Monday, 10 May 2010
Recently, maverick Charly Boy embarked on his six-year old dream of publishing. His magazine Charly Boy is in its third edition come April 2010; and the multi-skilled artiste told Anote Ajeluorou recntly in Lagos that th new project is all in the process of consolidating the Charly Boy Brand. Lagos. Excerpts:
How has the experience as a publisher been?
It’s been most profound. Like I always say, we will continue to be students in the school in life as we indulge in different experiences, and because of the people who have come before, people like Kunle Bakare, Mayor Akinpelu, Seye (Kehinde); because of their tenacity, I’m inspired. And, I have always known one thing: no matter how a thing might appear, no matter the stumbling blocks, the obstacles you encounter, that if you are consistent, you will definitely come out tops.
So it’s been challenging; the magazine or publishing business is not a child’s play but like you know, I have always been somebody that will never run away from challenges. I’m facing it squarely; in fact, a lot of people who have seen the magazine get back to me to say it’s a good start. And if it’s a good start, it can also get better. They like the quality, and they like the direction. What is left is by my staying power and how I approach matters.
What exactly is the direction?
Well, it’s geared towards the upwardly mobile, young Nigerians; for the first time, it’s not a masses thing I’m doing. It’s for those between the age range of 18 and 40. The magazine represents all the values that the brand Charly Boy stands for —doggedness, consistency, humble beginning.
It doesn’t matter what background you are coming from, whether it’s the most wretched background, as long as you believe in your dreams and follow your dreams with doggedness and consistency and you remain focused, then whatever your dreams may be, you’re likely to succeed. So failure should never be an excuse.
The magazine seeks to find young, enterprising people who, from nowhere, through hardwork and initiative, are carving a niche for themselves.
We want something to inspire, we want something to motivate; and you know that the reading culture in Nigeria has dwindled so badly. So our style, our approach is a little laid-back; it doesn’t look too serious. It looks playful, which is my forte. I don’t take myself seriously even with deep and profound things. I like to do them from a very playful perspective; so that is what you have in the magazine.
The approach is very visual from one page to another; it has pictures and an outlay that will hold your attention and we don’t want to make it too wordy; very few words but very deep content because Nigerians don’t have that discipline. So this is what the magazine represents.
Those are the people we are targeting and, so far so good.
There is a column titled ‘Pissed’ and there is another ‘Street University’. What are they about?
Ok ‘Pissed’; the column is run by me. It’s about all the stuff that upset me about Nigeria and being Nigerian. They are the things that piss me off about living in this country, about being part of a system that is not working. I’ve given so much to the development of this country; I’ve done so much yet I don’t understand why I feel I am useless.
I have said so much but I don’t understand why nobody is listening to me. I have been behind so many campaigns, and I have fought so many wars yet I don’t understand why I feel I have done nothing. So I’m pissed. It’s my anger about being a Nigerian living in Nigeria that is on that page and, I think to a great extent, it expresses a lot of people’s anger because we are angry at the same things.
We are angry that you and me should be better off than what we are today if we have an enabling environment. But the point is that we don’t have an enabling environment, and why don’t we have an enabling environment? Is it your fault or my fault? No; it’s the leadership fault. But then again, does that exonerate us? We are all guilty of inaction and the little action that I have done, I don’t know whether it is worth anything and so it keeps me wanting to do more.
Some of the people you have addressed with the project are alsocurrently local government chairmen, members in Houses of Assembly, and even governors. And they have also failed.
So where does that leave this bracket of vibrant Nigerians for whom you collaborate?
You see that is what I’m saying. Sometimes I feel I haven’t done anything. I don’t know why I keep feeling there is nobody listening. I don’t know why each time I turn around, the few people that I think I can trust, who I think can hold the candle, and do the right thing, suddenly go bad just because they got into the system and they have been corrupted by the system, they have been polluted by the system.
And I’m thinking, Is it going to happen to all of us? I’m trying to hold my own but I do know that I have met a few exceptional Nigerians, who have held their own and have insisted that unless you come and kill them, they will not change from their position from what they know is right.
Now, I don’t know how this is going to happen but I know that one thing they are building is to keep reinforcing the call for followership because Charlie Boy has moved from just being a celebrity or a very popular person to some kind of iconic image. Now what to do with that is to keep building that followership not because I want to run for anything but because as an agent of change, I’m also involved in the politics of change. I know and I pray that at one point or the other, we will get our own Obama.
How, I don’t know but when he does come we will be ready and I have an army of youths to fall behind him. Or we will get our own Jerry Rawlings. How, I don’t know but I think a Jerry Rawlings will be better now because a lot of people need to be lined up and shot for the atrocities they have committed against the youth of my generation, the youth of this country. They have stolen their future; so imagine the kind of youth we will be breeding in the next 15 years. They will have been affected and polluted by the system. Our values have derailed; everybody now is in the mad quest for money. We are all acting like we are all bewitched.
Back to your magazine, was there a shock in transiting from music to magazine, and have you abandoned music as well?
I have never really been a musician!
What? So what have you been doing in music?
I have never really been a musician. I believe a musician is someone who plays, reads and interprets music. I cannot do any of that; so, I’m not qualified to be called a musician. I’m an entertainer! I just use different media, different fora to express myself. I’m a communicator, and a good one at that. So I use different media. I use the medium of music but that doesn’t qualify me to be a musician. I don’t believe I’m a singer. I can open my mouth and hold some notes. I can’t play any instrument so I can’t claim to be a musician because I’m not.
But then again, it’s all about communicating. And who is my audience; my audience is the youth and music is part of what we do to keep that brand on top because that was how the brand started and that was how people identified that brand as a musician. So that doesn’t qualify me as a musician; that is a great injustice. It’s more than that; it’s gone way beyond that.
You published your book biography a few years ago. How was it received?
I don’t do things to judge how people will receive it and I don’t do things because of patronage I’m going to receive for it. I do things because my spirit tells me that it is the appropriate time to do something. Just like some people asking me, how is your new album with Dr. Alban?
For some people, there is a cost factor for them. But I’m not a business person; maybe that’s probable why I can never be rich. And, I don’t want to be rich; I just want to comfortable enough in life to pay my bills, and finish training my children and that is it; and have a small cubicle to retire to.
I’m not driven by money. So when I say, which one is my own, it’s not because I’m stupid. It’s just that I’m not wired as a business person, and I don’t think business. I’m a creative soul and I want to remain like that but I thank God that He has managed to put in my path things to sustain the things I do.
Between magazine and Charly Boy brand
You tell me! Of course, it’s the most misunderstood brand but who gives a damn really about what people think. It’s about what you believe; and what I believe is pure and wholesome. What I believe is very positive.
So if the brand was set up to shock timid, myopic, backward Nigerian out of their ways, and those Nigerians are still myopic, timid and backward why should I reduce the value of the brand? Sometimes you see me running around with okada people, with area boys, how does he understand their language?
So the beauty of that brand is the fact that it can blend with anything, any situation and with anybody. And, there has never been a brand like that in the history of this country. We know people to stick to one thing and only one thing. But that brand can be used for different things; so I don’t blame people who misunderstand its intention.