US-based Nigerian entrepreneur, Tumininu Oluyole is the founder of Don Crucifixto, a new production and entertainment company centered on giving young Africans opportunities to explore. He talks to Tosin Clegg about how he started, building his brand, going into movies and music business, moving to the US and a lot more
Growing up in Lagos was bittersweet
I enjoyed growing up in Lagos. In spite of the difficult life, the sense of freedom and carefree living was second to none. My parents, though struggling to afford school fees for me and my siblings, made sure that we were exposed to the best possible education they could think of. Growing up as a child, my parents instilled in me a resilient attitude to always work hard and never give up. This discipline made me pick one of my dad’s old cars, worked hard to fix the car and used it as a taxi to send myself to the university.
I grew up looking up to my mom and dad
My mom is full of life and energy. She has always been very entrepreneurial. She will start businesses and fail, but will continue to the next thing available. She is not a quitter. She is optimistic and that attitude creates limitless opportunities. My dad was a banker. He encountered a lot of mishaps, but he never gave up. He believed in himself. Now look at the attributes of these two fine people. Who else could I ever look up to and want to be like to be successful, obviously my parents. I so wanted to be an Accountant because of my dad, and my mom’s “never say die and keep thinking outside the box philosophy”. In addition, my mom’s eagerness to always help people was so contagious I just wanted to be like her.
Struggles in the university
I struggled to keep up with the university’s tuition with my taxi business. The car was really a junk and kept breaking down. The educational system in Nigeria itself was not favorable. There were university professors going on strike, which caused a lot of instability. A degree four-year programme will drag on for six years due to teachers’ strikes. The frustration kept building and I decided to leave the country for China. I was to leave for China but a week prior, I had an opportunity to go for an interview at the US Consulate. As God will have it, I got my US visa and you know the rest is history.
We all have stories. We have history
I would say there are also grace, Favour and sometimes luck. As the good book says: ‘all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpos.’ I am in no position to say what happened to someone else, but I can tell you what happened to me. I believed. I saw the good in others and in me. I had a driving force that kept pushing me to do better. First, I wanted the degree so bad. Then it was not enough, and then life experiences that quickly faded.
Then I realised that the sky is the starting point and we humans are the only ones that can limit our progress and growth when we stop believing. If you stop believing, you stop achieving.
When I got to the US, It was a big culture shock as I was young and naïve. I was afraid but fortunate enough to meet people that were driven just like me, and I received a very welcoming experience from the international department of the school I attended when I arrived.
God looked after me
I am grateful and humbled that God had looked after me and my family and has given me the unmerited favour to be able to change people’s lives through my creation of job. However, I am only a vessel for God’s own work. It does not matter if I am white, black, African, Nigerian or from any ethnicity. All women and men are made equal. As gratifying as it may seem, being an African from Nigeria creating opportunities, I do not believe I have done anything yet.
My Don Crucifixto Entertainment
I have always loved entertainment and appreciated the arts. While growing up, I used to play drama and was part of drama teams. I feel it is the right time for me to give more into what I believe in and passionate about. Speaking with the team, and my business background – Don Crucifixto Entertainment feels like a great name and that is what the outfit is called. I am hoping to have three major artistes on the label and, we have two movies going through the production process, as we speak. It is exciting times I must tell you.
The idea is to make sure every work we produce can add value to the public. I know the industry seems saturated and that is where the opportunity to be different and unique lies. We will tap into this and fill the gaps. We will always deliver quality productions; that is a guarantee. I have loads of professionals in the industry that make up the team and, believe me, when I say these professionals have earned their stripes. Failure is never an option on the table.
Nigerian entertainment industry
The Nigerian entertainment industry is an evolving institution and we must not forget that. I still believe there are loads of opportunities and we feel lucky and blessed to be tapping into this evolution.
The entertainment industry is growing and with every growth, there is that pain. We need to keep encouraging the process and in five or 10 years, we should be able to give better accountability. The goal is for the Nigerian Entertainment industry to compete head to head in all aspects with the US and the modern world.
I was an average student
I grew up as a shy kid that no one thought could achieve anything. I was an average student, but always believed in myself. There was a particular day I got into my deep thoughts and reminiscing. I looked at a 360-degree view of myself and realised that people tend to be leeches. People want to cheat to get by. Most people prefer the easier route than feeling the pains and joy of true success from hard work.
That day, I promised myself one thing: I do not want to be noticed, rather, I want to be known. I want to change the trajectory of my family and future and many more people that I encounter.
I do not want to have my children go through the toughest times I went through. I want to be a legacy and build a legacy. These were my driving force; the fear of the dark times. With that in mind, I want to impact many lives positively as much as I humanly can.