Wierd clothings, crazy hair styles, and songs that are out of the ordinary are easily attributed to Chief Gift Nwame. This unique character has earned her a lot of accolades and awards, but little was known about the diva untill she dropped her continental hit, ‘Kade’. Today, Muma Gee, as she is fondly called, has become a houshold name, and Nigerians are ‘catching’ the trend she is setting, musicaly. In this interview with Funmi Salome Johnson, she spoke about her career and lovelife, among others.
What has been happening to you of late? I have been very much around, in and out of the country, back in the country, work in the studio. I am recording a new album. I don’t want to talk about it for now but my working title is Love. I figured out that there are lots of love songs in the album. May be I am learning the rules to falling in love. (Laughs) and it is finding interest in my song writing, may be, may be not, well I am not sure.
Tell us about your love life, I can see you are glowing? (Laughs), nothing really, it is God, and if you are happy in life, it will definitely reflect in your looks and that is why it looks like I am glowing. All might not be well, but I thank God. The truth is that when you find yourself doing what you enjoy doing, you will glow. I am happy, I am happier a person now, because I have this flair for fashion and I’ve just started my clothing line which is known as “Mgee’s Confidence” and it is a thing of joy. It gives me that fulfillment, I feel so satisfied, I feel so fulfilled because I am doing what I really planned to do in life, and I enjoy doing, that is what I think is responsible for the glow.
So how is the fashion business going?We are at the preliminary stage where we just have to produce enmass and export to nearby African countries for starters, and we also have clients that order, we still take their orders.
Don’t you think it will affect your musical career?No, not in anyway. As an artiste, I fulfill my obligation and there is really nothing wrong about using my spear time to do what I like to do best.
Is the textile industry an enabling one?The industry is not doing badly but we need people to be more patriotic. You can actually make what you are wearing out of our local fabric and it will turn out right. Again, you don’t blame the people who wear the clothes but I will blame the people who make the clothes. For instance, this suit you are wearing is well tailored, if we have people who produce well tailored clothes at affordable prices, I don’t see any reason why people like you will not patronise them, If it is well tailored and has good finishing just like what we do in our factory. I had to go the extent of importing industrial machines and all that, so we don’t use the usual, normal locally used machine around here, we use the industrial ones and we are sure of the quality. We have a quality control person whose work is just to check the qualities of what they do before we send them out because my name is attached to it as an artiste and I don’t want to lose my clients.
You are not looking like the Muma Gee we see on stage. Is your stage look your signature?For Christ sake, I am in my office, I am working. The thing is that Muma Gee as an artiste is different from the Muma Gee as a staff of the Black Attraction Productions Limited.
So who is the real Muma Gee?The real Muma Gee is the Muma Gee that you see on stage but now you are seeing Chief Gift Nwame, so basically I am a different person when I have to sit as the CEO of Black Attraction productions Limited or the MD of MGEE’s Confidence which is my clothing line. They are two different persons. If you are not very dear to me, I will never let you see me like this.
What was the experience like when you were coronated as a chief? It was something I could not imagine, it is difficult to say because it is weird, it was out of the world, it is the strangest thing that has happened to me as a human being. If you take your bath and wear make up like you do now, you know that your counterparts wear make up, you wear lip gloss, you know I wear lip gloss and all that, but if you come from a setting where women are never chiefs and you are made a chief, Jesus Christ! It is gone beyond normal, if there is a Guinness book of record in Africa, I think it should be in it. Actually that chieftancy came with a little bit more of what I expected, you know the responsibilities are more than what I expected. People just think it is easy, it is actually more than that.
How did you come about your stage name, Muma Gee?People mistake it for a guy’s name or a nick name. Gift is my real name and that is where I got the G in Muma Gee, forget the fact that I added double ‘e’ to it, just as it sounds GEE but the G is just the G in Gift. For the Muma, the Jamaicans will call mother Muma and papa Pupa. The Muma in my name means ‘do good’ in my language.
How are you enjoying stardom?I have not started, this is just a working stage and by God’s grace I will get there.
What is your regular day like?Busy and tough, in the sense that some days are not just enough for you to achieve everything you plan to achieve and then you have to carry over and then tomorrow comes with another responsibility and you have to add up the carry over, sometimes it can be terrible. And sometimes it can be relieving because if I go to the studio and back, that permits me not to work in the office, because I worked in the studio all night, so I will have to sleep till like wee hours of the morning and wake up in the morning and get down to the office because my system is already used to waking up early. The good thing is that I don’t have to drive, face the traffic and all that. My office is here and if I have to do rehearsals, I have my band studio and my band member just come around and we do rehearsals.
Could the nature of your job be responsible for your being single because with all you have said, I wonder what time you have left for yourself or any other person?Well I do have time to make up, I have time to eat, I have time to take my bath, I take good care of myself and I pamper myself because I don’t smoke and I don’t drink, so I enjoy myself. For instance if I have to take my bath, I don’t mind lighting up scented candles around my bath, fill it up with water, put foam bath, foam it up, put myself inside and read novel (Laughs). I create time to do all that but not all the time, it comes rarely, especially when I am not working because I need to work double hard, to be able to sustain the kind of life style I want to live, I am not talking just for now but in the nearest future.
So what is your dream life style?My dream life style is to live the life of a celebrity, you know, live in a very comfortable atmosphere, a different and clean environment. The most important thing is clean environment, as you can see, even though it is not very expensive, but it is clean, I like things being done orderly and that is just me.
When is the wedding bells going to ring, your fans are waiting? (Laughs) okay let the fans decide when, I am ready. Yes anytime they are ready, I am ready.
But they are not in the position to? Yes I am giving them the obligation to.
Are you saying they can apply? Well it is open, if any of my fans wants to apply, it is open.
How do you cope with advances from your male fans because I know they must be coming in gross? The thing is that firstly, I don’t let myself so loose, so they don’t even get to see me on the street, may be at programs. I attend programs that are very much relevant because there is no time for me. I will just go there for the business and get it done and that is all. Once in a while I go out but I don’t even wear the look that will encourage you to come talk to me. Few of them manage to get my phone numbers, I don’t know how but I get to talk to them and I tell them in black and white what life is all about. So it is not that I am suffering or I am stucked and all that although sometimes they stuck you and you have to change that line or switch off that line for a while or bar some calls and all that but it is all about being a woman. You always see being a woman as an art so the art of being a woman is something I love to enjoy and if I come back again, I will want to be a woman.
Who is your role model? Any successful woman is my role model. As you are sitting in front of me now, if I tell you that you are my role model, you will think I am flattering you because how many of your age mates now are in the bush farming, they don’t have a dream but you are living your dream so you are my role model because I want to live my dream. So every woman that is living up to their dreams is my fan.
Do you have any memorable experience, may be as a growing child or as an adult, something that you find very remarkable? The most remarkable thing that has ever happened to me in my life is performing on the same stage with Mariam Makeba in London at the London Festival Hall. It was fun, it was like a dream come true, that was the height of my joy performing on stage.
What is your favorite food? My favorite food is my stable food and that is fufu or Apu and I love African native soup like the Rivers native soup, I love Afang and Edikaikong but I prefer Edikaikong because of the vegetable. I also love this Yoruba soup called Ewedu and then in the North, I love miakarikashi.