cinemas almost everyday. Because we didn’t have the money for tickets, we would go early and sweep the floors to gain entry. What were being shown mostly back then were Chinese films. After the films we would practice the Kungfu martial arts. At a time I became so good at it that they started calling me the Shaolin man, because I could carry my leg up and raised it high for a long time. This is how I got attracted to the movie world and made up my mind to be part of it.
My romance with music
Few people remember me as a musician because my acting career has overshadowed it. Though it was movies that attracted me to entertainment but music was my first stint in the industry. It happened way back when I got admission into Bayero University and paying school fees became difficult. I first opened a barbershop to raise money and when it wasn’t raising enough, I started singing in clubs. I have always had fascination for music and did a lot of miming, using the Hausa language and backing it up with foreign instrumentals. I used to perform at clubs like Duala Hotel. Name given to me then was Positive X. What I used to do was sang songs I had writen to a tune played by the DJ. While I sang people would get up to spray money on me. That’s it how I got through the university.
Why my music career simmered
Why I didn’t choose music as a profession is because circular music is wrong in Islam. My parents, both of whom are from Adamawa and Kano States respectively, would never have supported me. My parents are very religious they wouldn’t have supported me going into music that is why I grabbed the opportunity of going into acting.
Plans to revive music career
Let me state here that I have not given up on my music career. Instead of doing circular music what I will be doing is Islamic music. I still sing Islamic contemporary songs and the first album I put out five years ago sold about twenty thousand copies. But then I’m coming up with some other new tracks soon. I am a mass communicator and I can thrive in any part of the entertainment industry. Look at Jamie Foxx, he’s doing music, movie, comedy, among others and he has won the biggest awards so far in all the things he does.
The industry has stereotyped me into taking only Mallam roles but things are changing. In some of the movies I have done recently, I took on different roles. You may not see these movies in the market because they are cinema movies. Notably, I was in ‘October One’, ‘Birthday Bash’, ‘The Department’, and the one that just came out where I acted alongside U.C.Ukeje ‘North East,’ among others. But, I think I’ve done about twenty Nollywood movies aside soaps because ever since I started movie its big-screen.
How I got the name ‘Funky Mallam’
People actually gave me that name because when I came initially I used my name Saeed Mohammed but all of a sudden people started calling me Funky Mallam. Each time they called me Funky Mallam, I tried to convince them my name is Saheed Mohammed but they would insist I am Funky Mallam. Along the line the name stuck and I stopped trying to fight it. I guess it all stemmed from the notion that an Hausa man from the north, speaking English and wearing jeans, T-shirts, F-caps, and on trainers must be funky. You may be seeing me on TV wearing only Jalamia but most times when I am on stage as an MC or in other capacities I dress like a yuppie.
How true is my divorce story
Yea, it’s true and it’s just a problem of incompatibility. She’s from Adamawa State and we were both married for three years and we have a son together but all of a sudden she changed.
The thing is, it’s not every woman that wants to live with you when money is not coming in as expected. I found out that we didn’t have anything in common because if we could not agree on situations then that means we are not compatible. I believe no matter the condition you find yourself as long as you people are married you should adjust, believing that tomorrow will be better. She actually asked for a divorce and I told her I would not take her back if she leaves but she left.
Our relationship after the divorce
I don’t have anything against her, what I try to make people understand is that I don’t have any problem with her. I never asked her to leave my house, it was she who decided that she’s sick and tired, that she could not stay again, that she is not getting what she wanted. I pleaded with her and called her people but her mind was made. Nothing was working and we kept having problems everyday in the house. I started running temperature and sometimes I just didn’t feel like coming home, it got to a stage I wasn’t concentrating on my job anymore. At the end of the day I just said okay she wants to go fine but I told her that look when you go you are not coming back because I don’t see the reason why you are going, I’ve never offended you then when things get better tomorrow and then you say you are coming back it won’t work. Right now, we still talk like normal friends.
Any other woman in his life presently?
Yes, another woman has taken over
How did you meet this new person?
Well, we met in Abuja and funny enough, they bear the same name ‘Aisha’. I went to Abuja to MC an event and she happened to be one of the bride’s friends. Initially, she wouldn’t talk to me, she snubbed me but when her brother called her attention that I’m his friend, she started listening to me. I noticed that she’s the shy kind of person. When I left and then came back to Lagos, for sometime we lost contact but got reconnected some months later.
So, we started talking again and in the process of our discussion I kind of got lucky and she accepted. I think I was very lucky because at the time, she and a son of late Adamawa Emir were planning to get married before I came on the scene. I don’t know what happened between them but for sometime they were not communicating but when I came into the picture he immediately came back again but she told him that she’s already been taken by someone else and lucky for me I became the winner
How soon are you tying the knot?
We are looking at next month or in two months’ time because the traditional rite has been done.