Death And The Cultural Thespian: Life and times of Olofa Ina

Death And The Cultural Thespian: Life and times of Olofa Ina

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 4:30 pm

Chief Suarau Adedeji Aderemi, alias Olofa Ina

By Siyan Oyeweso

The messenger of death, Asarail, in Islam, paid an unholy visit to the Jagun Olukosi residence in Ede, the home of the veteran theatre practitioner and cultural thespian, Chief Suarau Adedeji Aderemi, alias Olofa Ina, on Thursday, January 4, 2024.

Death struck at the age of 73, when his well-wishers were still expecting him to render more services to the Yoruba race, Nigeria and humanity, at large, but we cannot query God. In many of his conversations in recent times, he devoted great attention to the inevitability of death and mortality of all humans. Olofa Ina has gone the way of all mortals.

Until his death, he held the title of Sobaloju of Edeland, a title bestowed on him by the incumbent Timi of Ede, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal (Laminisa I). He was one of the most trusted chiefs the Timi of Ede relied upon for the grassroots administration of the ancient Yoruba town.

Born on May 15, 1950, during the reign of Oba Adetoyese Laoye I (1946-1975), he was a keen observer of the history and culture of Ede for the next 25 years of Oba Laoye.

During his formative years, Ede was the cultural Mecca of Yorubaland. Adedeji Aderemi learnt Yoruba history and culture at the feet of such traditional historians as late Raji Akosile, the generally acknowledged historian of Ede, Timi John Adetoyese Laoye and Chief Sunmonu Adekanmi.

He personified the eponymous ancestor or the founding father of the ancient town of Ede, Timi Agbale Olofa Ina, with the partial exception of Timi John Adetoyese Laoye, the Timi of Ede, 1946-1952. Chief Adedeji Aderemi popularised Ede more than anyone in contemporary Yoruba history. Indeed, he built on the foundation laid by Oba John Adetoyese Laoye.

The late Aderemi was also renowned as Baba Yoruba and Baba Olowe. He was fluent in the Yoruba language and had a rich repertoire of Yoruba proverbs. He was a great pillar of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Yoruba. In his last outing with BBC Yoruba, he was reported to have remarked, “Igba ti ara ba tu igbe laa ri esu (locust), bi igbe ba gbe tan, esu a ya lo” (Locusts swarm the farmland during the raining season but they disappear completely during the dry season).

The proverb is a subtle warning to all men of wealth, influence, authority and power when they hold sway over humans. It also means “success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan”.

A popular version of the proverb “Ese giri nile Anjofe, Anjofe ku, a o ri enikankan” (People trooped to Anjofe, but at the demise of Anjofe, nobody showed up again). This is a subtle warning to all men to be very careful of the crowd around them when they are in power.
In some other contexts, Olofa Ina popularised such Yoruba proverbs as:

Ibere ABD oni
A – Alawada lo le ba alaseju gbe; eni ti a lenu lese ko le se bebelube (It is only a friendly person that can make friends with a troublemaker; one who is not smart cannot be responsive).
B – Bolowo soro bo seke, aye ni ko paro (If a rich man lies, he is not cautioned; rather, he is dignified).
D – Didun lodun la n bore jeko; bi ore o dun mo, a ko ore dagbo, ti ile oge to oge je (If friendship is appealing, we rejoice. If it goes sour, we depart).

Suarau Adedeji Aderemi was born into the family of late Chief AbdulSalam Aderemi and the late Madam Aisha Aderemi of Jagun-Olukosi Compound, Ede, Osun State. He had his primary education at St. Peters Anglican Primary School between 1957 and 1962 and then proceeded to Baptist Secondary Modern School, Ode-Omu, from 1963 to 1965. He later had vocational training in carpentry and joinery at Olukorede Furniture Industry between 1965 and 1970.
Alongside his career in carpentry, Alagba Aderemi had a fair taste of both public and private services, as he worked as Grade II Officer with the Ministry of Works and Transport, Ibadan, Western State of Nigeria, from 1970 to 1977 and Maintenance Officer with Daladson Hotel, Jericho Reservation, Idi-Isin, Ibadan, in Oyo State between 1977 and 1980. Before 1980, he had floated the Olofa Ina Theatre Group, in 1972, with the likes of Erinfolamin, Dasofunjo, Gbolagade Akinpelu, late Oyetunji of Esinnla Compound, Ede and late Sule Alao of Oniso Compound. He received his theatre training under the late Oyetunji. In the theatre industry, Adedeji Aderemi considered Herbert Ogunde– the acclaimed doyen of theatre practice– Kola Ogunmola, Duro Ladipo, Isola Ogunsola (Isho Pepper), Oyin Adejobi, Moses Olaiya (a.k.a Baba Sala) – the founder of Alawada Theatre– Ade Afolayan (Ade Love), Ola Omonitan, popularly known as Ajimajasan and Akin Ogungbe as his great mentors and predecessors.

