Multi-talented radio sports presenter, Murphy Ijemba in this exclusive interview with EMMANUEL TOBI speaks on his foray into broadcasting, his quest for education as well as his upbringing in the ghetto of Mushin Olosha
A lot of people have different perceptions of you; can you let the fans know who Murphy is actually?
Murphy is like every other Nigerian guy. I was born and grew up in the suburbs of Mushin couple of years ago. I grew up in the streets; battled my way through school. It wasn’t easy. But basically, it’s been the grace of God that has kept us till this level. I’m a simple guy and I love my privacy so much. Normally, I would rather be at home, watch TV, listen to radio and do normal things every other person does on a normal day than go out.
What was growing up like?
Mushin is a very tough place. The street was not forgiven, anything you do or fail to do has its own punishment and its own credits as well. So, Mushin was like a battle field for me. Most times, I go through hard things now that won’t even shake me because I’ve been through them before. Mushin, I’m so sure would be ranked among the toughest hoods across the world; not only in Nigeria. I had some very good friends growing up and some bad ones as well. So, I picked up the good stuffs and bad stuffs as well growing up in Mushin Olosha.
I lost my Dad very early in life. My dad died when I was about three or four years old. It was left with my Mum and my Grandfather to bring me up. It wasn’t easy; the woman had to cater for three children and at the same time make sure that the home was well put together.
How were you still able to get focused and acquire education looking at the loss of your father?
What actually happened was that the little experience I had in people and saw on the streets made me want to be a better person. Many were just gangsters in the area. They lost focus early on in their lives and couldn’t retract their steps. I saw them get stabbed and killed in fights. I saw people doing things they shouldn’t to be doing at particular points in their lives, like at 45 or 48 years of age; still at road junctions dragging money with bus drivers and conductors. That made me to make up my mind that I would never be like that in my life. Since the day I made that resolution, I changed my ways and stopped going out. And I actually asked my mum to take me out of Mushin Olosha. I would have ended up being a tout in Mushin. So I went to my mom’s elder brother’s place in Alaba and from there, down to Enugu at my mom’s younger brother’s place before moving to Benin and Abuja. But then after my schooling, I had to go back to Kano, where it all started.
Did you ever dream of being in the entertainment industry?
I was more into entertainment with the cultural and drama group during my primary and secondary school days in Mushin. Then during my university days, I studied Accountancy. I wasn’t more of the party kind of guy because I was fending for myself during my university days. I sold chicken at school. When I was in 200 levels going to 300 levels and things were hard that mum could barely send anything to me in school, I had to find a way out; so I started a chicken business.
There was a day I went to visit one of my cousins at Minjibri, a secondary school in Kano, about 45mins drive from the main town. When I got there, I saw people buying chicken and I was told the chickens were sold for N100 each and they were seriously big, I was baffled. The next day, I gathered some money and went back there and bought a lot which I took to a place called Ahmadiyya. That was where I had the chickens killed and butchered, then I took them to Mr. Biggs and everything was bought from me at once and I made about of N65, 000 then. I was more bewildered and that helped me through school.
Being a trained accountant, how did you stumble into journalism?
As a member of Student Union Government, we went for an excursion at Ray Power, Daar Communications during the SUG week. I was the spokesperson for my group and we got interviewed on TV and on radio by Mallam Dikko who was then the Head of Daar Communications in Kano. He told me I had a good voice that he loved the way I flow and my mannerism. He asked, “Why don’t you give a shot at presenting?” He said RayPower was looking for a sports presenter and maybe I could fill in for the time being. There was where the interest started and from RayPower, I also got into TV. I did an entertainment show called ‘Next Level’ on AIT.
How did you get signed on by Brilla FM?
Former Super Eagles assistant coach, Daniel Amokachi, came to the studio in Kano and we discussed for an audition for SuperSports. In fact, I opened the show that day, the first day game for the Nigeria Premier League; that was about six or seven years ago. It was a match of Kano Pillars against Kaduna United, it was like the Northern El Classico, it was wonderful but sometimes politics is involved in everything we do. We didn’t get the job. But then I was already getting tired of Kano because I felt like I have dominated this arena, I felt I should be able to test my skills with the people in Lagos because Lagos is more like the yardstick for the media. Also, Flying Eagles coach Samson Siasia came with his Personal Assistant on media, George Essien to our programme and we exchanged contacts after the show which I anchored.
Few months after Daar Communication got burnt in Kano, I called George that I needed a job and he told me about an audition at Brill a FM. I came late for the auditioning because I was also involved in a movie set in Kano because I’m a member of the Nigeria Guild of Actors. I was only allowed to enter the studio and make freestyle. I went in and I did my thing and fortunately I had the Brilla style, I had what they wanted. I was a fast talker, forceful, energetic and they loved it. So, I was told to come over the next day and start and that was just it. Prior to the interview, I got an offer from Eko FM with a higher pay but I was subjected to be on probation but Brilla offer was guaranteed. So, I went for it.
How about your ability to speak Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo languages?
It was the relocation thing. I did a lot of movement while growing up, didn’t live in a particular place all my life. I was born in Lagos, went to Benin, schooled in Kano, went to Enugu, and stayed a bit in Abuja and also a bit in Calabar as well. I stayed in Jos for a couple of years as well and also Katsina. So, everywhere I’ve been, I try to take a little bit of the language and culture as well and it’s been so good. And you know, when you speak a native language to listeners on the show, when you speak to them in what they understand, it makes them feel as an integral part of the show.
How does Murphy Jemba relax?
I’m an indoor person but people find that hard to believe. Like I said earlier, if I’m not paid to be at a venue, I won’t go there. I don’t just go to events anyhow, you hardly see me go out. So, most times I’m always at home. A bottle of chilled red wine, a nice bowl of pepper soup, and some good music, with these I’m down. And I love swimming as well. I do go out to swim.
What is your best food?
No doubt, it’s Amala with Gbegiri and Ewedu alongside assorted meats. I enjoy that so much. I even had it this morning. I can take it all day, breakfast, lunch and dinner; I’m down for it anytime. I also enjoy Jollof Rice a lot. But I like Garri too. It something I like drinking. But I take swallow most times.
How about drinks? Does Murphy smokes or get high before getting on mic?
Well, I take a lot of water every day. But I enjoy fruit drinks mostly, it is nourishing for the body. Actually, I was in the habit of smoking in the past. That was when I was in secondary school but when my mum caught me smoking, she went wild at me. It was crazy. It was so bad and very serious. It was breaking her heart so I had to stop it and since then I haven’t smoked for more than 15 years now. There was a day, a day I can never forget, Alibaba the comedian was driving past the studio and he had to turn and come in to the studio because he felt like, ‘guy how do you get to do these things’? But actually, I feel excitement comes to me easily, it comes out naturally. As soon as I hit the microphone and I hear music at the background, I’m good to go.
A lot of people take Murphy for a womaniser. Tell us what features you seek in your dream woman.
I’m not a womaniser but I would say I love them big. A perfect example of a woman I like is, although she is married now but making instances, the person is Toolz of Cool FM. The person must be heavy, thick, everything covered, pumped up, as in every part touchable. It is amazing. Talking about other nonphysical features, she must be God fearing, that is very important and must intelligent. It doesn’t matter if she is educated or not as long as she is hard working and has something doing. She must also be someone that understands me.