Talking about Basorge Tariah Jnr., the actor, comedian, music and concert producer, compere, has been a round for a while now. His foray into acting dates back 1995 in a movie titled ‘Faces’. However, his face became nationally prominent for his role as ‘Do Good’ in television series, ‘Candlelight’.
In this explosive chat with OPEOLUWANI AKINTAYO, Basorge opens up like never before on pressing issues on his long absence from the scene, marriage and family, school life, politics and his colleagues adventure into politics and more.
It’s been a while Basorge. What’s been happening with you?
I’ve been trying to stay alive
Oh now, your voice is so deep!
Yes. It’s my normal early morning voice. So I’ve been trying to stay alive, living my life as a man, a husband and as a father.
Not much has been heard about you lately. Why?
The only thing I can say is that, an artiste is an artiste. Just like people go on leave, I went on leave
But it’s taking too long
I can go on leave for as long as I want because I’m not a civil servant. Professors take their sabbaticals for five years. But I’ve been working. I’m not just a noise maker.
So what have you been doing?
I’ve been into concert production
Which of the popular concerts did you produce?
The Hero Larger Beer concert in Onitsha and the Trophy Larger Beer, Castle and others. I’ve also been into music production like Timaya’s first three singles- ‘Dem Mama’, ‘Bayelsa Otu’, and ‘Timaya On Fire’. In fact, I co-wrote ‘Timaya On Fire’ with Timaya.
Aside Timaya, which other artiste have you worked with?
I’ve produced a popular Port-Harcourt group called Stone Cold, Landlord, and like Face No Dey Fear Face when they were reigning. They broke away and I signed on Mozzy B who is also a presenter with Rhythm in Port-Harcourt. I produced an Igbo-French speaking artiste although, what I did was release just one of his songs. I also produced reggae artiste, DJ Wonder before we started having issues. My record label, Solid Star records has also produced some Ibadan boys, James, a lot of them.
How many artistes do you have on your label now?
So far, we have artistes we’ve produced works with but haven’t released because the kind of songs I produced are not songs with trendy beats. I produce songs like a sound producer that will be relevant forever. So we produce songs and maybe release them in 6 years to come which I think is the hallmark of an artiste. Most artistes wait for a particular beat to be produced and everyone jumps at it so you see all their songs having the same beats and hooks.
Aren’t your artistes worried that you’re holding their songs for too long?
How I’m I holding their songs? I write most of the songs so I have ownership to them.
So you just sign them, you write songs and give them to sing?
Artistes sign contracts and I will not divulge the content of the contracts but as a producer, I also write most of the songs for my artistes. I don’t just write their songs, I also finance and produce them. So if an artiste thinks he has songs inside of him, he will forget the contract and simply hit the street to sing since he thinks merely having songs is what makes an artiste.
So what you’re trying to say is that your artistes don’t get to bring their own songs
Yes, they can but what I’m saying is that I’m not the kind of producer who rushes his works. I’m not begin anybody to stay. I like to take my time and if for some reason, maybe financial or personal reason I’m not able to push an album today, it doesn’t mean I can’t push it tomorrow. That’s why I try to produce evergreen songs.
Let’s leave that part. Taking you way back- what was growing up like for you?
It was fun. I grew up with my parents and siblings so it was fun.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Port-Harcourt
No wonder you’ve been mentioning Port-Harcourt all the while. So what was growing up there like?
How many times I’ve I mentioned Port-Harcourt? Nah you dey hear Port-Harcourt . what I said was that I produced two artistes from there.
Port-Harcourt is a Garden City, the finest place on earth.
I guess you were born with a silver spoon?
I don’t know what silver or gold spoon look like
You were a rich kid right?
I wouldn’t say I was a rich kid but we were comfortable.
Were you parents strict with you and your siblings?
My parents gave me the kind of discipline which shaped me into the kind of artiste that I am. I see my job as a career. I don’t see it as a celebration f fame. I do my job, I come home and play with my children and wife. I’m not here and there trying to make people see that I’m a celebrity. I’m down to earth because I was trained so. I also know that there would be difficult times as an entertainer and I’ve weathered the storm, and I’ll be ready when the good times come again when I rediscover and reinvent myself. My parents also taught me that family comes first. I have a wife and four kids so, they come first. I don’t care whatever happens to me, as long as they are around me, I’m okay. The next thing they taught me is that whoever you bring into the world, you must train. I work hard to make sure my children get good education and training. My parents also taught me a lot of respect and humility. So one of the mistakes I don’t do is gather myself with the trappings of the entertainment industry so that I’m not carried away because on day, you may not be consistent and money won’t come the way it should. Most artistes don’t understand this and get carried away and when the bad times come, they fall ill and suffer psychologically, become violent and depressed.
While growing up, I was tough and stubborn but they trained me well. I loved playing football no matter the instruction. Then two, I loved dancing. I would go out with my friends to dance. I was also a tough kid because I never backed down from a fight. My father always told me not to fight so, any day he heard that I fought, he would flog me.