The Olofa Ina Group recorded landmark achievements in the theatre industry by pioneering the staging of epic histories of the Yoruba warlords of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Basorun Ogunmola, Balogun Ibikunle, Ogedengbe Agbogungboro of Ilesha, Aare Kurunmi of Ijaye, and Kakanfo Afonja. These productions were recorded by Nigerian Television (NTV) Ibadan in the 1970s. They were narrated by the late Dr. Solomon Oyewole Babayemi, then of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, who later became the Oba Olufi of Gbongan, Osun State. Olofa Ina also recorded a series of television productions, including Odetedo, Lakaaye, Kogun Maja and Ade Oba.

Olofa Ina was a multi-talented artiste who engaged in directing, acting, script writing, Yoruba script dialogue and stage theatre. Most of his plays were largely historical plays recorded by Nigerian Television, Ibadan in the 1970s. He featured prominently in the production of Ija Omode by Korede Films, Idaamu Otunba by Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello), Ewe Orun by Korede Films, Kabiyesi Olodumare by Ogogo Films and Mayegun by Yinka Quadri, to mention but a few. Olofa Ina made his debut in film acting during the shooting of Ejo Ngboro by Tunbosun Odunsi Films, and later in Lisabi Agbongbo Akala by Akin Ogungbe, Ayonmon by Hubert Ogunde, Mosebolatan by Alawada Films Limited, Taxi Driver Parts I and II and Ehin Oku by Ade Love Films Ltd as well as Agbaarin by Jimoh Aliu Films Ltd.

Olofa Ina had a rare opportunity to feature on the first-ever home video production by Alade Aromire, titled Ekun, in 1989 and has since become a celebrity and a resounding name in subsequent home movies, having remained one of the very best in acting, with outstanding dexterity in the use and good command of the Yoruba language.

“Act well your part for there all the honour lies,” says an adage. Little wonder Olofa Ina bagged many awards and recognitions, which were too numerous to mention here.

Olofa Ina successfully blended his acting career with social activities, as he was a strong and committed member of the Positive Thinkers Club of Nigeria, among others. Despite his expected tight schedule, Olofa Ina served Ede well. He held his domain very close to his heart, evident in the fact that he was the President of Timi Agbale Descendants Union, Mosifa Area, Ibadan Branch, until his return to his place of birth and hometown, Ede.

It was on record, too, that Alagba Adedeji Aderemi Olofa Ina was given a mandate to present a live performance of the history of Agbale Olofa Ina and Alapo Ti Emi Ti Emi at the 2010 Ede Day Celebration by the Professor Siyan Oyeweso-led Ede Mapo Arogun Day Planning Committee.

Among the prominent artistes that featured in the 2010 drama presentation of Agbale Olofa Ina were Chief Lere Paimo (Eda Onile-Ola), Karimu Adepoju (Baba Wande), Kayode Olaiya (Aderupoko), Peter Fatomilola, Margaret Bandele Tobola Olayinka (Iya Gbonkan) Alirat Adunni (Tamotiye), Toyin Oladiran (Abeni-Agbon) and Samson Eluwole (Jinadu Ewele).

He did justice to this well-attended stage production, another clear testimony to the fact that Olofa Ina was a worthy and patriotic “son of the soil”.

Olofa Ina, an accomplished theatre arts practitioner, spent his time farming, driving, script writing and reading. Some of Chief Adedeji Aderemi’s life-long friends include Kayode Olaiya (Aderupoko), Chief Lere Paimo (Eda Onile-Ola), Chief Muriana Oyelami and Samson Eluwole (Jinadu Ewele).
Olofa Ina was also a great mentor to many aspiring and up-and-coming artistes, which was attested to by Mrs. Tola Oladokun:

I used to sell clothes before I started acting in 1983. I indicated my interest in arts, and the veteran accepted me, Deji Aderemi, also known as Olofa Ina, in Ibadan, Oyo State. I tried combining my business with acting. But at the time, I was envied by some of my peers then because I knew how to read and write; those were some of the challenges I faced. They tried to plot against me, but my boss, Olofa Ina, was always on my side.

