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Comedian Saka reveals how financial constraints made him marry at 40

Funny man Hafiz Oyetoro popularly known as Saka, has opened up on marriage, career and more in an interview with Sunday Punch.

According to the actor, he married late due to poverty.
Read his interview below;
What does fatherhood mean to you?

Fatherhood means the
ability to perform all responsibilities of taking care of one’s family
and being able to meet the needs of the family. It also entails the
ability to be emotionally stable and intelligent enough to accommodate
physical, psychological and spiritual needs of the individuals who
constitute the family. It is also the ability to acquire what it takes
to be a father. It goes beyond giving a woman ‘belle.’

What age did you become a father and how did you feel holding your first child?

I
became a father when I was close to 41 (laughs). It was not too late.
But it was late. However, I felt so fulfilled. I am also grateful to God
that I was able to join the league of fathers. In the same week that my
child was born, a friend of mine was giving away her daughter in
marriage. You can imagine the gap.

Where were you when your wife gave birth?

When
I heard the news that my wife had been delivered of a baby boy, I was
elated. I was not around when my wife gave birth. I was on a movie
location. I saw my first child the third day he was born. I called my
mother-in-law to visit my wife at the hospital.

What did you do when you heard the news?

I
called my wife to congratulate her. I told her to place the phone by
the ear of the baby. Whether he could hear me or not, I insisted I
wanted to talk to him. I said to my child on the phone, “Hello my son,
welcome to Nigeria. I am your father. I am not around now but as soon as
I come back, I am going to see you. You are welcome to my family.”

I
think he heard me well because when I got home, he didn’t cry. He
smiled when he saw me. God made everything easy for us. All our three
children were born without complications. Within five minutes in the
labour room, my wife gave birth. My wife didn’t go through much labour
pains. In fact, my last child was born at the reception of the hospital.
I thank God for His mercies. I have two boys and a girl.

What accounted for your lateness in being a father?

I
can’t specifically say why. For a very long time, I was more committed
to my career. I was carried away by the demands of my profession.
Another factor that could have led to that was poverty. I never wanted
to rely on people to take care of my children. I decided to get married
at a point that I was able to take care of myself and my family.

But many people assumed that you are a rich man.

You
don’t just grow up one day; it is a process. I am not a millionaire, so
to say. But I am very grateful to God that I can afford bread and
butter on my table. When I said poverty delayed me, I meant that I
hustled for a long time. A few years back, the entertainment industry
was not recognised. It was our passion that kept us going. It was about
five or 10 years back that entertainment started getting lucrative. I
was only popular back then but poor. The idea of self-dignity, not
wanting to rely on people for support, accounted for my delay.

How did struggling prepare you for fatherhood?

It
made me to be properly ready. I learnt about fatherhood from friends
who were already married. I had elder brothers who had gone through
various family challenges. So, when I got married, all those challenges
were not new to me because I had prepared well for them. I was mature to
resolve all those challenges. I wish I married early.

What fascinates you about fatherhood?

The
major challenge with marrying late is that my children are still in
secondary and primary schools. It means I have a lot to do for my
children. Children of my friends have finished their education. I used
to attend the weddings and convocation organised for such children. But
at my age, I am still paying school fees. While my colleagues can afford
to buy cars and mansions worth millions of naira, because they are no
longer paying school fees, I am doing more of investment in my children.
I cannot afford to copy their lifestyle or afford such luxuries. I
believe that I still have a long way to go. My children are my
investments. When some people say, ‘Upon all the money wey Saka get, e
no do this, e no get plenty cars’, I laugh. I am investing my money in
my children because I don’t want them to pass through what I went
through in life. I put more into their training so that they can be
successful. I am giving them the best of education. When it comes to
investing in other things and enjoyment, it is affecting me. While other
fathers are getting gifts from their children, I am still paying school
fees at my old age. I am not too old anyway (laughs). I am just 54.

What specifically are you doing to prepare your children for a better future?

First
and foremost, I don’t joke with home training and education. I also
ensure that they are close to God. Those are my priorities. I let them
understand the realities of life; that one needs to work hard to be
successful. I want to thank God that I know one or two people. But I
don’t want my children to rely on people. I am giving them the best
education that I can afford now. Knowledge is power. If they have the
knowledge, they will know how to manage their lives. Once you equip your
children with knowledge, you have done everything for them. I started
school at nine. My children started school at age three or four. They
would finish their education on time. I want to train them to be
self-employed or employable so they won’t start afresh like me. I
started from the scratch. I started from point zero. I want my children
to start from point 10.

What kind of father are you at home?

My
wife, children and I watch Saka together on TV. Saka is a different
person from Hafiz Oyetoro, the husband and father. My children know
their father, Hafiz Oyetoro. They know Hafiz Oyetoro, who acts Saka.
It’s a professional grace for me. I want to thank God that I passed
through good lecturers who trained me to differentiate my personality
from the role I play in movies.

What do your children say when they watch you on TV?

