For all his popularity, I had never taken Alibaba as special as he is considered by most people. And I always wonder why people are quick to praise him at very given opportunity.
So, when a friend told me they contracted him to host an award ceremony for N1 million, I told him it was a waste of money. I felt they could have called a better performer and at a cheaper price.
Personally, I just did not find him funny as the likes of AY, Seyi Law, Basket Mouth, Bovi and Akpororo.
When I got invitation to attend Alibaba’s January 1 Concert, I made up my mind to attend since I had never attended it. Being his show, I strongly felt he would bring his game on and deliver a performance of a lifetime.
And, perhaps, finally, I would be able to appreciate him. But I was disappointed, he did not perform as I had expected. I had thought since it was his show, he would perform for at least an hour.
However, before I left the show, my view about Alibaba changed and my respect for him grew. I left the show happy and satisfied. In a long while, it was the first show I would attend and wait till it ended.
I saw how he brought everyone that matters in the Nigerian comedy industry together and all the comedians did not feel too big to work for him at the venue.
On the night, I saw how he inspired and rewarded young comedians. Even after a winner emerged, his wife, impressed by the young man who finished second, promised that they would see him through his university education.
The woman did not consult his husband before making the pledge, yet Alibaba took it in good faith. He asked his wife in his typical joke manners, “What happens if the boy studies medicine and continues to have extra years?”
The woman’s simple response was that if he was not careful they would have to sponsor more children.
At that point, he gave up. The winner of the comedy contest went home with a car, but Alibaba’s wife’s gesture meant that the second runner-up was the biggest winner of the night.
All the way from Okoko, he got his future assured and even made some money, in spite of not winning. Though it was a show organised by comedians and for comedians, we saw a segment tagged, “A stitch-intime contest,” where a few designers from the audience competed for a prize of N300,000.
Within three hours, they were asked to make a design. Fashion designers, Uche Nanji and Mai Atafo, later picked a winner.
However, the first and second runner-up of the fashion contest were dashed N200,000 by an individual from the audience and another 100,000 from another impressed person from the audience.
Even though the winners of the two competitions were not the crowd’s favourites, it was a laudable gesture that showed that Alibaba really cares for the emerging ones. And he is ready to be part of their success stories.
He later emphasised the need for Nigerian youths to pick up crafts, insisting that skill acquisition is one of the ways to survive, especially in these trying times.
To most people, Richard MofeDamijo is just an actor. But at the show, he unveiled the comedy part of him.
Hilariously, RMD, who has been a good friend of Alibaba, talked about being forced to don a black tuxedo and bow tie by Alibaba, causing him to unclothe in front of the audience.
Another thing I learnt at the show was that Alibaba is not highly respected because he is a great performer.
For a long time, I had that mindset. He is loved and respected because of his role and gesture to other comedians and people. He had played the role of a father to most comedians when they were nobody.
He is now reaping the reward. I saw how Nigerian comedians, despite their differences, came together to ensure the show was a success.
Instead of crossing their legs and folding their arms, they were up and doing all through the show, looking for errors a n d solvi n g them