Popular Yoruba movie actor and producer, Yomi Fabiyi, has in recent times been plagued with several controversies. From announcing his decision to divorce his British wife on social media to numerous feuds with colleagues and most recently, a sex-for-role scandal, the talented actor has not been spared by gossip blogs.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the actor explains how ‘irresponsible blogging’ is affecting the peace of the Yoruba movie industry
PT: You’re an actor with a lot of controversies. How do you cope?
Yomi: Well, controversies can be negative or positive. I’m an actor that likes to do what is right and stand by what is right. I’ll like to correct the impression that I like controversies. As a person that likes to speak the truth in a society where people are not used to doing what is right, of course, they’ll tag you as a controversial person. If I live in the western world, I’m one of the people that will be appreciated for standing by the truth and doing what is right. If you look critically, you’ll see that I’m not associated with crime or violence or dishonesty. I’m only going to be talked about when I’m demanding that the right thing should be done for peace and serenity to reign.
PT: You and your colleagues have been targets of faceless gossip blogs in recent times. Does this bother you at all?
Yomi: Anybody can choose to blog. Anybody can choose to work in the media. It is allowed. There’s that freedom to express yourself. But when anybody chooses to go into that business of writing about others, you should know that that is a responsibility to credibility and honesty. You will not come and start writing about another person’s image, behaviour, and life and keep your own life and those of your family sacred. If you want to write, you write because you swore to always report verified truth. Even if you run a gossip blog, you gossip about things that are true. Some people will not look at the positive parts of those arts, they focus on the evil part of it. They stay on the other side and call it blogging but they use it to hurt people, to damage people, to oppress and to create anarchy. If care is not taken, things will go the wrong way because social media will end up ruining the unity and peace in the society. That is why people like us will say that blogging does not mean you should start creating a problem all over the place. If you want to gossip that should be after you probably got an authentic story that you want to blog about. If you’re in the media business, people will definitely write about you but you cannot operate a media platform in secrecy. Immediately you start making use of a media platform and you’re not known to the government, one, they cannot hold you accountable. Two, you’ll use it as a tool of oppression and lastly, you won’t be called to reckoning whenever you make mistakes.
If you want to gossip and make money from it or choose it as your hobby, you should be ready to face the heat because if you lie about somebody and throw it into the public, it might not be traceable back. It is important that if you’re not going to be credible, don’t even go into it.
PT: Speaking about secrecy, many believe that the owner of Gistlovers blog is a member of the Yoruba film industry. Do you think that is true?
Yomi: it is becoming a dangerous situation now, whereby many people are being suspected to be behind it. The style of practice of that particular blogger is criminal. It is antisocial and a breach of fundamental human rights. This person is a quack blogger. The sad part of it is that this person is so criminal that there are people that have actually gone to face this person with the true facts and this person will still demand money before the story can be taken down. If the person was not hidden, the courts will be doing that for the victims. Now, a lot of people are grieving. A lot of people are in pain. A lot of my colleagues are unhappy. There’s no peace. People are beginning to suspect one another in the industry and before you know it, actors will start killing, poisoning and start hurting themselves diabolically. There are some stories going out there that you’ll think this person is a snitch, meanwhile, one of those you think are quiet is one of those syndicates that sell you out. It is a serious situation that the government and important people in society should take up because everybody is a potential victim of this criminal.
PT: Does this mean that the recent sex-for-role allegation levelled against you is fake?
Yomi: That is what I am saying. You cannot be calling everything allegation when the person talking is actually a complete liar apart from a syndicate. I cannot even call it allegation, it is all part of the criminality. People cannot come up with allegations without proof and you cannot ask me that because the person that chewed it out did not do any findings. They did not balance their story. Anybody can just decide that they want to tarnish someone’s image, using social media. The person should go and report at the police station and show him/herself. I will get the person into prison for false information. In a saner country, you don’t even raise a false alarm, it is a criminal offence. People will write nonsense about you, they’ll want you to die, they’ll want you to suffocate and have high blood pressure. It is not going to work again. This time, no turning back unless they kill me. I’ll make sure I get to the bottom of this and the person will pay with everything they have. I can bet that with my life. It is better they kill me before then.
