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I had my first child at 17 and my first grand child is 25 – Charleyboy


By Omenihu Alfred fibmn

In his recent interview with Punch, Charleyboy has dropped lots of personal information that could be seen as seredipities. He said, 

“I got  married very early and started off family life very early. At 17, I had my first child. My first son would be 51 this year. I have about 16 grandchildren. My first grandchild is like 24 or 25 years old. I have been a strong-headed person from childhood. I think that stubbornness started from the womb.”

“I  was a naughty kid. I was seen, by my parents at that time, as a problem child. But it didn’t take them so much time to know that I was just being myself and that it had to be my way or nothing.  I was  immature  at that time. I was a small boy. I didn’t know anything then. I was not prepared to be a father. I was always surprised that once I made love to any woman, the next minute, pregnancy would follow. I didn’t even understand. I even denied my first two children at first, saying they couldn’t have been mine because all the girls around me were just getting pregnant anyhow. By the time I turned 19 or so, my mother decided, in the family’s best interest, that I must marry. She was the one who chose the wife for me. Then again, I wasn’t prepared for that marriage but I went along with the programme. At least, I knew I didn’t have to pay to make love to anyone for a while. At about 20 or so, when I left Nigeria, that was how that marriage ended. At that time, I was immature and didn’t know what fatherhood meant. But looking back, it was as if I had everything I wanted to do planned out.”

“It  was a struggle to convince the mothers if the kids I rejected earlier to release them to me after I had said they weren’t mine and not been part of their lives for long, but I am glad they are now with me. It gives me great joy. I have about four or five other kids before my current marriage to Lady B. Lady B had my last three, but she is now the mother of all my children”

“After  going through three marriages, I decided to make this work. It is not like I don’t have problems with this one. It is just that I have come to understand as a mature person that every marriage has its own issue(s). I always thank God that I married my best friend. I don’t look at her as a wife really. I look at her as a body, an integral part of me. We are very open in our relationship. We say it as it is and we have mutual respect for each other. I have patience now. So, all of that has helped me in my present marriage which is why it has lasted for up to 45 years now.”

“My wife actually proposed to me. It was around 1981. She had been hanging around me since the late 70s. I don’t know what it was we were doing but I know she was around even though I had so many girlfriends. She was not really the one. It was during one of her trips to Nigeria and she woke up one day and said, “If you don’t want to marry me, I don’t want to see you again. Marry me or let me go!” That was how we, unceremoniously, went to a registrar in Owerri, Imo State and got married. My parents didn’t even know because they had wanted me to marry a Nigerian, someone befitting of my status and heritage. That was not what I wanted. That is why I advise parents not to be too hard on their children. If you see them going in a particular direction, if it is not something that would harm them, just guide them and let them be. Don’t just cut off your child because they are not doing exactly what you planned for them to do.”

“All  my children are strong-headed. I am always constantly battling with them. Just like I didn’t use to see my father’s perspective… I felt he was old and was preaching the same sermon. That’s how some of my children (though they are adult now) when they were younger were relating to me. Being the children of Charly Boy wasn’t easy for them. People thought I was crazy. They used to tease them in school and that worried some of them until much later when they came to understand life better.”

“My  father was very hard with me, but I thank God he was. Those are all the things that shaped me and gave me the confidence I needed. My story is like that of a prince that was born in wealth who decided to leave the royal bed and go to the bush to stay there and then refused to come out again, saying he preferred the bush. My father was a strict disciplinarian. My house was run like military barracks. I just thought the man was just being too old-fashioned and overbearing, and a bully. I was the one punished most among my siblings. I thought he singled me out because of lack of love. That was what I was rebelling against. My father, when he decoded who I really was, we became so close. I noticed that he admired my stubbornness in a way because I was consistent, focused, sagacious and audacious. So, I decided to make my own house softer.”

” I hardly used to spank them because, early in life, I had told myself that I wanted them to be my friend. I wanted to be their go-to person, and 90 per cent I succeeded. I knew all my children’s girlfriends and boyfriends. The few guys who dated my girls then would come to the house. I was against anybody being picked up or having to scale over a fence because they wanted to go see a man. That didn’t happen. Unlike my father who was more feared than respected, with my kids, they can tell me anything. Sometimes, they would even tell me the one I didn’t want to hear as if we were mates. Sometimes, it did get to me, but I remembered how I raised them. I didn’t want to have ‘mumu’ children.”

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What were the most bizarre things your children told you people said about you out there?

When they were in secondary school, they would come home crying, telling me what a teacher said about me. People told them I was gay and this and that (laughs). But they couldn’t understand. They felt that people were making it up. That is not the father they were living in the house with. He wasn’t that person. They just felt that people were just looking for different negatives to throw at me.

Was this a struggle for you?

