17
Wed, Jan

From bastard to superstar

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Helen Paul (aka Tatafo), popular Nigerian comedienne, actress and singer shares her testimony on how God elevated her from her lowly and insignificant status in life to become the star we know her as today.

Initially referred to as the bastard of the family, today, God has turned the table in her favour and made it a sumptuous one in the very presence of her enemies.

Teenage life has its ups and downs for both parents and the teenagers themselves not withstanding social status in life. But those from the not-so-well to do status tend to have it tougher. Despite their difficult situation in life, some God-fearing teenagers determine in their hearts to follow the right path to make it in life. Helen Paul is no different from the latter. Hear her:

‘I remember growing up as a teenager, some members of my family were calling me bastard; they separated all my things. But today, they are calling me now, “We need money for school fees.” I remember one of my aunts I went to visit in Abuja. As I was going back to Lagos, she called me and said in Yoruba, “Go home and make sure your mother tells you who your father is because you are the only bastard in the family and I remember we didn’t do naming ceremony for you so the name Helen Paul, who owns that name?” But I thank God I have been grounded in the word. As she was speaking I was just speaking in other tongues. I said, “This aunty you will come and beg me o. You will beg me because all your children you did naming ceremony for, none of them will be able to stand where I stand in life.”’ Since then Helen said she always makes a confession every morning before getting up from bed. This is her daily confession: ‘Heavenly Father, I am here again as the bastard child that the people know but as the child of the King that you know because you are King and your word will never come into my life and go in vain. Lord from now on, I do not want to dine with ordinary men, I want to dine with kings and queens because my Father is a King. Thank you Father because as I put my feet on the ground I stand to be successful and I stand to prosper.’

Then, as a teenager, Helen recalled not having transport fare to get to church but her love for serving God motivated her to look for any reasonable means to get to church–even if it meant begging; ‘I will have to beg from Iju-ishaga to Fagba to be precise. I will get to Fagba bus stop and beg any kind passenger to lap me. When I get to Ogba, I will then go to the church.’ In her unassuming nature, she sometimes would unashamedly approach some older women in the church to ask for financial help but according to her, ‘anytime they see me coming they knew I was coming to beg for money so they would just turn their back. But God raised a helper for me through a woman who lived on my street whom I made friend with and she started coming to church with me. She was the one always giving me transport fare.’

Unfortunately, the negative attitude of some of the church members caused Helen’s new found friend to leave the church by their un-Christian behaviour. In her explanation, Helen said that as discussions were on-going over who the next youth leader should be, her name was suggested. But in Helen’s words, ‘One pastor stood up and said “we know Helen Paul’s history. How can Helen Paul, raised by a single mother, be the leader? She cannot even afford transport fare. It is because she is not in school that is why she has chance to come every day.” This comment made this woman unhappy and she stopped coming to church. She didn’t tell me until I went to her one day when I needed money for choir uniform of N1,500 that I couldn’t afford.’

After secondary school, Helen’s mother who she says is playful but disciplinary told her that she couldn’t afford to finance her education in the university and advised her to get a job. Her desire to further her education in the university (OAU to be precise) was so strong but there was no money. So strong was this desire that when someone introduced her into writing examinations for people, she quickly grabbed it. According to her, ‘the first money I got from there was two hundred thousand Naira compared to the one thousand five hundred naira I was looking for. I changed the money into twenty naira notes so that the envelope would be swollen and I would raise my envelope up in church and pray for people to see. But deep inside, I wasn’t happy.’

The Bible says that God rebukes the children He loves and this was the case of Helen when one day one of her youth pastors called her to inquire why she was a mercenary. Helen said she broke down into tears and told the pastor, ‘Aunty there is money in it. I pay my mum’s house rent and I don’t beg people for transport.’ The pastor gently reprimanded Helen and advised her to look for an honest job. Helen said the pastor gave her some Bible confessions and in her words, ‘I started all over again.’

‘I am now the star in our family. Who would know that baby voice will be the one bringing millions into the family. The Bible says God uses the foolish things of this earth to confound the wise.’

God gave Helen another fresh slate to start on. According to her, ‘somebody called me to come and do a voice-over and it was an overnight work and I slept off mistakenly. The next morning, by the time I woke up the people I came with had gone. What was I going to do? I didn’t have my bag nor transport fare. So while I sat down there and waited, a company came and said they wanted a baby’s voice. All they wanted the children to do was to laugh and they said they were waiting for their parents to bring them and I said I could do it.’ Helen was given the chance to prove her worth. When she was done, the client was satisfied with her delivery and she was paid fifty thousand naira. The studio manager asked her to go home but she refused. She said, ‘Every morning I would resume there; I was not a staff but I resumed there every day and before I knew it the receptionist left the table and I applied for the job.’ According to her, the management thought she wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibilities but someone spoke up in her defence. She was given the job but on a three month probation without salary. ‘I said no problem because, in my mind, I had calculated that I would so do voice-over and make the money I need, with or without the receptionist salary.’

While at her new duty post, two guys came to record and they were in need of a child’s voice when her boss suggested Helen. They said they wanted a child’s voice and not an adult’s. In Helen’s words, ‘As they went for lunch, Ayo (the studio manager) recorded my voice. When they returned, Ayo told them the child had come and gone but he had recorded the voice. He played the voice for them and they were very excited. To the glory of God they paid.’ The child-like voice that rendered the line ‘Uncle please tell us a story’ in the intro to the P-Square song ‘Story, story’ was the voice of Helen Paul.

Still at her duty post as a receptionist, Helen signed up for other contracts with clients as a voice-over artiste and made enough money to gain admission into the university. But to show that God was just starting with her, Helen said when she went to visit a friend at a radio station to discuss matters concerning her career, the guy was so busy and his presenters were nowhere to be found. He asked Helen to sit in the studio and he said ‘Make noise with that your baby voice. Just keep talking, let me go and look for my presenters.’ The friend introduced her to listeners as a baby that would keep them entertained for the next ten minutes. In Helen’s words, ‘I didn’t know what to say so I just started gossiping, ‘Nawa o, gofament people! People neva see water drink na im dem dey give flower water drink. Nawa o.’ Helen said she never knew that while she was talking, the radio station phones were already buzzing and people were requesting to know whose voice it was. That was how Helen got a job as a radio presenter on Radio Continental with the popular name ‘Tatafo’. In addition, Helen auditioned for a DSTV programme and because of the favour of God upon her life, she was chosen and a new programme called Jara was created for her. All these among other one–off jobs as master of ceremony (MC) and stand up-comedy acts have proven God’s hand of favour upon Helen Paul’s life.

To cut the long story short, according to Helen, ‘I am now the star in our family. Who would know that baby voice will be the one bringing millions into the family. The Bible says God uses the foolish things of this earth to confound the wise.’

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