PT: You’ve been at the forefront of a lot of humanitarian gestures in your industry yet you seem to always have issues with your colleagues?
Yomi: A lot of people tend to think that because we shoot films together in the industry that there’s that bond. The truth of the matter is that somebody like me will want to do everything within my capacity to see that we are united. The only thing that we can share within ourselves, under a normal working relationship, is our welfare. There is no way I’m going to say I’m going to a bank to get a loan for another producer to shoot movies. The only thing that we can share among ourselves that will show that we can cohabitate and there is love among us is to look into our welfare and protect ourselves, when we are alive and when we are dead. This is a duty we owe to ourselves. I know where I am good at. I might not be able to lead like a president, but I know when it comes to PR or welfare, I can easily deliver. I’ve been doing this in the industry before social media came and nobody has ever complained.
PT: This clearly didn’t start today …
Yomi: A lot of people thought it started with Moji Olaiya. When the late Remi Abiola died in America, the son had no dime to bring his mother back home. When they were raising the committee, I was part of the presidential committee under Jide Kosoko in 2006. That was when they started giving me responsibilities. That was when I was shown how to care for people in the industry. How Remi Abiola came to Nigeria, how we received the corpse at the airport, nobody knew. I was very young but I had the responsibility. Several others like that. Bisi Ogunde died on a movie set, a work of a pioneer president of this industry. How did we receive the corpse from Gbagada General Hospital? How did we manage those situations? None of these people writing rubbish on social media knew anything. If we are showing all of these things on social media and some devilish, demonic people, because they are so competitive, they feel if you’re doing these things, people will like you and they see that as a completion. Everybody wants to be loved than others. I am not doing all these to be loved, I am just playing roles that I should in the industry; to love and to stand by my colleagues. Most of them have done many things for me too. If this is what I choose to do in an industry with so many departments, why are some people angry about it if they are not ready to do it?
PT: Can you give us other instances where you went the extra mile for your colleagues?
Yomi: When one of the dialogue guys, Itakure, died, we assembled and buried him. We realised there was no money for the wife and children. We decided to shoot a movie for him. I drove myself to Oyo State and spent days on the set without collecting a dime. When we sold the movie, we ensured the money was given to the family. Some of these demonic people will even die in an aircraft and they won’t see their bodies to bury them because they will always want to type against anything sacred because it is social media, forgetting that there is life behind every account used. Even if we don’t see their punishments, it will get to them. It will get to their children.
PT: Does this show that there is no love in your industry and that your colleagues go diabolical?
Yomi: We are Africans. If any actor tells you that there is no love in the Yoruba movie industry and that some of their peers can sometimes go diabolical, they know what they have been through. Everything is not for attention, they are only using their platforms to express themselves. I’m not against anybody using their platforms to express themselves if they are truthful about whatever they are going to say.
What I won’t support is anybody using fake accounts to do evil. You want to be loved, you want people to think you are loved yet you hide behind fake accounts and be talking from January to December on different blogs.
When someone is honest on his or her page, you tag the person a talkative, whereas the real talkative are the ones behind those fake accounts you see. They are the ones that see everything everywhere. They are the ones causing problems. They will say things that you’ll know that this account talking is this person but how do you prove it to the world of social media? It becomes a serious menace.
PT: You used to be very close with Toyin Abraham do you think your friendship can ever be rekindled?
Yomi: The only thing I can say is that Iyabo Ojo contacted me and connected us. I expressed myself, she apologised and I did the same because I believe you must be humble even in forgiveness. That being said, we are not enemies. When somebody apologises to me, I will not attack again. But for every reason that I reacted, they were too much for me and she was the last person I would have expected that from. I wouldn’t want to go into the details of what happened. People have mediated and everything is sorted. Whether we are going to be close like before a topic for another day.