Alhaji Abdulsalam Sanyaolu a.k.a. Charles Olumo or Agbako, will be 84 years old on 6 March, 2011.
Alhaji Abdulsalam Sanyaolu, how did you come about the name, Charles Olumo a.k.a. Agbako?
I got the name from a church, where I was baptised. So my baptismal name is Charles and when I started my theatre group, I joined the name Olumo to Charles making it Charles Olumo.
Why did you go to the church?
As a child, I loved going to church harvest. It was an African church in our village in Egba Owode, Ogun State.
How did you come about the alias, Agbako?
That is another story entirely. If you look into the world, you will see a lot of people both good and bad. So, to give myself an identity, I decided to act the role of a ‘bad man.’
Are you really bad?
No, in fact, I named myself Agbako.
Are you really 84 years old as claimed?
Oh yes, I will be 84 years old on 6 March and I will be celebrating it.
Who are your contemporaries in the movie industry?
Moses Olaiya Adejumo a.k.a. Baba Sala is my junior and I have other people like him too.
How did you grow up because you dissipate so much energy on the screen?
It is not that I am that bad but I play the role of a bad person. Se eeyan re ni Agbako? Meaning is Agbako a good being?
When people see or meet you at occasions, do they run from you?
Initially they did. In fact, some do as much as dropping from vehicles whenever I joined a public transport thinking I am a bad person.
So you mean you are not fetish?
I am not fetish.
When you were young, how rascally were you?
I was a bit rascally and I used to be an athlete. I also engaged in boxing too.
At what level did you stop boxing?
I was an amateur boxer. I also represented Oyo State in amateur boxing.
Why did you stop boxing?
I have a delicate jaw so I opted out of boxing.
How did you start acting?
I started in a church. It was my friend, Sunday Ogunbo, now deceased, that took me to his church. I attended the end of the year party during which a drama sketch was on display. While watching the drama, I was attracted to it, especially, when I saw how some of the ladies were performing and I told him that I wanted to join. That was how I started.
Say the truth, was it those ladies that attracted you?
So nobody discovered you?
What kind of trade did you learn?
I learnt mechanical job. I even have a trade test and had worked with a government parastatals. I was introduced to it by the late Henry Fajemirokun.
At 84, what have you gained and what have you lost?
The story is that when we started we became popular. There was no money in acting, what we made do with then was the stage show.
What is the problem of stage show?
Because there is no professionalism in the movie industry, because most actors and actresses cannot participate in stage shows.
Has home video added any value to the theatre industry?
It has destroyed it the more because all they do depends on the director who will pass instructions to those acting. So, it has destroyed a lot of things in the industry and that is the problem of the movie industry today. It has destroyed a lot of things.
Have you made money from the movie industry?
No, in fact, I am being owed by people.
So you have not made money?
No, I started with celluloid. In fact, I was the first ‘bad man’ on celluloid film.
Which of the films did you first act such role?
I acted in Taxi Driver parts 1 & 2 both Ade Love’s films; Aiye and Jayesinmi, both Hubert Ogunde’s films and others.
Why do you play the bad man’s role in every film?
That is my area of specialisation.
Do you take any stimulant before going on stage?
No, I don’t smoke or drink.
Apart from the roles you were popular with, how did you come about those ‘grammar’ you spoke on set?
It is due to research.
So at 84, you have not invested money in anything?
Yes, because in those days, we were collecting paltry sum of money, yet we would be happy that we starred in good films.
So you regret being in the movie industry?
Yes and no. The yes is that I am popular and that is why I want to celebrate my birthday with fanfare. I have invited people from both the government and movie circles among others. I have also extended a hand of friendship to them to come and play for me.
How do you see the future of the movie industry?
It is not bright because there is no more truth in the industry.
You act in epic films especially those with ofo (incantations), yet you said you don’t have juju?
I don’t have juju as you can see. In all the films, I am a man of action, little words and more of action.
Have you had any cause to injure an artiste on location?
Many, because I work with all my energy. Even back stage, directors often tell me to take it easy.
Do you hope to retire one day?
No, I am still agile, I want to act till I die.