Saturday, 12 September 2015

I Have No Regrets for Having a Relationship with Shina Peters

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Clarion Chukwura
Her gait is graceful; her poise, perfect. There she stands in the middle of the stage, with Wole Soyinka in his directorial wizardry calling the shots from behind the scene. Dateline is the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. Her skin glows, the stage sparkles and her performance sends the audience into rapture. She walks the stage as if she was born there and has always lived there. Young, athletic and with springs in her steps, she leaves an enchanted couple – Soyinka’s friends, Ola Balogun and Wife – wanting more. From that stellar stage performance –presented in the present but which took place in the past – she began her sojourn in the movie industry in the 70s. Born Clara Nneka Oluwatoyin Folashade Chukwura, the movie superstar has grown over the years to become Nollywood’s effervescent actress. Bold, beautiful, brilliant and one of the most bankable movie stars in Nigeria, Clarion Chukwura commands all the senses of her audience both on stage and on the silver screen.
Her artistry is filled with adrenalin, ingenuity and purposefulness. Besides, her artistic talent is imbued in her son, Clarence Peters –one of Nigeria’s best music video producers. In this interview with Oge Ezeliora, Clarion Chukwura describes her love for her son, her continued friendship with Sir Shina Peters, how she has been struggling with the idea of marriage and her soulful search for the right man. The alluring actress also goes down memory lane into her young world of excitements when others were confronted by frights
• My Marriage Failures Cannot Be Blamed on Stardom
• Wole Soyinka’s Play Brought Me into the Limelight
• Nobody Can Stop Clarence Peters, My Son
• Marriage is Not Repulsive –When I Find the Right Person I Will Think About Its Good Sides
• God Gave Me a Son Just to Console Me and Wipe Away My Tears...
Your son – Clarence Peters – is one of the best and most expensive video producers in Nigeria. Tell us, how did you raise such a multi-talented son amidst controversies?
In anything you do give thanks to God; for he is good and his mercies endure for ever. God raised him up, not me. Clarence is a child of destiny; so nobody can stop him. He is a special gift.  If it wasn’t like that then the purpose of God for his life wouldn’t have been actualised. His life would have been cut short somewhere along the line during the days of my struggle but God delivered me. My son is a blessing to me and everybody can testify to that. In fact, he is a blessing to the world. I don’t want to go into details because it is a long story.
I believe God just wants to console me with him, wipe away my tears and prove to the whole world that he is alive. God actually used my mother and other elders around me to save me, change my story and today we are being celebrated everywhere. I single-handedly raised my son from the scratch and I gave him the best training any responsible mother will give to her child. Clarence has always been a child of luck. In fact, most of the people he is working with today he grew up knowing them from the scratch. So, I am not surprised at his exploitation and success. Like I will always say, I have no regret for coming across his father, Shina Peters, in life. He is my friend and the father of my son. So, we are friends and as for my son’s upbringing God did it in his own time.

Are you saying he is not close to his father and his family?
That is not true. My son is very close to his father; they are always together. He is not in any way fighting his dad or any member of his father’s family. He relates with them like a brother and that is the best he can do for now. Anyone who says he is not close to them is a very big liar. Take that from me. I am his mother and we relate very well. There is no three days that Clarence and his father don’t talk on phone. They are always in talking terms. Remember, time heals wounds and everybody has moved on from the past.  So, I always advise him to forgive anyone that offends him. If you are a progressive person you will not dwell on the past. He is not dwelling in the past and that is why things are working out for him greatly. Today, he is successful and everybody is testifying to that. I believe God is in control. And I praise him for that.

How come he is so talented?
What do you expect from a child of a musician and an actress? A goat cannot give birth to a cat. It is not possible. Everything in me, as an actress, diverted into him and the best of his father also went into him. He believes he took these talents from the better of two worlds, me and his father, and that is why he is so successful. He is not made to be what he is. He is born to do it. It is just like the saying of the famous foreign star, Craig David, ‘I am born to do it.’ My son was born to make it. I am not surprised about him because at age five, he has started playing with different musicians that used to perform at my restaurants at Adeniyi Jones – Ikeja, Lagos. 
By the time he was seven years, he had started acting and was assigned a role to act in Dudu’s movie, before acting in ‘Family Circles’, and another Yoruba play called ‘Amin Olorun’, a Sola Shobowale’s film. So, most of the artistes of my generation that Clarence calls ‘Uncles’ and ‘Aunties’, he didn’t just start calling then that and running to them. He has known them way back and that is why it was easy for him to penetrate into the industry. What he is doing now in the entertainment industry is not about me pushing him into it or playing a role in it, he worked for it. He grew up learning it in the industry. Today he has worked with over 100 artistes and more are still chasing him.  That is how the favour of God works.

How did you venture into Nollywood?
I started with both the stage and television in Ibadan, Oyo State. I actually kicked off with all the three tiers that are relevant today which includes: the Yoruba and English theatre and then, the television. My first time on stage was fun. I didn’t experience any stage fright. What I had in mind was excitement. And I didn’t see the audience. I started at the stage of Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan.  In 1979, I cannot remember the name of the play now but I played the role they gave me properly. The same year, I was shuttling between the stage and the television. I would leave Bode Sowande’s play to join Victor Ashaolu’s theatre and then Jumoke Payne’s rehearsals at NTV Ibadan. With all, I was getting my training and experience on the three platforms at the same time. And within two years of my acting career, I made much rapid progress.

So what movie or play brought you to limelight?
I will say the play, ‘Camwood on the Leaves’. It was directed by Professor Wole Soyinka in the 70s. I acted the role properly before I was invited by another of his friends, Ola Balogun and his wife who watched me perform  in in that play, to feature me in their upcoming film called ‘Money Power’; that was how I got a major role in the film. From that, so many producers started getting my contacts till date.

You are one of the people who came to Nollywood in the 80s. Can you share some of your experiences in the industry and what is the way forward?
It’s a slow and steady process and we are getting there. I see a recession right now and there is a change that is coming to Nollywood. It’s obvious. We had a great attention from our past president, Goodluck Jonathan. I pray our present President (Muhammadu Buhari) also supports us.  We are improving greatly. The change will come, (but) not everybody might be part of it but a new industry is building and it has to be one that would only carry along people who are passionate about the craft and not people who are there for the fame and the money but basically true talents.

What is it with marriage that you find repulsive?
No, I don’t find marriage repulsive; but, every day I learn from people who live with their husbands about what not to do when it comes to marriage. I think I’ve just learnt the bad things about marriage before the good ones. There is constant discouragement but I just know for a fact that when I find the right person I will definitely not think about it.  Marriage should be about finding the right person, finding your soul mate, not necessarily in receiving love.

You have experienced many failed marriages, what is your view about marriage, will you still settle down with a man someday?
Marriage is a very good thing I am telling you. For the fact that I am not living with a man today, does not mean I will not advise anybody not to get married. If you have tasted good marriage you will encourage people to go into it. But one thing I always know is that it’s only in Nigeria that when you get married and it doesn’t work it is held against you that something is wrong. And people lay all sorts of blames on the woman. Nobody cares whether what the man is doing is something wrong or good – even when they know that the man has got a very big problem. People still castigate the woman most especially if she is an actress or famous.  The clash of my marriages cannot be blamed on stardom.  I only wanted peace and that is why I am on my own. But I always advise people to get married.  If it doesn’t work for them let them remain single.

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