Women are special creatures; I have 3 wives, 20 girlfriends – 86-year-old singer Fatai Rolling Dollar
Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju, popularly known as Fatai Rolling Dollar, is an interesting personality. An octogenarian highlife music star, who returned to stardom at old age after many years of personal and professional setbacks, Rolling Dollar comes as an enigma. He exudes verve and agility as he does not look drawn by old age. According to him, he doesn’t drink, eat kola nuts or inhale snuff, habits which are common with old men. But he loves two things dearly: cigar and women. In this interview with ADAEZE AMOS, this husband of three wives professes his undying love for women. “Women are special creatures. If you want to do well in life, just love women,” he says. Excerpts:
How did you hit the limelight?
I started from my youth, when I was much younger than this. When I passed out of school in 1944, and I lost my dad during that year, the next thing for me to do was to get ready to make people happy. That was why I made it a point of duty to go into music because I know my future is tailored towards music. I went to learn music. I didn’t just rely on the fact that my mother used to sing in the church. That wasn’t enough for me. I went to acquire the skill. I was under someone who taught me music. It took me a lot of years to learn music. In fact, I spent five years trying to acquire that skill.
What is your impression about today’s youths who just start singing just because they have got the voice?
That is why their albums are not selling. In our time, you give them what is going to happen through songs. We had messages in our songs. But today’s musicians don’t have messages.
So, you prefer your early days’ type of music to what today’s musicians are churning out?
Yes, our own type of music is better. Ours was the time of highlife. And without highlife, there was no music. Reason being that highlife was the root of music in Nigeria. If you hoped to be a sound musician that would be recognised all over the world, then you must go and learn it.
For how long have you been in Lagos?
I was born and bred in Lagos. I was born on July 22, 1926.
Could you compare Lagos of those years with what it is today?
Lagos of yester-years was indeed nice, yes, very nice. Not minding the fact that it wasn’t as developed as it is now but it was better to me. Maybe because we had easy life then. There was no armed robbery, no police harassment; you walked freely from 9pm till dawn. And if per chance you were hungry, you would get something to eat from the roadsides. You could have Amala (cassava or yam flour meal) or Iyan (pounded yam) at any time. They start to sell food by nine in the night till the morning of the next day.
What was it about life then that you are missing dearly now?
Peace! The peace we had then in Lagos State, we don’t have it now. I’m missing the peace we used to have then. We don’t have steady light now. During the British colonial rule, even in the heavy rain, or thunder storms, light would still be on. In fact, it never blinked. Amazingly, we didn’t have much dam. We were using Ajele dam. That was the only dam controlling the whole Lagos then.
What was your childhood like?
I was very rascally. Oh yes, when I was growing up, I was an original rascal.
And women loved you then?
Yes, they loved me because of my job. You know women love musicians. Apart from that, I was very handsome when I was much younger. I was light-skinned.
Tell us about your love life?
I’m admired by lots of women because I’m strong.
Where is the source of your strength?
God almighty is the source of my strength. I don’t smoke weed, I don’t take medicine but I smoke cigarette (he says, puffing hard on his cigarette). My strength is from God and can you imagine that today, all over the world, I’m the oldest musician that is still playing on the stage?
Why are you this strong even in your old age?
You know, there is something somebody should not take when he becomes old. I don’t take meat, for instance. I’m off beer as well. But my major problem is women (he paused for a while, gazing up at the writer).
But you said you admire women a lot, how are they then your major problem?
I still say it that women are my major problem. I love them so much. You don’t blame me for that; after all, my mother is a woman and I loved her so much and she loved me. So, women are problems to me, especially when I see the beautiful ones. I admire them a lot and that admiration is from the bottom of my heart. Do you know I have a daughter of two years from my third wife? That goes to show how much I love women. Look at me, at my age, I’m stile agile and I’m still producing (giggles).
Are you romantic?
Yes I am, don’t I look it? At 86, I’m still very romantic. If I meet a woman who is not romantic, I would teach her to be romantic. I will teach the person the A, B, C of romance.
How many wives do you have?
I have two black women and one white woman. You know I travel a lot, so I met my white wife abroad and I married her.
Do you have a girlfriend now?
Yes, I have. I have up to 20.
Twenty? How are you able to be with all of them?
No, there is no sex in the relationship. We just stay together and I advise them. They bring goodies to me. You know women have power to bring good things. They have the power to open good doors of success. That is why we can’t do without them.
You know in Africa, women are looked down upon, what do you say about this?
People that do that are ignorant of the power of women. If a man wants to succeed in life, he should not frustrate women; he should be their friend. Let them like and admire you. Women can make you and they can mar you, if you take them for granted. This simply means that women can make something good and also have the power to make something terribly bad. That is the fact, whether you believe it or not. If you want to live long, don’t frustrate your woman, don’t maltreat her and don’t also underestimate her power. Believe me.
How about men who batter their wives at the slightest provocation?
I see them as weak boxers. I’m not a boxer; I’m a lover (giggles). I don’t beat women; I have never done that before in my life.
Most men, when they are old start having one ailment or the other. What ailment do you have?
None! No ailment at all. I’m not managing any sickness. God is managing me.
If given another chance, would you love to take another wife?
Yes, why not? But it would be only under one condition. The condition is that the lady would write it down that she would be responsible to raise any child or children that come from the marriage or relationship. You know that I’m old. I’m not ready to take care of any child now. If you love me, you take care of your child from me.
What is your advice for younger musicians?
Know what to sing. Be watchful over the wordings of your songs. Don’t just sing rubbish. In my own time, if you are singing and you mention the word ‘breast’, they would destroy your record, honestly. Don’t be vulgar in your songs.