By Rebecca Ejifoma
One of Africa’s first television drama series, the Village Headmaster, which did not only entertain the people but also promoted inter-ethnic harmony, problem-solving, intervention in public affairs and family enjoyment for many, will soon return live on the airwaves.
The producer, Tunde Oloyede, made this known to art journalists during a briefing held on Friday at the Ajibulu Moniya Gallery in Surulere, Lagos. “[The reason for bringing it back] is to fulfil the desire of the creator, Dr. Segun Olusola,” he said. “This was on his mind during his lifetime. This will come in three forms including film, on stage and on the television.”
Oloyede assured the gathering that some of its characters including Garba, Balogun and Justice Esiri have been replaced. “Esiri was not the first to act the role of the village headmaster. Tedi Okoro, who is still alive, first played the role then Femi Robinson succeeded him followed by Garba before Esiri.”
Meanwhile, the role actor of the Kabiyesi in the drama, Dejumo Lewis, explained that The Village Headmaster is a play with class. “The play must retain its unique form and without compromising its original concept. It will come with modernity but still have the village mentality.”
It also used the medium to narrate how the play came about. In 1958, the late Olusola, who passed on last June, wrote and produced a radio programme titled Remembrances of My Headmaster for broadcast on the network of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). Then the master story, The Village Headmaster, was written in 1964 on the ideas generated by the radio feature programme.
However, other characters present at the briefing included Mrs. Ibidun Alison (Amebo), Jimi Olusola, Segun Sulaimon and the son of the late Olusola.
THE VILLAGE HEADMASTER IN PERSPECTIVE
In 1958, late Chief Segun Olusola wrote and produced a radio programme titled - Remembrances of My Headmaster for broadcast on the network of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). The programme featured recollections by some notable Nigerian leaders – Chief A, Y, Eke, Chief (Mrs.) I. O. Ransome-Kuti, Dr S. O. Biobaku, who have since joined the ancestors as well as Chief Segun Olusola, mni OFR.
In 1964, the master story – The Village Headmaster – a television play was again written by late Chief Segun Olusola, mni OFR based on the ideas generated by the 1958 radio feature programme.
Further, in 1968, a group of writers including Alex Akinyele, Demola James, Nelson Olawaiye and Fela Davies working with the Sanya Dosumu – Producer-Director (now High Royal Highness Oba Sanya Dosumu, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Ogun State) submitted the first thirteen episodes of the Village Headmaster. In addition, Chief Olusola supervised the Producers as series creator and as Controller of Programmes – the entire process was guided and approved by Dr. Christopher Kolade, who was at that time Director of the Television.
Ted |Mukoro, JAB Adu and Elsie Olusola (now deceased) were among the cast of the first thirteen episodes.
THE VILLAGE HEADMASTER 1968 – 1988, one of Africa’s first ever television drama series, promoted inter-ethnic harmony, problem solving, intervention in public affairs, health education and family enjoyment for many years was created by late Chief Segun Olusola, mni, OFR.
The objectives were achieved through the combined efforts of the writers, producers, performing artistes and the operators of the Nigerian Television Authority, at first in Lagos and thereafter nationwide.
In reaction to the longing and demand from the public and some of the pioneer casts for the repackaging of The Village Headmaster, consultations and sponsorship commenced which culminated in appointing Chief Tunde Oloyede as the Producer to design the concept and outline of the new generation of the Village Headmaster to guide the creative crew – Writers, Producers, Key Performers, Facilitator and Sponsors.
Chief Oloyede once produced and directed 364 episodes of the Village Headmaster professionally without hitches. He has positioned himself to creatively guide this current initiative with additional in-puts from other key pioneers that include amongst others, Oba Sanya Dosunmu, Mr. Segun Sofowote, Chief (Mrs.) Ibidun Allison, Mr. Dejumo Lewis and Mr. Jimi Olusola III, as the scion of the creator of the series.
The Village Headmaster as currently envisaged – a television play series can contribute to public enlightenment, promote inter-ethnic relations, resolve conflicts, advance the cause of peace, create work opportunities for writers, designers, performing artistes, create entertainment forum, encouraging talents for creative engagements and bring succor to a vast majority of the populate.
The master-script of the Village Headmaster with some notes on this inaugural generation of artists is contained in the publication – The Village Headmaster by Segun Olusola, published by Ariya Productions in 1977 with a cover drawing by Josy Ajiboye and its second edition was reprinted by Literamed Publications Nigeria Limited in view of efforts made in resuscitating it.
The thrust of the repackaged Village Headmaster
•The Village Headmaster MUST retain its unique form and without compromising its original concept.
•The Strategic Committee inaugurated to harmonize the interest groups for optimum result
•Deliberate on the road-map designed by late Chief Segun Olusola, mni, OFR
• Village Headmaster Productions, the registered business name to be reactivated for the promotion of the Village Headmaster, a legacy left behind by late Chief Segun Olusola, mni OFR.
• From the archive of late Chief Segun Olusola, mni, OFR