One of the living TV living legends, Dan Imoudu otherwise known as Prince Dagbolu, due to his role in the defunct TV series, Village Headmaster, spoke to TOP NEWS MAGAZINE.
A successful businessman, actor and family man, he shares his growing up challenges, the support of his loving wife of 35years marriage, and the reason why he does not feature in every movie…
Can you give us a full details of your background?
My name is Daniel Imoudu, I am from Atogue, Etsako Local Government in Edo State. My father was the same area with my mum; both are now of blessed memory. My father was then in the Customs and Excise. And because of this, he was always being transferred from one state to another, so I attended so many schools because we were always following him around. Finally at a point, we had to stay in Lagos. In fact we went as far as Cameroon in those days because it still part of Nigeria then.
For my primary, I attended St Theresa Catholic School, Apapa. Then, I went to Comprehensive High school, Ayetoro; I was there for 7 years (1965) because I had my A-levels there. After that, I waited for 6 years. My HSC was 1971. I had to wait for those years because my father died and was not rich. He died in 1975, and he left six of us behind, so I had to work for many years as a teacher in Lagos. I thought at National High School, Ebute Meta and Lagos State College of Science and Commerce.
In those days, there were two string schools, I will teach at National High School from 8a.m to 1pm, then proceed to College of Science and Commerce to teach from 1:30pm to 6pm. By 7pm I will be at the NTA for the TV drama Play of the Week then. I had to engage in teaching job for 6 years before I could go to the university.
As at the time I went to the university, most of my mates had graduated and were already working. In fact, some read medicine and had even turned medical doctors.
While at NTA then, I had been involved in TV dramas like For Better for Worse, Play of the Week and later, Village Headmaster. Though, I did not want to stay in Lagos because I wanted to learn the Hausa Language, and also, I knew it would be difficult to combine my studies with acting.
I had admission to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. JAMB had not been introduced then. At that same year, I had admission to three different universities; Zaria, Sokoto and also, Maiduguri. I chose Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria but in the first year, some of us were transferred to Bayero University in Kano(it was initially a College under ABU), so we were the first set of students when it became a full fledge university. So, I studied Education, Political Science & History.
So it was only teaching and acting that provided the source of funds for your university education?
Let me add that at a point, you can no longer teach in two schools together, so I secured a job at Metabox Toyo Glass where I was taught to print on bottles. After about one year there, I joined the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). After this, I went to the university. I completed my university education and served in Kabba. In those days, interviews were being conducted by states. The Ogun State Public Service Commission came for the interview which I attended. My former principal, Chief Felix Shofenwa was the head of Home Service, he was part of the interviewers and he insisted that I should report at the Ogun State Television station in Abeokuta. As at then, OGTV had not started broadcasting so he got me a job at BBHS as a teacher pending the start of broadcast by OGTV. This was the period I lost my only daughter, which was in the 80s. After the loss of my daughter, I left Abeokuta and came back to Lagos because my wife was in Lagos. I usually come to Lagos on weekends and return to Abeokuta on Monday morning. I started another teaching job in Lagos. My Uncle, Chief Jokey Idornigie, owner of Jokey Nigeria Limited; a clearing and forwarding company, invited me to come and work with him which I agreed. He was very supportive to me while I was in the University. During holidays, I worked with him and I get paid. I use my earnings to continue my university education then. My wife was also working then; she was into catering and was also financially supportive. She buys me provisions to take along to school then. When I was in Kano, I used to keep the bread she buys for me by the window side so that it gets hardened by morning. I will then dip it in tea and swallow without chewing so as not to quickly digest it. It went on this way until I was through with my university education. I worked with my uncle for about 9years.
What was your religion?
