African China: I regret not going to school. by Leonard Iheabacho
Have you been wondering where self-styled Voice of the masses and reggae dancehall star, African China is? You need not worry anymore. The indigene of Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State in this chat with The Entertainer opens on his music, business and family and calls on his fans to pray for him. Excerpts:
Lately we have not been hearing much from you. What is happening to your career? You have not been hearing much from me because I am having issues with my managers. If I had taken up the distribution of my songs myself, there would have been no issue. You can see I am in charge of the social media distribution aspect and I am doing great there. Also, they were supposed to arrange a radio tour for me but they have not done that. That is the little challenge I am facing right now. As soon as I return from my Europe tour, I will sit down with them and iron things out. This is a new team; they are different from the people that I normally work with. I did the promo for my last album by myself. I evolved the strategy that achieved the results which later paid off. Then I was working with another management.
But we heard that the reason you’re lying low is that you have gone into business. How true? (Laughter) That’s also true though. I run an entertainment business known as 45 Entertainment. We are into sound, artiste management, DJ services and studio production. If some people say it is a business it’s Okay. They are not wrong as long as it is bringing money. However, it has not changed anything about me or my music; I am still the good old African China you know.
Don’t you think it has affected your music career? Yes, if you say so. But I will say no because my management failed to do what they were supposed to do. Basically, I’m not supposed to be doing all these by myself but the guys failed to do what they were supposed to do and that seems to be affecting me. I am the one doing everything myself when I could have been doing other stuff to push my music. It is not really easy though I am trying my best.
Back to your music carrier, what is the latest from Africa China? I have been working so hard in the studio and I have a new single on air and on the internet entitled Anuboko, which means bush man. It is a Delta dialect. It is all about the things that are happening in our country today.
We understand that your song has generated a lot of controversy online. How true is this? That is correct. You know when I dropped Anuboko, someone was like ‘haba! We are tired of this killing thing. Just give us something like sip champagne and drink mowet. I didn’t reply him but unluckily for him, one of my fans did by telling him that he should shut his mouth because Anuboko is talking about issues that are happening today in our country so why is he asking for champagne and mowet. Initially the song was entitled Boko Haram but we had issues with the title so we have to change it to Anuboko because the promo was not working out. However, the lyrics remain the same.
Do we see you dropping a new album soon? Yes I will be dropping a new album soon. We are still working on it.
Tell us about your most trying moment? Off course, that was during the London issue; remember London Fever?
Let’s talk about the London issue… No I don’t want to talk about it again. It is past, it happened in 2006 so it belongs to my past now. I have already talked about it so many times so I am tired of talking about it now.
How was growing up like those days in Orile, Lagos? I have to be honest with you, life was very rough and tough for my family. I didn’t grow up like a normal kid. I am not one of those who can proudly say that he went to school. In fact, I have never been in a private school. I was a pupil in schools like elementary or Akara School. Then we carried something like a piece of flat wood called slate and played all day. I am not proud of the fact that I never went to a proper school. However, on the flip side that has contributed in making me who I am today; it has made me a stronger person. The reason why I am saying I am not proud of it is because I need to send a message to others leaving in the same conditions today. I want them to know that they need to hustle and get out of that life by getting an education. That is what I mean when I say I am not really proud of my past life. However I am proud of who I am today and what life has thought me.
Your story is very touching. How did you get into music? I got into music at age of seven. It happened that my father was a music lover. He had this turn table set which I inherited from him.
When you embarked on your music carrier, did your parents support you? Yes, I got the support of my parents except my daddy; he never supported me but my brothers and sisters were behind me. Those days when people called my dad Papa China, He warned them never to repeat it again. He admonished them saying ‘next time you call me Papa China, you will see what will happen to you, who is Papa China by the way?’
When you became famous, how did your dad react? Oh my goodness! He suddenly started answering the name even more than me (laughter). Any where he went people called him Papa China and he was so happy about the name and he became very popular.
Tell us about your next album? Well, I am just going to be doing some experimental on my new singles like the new stuff you call new school; I mean what the youth are used to now which is champagne and mowet (Laughter) oh yes! However you will still get that raw African China feel of old. Like I said before, they should expect some new stuff from me on my new album. We are going to work with artistes like Tuface, Flavor, Iyanya and Ice Prince to mention a few. I just did a new single with Tuface and Flavor. The track is ready but not yet on air.
You mentioned earlier about your Europe tour. Tell us more about it? Actually, my promoter just called to inform me that he has secured about 15 countries for us so it’s going be a long tour. I will play Prague, Germany, Spain, Finland, Norway ,Sweden, Holland, Italy and Austria among others.
Let’s talk about your family life. We heard that you are married and have two kids… Oh yes, trust me. Fatherhood is a thing of joy and being a father and a husband is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Marriage is a crazy institution that has no graduation day and I am seven years old in it. I have two lovely kids and a beautiful wife. For me, marriage is that institution where you get certificate without graduation; you keep on studying until your last day on Earth.
A lot of celebrities’ marriages are crashing left right and centre. How do you manage your marriage considering the fact that there are a lot of loose girls around you? You try as much as you can to avoid situations that will result in a crashed marriage because you can’t really do without these female fans; they are the ones that put food on our table so one needs to handle then with care and your marriage is also very important. It is not an easy experience but when you marry a woman who understands the business you are into, she will support you and all those things can be easily handled. I know every woman has this jealousy thing but understanding is very important; it is key. Also pray for God for his grace upon your life. However, I will say it is by the grace of God because every marriage has its challenges; even mine. You must always be sensitive and manage your home front so that you don’t give your partner unnecessary pains and worries.
How do you want to be remembered in the music industry? I would love to be remembered as someone who played a vital role in his country, someone who changed the style of music and introduced something new which many youth are playing today, someone who never deviated from his style of his music, someone who preached against injustice and corruption and spoke up for the voiceless.
Which message do you have for your fans? They should pray for me and they should expect something good soon. I am not quitting music; not at all. Also I am not deviating from the freedom fighter I am; I am still the voice of the masses. I am coming back with something better, I mean real good stuff so they should just relax and enjoy. And if you don’t hear my songs on radio, it is because corruption in our country has affected many radio stations so they don’t want to play such music anymore, so please, go to internet. If they ban us on radio, they can’t ban us on social media, you will get the songs there; that is my advice for you all