Home FEATURED UJU ONYECHERE LIVE: CHARLES OPUTA (Creativity Master)

UJU ONYECHERE LIVE: CHARLES OPUTA (Creativity Master)

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806120_imv_jpg98c1326561045002903191b91fb6ac8dA lot has been written about change, yet many are still not able to embrace it or seem to tap into it. In accordance was the saying that, “If you always believe what you’ve always believed, you will always think the way you have always thought. If you always think the way you’ve always thought, you will always feel the way you have always felt. If you always feel the way you’ve always felt, you will always do what you’ve always done. If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten. If there is no change, there is no change.” Individuals who don’t achieve anything in life are those who make no effort to change even when what they are doing is not working out the way they want. According to Fred Smith, “You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different you would be in the process of changing right now.”
Of course, you do not expect such changes without resistance. Nothing new will easily be embraced by the public. We like comfort and always will want things to be the way they are, as long as we are deriving little pleasure from it. Most of the inventions we are enjoying in the world today were actually rejected when they were first announced. The same goes with ideas. This was the main theme of my 26th book, How to Reject Rejection. In the book, I highlighted more than seventy cases of inventions and ideas that were turned down which eventually became masterpieces due to the doggedness of the initiators.
Any individual being celebrated today must have gone through a period of rejection. But the good news is that they always remained focused. They are always consistent. They are determined. And above all, they maintain high level of self confidence. That is the making of champions. It was John Hopkins who remarked, “The difference between a champion and an average achiever is the ability to accept rejections and failure. The road to success is not without a puncture.”
Those individuals who believe in the beauty of their dreams, not regarding the rejection are deemed to be insane. A case in point was the attempt to send Alexander Graham Bell to a psychiatrist for daring to invent telephone. In the words of Aldoux Huxley, “The vast majority of human beings, dislike and even dread all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence it comes about that at their first appearance, innovators have always been derided as fools and mad men.” And a mad man is what they called Chukwuemeka Charles Oputa.
Born June 19th, into a highly privileged parental background of Hon. Justice Chukwudifu and Margaret Oputa, Charly Boy, as he is well known, was sufficiently opportuned to acquire the best formal education the world could offer. Upon completion of his secondary education at Holy Ghost Secondary School, Owerri, and Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha, he proceeded to the prestigious Harvard University in the United States of America, bagged a diploma in Business Administration, then to Suffolk University, USA and bagged a B.Sc in Speech Communications. He went a step further to acquire a Masters in Mass Communication from the Emerson University, USA.
On returning home after his studies, he resolved to be a musician and turned down a job offer waiting for him in the Public Relations Department in Mobil Oil Company in Lagos, a move that did not go down well with his parents. With his parental background, it wouldn’t have been difficult for him to get whatever he wanted. To show he was serious about his dream, he kept away from his parents’ cozy home in Ikoyi and opted to live in his hometown, Oguta, Imo State. You can imagine what that action did to his self esteem and confidence. And he had to live there for seven years.
He released some albums, but they weren’t a commercial success. Time went by and there was nothing to show for his efforts. Broke and with family responsibilities, he managed to get to Lagos as an attached passenger in a bus. There was no option for him than to stay in his father’s house. He swallowed his pride and took a room in the Boy’s Quarters. To get by, he sold his music cassettes in traffic. His fortune changed sometime between 1984/85 when he met and struck a friendship with the late Tyna Onwudiwe. It was this meeting that gave birth to the brand Charly Boy.
Before meeting Tyna, he dyed his big Afro hair in day-glo colours and paraded it as a punk. It was reported that Tyna woke up one morning and took him to a barber to scrape two sides of his hair. He later bought a bike and started cruising the city. Charly Boy did a lot to create the brand. According to his African American wife, Lady Diane, “He was looking and aiming for something that will set him apart from other people, which he can use as a stepping stone. All those things were gimmicks and antics he used to achieve his aim. He was just painting a picture.” True, it was a picture. But it wasn’t easy. He used to braid his hair; wear lipsticks and pancake. Because he used to sweat a lot and his pancake used to wear-off, he always carried with him powder everywhere he went. He also on some occasions wore two different colours of shoes.
