Iconic musician, actor and folklorist, Jimi Solanke, dies at 81

Iconic musician, actor and folklorist, Jimi Solanke, dies at 81

Monday, February 5, 2024 5:28 pm


Jimi Solanke

Jimi Solanke   

*President Tinubu mourns him

By Nehru Odeh           

Jimi Solanke, the iconic artist, who made a name for himself as a versatile dramatist, musician, actor, poet and folklorist in a career spanning the 50s to the present is dead. The multi-talented artiste who has been an active player on the Nigerian literary and entertainment scene died this morning after a brief illness. He was aged 81. He was sick for a month, and moved to his hometown, Ipara Remo in Ogun State where his condition deteriorated.

Solanke was regular on the Nigerian cultural scene and was known not just for his rich repertoire of folklore but also for his great storytelling skills, musical and theatrical performance. He was famous for acting in plays such as Wole Soyinka’s Kongi’s Harvest,  Sango and Shadow Parties.

Born in July 1942, he attended the University of Ibadan, where he obtained a diploma certificate in drama. After graduation, He relocated to the United States, where he created a drama group called The Africa Review, focusing on African culture. The drama group was known for the African clothing (especially Yoruba costume) that its members put on.

Solanke, who was described as a master storyteller by CNN, established himself in Los Angeles, California, where his storytelling career began.  He returned to Nigeria with three members of the African Review group in 1986  to work with the Nigerian Television Authority. His reputation earned him the lead role in most of Ola Balogun’s films.] He was part of the cast that made the film of Kongi’s Harvest by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

He once spoke on his versatility as an artist in an interview in 2022.

“When you are a thespian, it means you are an actor, a singer, a dancer, you are everything that equals performance. When I stand before an audience and tell stories, I’m acting. Perhaps, that’s why a lot of people love me telling stories, because I act, innovate and mimic the sound of a chicken, that of a lion, and also give the tortoise a voice. It’s all part of thespianism, it’s all part of acting, it’s all part of playing a role.”

*President Tinubu Mourns Him

President Bola Tinubu today said he received the news of the passing of Solanke with a heavy heart .

In his words: “Baba Solanke was an actor, dramatist, folk singer, poet, and playwright. He was one of the finest of Nigeria’s creative artists and bastion of our cherished mores and cultural heritage.”

The President expressed his condolences to the Solanke family and all those who mourn this painful loss while praying for the peaceful repose of the beloved departed.




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