Guests were expected to arrive at 1p.m. and the dress code was blue jeans and a touch of purple.
By the scheduled time, the venue of the shindig was filled to the brim. Colleagues, family members and fans of the popular actor and trained broadcaster had come to rejoice with the Lagos native and accomplished actor and broadcaster, who studied Theatre Arts at the University of Port Harcourt.
Celebrity caught up with the star of such hit flicks as Tango With Me, Sitanda, Esohe, Lotana, Irapada, October 1, Torn, Banana Island Ghost, The Governor, Grey Dawn, Broken and countless television series and soaps, including Checkmate and Tinsel, shortly before the shindig and he spoke briefly about his career and life.
How does it feel at 60?
I honestly don’t feel any different from being 40. In recent weeks, I have had to pinch myself and confirm that I haven’t miscounted in some way, but really, I am 60, and I don’t feel any different.
So, maybe age is really just number, after all.
Looking back, were there decisions you made that would have been different, career-wise and life…
(Cuts in) I think one of the great lessons life has taught me, which has also become a key life principle for me to recognise that I have nothing, looking back. Since I cannot change a thing in that past, I have learnt to move on.
So, I guess if there ever was any decision I took in the past that I would change now, they are not so many and important that readily comes to mind.
I guess I would have done some things differently, education-wise. But then, what does my regret change? I am grateful for everything I have and that God has enabled me to attain.
What are the most memorable moments of your life?
I have had many of them, without a doubt, including getting married, our first child and the ones that followed, their first days in school, my wife’s graduation with her doctorate, some of the commendations I would been awarded and several others. My life is full of memorable days.
However, I think the most recent and easier to recall will be when my first two full length plays, 1960, a fictional chronicle of Nigeria’s match to independence, and Interview With A Prostitute, which were presented for public reading at Freedom Park, Lagos.
We had some really interesting people across disciplines and the feedback was so good. I have decided to take Interview With A Prostitute on stage and that will be another memorable day.
How is the home front? You have kept it very private. Was that deliberate?
I have a calm and stable home and I give thanks to God for that.
It is a deliberate decision to keep my family away from the sometimes- unsettling environment of my work and the fallout of being a public personality.
My children were growing in a period when my career was already in full bloom and there were so many journalists who seemed on the lookout for anything that remotely resembled sensation.
I needed to protect the kids from all that and the first way I knew was to myself keep a strict professional life and a low key social.
My wife is also a teacher in the university. I needed to help her maintain her dignity. It was all carefully thought out and deliberately decided on.
There have been big sacrifices to make because of it, but ultimately, it boiled down to a decision between being happy and being rich. We chose to be peacefully happy.
What is for Bimbo Manuel, career-wise, in the next 10, 20 or 30 years?
Who knows where we will be in the next 10 days, not to talk of 10 years.
I am just thankful for each new day and I live it, career-wise, in the same manner as I always have, like I may not be here tomorrow, so only my best will suffice. If I can’t deliver that, I would rather not start at all.
However, I continue to dream and fortunately, we have a period of renaissance in the theatre in Nigeria, and see how I can continue to function in that sector of the industry.
Theatre is usually about how good you are and how good you look, who will do it best and not who is the director’s friend. Since I have developed the confidence to publicly present my writings, I have ventured with more boldness into conquering the next level- producing theatre, which is not joke.
My first steps start on that journey with the production of Interview With A Prostitute in May this year. But generally, it is to take each day at a time, each time piece by piece and be grateful to God for each breath and all He empowers me to achieve.