As Olu Jacob celebrates his 70th birthday, one can confidently state that he is one man who has, within his sphere of influence and profession, maintained a grace that is uncommon in our times.
Finding himself by calling and training in a scandal-friendly industry, Olu Jacobs has maintained his integrity; never for once has he been linked to any form of indignity, high or low. When adultery, senseless divorce, perversion, and every imaginable manifestation of low-life daily make the news in Nollywood, Olu Jacobs has unfailingly come out unscathed. He has remained married to the delectable Joke Silva who consistently glows like a teenager who has just fallen in love for the first time.
Never for once has Olu Jacobs been heard mouthing ethnic sentiments in his description of the Nigerian film industry. When it has become the trend, for instance, for some actors and producers to make such statements as “Yoruba movies are the best” “Igbo actors are better than others” “Hausa movies are beyond Nollywood” and other such divisive assertions that expose the closed mindedness of those who utter them, Olu Jacobs, a bridge builder, would always judge each movie according to its merits, and approach his analysis of the industry with uncommon broad mindedness. He has maintained the highest level of professionalism with his colleagues, producers, directors and marketers, choosing - like the elder he is – not to keep quiet about the decay in the industry, but without personalizing or sectionalizing his utterances. Don’t be deceived, he is proud of his Yoruba roots, as every African ought to be of his primary nationality, but he appears to have understood that life, to be lived to the full must never be approached from an either/or perspective, but from a both/and viewpoint. We live to learn from each other, not to hate, contest with or castigate each other.
Never for once has Olu Jacobs been linked with fraud, embezzlement or some other political maneuverings, be it within the Actors Guild of Nigeria or at the macro level, when it comes to wining and dining with the notoriously corrupt Nigerian political class. Not that it is unbecoming of one to leverage on one’s talents and popularity to make “important friends,” but Olu Jacobs has consistently maintained his professionalism by standing apart, even shunning the political space of Nigeria. Except when called upon to promote certain humanitarian or charitable causes, he has been content to act his scripts out and retire to enjoy life with his family.
Nothing is inherently wrong with a Wyclef Jean trying his hands on the Haitian presidency or Youssou N’Dour aiming a shot at Senegal’s topmost position, or even George Opong Weah vowing to rule Liberia in his lifetime, but there is profound wisdom in the proverb that says that a hunter who has only one arrow to shoot does not shoot with careless aim. Olu Jacobs has lived his single lifetime with dedication to his calling and training, wavering neither to the left nor to the right.
On his 70th Birthday, Nigeria has a man to celebrate in Olu Jacobs. Although close to two decades older than the independent nation, Olu Jacobs represents the new breed of Nigerians who will soon, hopefully populate the country’s geographical space.