The friends and family of the legendary humourist, Olawale Obadeyi popularly known as Wally Jay threw a befitting book launch party at Freedom Park, Lagos in a fun-filled atmosphere that suited the persona of the late author. The book titled, “Tongues of the Forecourt’’ is a collection of Yoruba proverbs and aphorisms which had been carefully translated into English by Obadeyi.
Obadeyi studied Dramatic Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife before obtaining a second degree in English Studies with emphasis on literature. He had a stint in print and broadcast journalism and later veered into Marketing Communications as well as Public Relations. Obadeyi is a published poet, short-story writer and columnist whose award-winning short story, Sandstorm in the Rain was published in “Little Drops’’, 1998 collection of short stories which was facilitated by the liberty short stories series.
He died in June 2018 just before the iconic book on rich Yoruba proverbs was published. A community of loving and loyal friends saw to it that the dream of this rare book that is a necessary contribution to cultural values was realized. The event was anchored by the duo of Hafiz Ayetoro and Tunji Sotimirin both of whom shared theatre background and broadcast experience with Obadeyi. The book was reviewed by Dr. Tunji Azeez.
A short documentary of the life and times of Obadeyi, produced by Yinka Akanbi was screened at the event that was a platform for friends of Wally Jay to recount the good times with the author and lessons learnt from him. Joseph Uchea, who later read some excerpts from the book alongside Norbert Young, described Wally Jay as one who always corrected his friend’s grammatical blunders, encouraged others to excel academically and was absolutely detribalized.
Prof GRA Adeoti of the Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, acknowledged the mentorship of Obadeyi in his journalistic experience, adding that he was in awe of Obadeyi’s altruism and intellectuality.
For Dudu Ajai-Ikhile, the ‘Abegi days’ with Obadeyi at the National Theatre will remain treasured moments. “If you introduce Wally Jay to any friend, he becomes closer to the friend that you will almost get jealous. He fights your fights on your behalf. Wally Jay is one of the best copywriters I had ever seen in advertising,’’ he said.
Amongst other performances, Obadeyi acted in Biyi Bandele’s ground-breaking Biafran war-themed movie, “Half of A Yellow Sun’’ based on the award-winning novel of the same title written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The phenomenal singer, Yinka Davies and Onos performed a post-humous birthday song for Obadeyi who has no fewer than three more books that are yet to be published.