I’m sure you would see that as a form of them trying to cage you
My parents never caged me. My parents also allowed some youthful exuberances. What they controlled was timing. My father was my best friend. My mother is the love of my life till today. Her name is Doris, my wife’s name is also Doris. So, despite the discipline, I was allowed to express myself. So they taught me when to play, read, sleep and when to work. They also taught me to do shores. I always helped out in the house, even now, I wash if my boys are not hear early enough for the weekend. I wash foe them, iron for my wife and go to the market for her.
No it’s not romantic. You may see as romantic but I think it’s being realistic that we must be helpful. It comes naturally for me.
What about school life?
Yes. I went to the University of Port-Harcourt and it was fun. I feel like going back there. I studied Creative Art.
Oh so I can imagine you did a lot of fun things
I was the director of socials during my time. I organized shows, promotions and concert productions. That’s where I got the flair for what I do now. Then I was also a good entertainer. The whole school knew that whenever I was on stage, I make them happy
I’m sure you had an a.k.a
Yes, Grand Master and that’s what I use on my complimentary cards today. Or they call me the lion which is why I have this image of a lion tattooed on my left hand. My father’s friends called me the lion so, when I went to school, my friends just adopted the name
Was it because of your deep voice they gave you ‘the lion’?
You’ve just added another dimension but, I didn’t have this deep voice when I was younger. It was because of my spirit of leadership. I’m not the type that is led by others. Wherever I find myself, I make sure I’m either the leader or I co-lead or else, we go scatter the thing (laughs).
And your friends didn’t get angry at such show of character?
Well, they saw it as a character worthy of appreciation and accepted it because I also led with a sense of justice. I was a fair person and it’s not like I was always a leader but the leader who always had to accept there was another leader (laughs). So, you don’t put me down because I have that don’t-put-me-down attitude. In those days, my best friend was called Goliath. He hut you would still had big muscles but you would still see me controlling things.
You didn’t get involved in school politics?
Yes I did but I was more into installing people
Like a king maker right?
The lion is a king maker nah
Chai! You go wicked o with the kind of things wey you dey control at your age
(laughs). Tinubu and Obasanjo wicked nah. I just think they are forceful and it’s nice to have forceful people so that things can work. If Tinubu was not forceful enough, the style of governance that we are all benefiting from today wouldn’t have been possible. When Tinubu came in as a governor, we started seeing roads being constructed and other things being done. Other governors started doing same thing. And the competition with Fashola became even more intense. Amaechi, Donald Duke, Akpabio and others became competitive. So I give credit to Tinubu if not, people will just be governors in the case of Odili who sit and embezzle all our money.
So, the transition from school into acting
When I left school, I served in a bank in Abeokuta. My father was a bank manager for over 20 years, while my mother was a supervisor in the then Kingsway stores. So you can see that I lived a comfortable life. So, I served in a bank and wanted to work in the bank because I also have brothers who are Bankers. As a youth corps, I did more than working on the records in the bank. I started doing more and the office gave me a recommendation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a place in the bank’s head office when I came to Lagos. So while I was waiting, I also did other bank exams where from 50,000, we were shortlisted to 500 but I failed the next stage. One day as I was going to hang out at a joint in Surulere. I saw Sidney Diala one of those guys who acted in ‘Living In Bondage’. We were in school together, he was my junior. So he told me there was a casting somewhere and that I should come. So, for me, when I got there, I saw video cameras which was different from the cinematography we learnt in school. So, I thought it was a child’s play they were up to recording videos. Meanwhile, I already made up my mind that if I wasn’t going to work in a bank, I would go to a film school abroad. So I followed him and met Zeb Ejiro who mistook me for one of the actor’s casted for one of the sub-lead roles for young students. Zeb told me to read some lines. I didn’t want to but my friend nodded that I should read so, I read and that was how I was asked to keep the role. Sidney told me the role was N39, 000 as far back as 1995. And at that time, I hadn’t even see N200 at once because I just finished my NYSC. So I took the role and that was how I became an actor. I owe Sidney a lot but, I owe everything that I became to Zeb Ejiro.
How did you land the ‘Do Good’ role because that role more like sealed you as an actor
It wasn’t ‘Do Good’ that made me popular. What made me popular was my first movie because I was that good in ‘Faces’. But my second consolidated my talent. It was my greatest challenge ever. I went to Zeb’s office after I got an employment in the Rivers State House And Council. I was a civil servant and was asked to report after I acted my fist movie but, Zeb convinced me not to go. So I stayed back and I’m happy I stayed back.
So when I went to Zeb’s office, they were shooting the second movie, ‘Domitilla’. I was doing a Warri role as a Port-Harcourt boy. I’d never lived in Warri and was doing the role of a person who had been type-casted for it, only for me to go there, spoke the Warri pidgin more than all the Warri boys who came for the role. So I was given the role. After that role, everyone saw me as a gifted actor. And through me, credence was given to Warri people and Warri pidgin. After Tonero in ‘Domitilla’ that I was immediately casted without auditioning, for ‘Do Good’. ‘Do Good’ only blew because series live longer in the memories of people because it comes up every week. I’ve even done ‘Scavengers’ and played some of the challenging roles in the movie industry like in ‘Playing Games’ and others. My idea isn’t to wear good clothes but get into another character and interpret it. All the movies you saw me act the Warri part in them were written, produced and financed by me. And now, ‘Do Good’ is coming back!