I’m a Christian but I wasn’t a church going Christian back then. I believed in God but I don’t believe in going to church then. My wife is from a strong Christian background while I wasn’t. We had an elderly neighbour back then in Ajegunle where we reside. The woman invited my wife to Cherubim and Seraphim church (Eternal Zion) Ajegunle. I was invited to their church choir anniversary and I really enjoyed the event. Afterwards, I became a member. I lost my child during this period but that didn’t stop me from worshiping God. In fairness, it was revealed to us that we would lose something but we never knew we were going to lose a child. During one of the vigils, God revealed to me through on of the spiritualists that He was going to set up a company for me. Then, I had no money to establish a company but there was one Lawyer Abalu who was one of our company’s legal advisers. I went to seek his advice and it was in his office we coined the name “Goldspeed Freighting Agencies” and he registered it for me for free. After about 9 and half years, things didn’t go well between me and my MD so we had to part ways. I left having nowhere to go but to hinge my hope on God’s promise. One of my friends and classmate back then in Kano whose name was Rasheed was a Customs officer. I spoke to him that I’m now on my own and sought his assistance. He was occupying a whole building; he stays upstairs while his staffers were downstairs. Rasheed evacuated his entire staff from downstairs and allowed me use the downstairs as my office where I paid for nothing including rent. That was in 1991.
Would you say you’ve been very fortunate with friends?
Friends are categorised. There are some friends that are not there for you at all but I would say I was fortunate with some of them.
At what point in time did you decide to go into acting and what led to it?
When I was in form one in Ayetoro, I was into school acting. The turning point in my acting came when Dr. Bullock was transferred from Government College Ibadan to Ayetoro. He raised my acting career. By the time I finished my Secondary education, I joined Gojo Theatre group owned by Mrs. Soretire. Jimi Odumosu was also a member of that theatre group too. I was noticed by Chief Taye Ayorinde who was in Ibadan during a stage play. He invited me to NTA and that was how it started.
Looking at your background in acting, a lot of people would have expected that during the advent of home videos, you’d be a major player in it. Were there reasons why you decided not to tow the home video line?
Initially, I was involved in home video. Right from inception I believed so much in trust. I don’t usually name a price, I ask how much you’re willing to pay and I don’t argue, I expect you to live up to your words and our agreement. The case wasn’t like that and that’s why I left the home video industry. My ideas of people I can act for are so limited, people like Tunji Bamishigbin who is more than a family friend to me but more like a family member and he is also my company’s lawyer, we confide in each other. People like Wale Adenuga also are the few I can work with. Some other people, I can not work with because from inception they want to cheat me and there’s no reason for that.
I noticed that in the cause of your words you never said much about your mum. After the death of your dad what role did she play?
My mum was just a full time house wife. Those days in the Customs, your wife is not allowed to be involved in any business. My mum was a full time house wife.
Apart from giving you provisions during your University days, what are the other critical roles your wife played?
I can write a volume on that. Her coming into my life was a plus. Our courtship lasted for six years during which I had some other girlfriends but she was the only one that accepted my faults. She was there for me during my university days like I told you earlier while other ones were not there for me. When it was time for us to get married, a lot of people advised her against marrying me even from her family. Their excuses ranged from the fact that artistes are not reliable, I can’t be a good husband and so on, but she took the risk and I also took the risk. We started from nowhere, while we were still dating as a bachelor. I lived in one room apartment in Ajegunle, it was my father’s apartment actually. I had a two seater, a fan and a mattress; those were the necessities of a bachelor, I had no TV while we were dating. When we got married, my life changed for better, it was a million percent turn around. Changes came into my life. She came with a special spiritual gift which changed my life a thousand times. Initially, things were tough because my other four brothers and my mum were also living in that same house with us. My wife was from a richer family; my mother said I and my wife should cook separately but my wife refused, she insisted we all eat from the same pot. It was quite tough for her staying with both her brothers and mother in-law but she weathered the storm. She was a major catalyst and she is still, we are grateful to God now.
Any nostalgic feelings of the village headmaster era?
Talking about Village Headmaster TV series era, I missed those years. When it was rumoured that it was coming back, I was very excited but unfortunately, it has not seen the light of the day.
It is unfortunate that we can only lay hands on few of those clips but the memory still lingers.