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Veteran actor, Richard Mofe-Damijo, was a guest on comedian, Teju Babyface’s Deep Dive podcast, where he spoke about his career, marriage and other issues. NAOMI CHIMA brings excerpts

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You said you had always wanted to start wearing studs when you turned 50 years old. Why are you not wearing them now?

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Let me help you there; I also said I would have a tattoo. But, I wore earrings way before I was 50 years old. I just did not wear them regularly. Besides, social media was not a thing then, so people did not notice them. I like to rock them on special occasions.

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Have you got the tattoo?

They are in places I cannot show you, and I will not tell you. It’s private.

As well as I know you, I know nothing about your first marriage and the end thereof. (What can you say about it?)

It’s because you were young (when it happened). It started in 1989 and ended in 1996. I’m not sure how old you were then. I met her somewhere and she sent me a note. She was a writer, and she wrote that if I did not mind the stares of the men who adored her, and if I was man enough, I should go on a date with her. I responded that they had not given birth to the man that could make me feel intimidated.

The marriage eventually ended, because she passed on. It was an unfortunate Easter period. She had a fibroid operation that went wrong.

To say you bounced back from that experience is an understatement. But, the spectre of death must have haunted you for a while?

It is something I’ve lived with all my life. Pastor Taiwo Odukoya’s death brought all of that back to me, because one of the biggest challenges I faced when my (first) wife passed on was, ‘what if it happens again’? It is such a present and consuming fear.

I thank God for my wife today. She was my strength, because she made it clear that her fate and destiny were very different from that, and I should not have that fear.

I am completely over that now.

How have you managed to stay away from scandals over the years?

I smile through it all and try to be civil, because there are pitfalls, and one has to tread carefully. And, if one manages to tread carefully long enough, one will master it; and it becomes a dance. In a sense, I avoid nightclubs as well. I go when it is very important. If it’s not work and I’m not entertaining people from out of town, with a close circle of friends present to protect my flanks, I just don’t show up. When I show up, it is because my flanks are protected. It is good to have a good inner circle.

Is being faithful in marriage hard?

It is hard, especially if one is in the line of work (showbiz) that we are in. Every one of us who is married is like a target. Women are like Delilah and Jezebel; they prepare, and the only way they can perpetuate the real intentions of the enemy is to constantly aim at the image of God or the symbol of authority in any home. It is like on the battlefield. If a general or commander is brought down, the battalion scatters.

One has to get to a point where one’s wife understands what she’s up against as well. If one’s wife is not up to speed on what she’s up against; then one’s flank will be left open. For me, family defines my life. You don’t touch my family.

What will the woman who knows this do?

She will be protective of her man. I fall really bad sometimes; but a wife has to be able to help pick the man up.

But, these days, if a man falls, that seems to be the end of everything?

It is because they do not understand what roles they have to play. It (marriage) is not a competition; it is a partnership.

I have the best wife in the world. That is the reason I can go out there and for lack of a better language, ‘flex’, because I know who is behind me. Now, that does not take away what one’s responsibility to the woman is.

That woman that your father prayed for you to have, you will only find her when she finds in you the protector her father said to her that she will find. If you don’t give me any reason to feel like I am a part of this union, then if I see you kissing (another person) along the corridor, I will feel very bad, and I will not pretend like I’m not seeing you. I would say that is what you love to do, because that is what defines you.

The first time I made the biggest money in my life; when my manager brought the cheque to me, I told him to pay it into my wife’s account. As soon as she saw the money, she asked me if it was for the children. I told her it was for her. She asked what I wanted her to do with it, and I told her to anything she wanted to do with it. I had to be able to show her that was the biggest money I had ever earned. I could buy a car or go on a holiday with it; and she would not flutter. But, I just said, you know what, this is the person that made it possible.

I have done some crazy things, but she knows that I am remorseful. I am a work in progress. If one’s wife doesn’t feel that one is also taking responsibility in the partnership, she won’t be the woman one wants. It is a two-way street, and I constantly pray that I am the man she wants. I used to tell her that I did not think I deserved to marry her. I also told her that if she changed, I would kill her myself, because she was too good. I was an ineligible young man when we met. I had lost my first wife, and there were usually a lot of people around me. Sometimes, she would come to my house and see like 10 women all over the place. I would just look at her, and tell my younger brother to go and drop her at home. And, she would just turn around and go home.

Then, when everybody left, I would call my younger brother to tell her to come back, and she would return.  And, I would ask her, ‘Why are you so nice? Why don’t you say something’?

I was really afraid to marry her, because she was too nice. I kept saying, ‘I hope you won’t change when I marry you’? And, she said, ‘no’. Even at the lowest points in my life, I look at her and say, ‘You know I’m so sorry’. However, that doesn’t cause me to want to sin more. It actually builds more responsibility for me to be able to slow down. It is easier now that I am older. We have lived alone together for about 11 years, with no kids or home helps.

Others have come and gone. What is the secret of your longevity?

It is (by the) grace (of God). It is also as a result of absolute dedication to craft. I could have been anything I wanted. I could have been a rich businessman or politician. But, I just love being creative; and I understood from day one that it is a two-way street. If there is no audience, there is no performer. It is a spiritual connection between the performer and the audience. The audience sees not the eyes of the performer but the heart of the performer. When the audience looks through the eyes of the performer into his heart, they can tell if the performer is true or just a hustler. They can tell the difference.

If they see that the performer is a hustler, they will appreciate the performance for that day, and let him go. But, if he is a true creative, they will come back every single day of the performer’s life. That is the gift I have. I am true to my audience. I love what I do, and I am dedicated to it.

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