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21 Nov 2013

I never converted to Islam -Liz Anjorin

Liz Anjorin is among the most popular female actors in the Yoruba genres of Nollywood. The Badagry born thespian stunned many people last month when she traveled to Saudi Arabia for the recently held Hajj. Her fans have accused her of dumping Christianity for Islam. In this Interview with Temidayo Badmus, she opens up on her Muslim background 

What was your mission in Hajj?
I travelled to Mecca for prayers. Mecca is a place that everybody needs to visit. It is a place where prayers are answered. I am a living testimony. I prayed for everybody around me that almighty Allah should continue to guide and protect them and answer their prayers.

Did you imagine your journey to the holy land would generate so much noise as it did? 
So far, I must commend the effort of the Nigerian media. I salute the professionalism of the Nigeria journalists. I appreciate all the TV presenters, Radio presenters, bloggers and print journalists. I don’t have any problem so far with what they wrote about my journey to the holy land. Their reports have been wonderful and I pray for Allah’s total protection over all my fans, my family and my well-wishers. 

A lot of people were shocked to hear about your trip to Mecca since many believed you were a Christian 
When I traveled, I actually I sneaked in to Mecca. I didn’t want anybody to know about it. This is because; I have been practicing this (Islam) for a very long time. I actually planned to sneak into Mecca to pray for myself as an orphan and sneak out but you know when you pray for something and at the end of the day, God answered beyond your expectation, it will no longer be a secret. That is exactly what happened to me. I have been a Muslim for a very long time. 

At a point, the topic put your fans against each other online
Let me tell you this; Christians, Muslims, traditionalists, angels even devil, God created everybody. Good and bad comes from God. He knows the reason why he created the devil. If the devil does not torment us, we won’t believe in God. The whole debate turnout to be very messy online but, I was disgusted to see people cursing each other. I don’t see any reason why a true Christian will curse a Muslim or a true Muslim cursing a Christian. When I read through the internet responses, I saw people cursing and abusing each other. I don’t see any reason for doing that. I really appreciate the courage of my true fans. This is because; my true fans will never condemn me for converting to Islam. Meanwhile, I didn’t convert to Islam. I have been a Muslim for a long time. I believe that my true fans should embrace me irrespective of my belief. It is my private life. I am old enough to decide my future. If as an orphan, I can get this level of attention in my profession, all glory to Allah. 

There were insinuations that an Alhaji must have sponsored your trip to the holy land, how do you react to this?
I am an adult. No Alhaji, Pastor or anybody can force me to do something against my wish. Things like this give me headaches. I know very well that, God answer prayers in Mecca and I purposely went there to perform Hajj and pray for my future. 

Some people said the only marriage option you have is from a Muslim. 
I still don’t understand how some people think. How on earth will anyone think I can be stranded in getting a man for marriage? I have a good car. I live in a good home. I have a personal business that I run. I am famous and I am not left out in the society so, I have no problem getting a man of my choice. Let me say this to you; my fiancé is not an Alhaji. I only followed my mother’s will because I love her so much. 

Tell us about your religious background. 
I was born in a Christian home. My father was a Christian from Badagry in Lagos. He attended Celestial Church of Christ. My late mother was from a Muslim home. She became a Christian because of my late Dad. The fact remains that, Islam is a religion of love and peace.

With your new status as an Alhaja, how would you avoid wearing skimpy dresses in movies?
There is a huge difference between my profession and my personality. Elizabeth is a biblical name. It does not necessarily portray my religion. I was given so many names at birth because my Mum had me when she was old. Aisha is not a new name for me. It’s just one of my hidden names given to me by my Mum’s family. I have other names hidden like that. Why Aisha is becoming prominent now is because a family friend called me while I was in Hajj and said Aisha pray for me. This is because, this person knows Aisha has always been my name. Egandogo and Akanke are some of my others names. I had never changed my name. I will give you my picture 16years ago. I had always been around Islam. I had my daughter in Jos. Her father was a Muslim. My daughter was named Rufaydat. Nobody knows about this. This is because I am a very confidential person. There are lots of things people don’t get to read about me on the pages of Newspapers. 

How will you react to the story that you were sited somewhere in Ogun state; alongside other girls standing on the highway for clients? 
The writer of that piece online got it all wrong. What the person did was to pick one of my sexy pictures and cooked up a false story around it. That is one thing I had never done in my entire existence. That person claimed the event happened in Ijebu-Ode. People should go and ask about my records in that community. I was very popular on the campus of OOU for the positive reason and not what that person created. I was more involved in student unionism and Aluta struggles. How on earth can I have time to go and stand on the main road scouting for men in an environment where I was known as an activist? I won so many awards in OOU as a result of my positive efforts. I want people saying these things to come out with a tangible prove. I don’t think there is anything any man can give me that I cannot work for and get myself. I want people to come out and tell me to my face that they have seen me in night clubs with skimpy dresses. If anyone has seen me in odd scenes except in movies should come out and prove it. I promised God almighty and my Mum that I will not do anything that will tarnish the image of my family.

How will you avoid wearing skimpy dresses in movies?
People should be able to differentiate between poster pictures and my real personality. I dress respectfully when I am going out on the street. People should understand that, when I am working on movie set, the directors and producers dictate what I wear. They know why they want me to wear a particular dress and they know what they want to portray. Even with that, I still try to be modest enough. That is why in most of my movies you hardly see me without tying a scarf. Most actresses that later tied scarf copied my dress sense. At times, I use turban to cover my hair. I don’t believe I have to expose my hair all the time. So many actresses have also followed my steps in doing that as well. In fact, the turban wearing gave me my fame. Nobody does it better than me in the industry. 

When did you become a full time Muslim?
I had always portrayed the Islamic instinct. People just blew it up because I went for Hajj and the misconception about it is that, I changed from Christianity to Islam. Elizabeth is my name given to me by my father. Christianity is my father’s religion and I love Christians. Islam is my Mother’s religion and I equally love Muslims. So, at this stage of my life, I believe I have to make a choice and people should respect my decision. People should respect my privacy. During the last Ramadan fasting, I fed the needy and I pray that, the reward from that should go to my late Mum. I had been thinking about it for long. I felt like, what will people say if they see me in the Mosque. I always feel the urge to worship God. Now, I do that in the privacy of my room. 

Culled from the Nigerian Pilot Newspaper, Saturday, November 9 2013.

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