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I wasn’t a street boy, but I learnt a lot from the street – Opa Williams

Opa Williams  is well-known  in show business in Nigeria. A graduate of the University of Miami, United States of America, Williams hails from Isoko North in Delta State.

I launched myself into live shows to entertain people with the highly successful “Night of A Thousand Laughs” ,which has become an irresistible brand in Nigeria.

Opa Williams

I was actually known for movies before I veered into the comedy business. I have been known for many things. But thank God, I have been known for good things.

I see myself as a mass communicator because  I do a lot of things that benefit the masses. I communicate, entertain, educate and inform them. From my “Night of A Thousand Laughs”  to my television programme  and live shows, I connect with the masses. I think I’m more of a mass communicator. I am into the arts and entertainment.

. Of course, I do home videos, T.V programmes, live shows. I’m about production, really. My life is about live productions, T.V productions, stage productions. I may not be as commercially visible as I used to be but I guess you see me here and there once in a while doing different things.

I wrote my first movie script when I was in form three in the secondary school between 1974 and 1975. I attended one of  my classmates’ birthday party, and to my surprise,  the celebrant brought out the script I wrote then. I was amazed.

Then, we used to have Bendel festival of culture and my play won the first prize ahead of such plays like “Kurunmi”,  The Gods are not to Blame and many others. I probably knew what I wanted in life at a very tender age.

My growing up was regular. For me, there was nothing special about it. I never had cornflakes or bread. We had ogi and akara.
I started life in Ajegunle, that’s where I was born before I relocated to Warri. It was like growing up from one jungle to a bigger jungle.

I was not a street boy, but I learnt a lot from the street. I started out in life with challenges. My friends used to describe me as a “carpet badger”. We have two different people in life; carpet badgers  and the inheritors. I never inherited anything from anybody, rather things are inherited from me. I never had parents whom I could inherit anything from .

Rather I badged the carpet. I had to learn from the rich as well as the poor to sharp en  my future. I struggled  to survive in life. I am rich in terms of knowledge. which was  one of the things I discovered early in life  . You cannot do anything without knowledge. That’s how I grew up.

The scriptures said my people perish for lack of knowledge. Two things can kill man; God and information. For me, it goes beyond just certificates; you must learn, you must read and you must be voracious. It is the use and the knowledge of information that makes a man.

Yes, growing up in Ajegunle and Warri  had a lot of influences in my life. The public enlightenment van that usually came around during those good old days to show us some programmes on television  was amazing and expository.

Also, during those days, not many families could afford television sets. So, most times, we used to go to our next door neigbours  to watch television.  But one day, I was embarrassed when one of the sons of our neigbour who happened to be my friend insulted us by asking us to tell our parents to buy a television set for us. That comment seriously had an impact on my life. That was the kind of influences the environment where I grew up taught me.

Growing up in Warri was like passing through an institution. Ironically, Warri is not a town, rather an institution. It’s a place that gives one the freedom to be oneself. While growing up in Warri, I never thought of  where I came from, instead, I saw myself as a “Warri boy” because “Warri boy”  is always a “Warri boy.”

Of course, I read a lot of autobiographies. I also read a lot of motivational books. But I read the Bible most often. I provoked  the words of God by reading the Bible almost on daily basis.

Before I delved into comedy business, there was nothing like comedy concert. What we had then  was just comedy programmes such as Papy Luwe, Awada Kerikeri and so on. Comedians were not recognised. But I realised that each time, we go partying, people always say this guy is funny, the other guy is funny. I said to myself, we can do something and make some money out of cracking jokes  because then, people like to be entertained by comedians.

Then, comedians were just an appendage to parties. But today, it is the other way round, stand-up comedy has become the most popular form of comedy. I am proud to be one of the forebearers of this area of entertainment in Nigeria. What is so special about me? God took time to make me  what I am today. I am the pride of God.

I’m not a fashion freak. I wear  casual . And I  can tell you that I’m a spiritual freak. The meaning of life is what is uppermost in my mind.

“Night of A Thousand Laughs”,  is not for money.  It is for comedy. It is just for doing something different, something that will actually impact something on the next person. I could have done it for money, but it is not a quest for money, it is in quest of doing something that can affect change, for happiness, something that people look forward to, something that can trigger joy when you think about it.

If it is about making money, I would have stuck to my TV programme and movies. But I just wanted something that could trigger  change and reflect legacy. Life to me is about change, about affecting the next person positively; if I do comedy, you go home and you laugh, you are happy. I derive joy in it to make people light-hearted. That is all about it.


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