The brand was further straightened by the creation of a television talk show – The Charly Boy Show in 1992. The programme which came out with various innovations was aired for years before the introduction of Zoom Time in 1998. Zoom Time which ran on more than 26 TV stations was anchored on interviews with movers and shakers of the country.
Charly Boy, who connotes different things to different persons, insists his works are not about today, but about the future. When he started, many people had wrong perceptions of his dream and that was why he was misunderstood. He was called names, saying he is mad or that he is eccentric. He just created a character and wanted to portray that character in some light.
The 7th President of Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), whose dream in life is to be with the youths and ensure their welfare, set up a multi-purpose youth centre in Abuja. The multi million project aims at training youths and artistes, as well as showcasing talents in all genres of entertainment. This is in fulfillment of a lifelong dream of establishing a youth centre where he could take many young Nigerians off the streets and where he could on a wider scale, rehabilitate a lot of damaged youths in this country.
This centre is one of the projects of the Charly Boy Foundation. A foundation conceived as a motivational and training centre with lots of facilities like computers, auditorium, recreational units, stage, as well as a radio and television station. The plan is to have on a weekly basis, credible Nigerians talk to the youths on how they can build their future. Charly Boy insists that you don’t have to be a governor, a minister or be in any particular office before making a change in the society. Rather if you can touch a soul or two from wherever you are, then you would’ve made an impact.
Charly Boy was bestowed with African Transparency Award floated by an NGO known as Code Red, through which medium he became an arrow head of protest marches in the country. He has championed fights against piracy, hard drugs and other social ills. His effort to fight for the poor like the commercial motorcyclists popularly known as ‘Okada’ earned him the name ‘Area Father’.
After 25 years of the brand, Charly Boy, on Thursday, March 15, 2007, presented to the public in his usual unpredictable way the book, My Private Part. Just like my book, How to Fire Your Boss, the 626-page book’s title gets the intending reader curious.  A must read if you really want to know the true personality of Charles Oputa. The book is a documented history-like family photo album, collection of press clips, wise sayings and motivational collections.
His success today which has resulted in an acceptable brand personality enjoying product endorsement across sectors is not a fluke. He has paid his dues. One thing that worked for him was his consistent nature. According to the Mother, Margaret, “Charly Boy is a phantom, but Charles Oputa is my son. Charles has always been a determined person all his life. He has always been unique. His rising profile is as a result of his consistency.”
Charly Boy could’ve given up in those times things were rough. To even take care of his wife was a problem, yet he held on. He kept going. He made changes when it became necessary, but he kept going. He was consistent with what he wanted. Some of us would hardly stay in one profession or business. Just like the women selling by the road side. Their business is seasonal. When it’s time for corn, they are there. If it’s orange, they are there. The same with roasted plantain or yam. Name them. We must show consistency in whatever we have chosen to do. The world must know us for something.
Another lesson is that we should be courageous. It takes courage to be what you are not. It took courage for Charly Boy to do all that he did just to create the brand. You must be bold to go for what you want. Also we should know that packaging means a lot in whatever we are doing. That’s where branding comes in. In a world where every soul and every business is competing for attention, one must make every effort to be heard. How you go about it is immaterial. It calls for creativity. Think of Prof. Wole Soyinka’s looks or the young man, Denrele Edun who presents music on television for Soundcity. It’s all branding.  Hon. Justice Chukwudifu Oputa advices: “Unless you do something out of the ordinary, you won’t attract attention. Extraordinary ways attract attention, but keep your head, don’t lose your head, when you have made a point, you return to sanity. You have to be mad sometimes to achieve some things, once you have achieved it, come back to normalcy.”
Dear reader, there is no excuse for any of us to fail. There are several ways to get what we want. Even when the world thinks you are insane, just keep going. When you arrive, the same people will sing your praises. The key is in your hand.

Shalom.

NB: First published December 2015

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