Fatai Rolling Dollar

“The modern music I hear today is nothing more than renovation of old music. Whereas highlife is here to stay. It is from highlife that people get inspiration and create other pieces. Hip hop has no lasting value. It is there for the mean time, but just give it six or seven years and it will disappear. But highlife will still be there. It will never perish because it is the fountain of music in Nigeria. “In 1953, when I started playing music, we only played calypso, jazz etc. Real highlife came from Ghana (they played in their native languages with no foreign additions). We had our own highlife before the Gold Coast, but the way we played it was different. In Nigeria we added jazz, mambo etc. “True Nigeian music was the music of the agidigbo. I took the agidibgo to about 15 European countries. They called it the thumb piano. This was our forefathers’ music. Music of the hunters, the farmers; they played it at weddings, funerals ceremony, etc. From there we took it and modernized it. That is how it turned to kokoma and mambo.”

This is what Rolling Dollar had to say in respect of the new emerging artistes, “The youth of nowadays don’t want to learn. They don’t want to take the time to work with others before they
come up. They want to be stars immediately but it is not that easy. You must learn from a mentor to gain experience and from there move on. We learned from older people. I played with them, and from there I got the chance to go on my own. If you don’t start as an apprentice, when you get half way there, you fail. Not only in music even carpentry, mechanics etc. But our boys nowadays are lazy they don’t want to learn. For instance as soon as a simple chorister in church has a song, he just goes to the studio and immediately wants to record. If you want to be a star you must work hard until God say, “ ‘This the time for you to shine.’ ”

Fatai Rolling Dollar has himself been playing music since 1953 but only got into the major league in 2001. His is a story of long suffering and hard work. “At the time the unknown soldiers came to raid Fela’s house I used to live three doors away from Fela’s. In the violence all my music equipment was taking away and my car was blazed. For the next twenty five years, I found it
hard to pick myself up again. “I used to have a friend who would give me food whenever I was broke and when I left he would give me like three hundred naira. Three hundred naira was a lot
of money then. One day I was at his place and a man came in. with a guitar amplifier that needed repairs. My friend asked the man if he knew me. He said, “No.” My friend told him, “Here is the boss of Evangelist Ebenezer Obey. (Ebenezer Obey had been working in Rolling Dollar’s band for seven and half years.) The man shouted and said, “Papa, can you help us? We want to start a church. Can you play for us in the church?). At the time there were only nine members of the church but I said. “Why not, if they can pay me?” I asked for N3000 but they could not
pay more than N2500 but said that as the church grew they would increase it. Gradually the church did grow. Indoors was full, and the outdoors was also full. “Five years later I asked for an
increment. Instead, they called me and levelled allegations against me. They complained that I did not close my eyes during prayer. I replied, ‘Yes, I don’t close my eyes because, if Jesus is
going to bring something to the church I want to be the first person to see him and collect it. But even the pastor himself didn’t close his eyes; I used to watch him. The second allegation was that girls were coming to my house for rehearsals. And the third one was that whenever the pastor gave his sermon, I would get up and leave the church. To this I replied, ‘Yes, when the pastor
is preaching, I take the opportunity to go out to pray as a Muslim.’ And my players never took long – just five minutes. I would finish and still meet the pastor preaching. And the fourth allegation was that I smoked cigarettes. I told them that my religion did not forbid cigarettes. So I found myself back home again. “Then in 2004 I was offered N60,000 for a show. It was difficult because I had not played for many years, but God miraculously kept the band for me. Although they answered my call, they were not sure that it was true. But all the same we got our band into top shape and we performed wonderfully well. In all, we realized was about N270,000. I paid my boys and I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the money. So I just put it under my pillow. I said,” God you are great, because I had never believed that I could have so much money. “Since then there has been no stopping him and Rolling Dollar has had numerous engagements with foreign embassies, major corporate sponsors in Lagos and in Abuja, as well as international tours.

“Then one day my manager came to me and said, “ ‘Papa you are going to do a job at LTV Lagos as a guest artist.’ ” Initially I didn’t want to go because there was no pay, but my manager insisted I was there all morning when Governor Asuwaju Ahmed Tinubu arrived and gave a talk. After he finished they called me to come and play. For some reason the inspiration came to me and I spoke openly about my problems. I proclaimed, “Is it good for an old music legend to live in one room with 10 children? Yet the country praises my music.” Then I sang the Won Keresi Number which everybody likes. Then Tinubu got up and said, “ Now what Baba has said, I have listened to. So I will give Baba a flat in Agege.” And low and behold, he handed me the keys !”


