Recently, rumors of rumors were underway with the alleged death of juju music master, commander in chief Ebenezer Obey. But, like any unfounded rumor, it turned out to be a ruse, since the great musician himself came out to unmask him days after his trend on the internet. He said PAUL UKPABIO in an interview at his home in Ikeja, Lagos, that he forgave both the author and the street vendors of the fake news. He also talked about his plans to surprise everyone with a new wife and went so far as to reveal the type of woman he is likely to marry.
- He says that only a foolish man would take the girl as his wife at his age
- Forgive the author of the death hoax
There were rumors that you died recently. How did you receive the news?
I can not understand it. I wouldn’t know why someone who didn’t confirm a story would go online and announce an unconfirmed news story.
Maybe you were sick and some people saw you being admitted or out of the hospital …
No, I haven't been sick lately. I was here in Lagos when the rumor came to me. That was when people from all over the world declared bombing my phone with calls to find out if the news was true that my children and I were alarmed. We had to start spreading the rumor and telling people that I am alive.
What came to mind when you heard about your death?
Well, I knew I was alive, I thought and then I knew I had to correct the mistake and tell them that there was nothing wrong with me. But when I saw the reactions of people from all over the world, it also assured me that I have fans and admirers around the world, and that also impressed me. I realized again that there are many people around the world who love my music and love me too.
Of course, I knew that before. But the response in recent weeks has been beyond my expectation. And I told myself that it is good to do what you do well and let people recognize you for it. It also taught me that everything good that is done is important. It also taught me that I should continue to do good to humanity more than ever. But again, this is what I have been doing all along.
But what about those who started the fake rumor?
Oh, I forgave the person who started the rumor. I did it right away. I cannot hold a grudge against the person. After all, the truth has been revealed; just as Jesus Christ said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. People were happy and are still happy with me.
The Covid-19 pandemic is said to affect older people more. How are you protecting yourself from the virus?
The government has established preventive measures. We don't know much about the disease, except what we hear about it. Therefore, the government says we should cover our noses and mouths with masks and wash our hands, in addition to maintaining a social distance. I am keeping these rules as much as I can.
In an interview a few years ago, you said you would never retire from music. Is that still your position?
Course is. But since the Covid-19 outbreak, it has not been possible to perform in public. But I still do my recordings. Singing and music are part of me. Once you are in it, you cannot leave it. But when old age arrives and I can no longer do it, I will have to abandon it and remain grateful for all that I have been able to do in the past and for the opportunity that God has given me to serve humanity.
Many people your age consider themselves old …
I thank God for His grace. I can still sing and perform. But then, age is certainly catching up with me. Still, there are certain things that I still do conveniently, like singing. I thank God for keeping me up until now.
Do you believe you can still sing and perform at 100?
(Laughter) Let me tell you the truth: if I can open my mouth at this age, I will still sing and perform, especially if my fans are still there to dance.
Have you recorded an album recently?
Yes I have. I just finished recording public lighting material at Covid-19. It serves to support the lighting campaign, because so far, some people do not even believe that the Coronavirus exists. So, what I did was encourage people to believe and follow safety rules.
The blockade caused by the Covid-19 outbreak is believed to have affected professional musicians financially. What is your experience?
That's true. Covid-19 affected the musicians' finances because there are no meetings for celebrations outside; only about 20 people are allowed at social events right now, so it's not really what we used to have. The entertainment industry has been hardest hit and all musicians are affected.
So, what can musicians do at this point to increase their finances and earnings?
We hear that in foreign countries, agreements are made for palliative care for the entertainment industry. In Germany, for example, they do not miss the good times because their finances were cushioned in that period by the government. If the musicians are working, of course, they could take care of themselves. It is unfortunate that we don't have that kind of orientation in Nigeria, and Covid-19 has now become a big surprise for all musicians.
I used to say this in the past that musicians should have alternative means of subsistence. With the kind of money they earn, they could go into agriculture; is the thing. Agriculture provides me with food. It is a sector that can admit everyone. There are several ways to be part of the industry. You can be in the agricultural aspect or in the processing part of agriculture. Oil is gradually leaving and agriculture is the present and the future.
With regard to my personal experience, I have discussed the same with my musicians, but they find it easier said than done. So it's not a good thing that they just wait on music. Something must be added to the song so that, if something like Covid-19 occurs, they can have another source of livelihood. At that point, music becomes an additional source of income. It is the wisdom of the wise. If musicians who read this follow my advice, they'll appreciate it later. You hear some of them say that they cannot do anything else, but the truth is that there is no work that a man cannot do.
Don't you miss company?
Well, a wife's company is a good thing. It is not against the government of God. So, I'm here, I can get married at any time; not just for marriage as it is, but for companionship, because what else do I want? I have children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. So I was blessed. It's not like I'm looking for a wife who would conceive babies. As long as I have life, you will hear when the time comes for the wedding.
What has prevented you from marrying a young woman since you lost your wife?
Marry a young girl? He's an old fool who says he wants to marry a young girl. The young woman has just started her life and is definitely manly and strong. Someone like me should be thinking about a woman aged 60 or over. And when I do that soon, everyone will know.
Do you miss your late wife or do you see her in dreams?
Of course I do. I miss her all the time and have seen her in dreams so many times.
Are there people you miss playing for?
Yes, many people are gone. I miss playing for many of the top socialites who are no longer with us in the world. But then, there is nothing anyone can do about it. They are gone and gone.
What do you value most now?
I appreciate God. He's my number one. So, of course, I have good people who are kind and kind to me.
And the church?
That's what takes up my time now. It's from music to ministry. I liked it a lot because the word is God. I had great challenges in life, and it was God who saw me through those stormy periods of life. When Jesus Christ left, he promised to send us a comforter, and he did.
What is your opinion about the opening of schools and churches?
Some people say that the government should not open schools and churches because the number of victims of Covid-19 is high, and I say that they are right. And some people are saying: we are going to open schools and churches so that the economy can revive again, and I say that they are just as right. Personally, I think that if we look back, before Covid-19, people were dying all over the world. If the number of people who were dying were also announced, we would be equally surprised by the number. But we don't have a solution for coronavirus.
In the Bible, there were seven lepers who thought among themselves that where they were, if they waited, they would starve to death and, if they left the place, they would be killed. So they decided that they should look for the much-needed food, and, lo and behold, the Lord had prepared food for them, confusing the enemy that caused the war in that country with a noise that led them to abandon their camps. The lepers came and saw food and went to the city to make known to the king and the people. And that was when the king learned that his enemies had been destroyed.
Covid-19 is our enemy. We will take all the necessary preventive steps that the government wants us to take in churches, schools, mosques and so on. There must be social distance. We are going to do all this, but we are also going there, because we don't know when this will end. People cannot eat and the economy is gradually falling into a coma. We must leave, but observe all precautions.