Meet Ayo Ajewole, the Woli Agba you never knew
Comedy skits on Instagram are fast becoming the new oil for young Nigerians. If you have access to a smartphone and internet you have all the tools you need to make a skit. However, what makes you different is your level of creativity. Ayo Ajewole AKA Woli Agba a popular comedy skit maker has been able to make a name for himself through comedy.
If you grew up in Ibadan or South Western part of Nigeria, chances are that you must have heard or seen a dance drama group called Alfa Sule. Femi Ajewole and Ayo Ajewole are the two brothers that established the group in 2002.
For those who are very familiar with their stage play, you would know slangs like ” O ti Ganpa (Be still)” or names like Woli Agba or Bayo in Oruko Nla (The great name). Ayo Ajewole played the role of Woli Agba in the movie and the name stuck with him.
Ayo Ajewole shares his journey into gospel comedy, his background and what the future holds for him.
What was growing up like for you?
I was not born with a silver spoon, most times it was difficult to feed the whole family as my father was into pastoral work. I grew up to know that there were times we would have to eat without meat. Occasionally when we have meat, five of us will have to share one piece of meat. I was the last born and was given the smallest portion. There were times also like asking for money for WAEC form and my dad will start praying. At a particular time, I had to hawk several things just to survive and it felt like it wasn’t going to end.
I grew up in the house of the Lord, so I couldn’t afford to mix up with a lot of friends. My creative skills started in the church, I discovered I could play several instruments like the drums. While growing up, because of the fact that we didn’t really mix up with friends, I had to start playing alone. There was a particular abandoned car in my area then, I would go in and play the character of a father, mother and son.
What were your aspirations?
I wanted to be great, but I met a man who was my teacher. This teacher wanted to be a Chartered Accountant so I too wanted to do same. Eventually, I left science to go to commercial class, but while pursuing this lofty goal, I found what I did with ease. In class those days, my friends will burst into laughter over my jokes. They advised me to go into theatre acting, but I felt I couldn’t act and was just catching fun. I later studied economics at Lead City University.
How then did you manage to start Alfa Sule if you were the shy type?
My brother started it all, he got the vision that we should do dance drama. So I encouraged him and I joined him. So I started doing the lead roles and the courage to face the camera surfaced. The revelation and dreams that the future is bright gave us hope to continue as things were quite rough. And the fact that people were enjoying our play was refreshing, it wasn’t even about the money.
So how did to move from Alfa Sule to the Woli Agba we all know on Instagram?
Woli Agba stemmed out of Alfa Sule and the name stuck with me. Everyone knows I got the name from my character in Alfa Sule. People got interested in my character over the years, but in 2016 a friend asked me if I have heard about Instagram. I did not know anything about Instagram, so the friend helped me register on the platform. Afterwards, I met a few friends at events who wanted to see the Woli Agba in me. I go out of my way to sing as well and people call me for song ministrations. While doing all of that, I began to ponder on how I could give my fans more of the “Woli Agba” character in my song ministrations.
A friend suggested I do videos online, and I started praying about it. At some point, I started doing selfie videos but I felt it was missing something. One day I went to a friends place to ask for white cloth that pastors wear, I had a concept in my head and I did it for them. They all laughed and I posted it and people started tagging me and the likes were coming. After that, concepts started coming, and Dele who was a drummer at Alfa Sule signalled interest in joining me. So that was how it all started and since then it has just been God.
How have you been able to balance your work and personal life?
It has not been easy, my wife sometimes feel lonely when I am away. But when I am around, I make up for it. My wife is my first fan, I discuss skit concepts with her first before anyone else. Sometimes I even act it out just to see her reaction. I know if it cracks her up, the world will get it.
You seem to have cracked the science of making people laugh, can it be taught?
Making people laugh is not easy. It is either you have it in you or you don’t. It can’t be taught, it can only be activated. Dele is an example, no one knew that there was a Dele character inside him. I was able to help him activate his comedy side. What I can advise is that you make sure your comedy is relatable and has morals. That should crack people up.
What impact has the IPM ministry had on you?
Is it the fact that I went to Isreal without paying a kobo or the joy that people get when they see me? The IPM ministry has had an immense impact on me and then I get to hear testimonies like somebody who was in a labour and they played my video and she delivered. This is beyond me, it is only God. I just give my self to God to use me to keep touching the lives of IPM ministry worldwide. I am grateful for the love the people of IPM shower on me and my family every time.
Why have you remained in Ibadan, unlike others celebrities who relocate?
I don’t do anything just because others are doing it. I spend a few days in Lagos when I am invited to perform, but I will always come back to my base. The slogan of Oyo and Lagos state is perfect, Oyo state is the pacesetter. If you can do something successful in Ibadan, you will make it anywhere. To make people laugh in Ibadan is very difficult because they are laid back and rigid.
What are your future plans?
I have started a comedy school, to contribute my quota to helping nurture others. The school helps to activate the God-given talent in them. We started the introductory class a few weeks ago. I hope to bring these people together and see how we can all work together, it could be in movies, drama and so on. As for the future plans, If they told me a decade ago that I would be where I am today, I will say it is not possible. So I don’t really have any future plan than for God to lead and I follow.