No, rather it was a struggle for them. It couldn’t have been any struggle for me. I had to keep explaining that that was the persona of Charly Boy, and that I was the person they see when they came back from school. I was that person who did their homework for them. I was that person who you ran to talk about everything. Sooner than later, they grew thick skin and began to understand more.

What is the sweetest thing your children have done for you especially at this age?

Sometimes, not that I need it, they send me money or organise a party for me. Sometimes, they would buy me expensive things and take me out. There are a lot of sweet memories they have created and kept doing for me. A few problems have been trashed during these family times.

Speaking of age, I don’t even feel my age. I think it is because of my lifestyle. I not only live a simple life but I am also very picky about the kind of people I gravitate towards, for my health. I have always loved youthfulness, which was the main reason I built the brand ‘Charly Boy’ to shock myopic Nigerians out of their ‘Mungoparkic’ way of thinking. All together, it has been a great journey.

I want my kids to, when I am not here again, be self-reliant and be their true and authentic selves. You know my last girl is a lesbian. I remember the night she came out to me. I would never forget. Before then, I had been an advocate for the LGBT!+ community.

Yes, that is true. Most people even said it was because of your advocacy that God was punishing you…

Don’t mind those people. God was not punishing me. God smiled on me because that one of my daughters is gay doesn’t make her a bad person. She is one of the sweetest daughters anyone would ever have. She is the little Charly Girl. I love her because of the image that she has created for herself. If you see the girl, you have seen me. All the craziness of my early years, she imbibed them all.

What went through your mind the night she came out to you?

I was confused. But I didn’t want to lose the trust of my girl. She went like, “Daddy, I want to tell you something. Promise me you won’t be upset or disappointed.” My response was, “I hope you are not pregnant.” When she said she wasn’t pregnant, I felt I could take anything else. I didn’t know it was a bombshell coming. When she finally told me, I told myself that it was time I had to be a cool daddy. I couldn’t afford to be worked up. I had to ask her if she was really sure or was just experimenting. She said she was sure and that she was not experimenting. She was about 26 or 27 (years old). I told her that I needed to think, so I told her that we’d continue the discussion the following day. I didn’t sleep throughout that night. I had to ask myself, “Charly Boy, are you a hypocrite? You know a lot of gay people whom you love. So, what is going on?” The few gay people that I know are very good people and very sensitive. How can I be doing so much advocacy and my own child said she was gay and I am now worked up about it? When we spoke the next day, my tone showed that I had resolved it in my head and I didn’t want her to be too far from me. I knew I had to keep her friendship.

What are some values your father taught you that you have passed on to your children?

The most important thing he taught me was the act of a simple life and contentment. He taught me to be thankful and grateful where ever I find myself and not to compare myself with anybody.

You come from a very reputable family, your father being a Supreme Court Justice. How did this shape your reality about life and how did it help you raise your children?

That was the struggle between my father and I. I think we were in some serious competition. As usual, before I claimed my independence by force in 1981, I had just finished university education. I graduated as a Mass Communications major, majoring in Public Relations. When I came back after my youth service, my father called me up one morning and told me to move to Port Harcourt and take a job with an oil firm, which he had helped me get. I wasn’t having it. I never really liked my father’s tone at that time. It was like I was living under somebody’s shadow. I was not introduced as Charles Oputa; I was introduced as Justice Oputa’s son. I hated that. For some reason, it didn’t sit well with me. So, when my father called me to go deliver the letter and resume for work in PH, I told him clearly that I was not going to work. Of course, that was the tradition – when you left school, there was a job waiting for you, which you must do and you make progress on the job. When I said this, it was like I had said something very sacrilegious and unheard of. So, he asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to be a musician. I never really thought about it when the words were coming out from my mouth, but I was not happy with being dwarfed by my father’s overbearing image. I think I acted the way I did to upset him. After a week or two, we had that first quarrel. I remember he told me that I wanted to go and do music and through my life away.

I was a playful kid. I just wanted to play; I didn’t want anything serious. But, fortunately, my father was now made a Supreme Court judge after serving with as Imo State Court Judge. He had to move immediately to Lagos and I didn’t want to be following them around. I then had to move to Oguta, my hometown. There was no power supply; there was no running water. This was around 1986. I had some music equipment around me. I felt the entertainment industry would allow me to creatively express myself. That was how my journey started. I was in that village for seven years and at one point, I was totally lost. I didn’t speak to my parents for almost four years. My dad didn’t imagine I could survive those many years without asking them for help and not bothering them.

You are now a grandfather. How did you feel the first day you became a grandfather?

I was too excited on being the youngest grandfather that I didn’t even know how best to react. I have gone on to do it for up to 16 times. I have up to 16 grandchildren, and it is just a beautiful experience so far.