Entertainment

Tony One Week: How homosexuality infiltrated Nollywood

Tony One Week

Tony Muonago aka Tony One Week is a known name in the Nigerian entertainment industry. He became more popular when he released his record breaking album ‘Everybody Gyrate’.

Tony later joined active politics and became a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly. In this explosive interview with ORJI ONYEKWERE, One Week takes us on a jolly ride into his life as an entertainer and politician.

What’s the Tiktok gyration all about?

The Tiktok gyration was created to give me more presence on the social media. Even if I was in Nigeria, I will still do it because it will give me more presence on the social media. Again, it’s to promote my UK tour, which will happen in June, July and August.

So, my team and I decided that it will be wise to be in the face of everyone three or four times in a week. So, we are doing it Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 – 10 pm Nigerian time and UK time. What we do there is to discuss my career, music and promote the new songs. I have three new singles: Play, Game and Zero- zero hour.

What’s the concept behind the single, ‘Money Spender’ that will be released on all digital platforms from April 26?

‘Money Spender’ is a bit different but it still has highlife and amanpiano. It’s different in the sense that it’s not like gyration completetly. This one will wao the fans beyond what they are expecting because it’s a feel good song.

There are lots of messages in the song because none of my songs comes without a message. I try to appreciate people because no matter how small someone may look to you, he is still somebody. In terms of lyrics, delivery and performance it was okay and it was produced by Emlis P.

25 years ago you released ‘Everybody Gyrate’, which became more like a national anthem. Last year, you released ‘Gyration Rebooth’. Do you think the song is still acceptable like it was 25 years ago?

I consider myself a prophet of gyration that is why I am doing my best to keep the genre alive. I left the scene from 2011- 2023 because I went into politics. However, in my absence I realised there was a big vacuum, either the people there did not do it the way I did.

In November 2023, I and my team decided that the best way to reactivate the brand was to rebooth the original gyration that people heard in 1998, which made them fall in love with gyration. What we did was to inject ogene (gong), saxophone and flute to make it more acceptable to this generation. If I want to perform, I will rather perform the new one because it has more energy and life.

If you were in DJ Obi’s place on the 25th of December 2023, you would have gotten the answer to this question because Burna Boy was jumping for the 20 minutes my performance lasted. E Money, KCee, Sabinus and Poco Lee were all there. A lot of people will attest to the fact that it was a great way for the gyration master to come back.

You commercialised gyration songs which is the core preserve of the Kegites Club. Have the Kegites community accepted the fact that gyration is no longer an exclusive preserve of the club, but a commercial venture open to everyone?

I don’t hide the fact that my background is Kegites Club and I am from Ilya Erosion ( Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State) and I was the Drumito(Drummer) and Songito( Singer). Back then Dennis Onwuzulike Jnr was my friend, we introduced some of the innovations in drumming and the bastadization of some Christian songs that kegites is known for, we began it.

I have not hidden the fact that I leveraged on my kariability ( kegites membership). While I was doing my Masters degree at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, in 1995/1996, myself, AB Cowboy and a few other friends did a medley but it didn’t do well.

I was still in the university when I went to Lagos and then I was working with AMACO investment. Something took me to the studio to produce my gospel music. The songs on the side B of the gyration album was what took me to the studio. Bringing in the kegites songs was just by accident. Before I went to the studio for a session, I had only ₦40, 000 which I made from movies with AMACO Investment and Sunny Collins Nwatu of Great Movies.

I went to the studio and this guy called Stanley Okorie, a gospel muscian; did a song titled Goodness of God and Gabriel Moses, AMACO Investment, was the one marketing the song for him. He came to where we were writing a script because I was just a script writer those days. He came to see AMACO who gave him ₦300,000 cheque. When he left, I asked AMACO, ‘what did this guy do that you gave him such a huge amount of money.

He said his music is selling, and I told him that in that case, ‘Chairman, I will give you music. He laughed and said, ‘Tony, have you started singing now? I thought you only write scripts and act’. We didn’t talk about it again. We went to Enugu to shoot the movie ‘Evil Men’; it was while we were editing it that AMACO asked about the music I promised to give him.

I now collected ₦15,000 for the job I did for him, ₦25,000 from Sunny Collins and went to meet the late Johnson Davidson. He took the ₦40,000 and was only able to book two sessions from Miditone studios near Bode Thomas, Surulere, Lagos. That day, I went to the studio and we worked from 9.am to 6pm when we went for break. By 2.am, we were just able to complete one side of the tape and we still had one side which is 22 minutes, to fill.

They advised me to go back home, write more songs and come back. I thought about it, I don’t have money, so how are my going to pay for another studio session? At that point, I requested for pen and paper, but they started laughing at me. One of the studio engineers is called Rasta and the other one called Pastor and he said, ‘you think music is easy that all of us are not singing’.

But Johnson told them to give me pen and paper and he went to sleep. He said, when I am through, I should call him. I wrote six pages of the gyration song which made me what I am today. All the songs: Everybody Gyrate’, Onwa December and others are there.. By 4.am when they woke Johnson, he played it from the beginning to the end, he now said something I will never forget, “Old boy, you for tell us say you be musician”. From that 5.am, he stood till 7. am when he gave me the master tape.

I took it to AMACO and he listened through and said Gyration side will be side A and other one will be side B. He asked me what I wanted and I told him, we need to shoot a musical video and he said, let’s go to Klink Studio, that is Kinsley Ogoro’s Studio. The following week, we shot the video at Alfa beach. I did this by September 1998 and by December, as I was traveling to Anambra State, the song was everywhere.

