What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to “be a man” from the perspective of the subject of the week.
Today’s Man Like is Agba, an actor, comedian and social media influencer. He talks about how growing up in Ibadan shaped his personality, how his father encouraged him to become an entertainer and ignoring distractions to remain focused on his relationship.
What was growing up like for you?
I was born in Abeokuta but moved to Ibadan when I was two. Growing up in Ibadan is one of the best things that happened to me because that was where I became who I am. I learnt to play the drums and other instruments in church and fell in love with music and entertainment. It’s also where I had my first kiss.
After we moved to Ibadan, we moved around a lot because we were broke, which is why I know all the corners of Ibadan. At some point, my primary school was on the opposite end of Ibadan and my dad used to drop me in his old rickety Volkswagen Passat until the day it caught fire. That was when he decided that I was going to live with my aunt and cousins in the University of Ibadan Staff Quarters so I could be closer to my school, UI Staff School. Then he bought a new car and decided I could move back home and go to a school near home. It was at Omolara Primary school I was able to brush up on my spoken English because we had Ghanaian teachers.
When I was 16, I went to the University of Ibadan. I wanted to study Communications and Language arts but I was offered Adult Education instead. In my mind, I thought “Adult Education” was in the same context as “adult movies” or “adult entertainment”
LMAO! How? Walk me through your thought process.
For some reason, I thought they were going to be teaching us about porn. It became even more complicated when a friend of my dad said I was too young to be studying Adult Education and should re-write JAMB instead. She meant I could have been studying something better, but I thought she meant the course was too dirty for my age. In my mind, I was like, “don’t worry, I can handle it.”
While I still preferred taking courses in communication and language arts, my degree in Adult Education has been really useful. I used to help carry out voter sensitization of older and uneducated people about elections on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission during the 2015 election period. Working with old people was very fulfilling.
That’s sweet. Let’s talk about your career. How did you get into making skits?
One fateful night, I put out a video on Twitter playfully toasting a Twitter user who had put out a tongue twister challenge. I ended the video with my signature tagline, Koni Baje Baby. The video went viral and people found it hilarious. So I did another video toasting DJ Cuppy and Teni, which they found hilarious. The videos did a lot of numbers, so I continued putting out videos. I started getting messages from celebrities like Mayorkun saying they loved my videos and he wanted Koni Baje Baby on a shirt. It became bigger than I imagined.
Sometimes, my life feels like a dream. If you had told me a few years ago that my face would be on a Guinness billboard and on television as a brand ambassador, I would have laughed you out of my room. Everything that has happened from then till now still feels surreal. It seems like yesterday when I was looking for a job and trying to raise ₦5k so I could record song covers in the studio. I’ve been to places and met people I never thought I could reach. All I did was remain consistent and everything else just fell in place.
How did that happen?
I had earlier met Edward Ayide in 2019 and he had expressed interest in managing me. Fast forward to 2020, Uche Briggs, who Edward introduced me to, calls me one morning and says “I have a job for you. You’re going to do a photoshoot for Guinness.” Needless to say, I was on the first bus out of Ibadan and racing towards Lagos the next morning. I even got to the studio before the photographers. I found out that I would be doing the shoot alongside celebrities like Fireboy DML, Yagazie Emezi and others. I even had a hilarious first impression with Fireboy DML when I assumed my sugar daddy persona and greeted him like he was my boy. We both laughed and we’ve been guys since.
After the shoot, someone asked me how much I would like to be paid. Apparently, I was being offered a year-long brand ambassadorship deal, rather than a photoshoot like I had assumed. I was shell-shocked. I couldn’t believe my ears. That me, Tobiloba, would be a Guinness ambassador? How? From where? It still feels like a dream to me. It’s been a fucking crazy ride. I don’t think I’m the funniest or the most talented guy. It’s just been grace.
That’s interesting. Let’s talk about your dad. How’s your relationship with him?
He used to beat me a lot when I was a kid, but I can’t say I didn’t deserve most of it. I used to behave like a goat. But he’s my guy. One night, when I was about 10 years old, he asked me what I wanted to be when I was older and I probably said something lofty like a doctor or pilot or some shit. He looks right at me and said, “I think you should be an entertainer. You’re good at entertaining people.” He had always known that I liked making people have a good time and laugh.
Our relationship is beautiful. Since I was young, he always allowed me to express myself. He’s also a very self-expressive person. He doesn’t hold back. He’s always singing and dancing with a lot of energy in the church. He does what he wants no matter who’s watching. We bonded a lot over pushing his old Volkswagen Passat whenever it broke down. He’s also the reason why I love listening to classic Nigerian musicians like Ebeneezer Obey, Fela, King Sunny Ade, etc. We didn’t have much but he made sure my brothers and I went to private schools up until secondary school. It was hard for him to keep up sometimes but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Does he follow your career?
My mom worries about it but my dad loves it so much. He even gives me useful tips on how to improve my skits. He laughs and comments on my skits on Instagram and is always praying for me to go higher. I’m grateful to God for him.
Must be nice. Your skits major around themes of basically being an ashewo. Why?
Women are wonderful and deserve so much love so I make sure I always place them on top when I’m talking about them in my skits. I particularly like talking to older women, àwọn Mama 50. The bants flow easily so I take that energy into content creation, like in this video I made.
What’s something people assume you like but you don’t?
I’m not a very social person. I don’t like clubbing. When I go out, I’m back home by 7 or 8 p.m., at the latest. I’m jovial, but I like to keep to myself for the most part. It’s not that I’m shy; I just prefer my own company. People don’t understand it when I turn down social invitations. I’m a total couch potato.
When was the first time you realised you were “a man”?
It was when I started having sex regularly, right after NYSC. When I started drinking vagina juice, it became important for me to move out of the house, so I moved to our boy’s quarters. I became pretty independent there.
LMAO. How do you handle all the attention from women?
It comes with the job. It can be a lot to deal with, so I try to stay grounded. I’m in a relationship and it would be irresponsible of me to entertain other people’s advances.
This is proof that Yoruba men don’t cheat. How has your relationship impacted you?
A lot. It has made me more considerate and patient. We’ve been dating for two years and she has taught me a lot of things I didn’t know about myself. I used to be more carefree about my dressing until she came into my life, combining clothes without regard for fashion rules. She’s into fashion so she’s always teaching me how to dress dapper. “Don’t wear patterned shirts on patterned bottoms, you’ll look like a newspaper,” she’d say.
Being in a relationship makes me think on a grander scale because my actions affect not just me but her as well. I’ve grown and I’m still growing. It’s been fantastic. Chai, I love this woman. I’m a finished man.