Methodical in mission, strategic in style and successes, Fabian Adeoye Lojede exudes confidence and smacks of camaraderie. Suave, sensational, Lojede is most famous for his iconic role in the Pan-African TV series ‘Jacob’s Cross’ which ran from 2007 to 2012. Now living in South Africa, the filmmaker, director, actor, model and Pan-Africanist has embarked on a Pan-African initiative. Following an encounter with Lojede, Vanessa Obioha writes about his belief, vision and purpose in life
As far as actor and filmmaker Fabian Adeoye Lojede is concerned, Africans still have a lot of issues to iron out. Foremost is the belief that foreign ideologies are a form of higher civilization. This form of supremacy, Lojede argues not only betrays our ignorance but also override our rational and humanistic thoughts such that we shun our true heritage.
“It calls for re-education of the African history,” Lojede said.
He added: “Africans have issues with Africans that practise African traditional faiths, but have no problem with Chinese or Indians that are neither Christian nor Muslim. Some will marvel at the Great Wall of China and have never heard of the Great wall of Benin, which is longer than that of China. They will say white men brought science and mathematics but fail to see that Ifa is a set of binary numbers of ones and zeros or that there were no Arabs or white men in Egypt when most of the pyramids were being built as far South as Zimbabwe.
He does not believe “white men” gave Africans any form of enlightenment and neither does he believe “in the fallacy” called Western education, arguing there is no such thing.
“The knowledge contained in what you call western education is a combination of the intellectual contribution of many races and civilizations. We had the written form of Nsibidi in Nigeria, Algebra from the Arabs. I know some people will say so what did it do for us and I think this question normally comes with the expectation that if it doesn’t make us like the west it has done nothing for us,” the filmmaker explained.
“Well, we are the only ones that have kept our colonizers, religion, language as a form of academic instruction and inherited geopolitical boundaries and yet the others that have redefined themselves in their own image and history like China, Iran, Indian, Indonesia, Singapore etc. are far more developed than us.”
Lojede’s strong views on Pan-Africanism didn’t emerge yesterday. In fact, it was what kept him away from the big screen until he got the right script.
At age 12, Lojede was fully aware of his creative skills. Yet as a young student in the United Kingdom (UK) who would later relocate to Nigeria to complete his secondary and tertiary institution, he chose however to study Psychology.
He was drawn to the subject by his father’s collection of Rosicrucian Digest magazines. His plan was to get a PhD. in Clinical Psychology and become a shrink just in case he did not make it as a creative.
While at the University of Ibadan as an undergraduate, he sampled his acting skills for his friends. Upon graduation, he joined a global advertising agency Rosabel Leo Burnett in 1998 as a copy-writer and freelance voice-over artist.
His eloquent radio-friendly voice landed him roles in radio dramas and commercials such that by 2003, he has relocated to South Africa and set up a production company, 1Take Media in partnership with Mickey Madoda Dube.
More often than not, Lojede found himself turning down jobs.
“I’d always wanted to move to the big screen, the opportunities that came just didn’t seem right, so I did mostly TV commercials and concentrated on my copywriting, voice-over work and producing.”
However, he finally found what he was looking for when he landed a role in Pan-African TV series Jacob’s Cross in 2007. He played the unforgettable lead character Bola Abayomi throughout the series six-year run, which earned him fans beyond Africa since the show had a successful run on Canal Plus in France and Africa Channel in the United States of America and UK.
The drama series was such a turning point for Lojede, placing him as an African idol. Twice, he was invited as a celebrity guest to the bi–annual Black Theatre Festival. More so, he landed other roles in movies such as Kunle Afolayan’s ‘October 1’. He would later add a film producer and director feather to his hat when he co-produced and starred in ‘Man on Ground’, another blockbuster that earned him accolades.
His latest flick is ‘Comatose’ which premiered this year at Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO).
The dramatic afro-futurism film which explores an African perspective on the euthanasia debate stars Lojede, Bimbo Akintola, and Mary Thwala among others.
The film which he co-produced and directed is part of his ongoing Pan-African initiative which will see Africans collaborating on different film projects.
Already, he has secured the blessing of the family of the revered Pan-African leader Thomas Jankara to develop a feature on the leader.
“I visited his family house and his village and it was an amazing and humbling experience,” Lojede said. “It left me with hope that if we could produce one of him, we can produce more.”Currently, he is shooting a new international TV series in Cape Town, and has in development, a Pan-African music drama series called Eko Vibes.
There is also a documentary ‘Omo Egun’, “which is about tracing my family’s masquerade history and lineage in Abeokuta,” in the pipeline.
“I’m also in post-production for my short film titled ‘Eje’ and I have a few productions coming out such as ‘Heavens Hell’ which opens May 10 in Nigeria,” he added.
Other projects include ‘Ghost and the House of Truth’, a film directed by Akin Omotoso, produced by Ego Boyo, and starring Kate Henshaw which will be released later this year; and the series he did with Yomi Black ‘Jelli and Clitoris’.
Through this initiative, Lojede is lending his voice to the Pan-African movement.
“You cannot really love Fela and not be a Pan-Africanist, unless you are one of those people that just hear his music without listening. You can’t help but be Pan-African when you realize that as Africans we are still being pulled by political, cultural, economic, and religious strings of our former colonizers. There are people in Nigeria that are helping to push that Pan- African narrative already. You have Kunle Afolayan, Tunde Kelani; musicians like Olamide, Phyno, whose lyrical choice of delivery is more local than most, even if you don’t agree with their messaging.
“We have curators and cultural conservationist like Theo Lawson and Femi Odugbemi helping to keep the African documentary voices alive and grooming the next set of filmmakers right here on our soil. I think there is an unorganized movement here and in the Diaspora reminiscent of the more organised negritude movement in the 1930s,” he concluded.
Quote: Well, we are the only ones that have kept our colonizers, religion, language as a form of academic instruction and inherited geopolitical boundaries and yet the others that have redefined themselves in their own image and history like China, Iran, Indian, Indonesia, Singapore etc. are far more developed than us.