CENTERSTAGE WITH MS
Everybody calls him MS, not as in manuscript but in recognition of the person of Muritala Sule. He is many things to a thousand suns but he is simply called MS
How did we meet?
Taiwo Obe introduced him to me, by the time he was making waves with his programme I had escaped from the madness that I called Lagos into the rural peace of Akure.
When his book A LIFETIME OF FRIENDSHIPS was published, I read the positive comments of those who have read it. I sighed, as I had a large hole in my pocket so I could not buy the book, but wanted to read it.
Some of the excerpts made me long to read. MS, as we tended to call him, is a strange friend and support at the oddest times. When I sent him my first international novel, he promptly wrote it as a film script and sent it back to me. I was awed. His generosity left me gaping. Blood Contract has not yet been made into a film.
MS being typically his generous self sent me a copy of the book. What did I think?
A LIFETIME OF FRIENDSHIPS is a warm meal served in the inimitable style of Muritala Sule. It is a memoir, anecdotes of youthful escapades of Muritala and his particular friend Godwin Igharo. An honest portrayal of his friends without the effusiveness of a sickening praise writing.
Muritala writes simply, an unvarnished story of his coming of age in Lagos, Igbanke and other places. I learned about the resolute streak of a clear-sighted youth, who dared to follow a dream and stick with it. It is a commentary of parenting, Alhaja, Nollywood, and the drug scene before the turn of the century. I could write pages in a review of this book, but I just want to contain myself as I invite you to share my chat with MS ON CENTERSTAGE
It is my pleasure to welcome MS to CENTERSTAGE.
1. Who is Muritala Sule?
Just Muritala Sule. It’s hard, in my opinion, to describe oneself“…for the eye sees not itself but by reflection by other means” Shakespeare, Julius Caeser. So, my sister, who do you say is MS?
2. A LIFETIME OF FRIENDSHIPS is not the usual run of autobiography, will it be okay to call it a memoir?
That’s what I think it is, in the sense that it merely reflects on a slice of the life I and others have shared. Just a little slice
3. Your friend Godwin Igharo seems to have held a special place in the book, what do you think would have been his reaction to your book?
He’d have screamed on seeing it for the first time in book form and said: “MS, we thank God for everything.” Yet, he wasn’t the religious type. Never went to church; never went to the mosque. But, he always helped me to be a good Muslim, reminding me always of prayer time. While reading the story, he’d also have shed a few tears of gratitude. We’d both re-lived aspects of the story several times when we just reminisced. And always, we normally ended up by telling each other, “We’ve had fun.” That sense of fun was what I strove to capture in the book.
4. I have read the enthusiasm with which the book has been received on the social media but how has that affected your bank account?
Hopefully. The demand shows that I can also do well financially with it. It has been very encouraging. I send out copies virtually every day to buyers. Some responses, too, to the eBook. But, I won’t say it has found massive sale yet, perhaps because I’m still undecided what bookshops to give it to. In a better structure, I shouldn’t be the one worrying about this aspect of things. I should have been back to my desk writing another book. But, it’s self-published, you know, and I have to worry about getting back the money so that I can publish my next book.
5. You made some insightful comments on Nollywood and its economic impact, but what do you really think about the moral impact of Nollywood?
Morality is a delicate issue because it sometimes changes with time. So, I’m largely careful not to condemn what I’m ill-at-ease with. There was once it was immoral for a woman to wear a pair of trousers, even in Lagos, while I was growing up. People would boo and shame you back in the 60s if you did. But, that’s no longer so today, even in the remotest villages. So, I just watch and learn from what’s going on in Nollywood. I feel the pulse of society through it. But, I’m scared by the tendency to gratuitous sex and violence.
6. What are the real partnerships that Nollywood can have with the government?
What all other businesses, too, expect from government, nothing special, just what people call the provision of an enabling environment to work. That’d include: ensuring that the taxes on earnings are not very high; it will include giving access to facilities such as the airports and other public infrastructure that could make our movies feel authentic. A good partnership is already in place, with the Bank of Industries giving loans to filmmakers at a reasonable interest rate. An endowment fund for the Arts, too, should do some good. It can enable us to make important movies that commercial film funders might not be interested in.
7. Since Lagbo Video rested, what has been the improvement on art criticisms and impact in view of today’s art and creative scene?
People have been working. There are so many platforms for that. Dealing in the mass media — now, really, it’s multimedia – environment leaves a lot to the consumer to shape. That was Lagbo Video’s attitude toward criticism, without shirking responsibility for guiding public taste. It is different from academic art criticism. I cannot speak about that, please.
8. The drug scene in the country as a whole has become worse from your youthful days, as an advocate of the impact of the media on the minds of the vulnerable and impressionable, how will you assess the impact of the media on the drug scene today?
The media isn’t doing its job in that regard. They are expected to take a responsible attitude toward the matter, report, x-ray cases and lead in the effort to check the trend. But, alas, that is not happening. Much of what I see in reports is the hailing of the youngsters who seem to promote reckless drug use. You know, these days, reporters admire the people they call “celebrities”. Indeed, reporters are now striving to be “celebrities” themselves. They call themselves “media personalities” and “on-air personalities”. In your days on radio and TV, you were a “presenter”, an “anchor” of programmes and not an “on-air personality”. There’s a difference there.
8. What type of readers do you hope will read your book?
All readers are interested in an engaging story. And that’s what it has been. The young, the old, the intellectual, the not-intellectual. That’s because the story is just about people, about what we feel through our relationships. It’s what is called in mass media parlance a “human interest” story. A story for everyone.
9. Where do you think this book should go to? Do you think it could be a recommended reading?
I don’t think of it essentially as a textbook kind if that’s what you mean. But, people interested in making a career in mass communication can find guidance and inspiration in it. It can also help them navigate.
10. Are you a full-time author?
I do this-and-that in Communication Arts. Write TV scripts, occasional Film scripts, produce, direct, consult and teach. But, I’ve become a publisher. I published Friendships myself. And I’d be writing a few more books and helping other writers to publish theirs.
11. Give your thoughts on what this book will do for the creative scene and art scene
It can stimulate more creativity and inspire other people.
12. What is next for MS?
13. Please give links where we may purchase your book and if there is a website we
Interested parties can also reach me directly via Facebook or call +2348033152708
Thank you for chatting with us on Centerstage