My
children are my first critics. Sometimes, they ask me, “Daddy, why is
Saka doing like this?” “Is this how to wear the uniform?” Sometimes when
I do something, I let them see it first and listen to them. My wife and
children understand me most. When I am away for a long time and come
back home, I loosen up. I organise dance competition and crack jokes. I
do perform for them to cover up for the lost time. I really want to be
close to my children. I try as much as possible to do so. My children
are free with me and their mother. They are free to express their
feelings. We give them disciplined freedom of expression.

How do you discipline your children?

I
don’t cane my children. I feel that I don’t have to use the cane to get
things done. I was brought up by my uncle who caned me. I didn’t like
that. I lived with my father until age nine when I started primary
school. From age nine, I was under the care of my uncle. It was really
interesting because he was strict. I didn’t have freedom of expression. I
didn’t want my children to experience that. I play with them and tell
them stories. Once they misbehave, I could say, “You, because you have
done this, don’t talk to me in your life again.” When I change my
attitude, that child will feel odd and apologise. I used to tell them to
kneel down and raise up their hands.

Is any of them interested in acting?

One
of my children seems interested in being an actor like me. I don’t want
to force them into any career. I give them the freedom to choose what
they want to do. Whatever they want to become, my own is to support
them.

Is there anything they tease you about?

For
instance, when I come home and tired, I could sleep in the living room.
They would be dramatising, mimicking how I slept off. Sometimes, they
tease me with some of the lines of Saka. They use the lines where I
abused somebody to get back at me. I don’t tell them lies. I told them I
was not a fantastic, excellent student way back in school. Most fathers
would tell their children they used to take the first position even
though it’s not true. When I was in primary school, I took first
position for some time. But when some other smart guys came, they took
over. Whenever we are in light mood, all those things I said when I was
angry, they would rehearse it in my presence to tease me.

If there’s a lesson you want your kids to take from you as they move through life, what would it be?

Discipline,
humility and believing in the Almighty God. I want them to learn these
from me. I want them to know that there is no shortcut to success. When
you don’t work for success, what is gained soon fritters away. If you
work for success, you will be able to maintain it. When you are
hard-working and believe in God, success will be with you forever. When
you are disciplined, you won’t be jealous of other people’s success. If
you are humble, people will respect you. I want them to be simple like
me. Life is simple.

How do you manage to be a successful actor, teacher and father?

God
has helped me to manage my time well. As a father, I don’t do more than
I can. I live a simple life. I am very honest and faithful to my wife. I
want to thank God and the producers. They know that I am a civil
servant; so, they don’t give me jobs to do during the week. I don’t
drink alcohol. I don’t run after women. I don’t smoke. I want to thank
the Nigerian press. Up until today, I have not recorded any scandal.
Scandals can be cooked up.

Female fans come but I have been able to overcome temptations.

You
know that I am not that particularly handsome. But to my wife, I am a
very handsome man. That is the reason she married me. But you cannot
compare the character of Saka with that of Ramsey Noah and other
handsome actors. The traffic of temptation and pressure from women to me
is low.

Because I am a teacher, I live the life of a teacher. I
don’t go to clubs. I am very simple, reserved and shy person. I am a
complete “paki” (local man) man. This makes everything easy for me. I am
thanking God for making me a simple person. Artistes are human beings
with weaknesses.

What is one of the most important gifts your wife or children have given you in appreciation of your fatherly role?

The
greatest blessing a man can get from God is to marry a woman who shares
his vision. The greatest gift my wife has given me is her ability to
share and support my vision. She understands me from A-Z. She is a
graduate of mathematics. I don’t even know how the chemistry works. She
is caring but quiet. When I am not around, they pray for me. They even
fast for me.

In the African setting, some believe that fathers
are to play the role of providing for the home while the mothers take
care of the home. Do you agree with this?

I disagree. Even in
those days, our fathers took their wives to the farm. I am from a
village. My mother used to accompany my father to the farm. My wife also
takes care of certain responsibility of her volition. She had to resign
from government job when we got married. She was a mathematics teacher
somewhere. When we got married, she had to resign to take care of the
children. Both of us cannot be working because the home front would
suffer. She has her shops where she sells children things. Sometimes,
she takes care of certain things without telling me. I only get to know
later. My children used to call me to say mummy had taken care of
something they were asked to bring in school. We work together as
partners. But as the father, it is automatic that I carry the larger
percentage of the family’s upkeep.

Have you cooked at home before?

I
am a great cook. Don’t forget that I was a bachelor for 40 years
(laughs). I cook once in a while now. It’s been long I did that. As time
went on, I became very busy. In the last five years, I have not been
able to do those domestic duties due to my busy schedules.

What is the most important relationship advice you give to people?

I
will advise would-be couples to have jobs before getting married. It
took me time to get married because I wanted to be able to withstand the
financial cost. When the man is jobless and the wife is jobless, how do
they maintain the home? Self-maintenance is a continuous
responsibility. The marriage will not last if both would-be couples are
jobless. Even if it’s the wife that is employed, they can still manage.
They don’t need to have government jobs. But they must have a means of
sustenance. If there is no butter on their bread, let there be water, at
least, after taking the bread. I do not support a marriage where both
couples are jobless. There will be tension. When there is tension, there
will be misunderstanding. When there is constant misunderstanding, the
marriage will collapse.

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