BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
THERE are situations, philosophies, and worldviews that we all can learn from. Today, The Whisperer will look at that of a specific individual and will be doing some name-dropping.
If I will be whispering to females, I should be allowed to whisper about them, so here goes.
Sometime last year, I sat with my friend, Kate Henshaw-Nuttall, who at that time had not won the best actress category of the African Movie Academy Awards.
The whole world (Kate inclusive) knows I have had a king-size crush on her from as far back as the days when she starred alongside the comedian Basorge, as a house-maid in that television soap (Candlelight). Her line, “I t’inks abourrit”, in response to Basorge’s love overtures will stay golden in the hearts of many Nigerian film/television buffs up until the world comes to an end.
How did The Whisperer meet Ms. Henshaw in person? A few years ago, there was a serious case of petrol shortage in the country (the more cynical will ask when there hasn’t been) so, I drove down to Victoria Island where there were rumours that the land was over-flowing with oil (the petrol kind).
The rumours were untrue. I drove from petrol station to petrol station and found out “the rich also cry”. However, I stumbled across one, which seemed to be selling the stuff but had a queue that snaked a long distance.
The trick was to quickly get to the end of the queue which seemed to be moving toward the pumps at moderate speed.
As I raced at break-neck speed to take a position on the long line, I saw a car careen past me and park in the slot I’d hoped for. I stopped behind the car to give a piece of my mind to the driver and saw a tall, attractive, leggy female get out of the vehicle.
It was Henshaw in person and I quickly forgot my angst and made her sign the original manuscript of Gbanja Roulette, the new stage play I had just written. She wrote a prayer on the cover page that day and I believe it worked.
The play ended up with the kind of sponsorship writers’ hope for but hardly ever see including patronage by giants such as the current Minister of Health, Professor Osotimehin and Mike Egbo, country representative of Pathfinder International.
It had the President of the country then, himself in attendance at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua centre, ended up being performed at the Presidential Villa -Aso Rock after that, and in many other places around the country...
Before you jump up with your manuscript looking to kidnap Kate if she won’t comply peacefully and forcing her to lay prayerful hands on your manuscript, finish my story.
The purpose of this writing is not to request sainthood for Kate. My point is that her heartfelt wishes translated into something fantastic for she and I. From then, I developed a friendship that has lasted till this day.
Kate has worked on several of my productions including my play, Anatomy of a Woman and the premiere of The V Monologues – The Nigerian Story, which I co-wrote and directed.
I speak of her as female and a friend now and now I will tell of what I have seen as I have walked through her mind.
In an interview for my blog, I asked Kate several questions. She informed me that day her middle name is Offiong and it means ‘the moon’, a name usually reserved for first-born children.
The fact that the zodiac sign that governs her birth date (she was born in July, the same as I) is the moon sign is purely coincidental.
When I asked for her state of origin, she replied me with a disdainful look, “Cross Rivers State, what did you think?”
Suffering fools is not her main strength. I told her it might have been Akwa Ibom but she replied with one word, “Please.”
Apparently, Kate comes from Henshaw town, a town named originally by slave masters.
As an aside, I think we should go give London and Philadelphia our own names.
She told me without hesitation she looked up to her mother; a supportive, prayerful woman who has been a bulwark of support through the years.
There is a principle to be learnt here — success stories often have some kind of support system behind them whether it be family or friends.
When asked what she would take if she had only five minutes to make a great escape, she said it would be her phones and money as money can replace most things.
We played words and associations where she would have to give a word or phrase she associated with whatever I said without thinking. She answered ‘Nice’ to ‘Love’. Her association with ‘Marriage’ was ‘Good’, replied ‘Fantastic’ to ‘Money’ and answered ‘Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!’ to ‘Sex’.
Now if you think the last association inappropriate, you are in need of urgent medical help, physical and psychiatric.
I tell the truth and do not lie. To ‘Nigeria’, she said ‘Stressful’. If you disagree, you might want to ask why the average mortality rate for men in the country is 43.
To ‘Nollywood’, she answered, ‘Teething’. The Whisperer thinks it’s about time Nollywood consulted specialist dentists.
Her advice to those who might want to reach or surpass the heights she has attained is to make sure they finish school and not to enter the world of entertainment with fame or money as their primary targets. A love for the craft must be there as there will be dry seasons.
KATE is a live wire, humming and vibrating all the time and does not attempt to hide she is an extrovert with a capital E.
Her type of man is an outgoing type, should be generous and caring and a sense of humour is essential to her.
Kate says love is gentle and selfless, a warm, warm feeling that should be reciprocal and it involves giving much more than you receive.
I will not attempt to expatiate on that, as the meaning in those words is as plain as day.
When I asked, ‘Can you see your unborn children in my eyes?’. She replied with a startled “What? Are you serious, Wole? That can’t be part of the questions. It is? No, you’re joking. I can’t see them there. No, no, no. You’re not well.”
I reluctantly moved on, asking what she would want to be remembered by. “As someone who smiled”, she said, “Who made people very happy”.
“It takes more muscles to frown than to smile. I’ll be smiling all the way.” And therein might lie her strength.