Fathia Balogun is an icon in the Yoruba movie industry and a well-recognized veteran in the whole Nollywood. In a chat with Sunday Sun, the soft-spoken actress spoke at length about her career and the special bond she shares with her mum. She also touched on other issues. Enjoy….
What are you doing lately now?
Nothing much, but I have a short movie I just finished. It’s about the girl-child; it is also about the mother and child connection. At present, I am working on the private screening and planning my ever first English movie.
What should we be expecting from the movie?
Well, you know the cinema movie now is very competitive and you can’t just take anything to the cinema. So, I want something that would teach both young and old; I want to create a sort of satisfaction for my viewers. I really don’t want something that is just okay, I want something much deeper.
What are the things your mummy likes?
My mum is a reserved mother. She’s not a food person; I think I took that from her because I’m not a food person too. She is just like an English woman who likes tea. She can take tea even when it is sunny and she loves to pray. I would say she’s God’s best friend because 24/7, she’s praying.
Does it mean she doesn’t have a favourite food?
Yes, she doesn’t have a favourite food, and I don’t have a favourite food either. But you will always find her with a cup of tea in the sitting room, it is either she is drinking it or refilling it.
So what kind of tea does she drink?
She takes just Lipton. She’s not a fat person and she’s not slim too. It is not that she diets like I do but she just loves her tea. I grew up seeing her take a cup of tea every now and then.
What is the meal that she makes, which you like?
I would say ewa (beans). When I was growing up there was this ewa that she used to make. It is called ewa elemimeje. Back then, she would cook it for my dad, you would see fish, crab, periwinkle and many other things in this beans. After cooking, she would fry it, then she will add onions, palm oil and then she puts it down to cool a bit. Afterwards, she would put small vegetable oil in the frying pan, and then she would put everything, all the beans, in the frying pan; so you can imagine how nice it would be. She also cooks banga, my native soup, very well. Ha! Her banga soup is superb!
What does she do?
Right now she is not doing anything but before now she used to have a very big store when we were growing up. My mum is not really educated but she was a businesswoman. My mum is Igbo and my dad is from Delta. She sold Georgette wrappers but after a while, I told her to stop because she is already getting old and so I pay her salary. All she does now is to sit at home and help take care of my kids. She is my saving grace because if I didn’t have a mum I doubt if I would still be acting.
What are her hobbies?
She likes to sleep. My mum, she taught me about a stress-free lifestyle. I have learned through her not to worry over some unnecessary things. So, last year when she had high blood pressure I became worried and asked her if she was thinking about anything because it was unlike her. She assured me she wasn’t. My mum is a very strong woman and she has taught me to be strong too. My mum believes that if you are going to hell, you just move on and talk to God about it and he will sort it out. She doesn’t have anything negative that she thinks about, the positive things she thinks about now are her children.
What are the things that make her happy?
She loves Sunday mornings. My mum loves going to the church and I think those are her happiest moments. We are Catholics and she goes for second mass, whenever she goes you will see her singing when coming back in the car. She holds onto her rosary happily. I think Sunday is one of her favourite days. My mum is a very happy mother; even if I come again I still want her to be my mum. I have never seen my mum get upset, even with my dad. With us, she only warns us and I took that from her. She would always call you and talk to you. When talking, she can start crying and I do that too. I don’t remember my mum hitting me when I was young.
Who were you closer to, your mum or your dad?
My mum, but my dad was very strict and I think he was like that because he was an ex-soldier. My dad and I were not close and we look too much alike and you know, they say; when you look too much alike, you would never be close. Although, we had a daughter-father relationship we were never close.
When you were growing up, as a teenager, what did your mum tell you about boys?
(Laughs) She told me that if a boy touches me that I would get pregnant. “If they touch you like this you go get belle oo, if man dey come just pass this place.” You know, all those kind of things. When I started to menstruate, she taught me how to go about it and many other things.
When you were growing up can you remember any major trouble you got into with her or the prank you played?
No, I didn’t get into trouble with mum. I got into trouble with my dad, you know we used to have diaries when we were growing up. In secondary school, form one, I had this diary that I wrote things in, so I wrote about my first kiss and my dad saw it. Oh! Wahala came to dine with me that day, even my mum was in trouble because he said she wasn’t talking to me. I almost died. I will always remember that day. Do you know what he did? He gave it to me to start reading. Often times after I must have finished cleaning his room, I would just pick up my homework and start doing it. Unfortunately for me, I forgot it on his table. For me, I can never forget that day. The only trouble I got into with my mum was just when I didn’t do the dishes or cleaned where I should. My mum is very lenient, all she would say to me was, “If your papa come, if you no clean this place, hian,” I love her very much. The other times I got into trouble with her was when I went to a party and didn’t come home in time. She would scold me. At a point I was scared for myself because people would come to me and ask if I was a half-caste, I was scared because I had so many people around me. But for my mum’s constant advice that kept guiding me, I was able to turn out well. If I still have the chance again, I would want her to come again as my mum.
What was the greatest sacrifice she ever made for you as you were growing up?
At a point it was just me and her and my siblings; she had to sell everything she had to send three of us to school. At that point she had nothing. I remembered then that I had to go stay with some of my cousins to go to school and everything. My mum gave up everything for us and she stood by us, I really don’t want to delve into a lot of things but she has been a fantastic mum. She did odd jobs because if she didn’t, probably I wouldn’t have gone to school and I would be regretting now. Although I wished I had done more, I am thankful that I did the little I did and if not for my education, I would have been out of the movie industry too, because these days without education you are nowhere.
Is she very fashionable?
No, she is “Iya Jesu”, she’s not. Even at my sister’s and my brother’s weddings, my mum told the makeup artist not to worry about her. She was shouting ‘I don’t want eyelash’, I no want to make up oo. We had to beg and beg her to rub just white powder. After we decided not to put eyelashes on her and she was beautiful. That was the first time in her life that she rubbed makeup, she had never done so previously. But once in a while, she does. Maybe when she is going for her monthly meeting, she would just rub powder and apply little lip gloss. Her earrings are stud earrings, and she wears a small necklace. She’s not a fashionable person.