In essaying this gentleman of many virtues, allow me to start by rattling your IQ with an elementary quiz.
What is the figure of speech used in describing one who is competent in several fields but is not necessarily outstanding in any particular one?
Before you scream ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, I’d like to remind you that there are two distinct ‘types of Jacks’- the generalist (more common- master of none) and the specialist (rare- master of all).
Unlike the former, specialists- also known as polymaths- are exceptional in the disciplines they get involved in.
That sounds confusing right? Okay, let me break it down- they are the ‘Jacks of all trades; masters of all’- a rare breed.
We may miss the greatest ‘master of all’; Leonardo di ser Piero Da Vinci who was in every right a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, scientist, engineer, geologist, anatomist, inventor, cartographer, botanist and writer. But as we miss him, let us not forget to celebrate our own shining stars.
I present to you our very own Mozez Praiz; Sports T.V presenter, Cameraman, Runway Model, Director, Actor et al; all blended to give a renaissance man; a modern day Naija, nay African Polymath.
We succeeded in getting him to sit with us and to communicate not just to us, but to you our esteemed readers the dynamic forces, subtleties, crescendos and diminuendos defining and moulding the star that we see glistening today.
Blazing trails or being first, we realised, aren’t novel to this media icon but constitute some sort of biological signature trait. It gets interesting as he fondly explains that he is not just the first of nine kids, but is the first grandchild from whichever family tree or genealogy path you wish to trace or decide to toe. Being in pole position from birth and on the family tree only helped orchestrate a successful attitude towards life and to his careers; dictating the pace of each facet with uncanny ingenuity.
Expectedly, I asked how it all started; what educational route he took and what his disposition was in his formative years. It wasn’t all rosy at first as he had to endure the usual gruelling school sessions- just like every other student and enjoyed no preferential treatment. Despite this; he excelled remarkably.
“My education was a bit raggedy” He cautions, but is quick to leave dewy-eyed themes for more progressive captions, “I did study Mass Communication at the Ibadan Polytechnic…”
The polytechnic constituted the launching pad that not only helped him discover innate crude talents, but also propelled him from his threshold to exciting new heights. Within those fore-walls, he swept a train of academic and artistic accolades including Best dressed student, best student, Mr. Nice Guy Award
“I even had a ridiculous one for most handsome student.” He reminisced. But c’mon man, ain’t that obvious?
“Man, shun those awards” he calmly detoured.
In the same institution he picked awards in Drama and realized his flair for all genres of theatre as well as sport- especially soccer. Mozez didn’t merely realize his soccer aptitude; he made it to the school’s first team! You might want to guess who the school captain was. None other than the man that has ‘firsts’ flowing in his blood, encoded in his DNA and crested on his heart.
Considering the fact that he finished from a polytechnic, it was only normal that I inquired his views on the perceived victimizations and discriminations against polytechnic graduates. This is what he had to say in his deep crisp clear voice that probably got him the Supersport job;
“Way back, I used to be angry with such insinuations cos I think it is absolutely ridiculous, and to be frank with you; polytechnics are very practical as they offer unique hands-on learning experience…There’s not much theory as more emphasis is put on the practical aspect unlike these days where students are all about theory; it doesn’t make any sense. In my candid opinion, there should be no discriminations whatsoever. If not, then there should be no polytechnics at all; the system should scrap it. I’m not ashamed to tell people I went to a Polytechnic. Even though People normally assume I went to a University, if they get to ask me, I’d simply say ‘I went to Polytechnic and I enjoyed it, so what’s your issue…?’”
Asked whether his adventure with books terminated on graduation; he explained that was not the case. After graduation, Mozez proceeded with enrolling for several correspondence and professional courses basically in cinematography.
“In my Cinematography class in 2001, I had a course mate who even though was South African, was neck-dip in America’s Hollywood and proved to be huge experience. I went into video production afterwards where I was a cameraman for 8yrs and yea, I can still handle camera.” He asserts with smiles flying like fireworks; lightening up the room.
“I did some music videos and even did a home video. But being a restless person, I felt home videos unlike now, were very boring back then and so I didn’t bother to do more than one. It didn’t make any sense to me to sit down and watch two people talking trash. I got out of that and went into modelling which was interesting. I modelled here in Nigeria and went to SA where I modelled with GC. I was the first Nigerian to model for GC.”- Another first…
Asked what he considered the hallmark of his journalism career; he picked out his chance to report for the 2010 South African world Cup.
“I reported not as a visiting journalist, but as a Broadcast Rights Holder. That’s a big deal, an absolutely big deal. I’m really honoured and immensely grateful for the opportunity.”
What has been the low-point of your career?
“My perspective to life is very funny. I don’t see anything as low; I see it instead as a challenge and just a phase that will pass away and basically an opportunity to prove the stuff I am made of. So I really cannot pick out a low moment in my life.”
Rejecting the unsavoury temptation of keeping in mind ‘low points’, Mozez was then asked what the future of his career held. Radio was the strong response he gave; explaining how much he’d love it and the fact that he would someday conquer radio world as well.
“I’ve been harbouring the passion for radio. This is me; I have to talk; I have to communicate”
Tell us about your first car, Mozez
“Volkswagen was my first car and I drove it for four years. It was really rickety but I am a down to earth person and so didn’t care. Personally, I feel cars should be either too big or too small. I don’t know if u remember Daewoo decor? I so loved that car and even though I never had it, I really liked it because of its size. I was living in Ebute-metta and had to drop someone off at Jibowu. In the rush, I clumsily forgot refuel the generator the previous night and so there was not enough fuel in the car. It took me to Jibowu quite alright but on my way back, at yaba, the car went off. And I literally had to push it from yaba all the way to ebutte metta alone, wiith no assistance whatsoever”
Mozez believes his ability to accomplish that went down to physical fitness; a feat he attributes to his involvement with school soccer- which may also have been pivotal to his South African modelling career.
Knowing the knack Polymaths have for dabbling into the realm of eeriness (in case you didn’t know Leonardo Da Vinci asked in his will that sixty beggars escort his casket during his funeral procession); we asked some creepy questions like what was the longest time he’d spent without a shower. A question that got him cringing : “24 hours max! C’mon man, I can’t stay a whole day without changing my boxers”
Saving the best for the last; family can have no substitute and is the most important thing in the world. Mozez Praiz acknowledges this awesome reality and gives us an insight into his home. Married to a goddess christened Bukky for four years and a proud father of two adorable daughters, he fondly emphasizes that;
“…Paula is three going on four while Joy is going to be two in March. They are the most beautiful terrorists I’ve ever had in my life.”
Why use such an adjective to describe those pretty little ladies? I tried to internalize this question/ thought but my journalistic instincts got the better of me. But right before I asked; he deciphered my puzzlement and replied;
“… Cos they terrorize me with love”
Taking a cue from this ingenious gentleman, the Cruise Entertainment crew prays that you and your household might all be merrily ‘terrorized’ by all the blessings Christmas can muster!
Merry Christmas guys!
By Obinna Odenigbo
Follow Obinna on twitter @teflonbauss