She grew up on the screen. But while several of her peers have since quit the stage, Benita Okojie, who not long ago completed her National Youth Service Corps programme, is waxing stronger in music and wisdom, writes Jayne Augoye
She knew the distractions that come naturally with stardom. So, when she was heading for the compulsory three weeks orientation at the National Youth Service Camp in Lagos last year, she decided to veil her identity by not carrying ‘Benita’, her popular name, on her head. Instead, she took recourse to her Yoruba name – Bisola.
But barely a week after, her real identity was discovered, after all, a gold fish has no hiding place.
“ I wanted to experience the National Youth Service like every other person,” she narrates to our correspondent. “I felt that people would just assume that I just bore a striking resemblance to Benita Okojie. But I was wrong because I was ‘uncovered’ too soon.”
The drama, however, paid off as the Edo-born gospel singer, who has been on the spotlight since childhood, ended up making friends and building what she called special friendships, many of which she still maintains till date. She adds that she was also given preferential treatment during her service year that ended in October 2011.
Because fame comes with a price, the artiste, who has four albums in her kitty, says she was called upon to represent her platoon at the mock American Idols competition held in the camp. But this, she says, was a decision that did not go down well with some people.
“I did not want to enter for the competition but I was cajoled into doing it by my peers. Some people were jealous and were not in support of my role because they felt I was already experienced and a professional singer.”
At the NYSC camp, romance was the last thing on the cards for Okojie. So, while her peers had a field day falling for the sugar-coated lyrics the guys waxed, she says, “I was not moved.”
Asked if she got any marriage proposal at the camp, she burst into a long laughter before saying, “Abeg o! Three weeks is too short a time to propose marriage. I laughed at such proposals because I know you cannot know an individual within that short period of time. I always try to balance my relationship with the opposite sex, as such I try to define it at the word go.”
The story of her career is predicated on her hit song, Osamudiamen, which enjoyed lavish airtime on AIT and some other stations. As an infant, she had, however, also featured in the late Sonny Okosun’s video, Woman.
Okojie, who studied English at Redeemers University, Ogun State, still relishes her childhood and humble beginning with so much nostalgia.
She enthuses, “When I watch my music videos of old, I cringe and laugh hard. But the truth is that I am impressed at what I did back then and I am definitely proud of myself.”
So, what has really changed about Benita? Clearing her throat, she lets out a confident answer amid a gale of laughter. She notes, “My body, stature and looks. I think I am more beautiful now.”
Okojie, who turns 24 on Friday, is back in the studio working on a couple of singles with some young producers who, she says, she met during her youth service year.
Culled from : The Punch