Adaeze Oputa, a daughter to Charles Oputa, popularly called Charly Boy, tells ARUKAINO UMUKORO about the kind of life her father leads.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Adaeze Oputa. I am the first daughter and second child of Mr. Charles Oputa and Mrs. Diane Oputa. I have an older brother, Charles Oputa Jnr. and a younger sister, Dominique. I also have other siblings; Anthony, Margaret Oputa-Justice, Sylvester McGraine and Yvonne. Professionally, I work with a non-profit making organisation as its Associate Director of programmes. It is an education-based multinational non-governmental organisation. I am extremely passionate about my work and the impact it has on Nigerian youths and the society generally. I am also a health enthusiast; I love swimming and an occasional round of golf (at the driving range though). I have not graduated to the golf course yet.
How was growing up for you?
Growing up for me was normal. However, I understood at a very early age that my family was different from others – and I was okay with that. People always had questions or comments about my family; particularly my father, and I had to grow a tough skin to be able to handle the occasional adversity that came with the family name. Nevertheless, I loved everything about my childhood; my parents did everything possible to give my siblings and I the best. My mother ensured that she helped us harness our potential as children. She enrolled us in several summer programmes, acting schools, musical instrument classes, and so on. My family is a diverse one, my father is Nigerian – Igbo- and my mother is American from South Carolina. So, we had the opportunity to travel a lot and learn a lot about both sides of our families and that exposure played a vital role in shaping us into the adults that we are today.
You said you “had to grow a tough skin to be able to handle the occasional adversity that came with the family name.” Can you kindly explain this statement?
I believe people are sometimes opposed to things they do not understand. My father’s “alter ego” /brand in itself is controversial, and by association, people have assumed that I share the same ideals that the brand represents. Because of this, I had to learn how to distinguish myself at a very early age and part of that process was to grow a tough skin, especially when handling adversity.
You seem to be very different from your father and most of your siblings. Why is this so?
My father preached individuality in and outside his home. I believe everyone in my family has certain uniqueness about them and that is what makes each person special. Like I stated earlier, I chose a different path and my path reflects my personality, beliefs and values.
What are some of the values you have learnt from your father?
Some of the major ones include the invaluable lessons of resilience and humility, which I also learned from my late grandfather, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa. These are two vital lessons I hold very dear, from the two most important men in my life.
What is the best piece of advice he gave you as a young adult?
My father loves to quote this from Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.” That is his life’s philosophy.
How did he discipline his children whenever they erred?
My parents were not disciplinarians in the literal sense; they adopted a more liberal approach to disciplining us as children. We were allowed to question things we did not understand. We were encouraged to speak up if we felt we were unfairly treated and so on.
How close are you to your father?
We are an extremely close-knit family, so, as you would imagine, I am very close to my father.
How much influence did your father have on your career choice?
My father did not have a lot of influence on my career choice, at least, not directly. I took a slightly different path from the “family business.” I am more of a corporate professional; I enjoy the structure and the fulfillment I get from my work. However, I’m still a passionate creative at heart, so I steal every opportunity to express my creativity.
How has your dad’s name opened doors for you?
While I am very proud of my father and his accomplishments, I have never used my family name as a means to an end. I believe in hard work and dedication to one’s cause – whatever that may be. My name will always be my name, at least until I am married. However, I make a conscious effort for people to know who I am first before anything else, because as human beings, we are prone to preconception. I believe I have achieved everything by the grace of God, hard work and merit and not by association.
This is something that we also need to teach the Nigerian youth. We need to dispel that myth that you need a “family name” to open doors. This is exactly how we create a lazy workforce because no one believes in merit and hard work anymore. It’s a sad reality in Nigeria and it has to change.
How did your father create time for his family, despite his busy schedules?
My father is much of a family man. His schedule has slowed down a bit now and so he has more time to keep up with the family. We all have very busy schedules but we somehow make time for each other. I think communication and spending quality time is a very integral part of building a very strong family unit.
What are his other hobbies, likes and dislikes?
You will have to ask him that.
Your dad is a controversial figure for his publicity stunts, such as bringing a human skull to the live broadcast of a reality TV show and so on. What can you say about this?
Again, you may have to ask him. If I had to comment, I would say that all these “publicity stunts” are based on relaying a narrative, creating a perception and mystifying a character. All of which can be associated with the Charly Boy brand.
How does your father react to criticisms and controversies about his lifestyle and personality?
He does not react at all. More times than not, he creates the narrative that stirs those controversies.
Whenever there is a media stir about his publicity stunts and the controversies it generates, what does he say to you and your siblings?
It’s funny because we don’t really talk about these things in the house. A lot of times, depending on how crazy the media stir is, I may get some phone calls from a few friends. But that’s the extent of the discussion, unless the stir directly affects me or my siblings, then we may possibly discuss it further.
How do you and your siblings feel about his public persona and the controversies it generates?
I am not affected by it. While I cannot speak for my siblings in certainty, however, I don’t think anyone is really affected by the controversies. At the end of the day, everyone has his or her life to live.
Your father reportedly once brought a pet python to the panel table during a reality TV show…
I was not at the production of that particular reality TV show, so I cannot comment on that.
Some people believe he also keeps pythons as pets. Is this true?
I am not aware of any pet snakes or strange animals in my father’s house either. However, we have two amazing dogs in the family, my mothers’ dog – a Skye terrier named Romeo and my dog – a Yorkshire and Jack Russell mix named Ralph.
Is Charly Boy the public figure different from Charly Boy the father (and grandfather)?
My father is a very caring and attentive person. He is involved in our lives and tries his best to give advice or input when necessary. Charly Boy is a persona created by Mr. Charles Oputa, so I am not as familiar with Charly Boy as you may think.
Your father has spoken effusively about your mother in previous interviews. How would you describe their relationship?
My parents have a very loving relationship, and I have watched their relationship evolve over the years. Their story is a very interesting one and I think it’s extremely admirable.
Your dad is obviously a man of many parts, from being a famous singer/songwriter, television presenter, publisher, producer and one of Nigeria’s most controversial entertainers. Which part/persona describes your dad most?
All these parts make up the whole of Charles Oputa. He is passionate, creative and it shows in his work.
Does your father plan to release another album in the future, or go into politics?
(Laughs) I do not think my father is much of a politician. But then again, that’s probably what Nigeria needs. He is still in the process of completing his album; he is also putting a lot of energy and resources into the second instalment of the Njiko Carnival, which takes place in Oguta in December.
Your dad recently wrote a public letter to President Muhammadu Buhari. What does he say about his political affiliations and the state of the nation?
My father has no political affiliations. He, like most Nigerians, is interested in the development of the nation and not politics in itself. Politics can sometimes be fuelled by the ‘herd mentality;’ most people have no idea what the real issues are, they just want to be affiliated with something or someone.
What is the weirdest thing you have seen your dad do?
It is to apologise. This is probably a general statement to make, so please forgive me, but most men of his generation find it very difficult to admit when they are wrong.
What are some of the things Nigerians don’t know about your father?
My dad is introverted and sometimes shy.
Does he have a favourite sport?
I don’t know. You can ask him.
What kind of music does he like?
He likes highlife music a lot.
How does your dad like to unwind?
He likes reading.
What kind of books does he like reading?
He enjoys self-help and personal development books.
How many languages does he speak?
He is fluent in Igbo and English
Who are some of his closest friends?