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Gbenga Adeyinka: I couldn’t pay rent in my early days of marriage
Olugbenga Isaac Adeyinka is widely known as Gbenga Adeyinka 1st on the Nigerian entertainment scene and beyond. At over 50 years of age, Adeyinka has made his mark on the Nigerian entertainment scene from the film to music and comedy. Over a decade back, Adeyinka made a bold step to grow the comedy industry in SouthWest Nigeria and he says he has no regret for his actions. In this interview with ASSISTANT ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, GBENGA BADA, Adeyinka revealed how he couldn’t pay his rent after leaving a white-collar job to do comedy, his respect, and love for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his new bakery.
You have been in the industry for over two decades, what do you see differently now?
We’ve grown in leaps and bounds. It’s so heartwarming to see fresh talents get into the industry daily. Social media has also helped in no small way to broaden the impact of these budding talents daily. What I see differently is the route to fame and fortune. I believe it’s easier for talent to be spotted now than it was in my time. We, however, need to be more professional in our businesses.
Gbenga Adeyinka 1st is a father, husband, entrepreneur, and entertainer, how do you juggle all these at over 50 years of age?
For me, age is a thing of the mind. My philosophy of life is “hard work does not kill anybody”. It’s also easy for me because I have a solid support system at home as well as a team of dedicated team members who are willing to go the extra mile for me. I am a workhorse that finds it hard to remain stationary. I must keep moving.
You are married to a wonderful lawyer and you have been together for over 20 years, what has been the most challenging period of your union?
I say this to everyone, God gave me a gem of a wife. If there are any challenges, I’m sure it’s me. (Laughing) We’ve had our fair share of up and down but I must say transitioning from my 9 to 5 job to comedy a year or so after we got married threw a lot of spanner in the works for us. It was a very trying period. At a point, I could not afford to pay rent and my wife and kids had to relocate to my in-laws whilst I put up with a friend. In all things, though we give thanks to God.
This brings me to your recent venture, D1st Bread. What brought about the idea?
I am a huge fan of multiple streams of income, I’ve published a magazine, I do TV and radio, I have promoted concerts, events, and much more so starting the bread business was me activating my entrepreneurial skill and diversifying. On the back of this is the fact that I will be creating employment and creating economic value. I am also a firm believer that there is always space for entrepreneurship in food, schools, and the service industry.
Not many know that you are a foodie. Did this in any way contribute to the creation of D1st bakery?
Yes o! I am a confirmed foodie. I’ve always loved to cook and also experiment with food from all over the world. I’m sure this is another reason that birthed this idea.
So, how has the reception been for you since you kicked off the business?
The reception has been amazing from family, friends, and well-wishers. We’ve weathered some teething problems and still continue to weather some but we are focused on our vision and as such we are unrelenting in our pursuit of excellence.
Won’t the day to day running of your bakery keep you away from entertainment?
Not at all, I have a team of capable hands who have bought into the vision and I am not too far away. Technology has made remote supervision possible too.
You are regarded as one of the leading masters of ceremonies amongst your peers, what do you do differently from others?
First, it’s grace and I am a die-hard fan of paying attention to details. I do a lot of research on people, events and always do my best to go above and beyond the call of duty.
It is believed that you are one of the anointed sons of APC leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, tell us about your relationship with him?
I love Jagaban with passion. I started working for him and his family during his days as governor of Lagos state. I appreciate his sagacity, passion, and loyalty to his people. He is also very generous. He also has a passion for entertainment and entertainers that is probably unrivaled amongst his peers and contemporaries.
Would it be right to say you are also looking at taking up an elective office in the nearest future?
If God says yes, even I can’t say no. We are all political animals who must be interested in how we are governed and I am not an exception but I always wait for God’s leading in all I do.
Your entertainment event, Laffmatazz with Gbenga Adeyinka 1st, has made an indelible mark on SouthWest Nigeria, is that a deliberate move?
Yes. A little over 10 years ago, I felt a burning desire to build the comedy sector in the southwest because it became glaringly obvious that it was becoming increasingly difficult for young talents to break into the mainstream. I also saw a void that needed to be filled. All the big comedy concerts were being held in Lagos, Abuja, and PH. I felt a burning desire to raise new comedy generals that will be proud to do jokes around their immediate environment and experiences. This is what gave birth to the Laffmattazz tour and I dare say we have succeeded in achieving the aim.
Wouldn’t that see people and fans view you as a Yoruba comedian?
Those who know me know that I am more comfortable in English. Building the platform had nothing to do with tribes. We have non-Yorubas in the southwest too. Furthermore, I am first and foremost a Yoruba man before being a Nigerian and I felt it’s important to rebuild what I considered to be a platform for people to get national prominence. If people see me as a Yoruba MC or comedian then it’s a sacrifice worth taking.
It is believed that you have the ears of Globacom boss, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr, why do you think he’s fond of you?
I am told he loves my passion and commitment to my work. He calls me shine shine bobo because of what I did with Star back in the days.
Investigation shows that you share a strong bond with your late mum, tell us something about her that you still hold dear and memorable to you?
My mum, God bless her soul, was a unique being. One thing I can never forget about her is that she had a prayer for everything I did for her. I miss her a lot. It’s practically impossible to describe our relationship and all the memories here but she was and I still see her as my guardian angel.
In over 50 years of your existence, what is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Be faithful to your dreams and never look back.
Gbenga Adeyinka: I couldn’t pay rent in my early days of marriage