Mohammed Jammal aka White Nigerian irrespective of the colour of his skin, is purely Nigerian. According to him he had only one passport and it is green. The true bred Nigerian was discovered by comedian AY on YouTube and invited him to the AY Live show in London. After his studies at the London Metropolitan University, Mohammed came to Nigeria for his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC programme. The recipient of numerous Awards, speaks exclusively with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM on his love for Nigeria, music and other issues
The name 'White Nigerian:'
My career started as a mistake. Whenever I travelled back from London people normally say to me; bros you dey enjoy see you big boy you dey London, that was when I was schooling there. So one day I decided I should do a video about myself and how life is not as nice as people think it is. So I did that video of just speaking pidgin English about my life in London. And I also did a video with Kevin Pam (Big Brother winner) just speaking pidgin. AY saw my video online and invited me to perform on his show in London. That was a year before I graduated with my Masters Degree in London. There he introduced me as Mohammed Jammal 'White Nigerian' and the name kind of stuck and that was how people started calling me white Nigerian and my career as a comedian kick started. From that same week I did the AY show I think I got about four-five different shows in London where people invited me to perform because it also was the Nigeria 50th anniversary.
To be honest, music for me also stated as a joke, my performance in London is more of me speaking pidgin, people see me more as a comedian than an artiste. I was invited to perform at P-Sqaure's album launch in Lagos when I moved back to Nigeria in January 2011. I saw JJC who I knew from London, we were in the studio and discussing, he then suggested we do an Hausa kind of song for the northern people. And since I have never recorded a song in my life, I thought about it and knew it would be cool. Baby Fresh who was at that time signed with Amazing Records and working for Cool FM, said he would produce it for me. When the song came out, it went viral. That's how I kick started my musical career.
If feels really good that people appreciate your effort and love what you are doing. Its not about the money, its about people appreciating you. You don't have to appreciate someone with money or time. When people appreciate you with an award it's better than money because no matter how much you are paid, it won't last long and the award is for ever.
They say "never judge a book by its cover" and that's exactly right. A lot of people see me and assume I am an "Oyibo". I'm not and let my colour not deceive you. It's what's inside that counts and for me apart from the colour, I am Nigerian to the core. Born and bred in Jos, I grew up speaking Hausa and of course pidgin English. I have one passport and it's green. So just like every other Nigerian, I completed my studies and decided to serve my country. I made history as the first white person to ever serve in the country. People say it's a lie that I'm 'half cast', but the truth is I'm the first full white to ever have the NYSC programme in Nigeria. I graduated along with the last batch recently and you know, it's really nice and feels good to make history.
Born in Jos and from a family of seven. I schooled in Jos until I was 18 years. My parent moved to Abuja when I was about thirteen orourteen. Then in 2006 I moved to London for my tertiary education. And in 2011, I moved back to Nigeria. It has been wonderful ever since.
The entertainment environment in Nigeria
The entertainment industry in Nigeria is a lot more open and competitive. It is not as easy to penetrate the Nigerian markets like in the UK and USA. This is because in Nigeria, you have a population of over 160 million people that you want to satisfy. Out of this number, even though you get 1-2 million of them on your side, you are satisfied. Because when you have such fan base, its enough to sustain you. At least you will be having like 2 shows per-week. For now I'm in the north...working toward penetrating the south and the south-west. I'm working for my target audience by being different.
Genre of Music
Afro-pop. I love poetry. I like people dancing to the song so that whatever wahala they are going through would be wiped away. That's why I chose the genre.
I'm dropping a video very soon for my song 'Barawo'. I'm also working on remixing my song 'Dirty Wind' because it has gone more than I expected. Places that the song is being played, I would have never expected in my life. People are calling me from South Africa, Sweden, Norway aside the usual places like London and the USA. It baffles you when you hear your song is being played in Dubai, its a big surprise, I didn't think it would make such wave. I'm really working on making a splendid video of the song. I'm also working towards getting someone from Lagos that would make the song even more popular than what it is on ground right now.
Double certificates as an NYSC and married man
(Laughs)...my marriage and NYSC certificates, it feels very good. I think October has been my month. I got two awards this October, that's on entertainment. I was awarded my NYSC certificate, and I also got married this month. It was a private wedding because I no fit invite the whole of Abuja. If I wan invite everybody na stadium I go do am. I just decided it be more of a family wedding. Its been terrific. This is my month.
I want to save my next song for a very big artiste. I'm interacting with few people, its just to find the time to do it. I have been busy with my Youth Service and my wedding, work and entertainment. I think I can now focus mainly on shows and entertainment. I'm looking at hopefully my J-town boys(Choc Boys). I will like to work with somebody like Ice Prince Zamani. He is a role model. I performed alongside him during the opening of the stadium. It was an honour. People are seeing me like a big-boy, the truth is performing alongside Olamide, Ice Prince and others, its an honour. Its not because I'm older or a big-boy. But because I respect what they do. I look at myself as a director while they are ministers. Because their lyrics and styles mentors me because I'm just like an up-coming compared to them.
To be honest I take it one day at a time, whatever God says it would be is good for me. Its been a bumpy ride and also interesting one since I delved into entertainment. It is amazing to know the number of people that know you because of social media. I feel like I have an expectation because people look up to me and I have to live up to their expectations. Now I'm releasing a new video. Some of which are animated. I always want to be different. People see me as a celebrity but I'm myself and am a very simple person.
Message to fans
Believe in yourself; don't push yourself too much before you become something. Discover your talent and work towards it. Just keep cool when your time comes, it would be easy. I knew I'm going to be famous but I didn't know it would come sooner than I expected. Don't let what people say bring you down because you are the key to your success. Like when I was in school, they told me I could never rap nor sing. Someone even said I can't do anything just to bring me down. But today, here I am doing what exactly they said I couldn't do. Believe in yourself, pursue your dreams and leave it to God to approve. Thanks for the support.