The Helen Paul Interview
1) Please tell us a little about yourself My name is Helen Paul, Tatafo is my stage name. I am a graduate of the prestigious University of Lagos, with a B.A in Creative Arts (Theatre Major). I am generally into several facets of entertainment but I’m more popularly known as a comedienne, actress, compere, radio/TV presenter, and singer. I am also a playwright and much more. How little was that? (Laughs)
2) Tell us about life before tatafo Just simple everyday life - I was raised by my parents and my grandmother. I got busy with life as a student whilst attending elementary and high schools in Lagos. It was shortly after my admission to the University of Lagos that I received an invitation to perform professionally at an event. One thing I remember vividly however is the fact that many years before I ever stepped on my first stage, I used to write my visions on paper and read them out to God; in the solitary confines of my room. What can I say now but to thank Him?
3) What do you consider to have been the turning point for you/what is your success story The success story thus far has been God. I said “thus far” because I believe that I still have a long way to go and so much more to learn. Like I said, my first professional performance was whilst I was an undergraduate of the University of Lagos. There has been no looking back after that and by God’s grace, I have either anchored or performed at what I can modestly refer to as high-profile events. It would even be difficult for me to isolate a particular as my big break. I think that God just had mercy on one small and unknown girl who decided to trust in Him to lift her up.
4) When we mention the youths of Nigeria, what is it that comes to your mind The average Nigerian youth depicts Greatness, Creativity, Passion, Perseverance, Determination, Strength, and Courage. Above and beyond the many negative stories, I strongly believe that Nigerian youths have a lot of virtues stored up in them. If given the opportunity and a level playground, a great percentage of Nigerian youths will pleasantly shock the world with their amazing talents.
5) What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the youths of today There are internal factors such as greed and a rush to make wealth at all costs. It’s the computer age of course and so today’s youths are used to the era of remote controls and the internet. Maybe that partly explains the rush to make headway. I belong to this generation so whatever I say affects me too. Also, the culture of reading has been significantly eroded and I really wish this could be revived fast. The major external factor is corruption, which is an aftermath of the years of waste the country has been subjected to (if we’re talking about Nigeria). The environment in general affects the youth of today as virtues like hard work, patience, faithfulness, etc are hardly encouraged these days. It’s now the era of “Get Rich or Die Trying” or “Survival of the fittest”, no longer “The Patient Dog Eats the Fattest Bone”.
6) So tell us about the character tatafo and what that character tries to preach or portray Tatafo is a small child who lampoons the society in a satirical and impetuous manner. She reports and makes comments on anything she hears or sees. She kids, laughs and plays a lot but beneath all that, there is usually a message with a focus on social and other issues.
7) What is the meaning of tatafo, and how did you come about the name “Tatafo” means busybody, gossip, or in our local parlance - amebo, olofofo.
8) What is your philosophy about life? Live each day, one day at a time. Never allow anything to take the place of God in your life. Do things that would make you and people around you happy.
9) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years? By God’s grace, I will be bigger, with a wider audience and many more lives to impact. I hope to have brought out many more gifts that God has deposited in me. I also hope to be a much more accomplished entrepreneur and a role model to the youths.
10) What do you consider your ultimate achievement so far? I don’t have any yet. As I said, I’m still growing and learning. I haven’t even accomplished 0.005% of what I believe God has in store for me.
11) What can Nigeria do for its youths and vice versa? All that Nigeria’s leaders need to do is set good examples for the younger generation to emulate. All virtues like honesty, integrity, kindness, humility, respect, etc are best lived out than preached. The Nigerian youth can also do a lot for his or her country, by being a patriotic citizen, having a change of attitude and mentality, etc. For example, the youths can use their age, strength, intelligence, etc to effect positive changes instead of engaging themselves in violence, scam activities and other nefarious activities.
12) What is your advice for Nigerian youths with a dream? Keep the dream close to your heart. Write it down, model your life in conformity with it. Pray to God and act it out in faith. Lastly, develop character - it goes a long way in making or damaging destinies.