Thursday, 25 July 2013

Kayode Oyinbo: American who speaks Yoruba with passion

Culled from Punch.
An American who speaks Yoruba fluently, Kevin Barry and stars in Saidi Balogun’s new film, U or I, speaks on his experience in the industry.
If you want to provoke Kevin Barry, ask him how he became so proficient in Yoruba that many native speakers grow green with envy at his delivery and mastery of the language’s semantics. Then, he will quickly ask you to tell him how you were able to master English to the extent that you speak and write in it with little effort. That was the friendly fight with which he actually confronted our correspondent when he (journalist) spoke with him on the phone on Monday.

Otherwise called Kayode Oyinbo, he has mastered Yoruba such that he would even prefer that the telephone interview be conducted in the language. And so stunningly good in Yoruba has Barry become that he has stolen the heart of actor and producer, Saidi Balogun. He is the star of U or I, the movie that Balogun premiered in Lagos last week.

“He is so passionate about Yoruba that he gets disturbed each time we are speaking and we Yoruba people mix English words with Yoruba,” Balogun notes as he recounts his experience with Barry.

Barry’s adventure in the Yoruba worldview gathered steam when he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin to study International Relations and African Culture. But it really gained flesh in 2010 when he visited Nigeria for an exchange programme at the University of Ibadan. He says his passion became fired and he gave the project all he could to master the language.

“There is nothing I cannot say in Yoruba,” he enthuses. “I am humble about it, but I speak it as much as I speak English.”

He recalls that he met Balogun at an event in New York, USA. After they became friends, Balogun introduced acting to him and invited him to take part in You or I, a movie that looks at marriage from the perspectives of what makes or mars it.

“I care about people I relate with. I wouldn’t want to be part of just any film. But when I looked at the script that Saheed gave me, I told him that I wanted to be part of it.”

The American, who plays the talking drum, bata, among other instruments, says the making of the film was very tasking. Apart from the fact that they had to move from one country to the other – US, Spain, South Africa and Nigeria – which makes him to describe the experience as involving a gorilla style, he adds that there were days they had sleepless nights.

Kayode Oyinbo, who says he is also involved in public relations and events, enjoys Yoruba foods and loves Nigerian music. He loves seeing everyone dancing when a music is being playing at parties, unlike the typical American experience where, he says, many parties are silent, if not dull.

He says, “I have eaten many Yoruba foods, including snakes.”

Balogun adds that he chose to work with Kayode Oyinbo because he (producer) always wants to give viewers a unique experience. He adds that he does not believe in churning out films without investing a lot in creativity, which, he says, stands out a good movie.

“Why must you produce 500 films in two weeks? Eddy Murphy may not be part of more than a film in three years. Yet, he is known and respected all over the world. This is the philosophy that I have adopted as a film maker,” Balogun adds.

Barry also notes that it was some guys who found it too tricky that changed his name ‘Kevin’ to Kayode.

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