Encounters: Just Say It, By Azuh Arinze

Notwithstanding how long ago it happened, I can still remember vividly how I met and ‘fell in love’ with Mr. Chico John Meziakpono Ejiro, the maverick filmmaker I decorated with the sobriquet, Mr. Prolific, which is now a household name.

It was at his elder brother and mentor, Mr. Zeb Ejiro’s office, somewhere in Aguda, Surulere, Lagos and not long after Messrs Kunle Bakare and Femi Akintunde-Johnson, then owners of Encomium Weekly, deemed me fit to handle the Nollywood column, a two-page banger which I had christened ‘Celluloid’.

Very much on top of my game and ruffling feathers every week with my exclusive interviews, no-holds-barred stories and ‘gists’, I had sauntered in unannounced. Of course, with my little notepad and pen, capturing and recording events as they unfolded and unfurled.

And from nowhere, he approached me. First, he reminded me that I could no longer sneak in and out of the vicinity as some people had already given me away ‘as the small boy that’s shaking the industry every Tuesday with his write-ups’.

Smiling, he asked me to follow him to his car, a gray Mitsubishi Gallant; opened the boot and handed me a VHS tape which he wanted me to review for him for the upper week.

Innocently, I informed him that I had neither a television set nor a VHS player as I just moved into a one-room apartment on 13, College Road, Ogba, Lagos. Hitherto, I had been living with my parents.

In his characteristic pidgin English, he had exclaimed: ‘Haba! How big boy like you no go get television and video for house? Any way, I wan go Idumota now go see Infinity (Mr. Dozie Eriobu of the Infinity Merchants fame). You go follow me make I go buy television and video for you…’

We jumped into his car and minutes later were sitting face to face with Mr. Eriobu. And true to his promise, Mr. Chico got me the two items, which upped my status as a bachelor, if you know what I mean. That singular act of generosity, above all, solidified our relationship, placing him on another pedestal in my heart and life.

To say the truth, Mr. Chico Ejiro, unknown to him, contributed a great deal to whatever I have become today by also becoming along the line one of my go-to-persons back then as a movie reporter for anything about the industry.

I can’t count the number of times I passed the night at his Festac Town, Lagos home; the number of briefs he gave me to handle as well as the exclusive stories he obliged me.

While he was still wooing his highly industrious wife, Mrs. Joy Efetebore Ejiro, Mr. Chico would ask me to accompany him on his frequent visits to the University of Lagos to see her. I equally travelled with him to Delta State for their traditional marriage, after all the other contenders had lost out. I was equally there for the registry angle in Lagos.

And perhaps in fulfilment of that popular saying that one good turn deserves another, Mr. Chico and his wife followed me to Nnewi, Anambra State, when it was my turn to quit bachelorhood. They didn’t miss the church wedding too.

Sincerely, Mr. Prolific and I have come a long, long way, and I could go on and on talking about our multiple and memorable encounters. But my message, however, remains that whether innocently or otherwise, you must never be too shy to seek help or assistance. To paraphrase the renowned sports outfit, Nike, I urge you to ‘Just Say It’ and then leave the rest to God.

Yeah, some people may laugh you to scorn, but it doesn’t really matter.

I disclosed to Mr. Chico that I had no television set and video player and ended up not only getting those two items, but also gaining a friendship and relationship that has benefitted me significantly. And which, of course, is still going strong.

Thanks so much for reading and please let’s do it again next Saturday.

NB: Link to one of our interviews: https://theyesng.com/2015/09/27/chico-ejiro-exclusive-why-marriages-dont-work-in-nollywood-how-actresses-seduce-producers-and-directors-on-set/

  • Azuh is a journalist, bestselling author and publisher of YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine

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