Kunle is an actor and a musician that has featured in a number of movies and also has some music albums and singles to his name. He is currently on the cast of Africa Magic‘s Hush where he plays Ruffy Jackson.
Kunle spoke exclusively to TNS recently about his mother Bukky Ajayi, how growing up was with her, some things people didn’t know about her and how life has been since her demise.
The legendary actress passed on on July 6, 2016 at the age 82 after a battle with diabetes and age-related ailments.
How was growing up? Did you grow up with Mama Bukky Ajayi?
Yes I did. From an early age, my mum and I have always been inseparable. The only times we were not together was when I was in school, I stayed a bit with my dad. But, basically my formative years, my teenage years were with my mum. When I left my dad’s place and came back to her it was still a learning process for me because it’s not easy for a single mum to raise a man so living with my mum was the best experience for me. She balanced it out for me. The things my father tried to teach me were the “you’re a man”, “you do this like a man”, “you stand like a man”, “you talk like a man” and all that. My mum taught me to talk like a human being. To be a human being, to share the world with the rest of the human beings and not just assert my authority everywhere I went to. For me that kind of balanced everything. Like I always say, my mum was a great woman and she raised a good man. That one I can assert my authority on that one (sic).
You have two older brothers. Are all three of you from the same father?
Yes, I have two older brothers from my mum’s side and no we’re not from the same father.
How is your relationship with your father?
My relationship with my father is cordial.
Mama reportedly changed her religion in the 60s. Do you know why she did?
I honestly do not know. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always known her to be a Muslim. I know there was a time we talked about it and she told me that she used to be a Christian. I can’t remember any other thing from that conversation but I know that, whatever her choices were, it was her decision. That much I can say. And she’s been a faithful devotee to Islam. And the best part of it was that she didn’t try to shove it down my throat. She was open. I think for her, it wasn’t about the religion, it was the faith. Ona kan o wo’ja, abi?
What health challenges did she have? There are several conflicting reports out there. Can you set the records straight?
My mum was hypertensive , she suffered a stroke a while back and I guess, you know at her age and all that, you know how it is growing old, things don’t get to work properly and if they get a bit damaged the repairs are not as intricate as when they were younger. So I guess it was just a bit of complications with her health and all that. She was a strong woman. If you start going through all the things she went through you’ll know it wasn’t an easy battle for her.
Some claim that people her age usually see their death coming. Do you think she saw hers?
In all honesty, I don’t know, I don’t know. Maybe she did or something, I don’t know but it’s…I don’t know how to explain it but she left right in front of me. So if she knew… If she knew, I guess that’s one secret she kept from me. You try to prepare your mind for stuff like this but you can never prepare your mind enough and the last thing she ever said to me was a smile and that’s all I have left. I think it’s a beautiful gift that it was a smile. It wasn’t tears, it wasn’t a frown, it wasn’t a straight face, it was a smile and I’ll cherish that for the rest of my life.
Tell us about her final days.
She was surrounded by her loved ones. I hope her passing was peaceful. It’s not something that you really prepare for because she was my mother, she was my friend, she was my sister, she was my aunty, she was my brother, my father…she was everything. In the latter years, she became my daughter. I would want to leave work early to come and look after her and find out if she had eaten and all that. We’d wake up and have coffee together. I had a cup of coffee this morning and it didn’t taste right.
Tell us about the side of Bukky Ajayi that the world rarely saw.
My mother was a very emotional person but she always put up a strong front. My mother looked like a very tough person…yes, she was tough, but she was a softie generally. My mum would watch a movie and if it was a touching story, she would cry. But basically, people around her got to see all the sides of her through are movies because she played several characters and display different emotions which is basically how she lived. Sometimes she was angry, she was happy, she was happy. Like I always said, I could run to her and talk to her about anything. She would always have my back and she would always fight for me on anything. If I was wrong, she would always let me know that I was wrong. She was an open book. All you just had to do was read.