29 May 2012
"Poverty pushed me into drug peddling"– Actress Taiwo Akinwande (Yetunde Wunmi)
Taiwo Akinwande, popularly known as Yetunde Wunmi, is one of the most notable actresses in the Yoruba movie industry.
She joined the acting world in 1981 as an apprentice under Sunday Akinola (Mogaji Feyikogbon) but later left in 1989 to team up with the Tate Alade Aromire. The light-complexioned actress has appeared in so many movies that she has even lost count of them.
In this interview with BAYO ADEOYE, the actress who was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for drug peddling, spoke about the challenges she faced on her journey to stardom, her views about the Nigerian movie industry and her ordeal in detention when she was arrested and jailed for possession of hard drugs at the Lagos Airport.
How do you manage your family and your acting profession?
I’m managing very well. I thank God that my children are grown ups and they are on their own. When they were still young during that time I told you earlier, I had a junior who was staying with me then and assisted in looking after them for me. Whenever I was away then, I would drop money for them to eat and equally bought food stuffs at home for them. Then, I could leave for two or three months before returning. I thank God that He gave me only two and I was able to take good care of them.
So, how about your husband?
My husband is alive but we are no longer together.
What happened? It seems that most actresses don’t keep their marriages
It’s this job. I love this job more than my husband.
And you sacrificed your husband for this job?
Yes, because I so much love this job.
When you married him, was he not aware of what you were doing for a living?
I’d married my husband before I took up acting as profession. In fact, I’d given birth.
You children were born to your estranged husband; so why did you have to leave?
It was when he didn’t like this job and I liked it. It was what I could regard asf conflict of interest.
So, you couldn’t drop this job to save your marriage?
No, I can’t drop it for any man. Never! In fact, never ever! Except when God calls me home; that’s when I can be[ done. As long as I’m still alive withouti any ailment, V11 keep going.
So, you are not even thinking of quitting at a certain age?
No, I^n not thinking about that at all. I’m not engaged in any other job.
Could you recall your own movies you’ve produced?
They are numerous. I did ‘Odun Mejo’ and Salawa Abeni played the major role in that movie. I did ‘Opa Ajobi, ‘Ade Ori’, ‘Omo Okunrin’, ‘Jawonlaya’, ‘Oro Omo Le’, ‘Aje Niyonu’, ‘Egbogi Oloro’, ‘Ori OIowo L’ori Mi’ and so many others.
After your brush with the law for being in possession of cocaine, how did you pick up your life from there?
Muslims believe that if anything happens to them, it’s only mere trial. May God not allow us to get into a trial that we won’t end. So, it’s only a trial for me and God just tested my faith. Even when God wants to test a Christian, He will give him a little problem and if the problem should go ahead and bring him down, that’s where he will end his life. But if such a problem should arise and the person who is with it believes God brought it, he can pray that God should lift it without looking here and there; and I believe that God will put an end to the problem and that particular person will stand on his feet once again.
What were you thinking then; was it a plot by someone?
No, I didn’t see it as a plot by anyone. I just saw that while I was in detention, I was thanking God that He kept me for a certain purpose because I didn’t know what happened. Who knows maybe if I were to be out there, I would have died. So, I kept thanking God and I couldn’t even think anybody was looking at me. I thank God because I snouted onto God and He answered me. It is God that called me to this job and not any human being.
While in detention what was actually going through your mind. Did you ever think that you would come out or be j ailed?
I was only praying to almighty Allah to forgive me and protect me through the ordeal and He did.
What really pushed you into that act?
Maybe I allowed my love for money to get too much over me. I was actually very broke at that time. Then? I could not boast of N10,000 in my savmgs. It was that bad. It was actually a temptation. And I thank God for His mercy.
Didn’t you face stigmatization and dejection even from your colleagues when you returned?
No, not at all. They were very supportive. Alhamdulilahi, they stood by me