"Well it started back in 1991. I started with a,television series. It was because needed the money actually but acting was not that promising back then. The soap opera was called, Fortunes; directed by Ralph Nwadike and produced by Zeb Ejiro. The movie ran for about a year until the home video came out." It would seem that Ramsey has acted in more romances than any other actor in Nollywood. Weasked the golden question: "Why?" And he replied that the producers believed that if Ramsey Noah did not act a romantic role then he would not act. "I don't know where they got that from." Time has not changed the situation very much, and instead of a "lover boy", he has graduated into what he calls a "lover man", Ramsey's major breakthrough came in the shape of a movie titled, Silent Night. Then came Blind Trust'. Since then he has acted in over 100 movies and received several awards at home and abroad. "I have won awards in the US and the UK. I have also received several awards in Africa. I have the plaques at home. I try to keep them safe so that y kids don't play with them and destroy them.'' Ramsey Noah's most memorable roles were in movies like Dangerous Twins, Fateful Love, Heavy Rain, Into Temptation, Last Wedding and The London Boy, Coping With Fame The only thing he misses is his cherished privacy. As it turns out Ramsey is a quiet man at heart who likes to spend quality time with his family. Married to beautiful Emelia Philips and blessed with two lovely children, a son and a daughter Ramsey says they are the most important things in his life. "The biggest challenge is that I can't go out without being noticed. One has to remember that in the midst of it all, I have a family. I have children and I want to take my children out and spend time with them. It's so difficult because when you go out everyone want to talk to you. People are waving. People want to take photos and shake hands. Whereas all I wanted was just to take my family out and have some fun like any other person, but it is impossible. Sometimes, I wish I could just have my life back." We met with Ramsey on the set of his next film titled Yankee Boys. The star studded film, produced by Mega Movies and directed by Moses Ebiere, features Emeka Ike, Jim Lyke, Janto Jack, Van Vicka, Tom-Tom Dike, Arinze Egesimba and others. The movie also stars Ghanaian actress Juliet Ibrahim and Uganda actress, Princess Farida. Yankee Boys is about a team of young men who go into the gold trading business and are consumed by greed and lust for wealth. Ramsey says his fans should be on the look out for the movie which promises to be a monster hit.

On Nollywood. Ramsey applauded the industry which he feels has grown tremendously but
needs much technical improvement. He said, "Nollywood has the human potential to move to the next level and produce extraordinary movies that would be at par with Hollywood, but," he says,
"the lack of infrastructure and the level of piracy in Nigeria are the major problems
that are facing the industry. "A producer puts out a good script and brings together the
actors and actresses. He puts in so much hard work to produce the movie, then when the movie comes out, he does not get the returns he should. That kind of scenario stifles creativity and is very unhealthy for the Industry.

We need to get to a point where piracy does not exist so that when you
invest in the industry, you can make reasonable profit. If we tackle the problems of infrastructure, piracy and electricity the industry will move forward.", Ramsey advocated that Government provide an enabling environment for the industry. He said banks should invest in this sector which is the only totally Nigerian export commodity - produced in Nigeria by Nigerians. He said that banks should study the investment potentials of Nollywood.
"Government should provide necessary infrastructure. They should enact new laws and implement existing ones to protect the industry. From there we will do the rest ourselves."
Dog Lover The good new to dogdom is that Ramsey happens to be a dog lover himself. He
feels that dogs are the friendliest animals on earth and are very loyal. He said that dogs
can be more loyal than humans because a dog can die for his owner. He however frowns at the
increasing cases of animal cruelty. He vehemently disapproves of those who own a dog
and do invest the time to feed or take care of the dog, leaving it to suffer.

"People even use dogs to fight and gamble. They forget that animals have feelings. Putting two dogs to fight until one of them dies as a form of entertainment or for monetary gain is totally cruel." He said. Future Plans "My plans for the future still remain in the movie industry. I intend to make my own films. I want to direct and produce great movies." Ramsey looks up to such international actor/directors as Mel Gibson and Denzel Washington. Those who have been rolific actors, and are now big movie directors and producers. He wants to be able to achieve what these great people have achieved for his own country. "I plan to produce and direct great movies and thereby contribute to the advancement of the industry."

Lessons in Compassion
from Stella Monye

Stella Monye, whose new album, Outburst should now have hit the market (and I hope you have your copy), has always had a heart of gold for those in need. Stella tells us about her NGO, Women Health Initiative Nigeria (WHIN) to promote female musicians. WHIN was born out of
many experiences. For instance, a girl came and abandoned a child at my door. I did not know the woman, but people came to me saying that a child had been outside the house for two days! She put the child in a basket and put it on top of a derelict car. People heard the baby cry but no-one realized the mother was not around. However, one woman realized something
was amiss and told me. I came down and saw the baby. It had cried so much it could hardly breath. We first took it to the hospital. I was advised to take the baby to the Little Saints orphanage, but I wanted to find out who the mother was before taking her baby away. Then started the investigation.

Someone had seen her bring the baby and loitering around. I think she wanted to speak to me but did not know how to go about it. We found that she was living with her uncle and there had been a dispute. He had scolded her. She must have had the baby under unpleasant circumstances. The uncle himself was under pressure. Feeding the girl and now feeding the baby. So she abandoned the baby. When I finally met with her she had so many problems. This is how WHIN started. I know we have a lot of NGOs in Nigeria but we can never have
enough and we all specialize in different areas. It is not surprising therefore, that such compassion would extend to animals. You wont't believe ! My dog's name is Ikhomo. My son wanted a dog and I don't know how he got to hear to name. You know children . . . He said he just liked the name Ikhomo.

When you have a dog you don't miss human company. But people should know that raising a dog takes patience. Dogs are like babies. I remember I used to pack the dog's poo. You see, I live on the second floor so it was not easy for the dog to come downstairs. So I had to do the cleaning. Everyone in the house refused to help me. But it was a great experience. That nurturing period is very important. It is important to keep the dog clean and feed it well. An unhealthy dog should not share your environment. So you need to nurture the dog as you would a child.

Wadada -- Fisher of Men !

Owner of a female dog names Caesar, his name means "Peace and Love". Anytime
you call my name, you are saying, "Peace and Love" It is our determination
to spread to word of God, because He loves you and he loves me. We are
therefore preaching holiness to the hearts of everyone. We are fishers of
men. Although a musician, this former cobbler emphasizes the importance of
working with your hands to contribute to creation. "We must remember that
God himself worked for six days and rested on the seventh day. So we too
must work." King Wadada's new album, Supernatural, should already be out on
the shelves.


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