WARNING: Olubode Olaleye
AFRICANS SHOULD make sure they do not lose control of their creations, says British-Nigerian comedian Olubode Olaleye.
With the growing interest of western entrepreneurs in African music, including Afrobeat and Nollywood films, Olaleye, better known as Boe The Comedian, warned: “The world is interested in us now but we must make sure we own our stuff.”
Olaleye said he is happy that African music has gained the ears of the world, so much so that fans worldwide “are speaking Yoruba and they don’t even know it.”
But the comedian, who was born in Islington, north London, urged entertainers to protect their creative rights, especially as some record companies may want “to own you. I suggest they write their own stuff.”
His comment follows the recent signing of Nigeria’s biggest musician, Dbanj, to US star Kanye West’s label Good Music. Fellow singers Wizkid, Psquare and May D have signed to the label Konvict, owned by Akon, who is of Senegalese heritage but spent much of his life in the US.
Olaleye also encouraged people to make use of social media.
“Social media is a big help,” said 28-year-old, who is a regular on Channel 5’s The Vanessa Show and has appeared on the hit Channel 4 programme Come Dine With Me.
“I have managed to gather a big following because I just make a comment every day that people find interesting, relevant to their lives and then funny. What it helps you to do is reach out to a wider audience cheaply, and helps you to find out about your audience because they feed back to you. It is not like TV.
“TV is a very one-way thing at the moment.”
Olaleye is famous for joking about African leaders, accents and traditions. “At first, people were not always willing to hear us out,” he recalled. But now “it is a hit with many people.”
Although he gained a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a master’s in digital media, Olaleye said he recognised his talent for comedy at a young age.
“I kind of started off in the classroom, being a talkative person. We used to be, like, having cursing match on the street. You know, you curse somebody’s clothes, take the mick out of what they are wearing, the way they spoke, the way they dressed, and I was very good at it.”