It’s an exclusive for you. ‘Do Good’ is coming back. I will not tell you how but it will be in a series, soap, tele-novella.
Will you be acting the ‘Do Good’ role or someone else?
I won’t tell you anything about that. Just know that ‘Do Good’ is back big time because it’s going to be one of the most interesting series this country will see. So you can see the reason for my long absence.
And even from Stand Up comedy?
Yes because, I’m no longer a young man. There was just need to leave those small jokes for the younger generation and move to something bigger. If I have to tell a joke, it must be the serious one, something that ridicules the society or a thing. I’m no longer a castigator. I’m 48 years old so, I’m too mature to start telling some kind of irrelevant stories and I’m too old for that. If I want to talk, I talk about fuel scarcity, politics, governance and all.
So for you to be coming back into acting, does it mean other stuff you’ve been doing didn’t pay much?
What other things are you talking about. Look at where I live. How many actors who haven’t been acting for 10 years still live comfortably like this? I have a wife, four kids, I go on holidays so, it won’t be nice to say other things I’m doing aren’t paying off. I’m a restless person. I’m a lion. I must move from one forest to another forest. If you are proper artiste, you don’t act for money, you act for because you’re happy to do it. I want to set up my record label, as you can see, I just bought some things because I want to set up a home studio or if my wife will allow me to go somewhere else to set it up. The point I’m trying to make is that I act by emotions and intuition whenever I’m happy. There are so many other ways to make money. Some people may say I’m not serious because one minuite I’m here and the next minuite I’m there- that’s why geniuses are said to be crazy. It’s not about achievement. If you are a genius, you must have some erratic, almost an unpredictable behaviour about you.
So how’s marriage?
My marriage is fine. It’s the sweetest life of all.
Where did you meet your wife?
I met her in Port-Harcourt.
We met the way people meet
In a club?
My wife is not a club person, and I wasn’t trained tom pick up girls in club or on the street. And it doesn’t have to be in church too because I wasn’t a very religious person, my wife made me. I was trained to be introduced by somebody so that when something happens, you’d be sure there’s someone to ask about that person. I met her at my elder sister’s house. She was my sister’s friend although she was younger.
So you just liked her like that?
Well I wouldn’t remember how I started liking her. I introduced myself to her when I met her at my sister’s place. We started chatting and the more we talked, the more we found out that we were compatible. So, we started dating and got married.
Now you have two girls and two boys. How do you cope between being a father and a celeb?
The fortune of being announced as a celebrity is the prerogative of others. I don’t bother myself with the status of a celeb because I’m a regular human being. Celebs don’t live their lives. They live to impress others and I like to impress myself first. About being a father, fatherhood and marriage is about preparedness. I enjoy being a father. I may have been scared once before I got married. I was scared about the responsibility of taking care of people but now, I live my life for them. I’m ready to walk without shoes just so they can be happy. Whenever my children come back from school and are around me with their laughter and problems, with my wife, nothing beats it because I don’t feel like going anywhere. When I go out for a job, I run back home to be with them. I see a supermarket, run inside, buy things for them.
Which of you children do you think will take after you?
It’s my last boy. He’s named after me, Basoene. He’s a lion. He’ll be four on the 1st of April. He makes me laugh with the things he says. There was a day we were alone in the house. He didn’t go to school and his mother went to drop others in school. So he told me “I’m usually scared whenever I’m alone”. There was a day his mom was trying to pay his sister’s hairdresser. So she gave him the money and told him “please give to that woman”. He went to her and said, “woman, take your money” (laughs).
Is it likely you go into politics someday?
Maybe one day, I will seek an elective post. With reasonable men, you couldn’t know the task God has for you someday. Definitely, there’s an urge that I will one day contest but it won’t be a do or die. In the last election, many artistes contested and failed because they didn’t understand how it works. You don’t just come from outside and tell people that you want to run for an office because you are a popular person. There were not even ready for service because you could see the greed in how they went. Because you are going to establish a political party with money. Why didn’t we all go to Labour Party as a pressure group so that the party can be the third strongest party in Nigeria. If you want to be a politician, be ready to work for people and be ready for change. Don’t fear the challenges. Don’t go to comfortable parties like APC or PDP because all you want to do is steal money and not serve. If you want to serve, you go to LB and we all begin to form a new ideology in terms of service and governance. So whenever I’m ready, it will be Labour Party and the hindrance which worked against my colleagues won’t work against me. The only hindrance was the primaries and if they had won it, I’m sure at least, 50% of them would have won the major elections. The only way out for them was is if Tinubu blesses them the way Desmond Elliot was blessed. When you go to LB, you’ll pick the ticket because there would be no primaries for you and when you come out, people would vote for you based on your integrity but when you go to other parties, you become part of the decayed systems. Look at us shouting and insulting one another because we are torn between parties and a large number of us who scrambled for the N300, 000 that was shared in Abuja and they all went on stage and started singing and making noise. I have built a brand, not for that brand to be insulted.