“I left Nigeria to escape being kidnapped” – former child star Tosin Jegede reveals

by Stanley Azuakola

Parents listen to your children. We are the leaders of tomorrow. Try and pay our school fees and give us a sound education.”

Who doesn’t remember Tosin Jegede? Who doesn’t remember those lyrics? Almost everyone who was old enough to listen to music in the late 80s and early 90s must know that song, which gained massive airplay on TV, and by TV we mean NTA of course, which was the all-in-all back then.

How time flies!

Tosin Jegede, the child star who gave Nigeria that song, amongst other hits, is now a mature lady in her early 30s.

Jegede left Nigeria in 1996, when she already had three albums to her name. She returned briefly from the UK in 2005, during which time she staged a visual arts exhibition of her works and launched a limited edition of the biography of Cardinal Okojie, In the Eyes of Children. She returned to Nigeria after obtaining a degree in Business Decision and Analysis from the University of Bristol.

What stirs her heart these days is the future of the Nigerian child, hence her setting up of the, “One Child One Book”  initiative  of her Tosin Jegede Foundation.

She was nominated in Season 7 of The Future Awards on the strength of the initiative.

Jegede recently spoke with Benjamin Njoku of the Vanguard newspaper and shared amongst other things, why she left Nigeria in the first place. Interesting interview. Let’s share some excerpts.

Why did you decide to disappear from the scene, especially when the ovation was loud for you as a child star?

When I was between 5 and 13 years, there was a threat handed down to my dad by some students of University of Ibadan that should I be found on their campus, I would be kidnapped. They also threatened to publish on campus any “love letter” written to me by my boy friend and all that. I had different horrible stories.

As a child then, I was quite reflective. But drawing inspiration  from Michael Jackson and other child celebrities across the world who later grew into adulthood, I ensured that whatever decision I take in life stands.  So, I took a decision to rest my musical career awhile.

While I was studying in London, I had the opportunity to continue with my musical career there. But I decided to put it on hold to enable me concentrate on my studies.

At a point, I tried to escape from it but I realised that it’s irresistible, especially now that I’m embarking on this kind of book project. I’m actually  coming in contact with the likes of Banky W, and other notable Nigerian musicians. If I want to stage a comeback to music, I will have the backing of many Nigerian musicians.

Was the experience memorable as a child star?

It was quite memorable. I had         friends     and my family was there for me  It wasn’t a bad experience in as much as I was able to go out there and meet with people who appreciated my music and shared experiences with them. But at the end of the day, I was still a child. My family members were my friends then.

Between when you hit the limelight as a child star and now, what would you say have changed about you?

A lot of things have changed about me. I have been able to do things that not many children of my age  had the opportunity to accomplish then. I think I was  ‘fortunate’ in a way because I started singing at a very tender age.

But I’m no longer the little Tosin  that people used to know in the 80s. I’m now a big girl who is in my early 30s. You can see that I have grown into adulthood.

When you left the country to study abroad, what was uppermost in your mind?

I actually travelled abroad to better my life. Then, security in Nigeria was not all that tight. As a result, I saw the need to travel to the United Kingdom in order to improve on my lifestyle. And again, the  threat to kidnap me hastened my decision to do so. In any case, I’m happy that I left the shores of this country to further my education abroad.

Why  did you dump singing?

I wanted  to take some time to grow into adulthood and gain more experience in life. I just wanted to be a normal person and also, to enjoy my freedom.

I realised that I wasn’t ‘a normal person’ though I was fortunate and gifted. I travelled to the UK, to live out my dreams and learn a lot of things which I didn’t have the opportunity to learn while I was in Nigeria. I don’t regret my decision to put my career in music on hold. Everything happened for a reason, I couldn’t have stopped singing but it’s something that  I consider inevitable at a time. I still have the passion to sing.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

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