Popularly known as Charly Boy or Area Fada, Charles Oputa’s distinct personality, lifestyle, and often weird views raise eyebrows any day. But he is never bordered about what people say about him or his actions. In this interview with OLUSHOLA RICKETTS, he speaks about his lifestyle, things he learnt from his late Justice father, joy of being a grandfather and his marriage.
Why do you always call yourself a street boy despite being from a privileged background?
I have a rich heritage and thank God that I am from a privileged background. But you cannot compare that with the self-training that I have received from the streets. For me, that’s where it counts most. My upbringing didn’t prepare me for the Nigeria of today, but my street mistakes taught me important lessons.
There is no doubt in my mind that street smart kids kick book smart ones any day. And to God’s glory, I have both. To be street smart means you have situational awareness. You can assess the environment you are in, who is in it, and what the available angles are.
On the street, there is no time for being sluggish; you learn to trust your own judgment about people and what matters. This skill, regardless of where you develop it, is of great value everywhere in life. I wasn’t born in the streets, but that was where I was moulded.
Being street smart comes from experience. I see myself as a native chicken. It means I’ve learnt how to take what has happened to me, good or bad, think about it, and learn to improve from it. On the street, you are on your own. Street smart means you’ve put yourself at risk and survived or thrived or have scars. For me, Charly Boy, I have so many scars I can show you. I may have been called wild and crazy, but it’s all part of our curriculum on the streets. How much can you know of yourself well if you have not weathered the storm?
MY FATHER WAS A VERY SPECIAL MAN. ON THE BENCH, HE WAS THE SOCRATES; HIS JUDGMENTS WERE SO PROFOUND. I WAS SOMEWHAT A BIT JEALOUS OF HIM BECAUSE IN THE BEGINNING OF BUILDING THE BRAND CHARLY BOY, EVERYONE JUST DISTURBED ME WITH HOW SPECIAL MY FATHER WAS. IT WAS AS IF I WASN’T SPECIAL MYSELF
Your father is widely known as a man of integrity. How did he impact on you personally?
My father was a very special man. On the bench, he was the Socrates; his judgments were so profound. I was somewhat a bit jealous of him because in the beginning of building the brand Charly Boy, everyone just disturbed me with how special my father was. It was as if I wasn’t special myself.
As a father, I learnt from him how to keep the family together and how to stay committed to your wife. Since childhood, my father was always demonstrating love with our mum. When he wasn’t kissing her, he was holding her hand. Seeing both of them challenged me to always work on my marriage. Hence, I have lived together with my wife for 38 years. He was a loving husband and father. I thank God; we shared so much together before he passed on.
Our fathers carry half of our genetic makeup. Our relationship with our father plays a huge part in who we become. People grow up without ever knowing their fathers and this is unfortunate because fathers should play important role raising their children like mothers. A father is the model of a man for his daughter and she would choose a man who is like him. A father is the model for his son as well. Fortunately, my father was very active in my life. It’s not all about what parents give to the children; it’s also about what they teach. I was brought up with an overdose of m0rals, value and life principles.
Initially, we were not that close, especially when I set out on my own to build the brand we all know as Charly Boy. Things fell apart. But with my tenacity, consistency, doggedness, ruggedness and tremendous focus, I won his respect. I learnt from him how to say what I mean and mean what I say. I learnt from him how to be a good friend to my children too. I learnt from him how to take care and remain loyal to my wife. I also learnt from my father that being a good person or Christian doesn’t depend on your religion or status in life, your race or skin colour and political views or culture. It depends on how good you treat others.
How have you managed to keep your marriage together in spite of the obvious distractions?
I always have my reservations about ‘happily ever after,’ especially after three previous failed marriages. I always wondered how two strangers can be together for a long time. I just woke up to discover that I have been with the same woman, the same smell, the same loving, the same routine, the same quarrel and the same lips for almost four decades.
When you are not yet married, people give you reasons why you should get married as if one could just go to the shop and pick a spouse on the shelf. Even if that was the case, how do you know what you are buying until you take it home? They tell you everything good about marriage and how interesting it can be, but they never promote the down side. ‘Just marry the right person’ is what they always say, but ‘right’ itself is relative. Who is the right person? In my village, they will always say, ‘if one wants to marry someone like yourself, you will probably wait forever.’ Sometimes, I think my wife is too good for me and some other times, I feel I should have done better.
Get it straight, marriage is no fairytale. Marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy and satisfied. It’s your job to make your marriage happy and satisfying. Same goes for s*x. It isn’t supposed to make you passionate and ‘hot’. It’s up to you to make it passionate, ‘hot’ and intimate. Marriage is somewhat putting up with lots of craps and bullSh!t, and we must have a strong stomach for that. The word ‘marry’ is fusing two imperfect things together; so how is it possible that two imperfect things are merged? I guess it just means two people willing to be in a mess together, constantly finding a way out. Diane and I are happily incompatible and I have learnt to live with that. She is an extrovert and believe it or not, I’m an introvert.
Recently you celebrated your first grand-daughter on Instagram after she bagged a First Class degree with honours. What was the feeling like?
My own father celebrated me before he died even though it took him time to figure out how special I am. He started to introduce himself as Charly Boy’s father, not Justice Oputa.
I have 9 exceptional children and 14 grand-children. I celebrate them all the time because they are all unique in very special ways. My children are my friends; they taught me how to be a good father, as nobody really prepares you for that role. I celebrate my family all the time because family is everything for me.
I thank God daily because I know he has blessed me in so many ways people can’t even imagine. However, I have a sneaky feeling that my blessings are deserved because I have worked so hard to be a good son, a good husband and a good father.
Why did you say that prayers can’t save Nigeria?
I said that prayers alone can’t save Nigeria, for those who live in the church every day. Also, I did say that most pastors or your so-called men of God are scammers, frauds and you can’t find God in 95 per cent of the churches in Nigeria. Most Nigerian Christians are fake people as well because they are not godly.
Has prayers reduced our poverty? Has our prayers killed most of our evil leaders who have caused us great hardship? Has our prayers stopped the everyday increment in our cost of living? Why are so many young people committing suicide these days?
How can it be well when you sit in your corner and never contribute to making things well? All you do is dry fasting and the internet. And all you have to offer as a solution to your problem is, ‘God Dey.’
These days our youths are living on their phones and laptops, wasting data as if their lives depend on it. Take it from me; Jesus is not coming any time soon. God is not sending down Angels to come fix Nigeria for us. We must do it ourselves.
So you don’t believe we have credible men of God?
I am not suggesting that all men of God are tainted; but out of a hundred, you may not find more than four that live what they preach. The rest are just taking advantage of our religious ignorance, having carnal knowledge of people’s wives, defrauding the congregation and frolicking in their private jets. Some of them can’t even hold down a marriage. They are making fake promises and laugh their heads off to the banks.
Would it surprise you to know that I have read all the chapters in the Bible over 20 times? I know that true men of God do not misquote the Bible. It’s only demons who misquote or misapply the Bible. I know that God cannot punish us if we don’t pay tithe to our church because it is the goodness of our hearts that interest God than physical and financial disposition. I know that true men of God cannot promise us happiness and prosperity, all of that is a fortune-teller’s lie. There is nothing in the Bible about any “medium” that God uses to deliver such blessing.