PAPA AJASCO’s Pa James tells how he met and fell in love with his wife

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Veteran comic actor, Kayode Olasehinde, popularly referred to as Pa James, has disclosed how he met and fell in love with his wife.
See excerpts from his interview
with journalist Ademola below:
Most people do not know your name;
they refer to you as Pa James. How did
you get the stage name?
I got the name from a Wale Adenuga
Production and ever since, the name has
stuck. It has been about 18 years now.
Everybody saw the production, even
outside the shores of Nigeria, and since
then, I have been referred to as Pa
James.
Why did you decide to be a comic actor?
I can play any role given to me, but
comedy is what I have been doing all
these years. When I began as an actor,
my bosses used to advise me to stick to
the comedy line of the business and that
is why no matter the role I act, there
must be a comic relief in it. Sometimes,
even if I act normally and I am serious,
people would think I am joking.
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Has that affected how you are perceived
in real life?
Oftentimes, people do not take me
seriously even when I am not cracking
jokes. For example, on occasions when I
board public transport and the
conductor owes me my balance, when I
ask for my money, people would begin to
laugh. In reality, I am pained and I
want my money, but the bus conductor
and the passengers would think I am
joking. There was a day that we were
shooting at a location and one of the
cast members fainted. Immediately it
happened, I rushed out and began to
shout for help, but when people saw me,
they began to laugh. I overheard
someone saying that they should not pay
me any attention as I was only acting.
The more I shouted, the more they
laughed. It was not until people saw
others shouting that they began to pay
attention to the man that fainted.
Later, they said that they were laughing
because they thought that I was joking
as usual.
Were you mischievous as a kid?
I was very scared of fighting when I was
growing up. On occasions, I would look for
ways to beg someone who wanted to fight
with me because I hated fighting. I was
also very scared of the police. Anytime I
saw a policeman in uniform, I was always
apprehensive. I always ran away from
violence or any form of trouble. I was
better known as the kid that made
people laugh when I was a young boy.
Sometimes I could wear my father’s
clothes or any over-sized clothe just to
make people laugh.
We learnt you were once a house help?
Yes, I was. My journey to stardom was
very rough. Before I became an actor, I
was a house boy for several years. I went
through a lot during that time. There
was a time I was employed to look after
a sick child at a native doctor’s house.
The child was already a vegetable on the
bed and was like a skeleton and his
parents never stayed there with him. I
was the one that always looked after the
child. I would feed him and bathe him.
One fateful day, I was given my food,
ikokore, but the native doctor said that
before I ate, I had to empty the pit
latrine. Unfortunately, the bucket used
for the latrine had no handle and it had
holes in it. I was very sad. I went to look
at the child I was looking after to ensure
that he had eaten. After I had
confirmed that, I went back to where I
kept my food and stared at it for a
while. I dipped my hands into my pocket
and realised that I had six pence. I
decided to quit the job immediately. I
used the money to go back home and told
my father that I was done with the job.
From there, I became a sales boy at a
shop, but I left the place too. I was home
for a while when my father asked me
what I was interested in. I told him that
I would love to be a painter and he was
glad. I got a job on Lagos Island. Every
morning, I would prepare eba and soup
and I would put it in a nylon bag, then I
would begin to trek to work. After two
weeks, I fell ill; my father said it was
because of the distance I trekked, so he
told me to quit the job. Instead of
staying at home idle, I joined a
company that used to sell building
equipment and I was doing menial jobs
for them. Whenever their goods arrived,
I joined other boys to offload the
container. A man who came to buy some
goods helped me with another job. He
gave me a note to UTC Hardware where I
was employed. I was a labelling clerk and
that was how I got an office job.
So how did you become an actor?
I got home from work one day and saw
my friends going out. I asked where they
were headed and they said that they
were going for rehearsals. Since I was
bored at home, I decided to accompany
them. When I got there, they were
rehearsing for a forthcoming show. One
of the cast did not get his part right and
this angered the director to the extent
that he considered stopping the show. I
don’t know where I got the boldness
from, but I voiced out that I could play
the part. I was given a chance and my
performance was outstanding. I got a
standing ovation and people even
laughed their hearts out. That is how the
director accepted me. Ironically, my
friends that took me to the rehearsal
are no longer actors today. When one of
them saw me in Oshodi sometime ago,
where he is now a bus driver; he was
telling people that he was the one that
introduced me to acting, but nobody
believed him. To prove his point, he
asked someone to call me and when I
went to meet him, I hugged him. He then
began to tell people again that he
introduced me to acting and I
confirmed his story.