Olofa Ina was one of the prominent artistes honoured by the Osun State government at the 20th anniversary of the state in 2011. He was also famous for the rich Yoruba proverbs and idioms that punctuated his lines in various films and stage plays, including his April 2020 interview with BBC Yoruba.

Until his last moments, Olofa Ina was relevant in the Nigerian movie industry with his active participation and contribution to Kunle Afolayan’s blockbuster movie Anikulapo, which won five awards in the 2023 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award (AMVCA), namely Best Indigenous Language, Yoruba (Movie/TV Series), Best Overall Movie, Best Sound Editor (Movie/TV Series), Best Writer (Movie/TV Series) and Best Sound Track (Movie/TV Series).

Olofa Ina was a man who moved beyond the stage theatre and cinema. He was a “Living History” and a great storyteller. In 2021, he contributed actively to the International Colloquium organised by the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding – a UNESCO Category II Institute based in Osogbo, Osun State on the “Life and Times of Timi John Adetoyese Laoye I (1946-1975)”.

In the words of the moderator of the International Colloquium, Emeritus Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas at Austin, “Chief Adedeji Aderemi Olofa Ina is a rich mine of Yoruba history and a well of historical knowledge.”

This fact is further confirmed by his presentation on the ancient city of Ede on DStv Yoruba Town Series, on Channel 157. Also, in 2022, he demonstrated his rich knowledge of Yoruba cultural history at the presentation titled “Ipa Asa ati Ede ninu Idagbasoke Orilede”, which he made at the College of Humanities and Culture of Osun State University.

Aderemi died on January 4 2024, at 73. He was lowered into the mother earth at exactly 4:20 pm on Friday, January 5, in accordance with Islamic rites at his Fiwasaye Residence in Ede South Local Government Area of Osun State.

At a time in the recent past, Olofa Ina was critically ill. He had challenges with walking straight and consequently sought divine healing from the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations – Pastor Temitope Balogun Joshua.

He was fully healthy through the divine encounter. Allahu Akbar! God is the greatest. Pastor T. B. Joshua, the healer, died on Saturday, June 5, 2021. The healed Chief Adedeji Aderemi died on Thursday, January 4, 2024. In Islam, Christianity and traditional religions, God/Olodumare is the greatest healer. All dominion belongs to him.

Olofa Ina’s memory was incredible right to his very last date. He remembered every detail about his earthly odyssey. He was a complete gentleman, well-groomed in the cultural ethos of the Yoruba. Above all, he was a conciliator and peacemaker.

Olafa Ina cherished good name, honesty and straightforward dealings with people. He was a likeable man and a friend of the old and the young. Olofa Ina was not a saint (no human ever is), but he lived a disciplined and morally upright life. May his tribe in Ede and other parts of Nigeria thrive and blossom.

Olofa Ina was a great man of courage. His influence and prestige did not corrupt him. He was ever willing to show love or acts of kindness. In private life, he was a dependable and reliable friend, highly generous and gentle. Olofo Ina displayed a profound sense of humility in all sense. He lived a very rich and purposeful life in the service of the people. In a very poetic mood, George Banks set out, for all time, the purpose of an ideal life:
I live for those who love me
For those who know me, true
For the heaven that smiles above me
And awaits my spirit too,
For the cause that lacks assistance
For the wrong that needs resistance
For the future in the distance
And the good that I can do

This can be truly said of Chief Suarau Adedeji Aderemi (Olofa Ina).

Chief Adedeji Aderemi now belongs to the ages. He was one of the happy great men who succeeded highly in carrying their happiness to the grave in peace. But why should good people die?

History is replete with purposeful and kind people who did not live to a ripe old age while the wicked and cruel people live up to 80s and 90s. We can only take solace in the fact that he lived an impactful life and touched the lives of many people in very practical terms. His death is a great loss to the art and humanities community in Nigeria and the Yoruba race, in general. He was a legend in every sense of the word. As for the messenger of death, Asarail, I only have these immortal words of an English poet:
O death,
where is
thy sting?
O grave,
where is
thy victory?
Men call
You Great
Thou hath not.

Prof. Oyeweso FHSN, FNAL, writes from Ede, Ede South LGA,Osun State, Nigeria

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