To answer the question on how kegites Club feel about the commercialisation, it’s not only that. Some people said I sang fraternity song and there was a time it was rumoured that I was killed. But today, I have become a role model for kegites that even Chiefos ( Kegites Chiefs) are making music the way I did. I can name some of them that also did commercial Kegites songs. AB Cowboy is there, he is celebrating 25 years in music and this is happening on the 20th of this month which is today. So, everyone should support him.

A lot of people don’t know that you are also a standup comedian as well as an actor?

A lot of people don’t know I started off with standup comedy. I did comedy, I fed my family with comedy. The likes of Alibaba, Okey Bakassi, Julius Agwu, Basket Mouth are people from my generation. Real standup comedy ended with my generation. The very best in standup comedy is still Okey Bakassi. What do this generation do, only to come and abuse you in the name of comedy. How many of them will crack a joke from beginning to end. You see a man that came out with his family to enjoy the show, you start using him to crack jokes. That’s rubbish.

I have done standup comedy, script writing. I wrote the movie ‘Narrow Escape’, which was my major breakthrough before I started writing many others. In 1999, I wrote and shot my own movie, ‘Hooligan’. I have worked with a lot of people as a director, artistic director, actor, script writer and a producer. In 1998, I went into music and my career blossomed. I don’t like depending on people because what made me a jack of all trade is that I get bored easily.

You contested AGN presidency some time ago and lost. If you were to be in Emeka Rollas shoes as AGN president, what would you have done differently considering what is going on among our actors today?

God never wanted me to be president of AGN. I was on tour of Germany when they announced there will be an election. I then called some of my “boys” like Emeka Rollas Ejezie, current AGN president, Kingsley Ogbonnaya (Dauda), late Chucks China Bambino who was my manager then, Charles Okechi, Emeka Rising, they are my guys and we were always at Winnis Hotel in Surulere, those days and I told them I was interested in contesting.

When I came back, to my surprise my son Emeka Rollas, was also contesting but I continued my campaign with Daddy Muonso ( Charles Okechi). Unfortunately I didn’t have money but my main contender that’s my brother Ejike Asiegbu had the backing of the marketers. The outcome of the election taught me a lot. Ejike had 75, I scored 66 and Emeka had 15. It was nine votes from River State that gave Ejike the victory. I did not campaign in River State because they already told us they had problems with River State chapter.

They said they were not going to participate in the election because they didn’t have a proper guild, so I did not go to River State, same with Emeka Rollas. But when we got to Abuja, we saw Hilda Dokubo, Sam Dede and other River State contingents. We even went to police because of this but at the end of the day because the chairman of the board of trustees and others were already compromised, what the marketers told them to tell us was to go ahead and do the election, then petition if you don’t like the outcome.

There is no where you will not see corruption. They are all alive, all of them. When I was traveling to Abuja, I entered the flight in Enugu only for me to see about seven marketers going to Abuja. What were you going to do?

When I came back to Lagos, I decided to relocate to Abuja not because I lost the election but because I was getting tired of the business. Homosexuality came into the business, cultism not fraternity but people were being initiated into the cult of homosexuality and I was the first person that made it public. One of the daily papers reported it.

So, I told myself if you were able to get these number of votes that means people can listen to you when you speak to them. I attended the same primary school with Olisa Metu, former PDP spokesman and we grew up in the same environment. I went to him and I joined PDP, that was in 2005/2006. It was then I also met Obi Cubana and I was still doing my MC jobs and anchoring shows, his garden was demolished by former FCT Minister Nasir el Rufai. We then became friends and started working together and I was more like his media person.

From 2007 to 2009, I was in Abuja and I was still playing music. I was the person that took Sunny Bobo and the late MC Loph to London in 2009. In 2007, I tried to pick a ticket under PDP, they didn’t give me. In 2010, I left PDP and joined ACN where I met Dr Chris Ngige and we all campaigned together. I got the primary ticket, then contested for the election and won.

I want to use this opportunity to appreciate all the people that made it impossible for me to become AGN president in 2005, because they were the people God used to redirect me to the House of Assembly. That is where you go, you will be given official car and you will get salary and you work for your people.

In 2015, I was the Minority Leader Anambra State House of Assembly, I was representing Idemili North State Constituency and I was doing a good job. I wanted to return back to the House at least to do two tenures. I already served under former Gov. Peter Obi and Gov. Willy Obiano and I was told that I will need to move to APGA, if I wanted to win, but I said no because I believe I am popular and I won by popular mandate.

I won my election because of the popularity God gave me as gyration master and the fact that Dr Chris Ngige was part of our team, also made us popular. In 2015, I said, I will not leave APC after the merger and it became a battle for me because a lot of people turned against me with all I did for my people.

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The leadership of the town, I am from Obosi, they made a public announcement that they should not vote for their son Tony One Week, they should vote for the person the governor wants. That was how I was sabotaged out of the seat in 2015.

I built two different schools Gbugheobi Mmakwum Primary School in Mmakwum village, if you go there you will see one structure built by Tony One Week. If you go to Okpuno Umuota village, Convent Primary School, you will see another structure. If you go to Uga Amuma village where I come from, there is a market there called Nwobodo, I rebuilt it because it was not being utilised. I did so much. I enlisted close to 20 youths into the Civil Service and with all these they betrayed me and I lost. I wept, but after a while, I returned to my base in the United States of America.

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