Your education stopped at the primary
school level, but your spoken English is
fairly okay, how come?
It surprises me too. I love English
language and I endeavour to learn it
anytime I have the chance. Whenever I
interact with people, I try my best to
learn one or two things from them. I
could not further my education after
primary school because my parents could
not afford it. My father wanted me to
go to school and he was always sad when
he saw other kids go to school, while his
children stayed at home for lack of
funds. I passed the common entrance
examination to attend Oko-Ode
Grammar School in Kwara State. I tried
my best to get money for education but
it was not possible. I can read. I speak
English occasionally and I do not care if
I make mistakes because people would
correct me and I would learn through
that. Back then when I was working at
UTC Hardware, I once made a very
funny grammatical error, thinking I was
right. I told my boss that I was ‘an
incorrected man’ instead of ‘a correct
man.’ When I said it, everybody laughed
but they eventually corrected me. People
may laugh at you but they would correct
you.
Do you regret not completing your
education?
No, I have no regrets. I believe that
everything happens for a reason. I tried
my best but it did not work out. What I
did instead was to ensure that my
children never went through what I
passed through. Maybe if I had
completed my education, it is very
possible that I would not become an actor
and venture into another business. It
pays to study but I thank God for where
I am today.
When you were a house help, did it ever
occur to you that you would be a
household name?
It never occurred to me. All I was
praying to God for was to have some
money to open a small shop and become
a trader.
How would you describe your experience
when you were duped as a producer?
That was in 2001. At that time, we felt
that it was quite prestigious to produce a
movie. I got some money from my
friends and I produced the movie. It was
a commercial success, but the marketer
messed me up. When the movie was in
demand, the marketer promised me
heaven on earth. He said he would buy
me a car, among other things. When it
was time for him to give me my money,
he began to tell me different stories.
Don’t you feel threatened by the likes of
Mr. Latin, Baba Suwe, Sanyeri, Adekola
Odunlade, among many other comic
actors?
We are all friends and we relate like a
family. Whenever we are together, we all
laugh. Whenever I see the likes of
Sanyeri, Odunlade, they hail me and
greet me with respect. We all joke a lot. I
don’t see them as a competition; in
fact, they create more jobs for me.
There are times when I feel I have been
at home for too long and I need an
acting gig, all I do is call Mr. Latin and
he would invite me to Abeokuta. We all
relate like one big family and there is no
rivalry among us.
Whenever you wooed a girl as a
youngster, did she ever take you
seriously?
I hardly did that. It took a long while
before I began to woo ladies. I learnt a
lot from my father, who married only
one wife. He always told us to be patient
and wait for the right time before
embarking on anything in life. Whenever
I wanted to woo a woman, I always
wondered what I would do if she got
pregnant and the thought always
dissuaded me from acting on my urges. I
had female friends but nothing amorous.
On few occasions when ladies would tell
me they wanted to come to my house, I
always discouraged them from coming
because I did not want any trouble. I did
not want a scenario where someone
would get pregnant for me when I was
not ready. For a long while, my
neighbours thought I was impotent
because they never saw any girl pay me a
visit at home as a bachelor.
We learnt you met your wife on a movie
set.
Yes, it is very true. She came to see her
sister who was an actress. Her sister was a
very morally upright lady. Her sister
knew that I was a serious person, but was
unsure if I was married. When I
approached her, she was reluctant. It
took a long while before she granted me
audience, but she insisted that I must
be the one to come to her house because
it was against her principle to visit men
in their homes. I went to her house one
day and I was amazed because they were
God-fearing people. I decided I would
marry her because her family was not
the type to toy with. Eventually when we
began dating, she came to visit me to
ensure that I was not married because
people were telling her to be careful as I
could be a married man. When she came
to my house, she inspected it to be
certain that I was not married before
her mind was put to rest. She asked me
and I told her that I was never married.

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