Saturday, 1 November 2014

Suitors ran away when they saw my children –Iya Rainbow

Idowu Phillips
Veteran actress Idowu Phillips popularly known as Iya Rainbow talks about her career, children and life as a widow... read excerpts from Punch below...

It seems crying profusely in movies comes naturally to you, how do you do it?

I often remember some painful incidents in my life because it is not easy to force tears from the eyes when you are not beaten. Sometimes, I remember my late husband and that often brings tears to my eyes. When I remember some things I am asking from God but have not received, it brings tears to my eyes. You know that sometimes we cry to God when we ask Him for things. That is how I do it.

How did your parents react when you chose to be an actress?

I have spent 45 years on stage. Initially, my parents were not in support of my career. It was worse for someone like me because my father was a prophet. When I started acting, parents strongly opposed it. But now, I am amazed when I see parents encourage their children to go into acting. Then, our profession was seen as something meant for lazy people. People always looked down on us until God blessed our job. Now, it takes me around the world. My parents later relaxed because they were told by prophets that it was my destiny. My father told me that because he desperately wanted a female child, he begged God and fasted for 40 days. When he was asking God for a female child, he was told that the female child he would have would be a servant of God and be more popular than her parents. They were also told that she would go to places they never imagined. It was not through my nursing profession that my glory shone but through my acting career. They eventually saw that the profession was paying off and I was receiving awards all over the world and they later supported me.


As the only girl child in your family, how did you grow up among boys?

I was a very troublesome girl. I always got into fights and most of them had nothing to do with me. I always defended those that could not fight because I do not like people being cheated. Whenever I went to school and saw someone being bullied, I would wade into the fight and often times I would get my clothes torn. At a point, my father got fed up because even if I went to the stream to fetch water, I would fight. If someone offended me on my street, I would tell the person not to pass my street again and if the person did not listen, I would beat the person up. People always wondered how a girl became a terror to boys. I once fought with four boys at once and I injured them all. We were taken to Central Police Station, Marina. When we got there, the policemen were surprised that a girl fought with four boys and the boys said I was too tough to handle. I was quite tough but I thank God that the changed me.

Why didn’t you re-marry since 1984 when you became a widow?

I didn’t re-marry because many men are liars and I don’t like that. They come to your house, feel comfortable, you cook for them and probably have sex with them and then they say ‘I would see you tomorrow,’ but you will never see them again. I don’t like that. It is better for someone to carry one’s cross. It is just that it is not easy to raise children. I advise widows to walk in my footsteps, I know it is not easy not to re-marry but with prayers, God would help them. For instance, if I had re-married, I probably would have had other children and I would be the one to see them through school at my old age and the man might even leave me. I thought about all these and I decided to face parenthood.

Didn’t you have suitors or a man you had interest in?

They came but they later ran away. I don’t want to mention names but there was a man who came to my house to visit me, he was my suitor then. When he came, he saw my husband’s group members eating and playing in my house. He asked me if they were all my children and I said they were. He said, ‘okay, I am coming.’ He left and that was the last I saw of him. Instead of him to have asked if I gave birth to all the people he saw, he just assumed I did and left. He must have considered the responsibility and felt it was too much for him to bear, so he ran. That was what they did, they ran away when they saw the number of my children.

Since 1984 that you lost your husband, haven’t you had sex with anyone else or how have you been coping?

Then, I did not even remember that I am a woman. I pray no one goes through what I went through. Then, the only time I remembered that I am a woman was when I wanted to ease myself. There were times I would be home and for three days, there would be nothing to eat. I would just be crying. I have a child in London now. When she was in secondary school, her friends had rich parents who always bought them provisions but what I did in our case was to stuff my daughter’s bag with newspapers. Then I would buy a few things and put them in the newspapers, so people would think the box was filled to the brim. I am just blessed with good children who are content with what they have. Seven of us used to stay in a one-bedroom apartment and when we drank garri, my children would be using toothpick in public as if they ate rice and chicken. I thank God that now, we are able to eat rice and chicken. When things were very hard for me, people like Oga Bello stood by me, he is like a father and husband to me. There is Araosan; whenever he came to the National Theatre, I would dip my hand in his pocket and take any money I found there. No matter the amount, he never complained. Yinka Quadri was also of great help to me and Tajudeen Gbadamosi. I can never forget these four men and my mother too. She stood by me and looked after my children whenever I was on location.

Were there times you felt like quitting acting?

Of course, I thought of calling it quits and go back to my nursing career when I did not have money to eat. When I acted in the movie, Aje ni Iya mi, I was paid about N150 and I was fed up. I used the money to cook soup for my family once. Things were very rough with me. When I wanted to quit, Baba Ogunde called me and advised me against it. He assured me that things would still get better. I would never forget his advice and it has come to pass. I have children that are graduates. I live in my own house and I have cars and I can afford whatever I want to eat. What else do I ask God for?

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