Saturday, February 22, 2014
Princess Latifat Lamolliatte - I used to keep snakes as pets, now I have pigeons
Interview between Princess Latifat Lamolliatte and Sun News reporter...
How are you able to combine Muslim, Christian and African traditional beliefs?
I believe in God. Anywhere God is truly worshipped, you should not bother who comes in to worship. Though I am a Muslim, I can go into any place of worship. If you invite me to a wedding in your church, I will attend. I will not decline to attend because I’m a Muslim. I know that some people will be reluctant to attend the church service. Such people are hypocrites, because it is the mind that matters. I think that somebody should have a good spirit and behave well. Who are you to discriminate against some-body on religious grounds and say this person or that person is not good?
You have a cultural troupe. Do you consult with deities before you go for concerts?
When we are doing these things, we don’t worship idols and ask them to help us. Like I al-ways tell people, we had our own religion before Western civilization came in with a new religion that tried to relegate our own traditional religion. Whether Christianity, Islam or traditional, these religions have different ways of praying to God. So, you have to choose the one that suits you. It is okay if you choose to be a Muslim, Christian or traditionalist. No one should discriminate against another person on account of religion. Concerning the troupe, if we are going to learn a dance, we research into the origins of the dance and do it exactly the way it was done in the past.
We go to the village and learn it. If we want to do bata dance, we go to the state and learn it the way it is done by the rural people. If we want to do the Osun river dance, we do it same way. I try to bring out the originality, but do it in a refined an more civilized way to show that you can look good and do civilized moves. We have introduced more things like the way they sing the songs; we make sure the person sings very well just like in the recording studio. Of course, when you go to the recording studio, the producer will be there to tell you what to do. These are the things I do when we go for rehearsals. I have a fire-eater who makes fe come out from his mouth. Among the troupe are ‘spirit’ dancers that leave the audience enthralled and wondering how they do it. People come to me to ask how they are able to do that during during our stage performance and I tell them it is the African wonder.
How did you develop this ability?
While I was in secondary school, my best subjects were history and literature. These were the subjects that I loved most. I attended Baptist High School, Benin, before changing to Our Lady of Lourdes College. I am a Muslim who attended Christian schools. I was very good in acting. My literature teacher encouraged me. I was very much interested in Wole Soyinka’s plays and cultural dances. But at the university, I studied languages for my first degree and later got Master’s degree in international law. When I was growing up, I said I would become an ambassador.
You must be a bold woman?
I’m never afraid of anything. If I see a lion, a trained lion, I can touch it. I used to keep snakes. The father of my friend gave me the first snake I had as a pet. We were schoolmates and I visited her house. His father used to keep the snakes in his sitting room and people were scared to go there, even his wife. I went there and I carried one of them; he was surprised. I asked if I could have one. He said that I could keep it and return it anytime I wanted. I went home with the snake. I was in secondary school then. Some time ago, I traveled to Benin Republic with my troupe. There was a particular place where women gathered and there were snakes in the room. In that community, they worship snakes.
They brought the snakes and a man was looking for who would carry the snakes. The women were scared and screaming. I moved close to him. He gave me one snake and I put one on my neck and carried another one. The women were shocked. The women gathered to take pictures of me; I told them to come close to touch the snakes too. The women were shocked that I could touch them. Nowadays I have ‘upgraded’ a bit and become chic about these things. I keep pigeons in my home. They came to me and I accepted them. They have lived in my compound for more than seven years. My com-pound is filled with them.
You move more with elderly women. Why?
The simple reason is that they have got experience. I am comfortable spending my time with them. They like me and their wisdom fascinates me. They are really good people, that’s why you see me in their midst.
Were your parents traditionalists?
How did they react to your way of life? I am very lucky. When I was growing up, my parents allowed me to follow my own path. Whenever I told them I wanted to do something, they did not try to dissuade me. My dad really trusted me because he was sure that I would never do anything wrong. My parents let me do whatever I wanted to do when I was growing up. They never bothered me. I’m so lucky.
What is the secret of your lovely skin?
t’s a cream I discovered and it is very good for the skin. It makes you feel young and glow. When you have a cream that hides your age, you look younger everyday. A lot of people come to buy it everyday. It is made for the dark African skin. It tones the skin with-out ‘bleaching.’
You have charisma. Why didn’t you go into full-time acting?
Actually, everywhere I go, people always link me with acting. People always erroneously believe that I am an actress. But I keep telling them that I am a designer and not an actress. The truth is that overseas, producers take time to make movies, but here what you see is not good. So, I am not impressed. Our producers are too much in a hurry. I like things to be done properly. It’s not about money, it’s just about me. You know some people will ask, how much are you paying me? I want to see the script. The sad reality is that most Nigerian producers are too much in a hurry to bring out movies.
What does style mean to you?
Style is the way you carry yourself, what you put on and what is good on you. As I said, you have to be very chic. Style could be related to the way you talk, the way you carry yourself, the effect you create when you come into a place and looking very elegant.
Your husband is white, how did you meet your husband?
That I would not say, when you ask me that question, I dodge from it.
But your surname –La-molliate – does not sound African?
Yes. My husband is a French man.