Felicitations: My November People
By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
It appears I have a soft spot for November people; perhaps the seed of that was sown the moment my first child was born many years ago in the first week of November. Introducing the following gentlemen, we mean no harm by not including any female. Much as we tried, we were hindered by the peculiar disdain of our feminine folks in divulging their real age, unless and until the issue is forced out of their hands or control. So, the four men we serenade today have public dates of birth seemingly incontrovertible, and all somewhat have or have had dalliances with the media (of course you’ll likely say “of course”)… Trust me, it was merely accidental.
The oldest is the impeccably self-effacing and lavishly talented musician, producer and administrator, Olaoluwa Akintobi (aka Uncle Laolu Akins) on the 18th; then closely followed by Abayomi Oladiji (aka Yomfash) who spent decades in advertising practice, but now working hard in episcopal “advertising”, otherwise known as evangelism (27th). Joe Dudun (also 18th) is “notoriously” prolific, and thankfully prodigious, in scriptwriting and screenplays in the Nigeria movie industry for over 35 years; while the baby of the set is the young director, occasional actor, media entrepreneur and frequent critic, Charles Osa Ighinovia (aka Charles Novia – 20th).
Join me as we felicitate these gifted individuals, and pray for continuing good health and vibrant contributions to the country they love and cherish.
LAOLU AKINS @ 76
“Fifty years ago, three creative instrumentalists – a drummer, a rhythm guitarist and bass guitarist – joined forces to donate their names, talents and dexterity to the pop kingdom of the early 70’s. BLO was formed. And a whirlwind of hits and tours and success followed.
Today, the “L” of BLO. Laolu Oluwole Akins (perhaps, Nigeria’s best snare drummer ever) has foreclosed stage performance for studio production. Since the mid-80’s, Laolu’s magic fingers have touched many music forms and brought life to many musicians.
His fingerprints were etched on the massive hits, I Need Someone (Kris Okotie); Ace, Shinamania (Shina Peters); Bubble (Adewale Ayuba); Omoge, Rhumba Dance, Concert Fever (Mike Okri), etcetera – all multiple award winners… We thank God for having a Laolu Akins in this millennium, and we certify his industry, resourcefulness, creativity and relentless pursuit of excellence. Drum on, the stick-master.”
(Excerpt from “Millennium Mementoes” of 2000… in my 2011 book, Footprints: Interventions in Nigerian Entertainment)
Happy 76th Birthday, Sir Oluwole.
YOMI OLADIJI @ 70
We got close to Baba Yomfash in 2013 when we started the organisation of MEGA (Music & Entertainment Gospel Awards). His ways and direct approach made our discussions robust and goal oriented. He was often the oldest in the committees, and among the earliest to arrive at every of our meetings, yet he would be active and effervescent until the last mInute of each meeting. Not a moment given to religious inanities or needless verbal perambulations.
He was attracted to the concept and direction of MEGA because of his love and desire to support and elevate any process or entity devoted and dedicated to the Almighty. I found Baba Yomfash incredibly unaffected by negativity and hostility. He prods you to get a solution to a seemingly herculean objective, instead of whining in fear and stagnation, fueled by indecision. “Let’s do this NOW! Let’s start that TODAY! There’s no time to waste…” – those are some of his default code chants. Irrepressible!
Baba Yomfash does not understand that a situation cannot be overcome, after all – in his curt as-a-matter-of-fact disposition – we are serving an all-providing God, aren’t we? For Abayomi ‘Fash’ Oladiji, the matter is settled! What a man… What a servant… What an example!
It was gratifying to felicitate our big brother on the 27th day of November 2022 as he stepped onto the glorious 70th pedestal. Congratulations!
JOE DUDUN @ 60
He was my colleague at the features desk of the widely read The Punch newspapers, in the 80s. Joseph Oghosanine Dudun carried himself with seriousness and calm confidence. I believe he started freelancing as a scriptwriter with Zeb Ejiro’s Ripples (1987) even while excelling on his job as Assistant Features Editor. Relentless!
He never really left the print media: in 2014 he was the Managing Editor (Features and Special Stories) of Abuja-based Leadership Newspaper, coordinating the reportage of that year’s massive national conference.
Dudun fancies himself a filmmaker and environmentalist – he seeks to perpetuate his passions in his scripts, an artistry that has spanned well over 30 years. He is a founding member of the Scriptwriters and Directors’ guilds, as well as the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), and currently it’s Secretary of the Board of Trustees.
Dudun, best known as one of Nigeria’s most prolific (here that word sounds good) screen playwrights, he has also dabbled into directing. Many of his screenplays have won numerous awards; here are a ‘spreadsheet’ of the major ones: Nneka: The Pretty Serpent (1993), Just A Night, Tears for Love (both 1994); Fatal Desire (with Lamson Yesuf), Onome, Thorns of Rose, Deadly Passion (with Lamson Yesuf – all 1995); Goodbye Tomorrow (1996), Oracle, Never Again (with Lamson Yesuf – both 1997); Amadas and The Oath (with Samson Agu-Barry, both 1998); Intimate Strangers (1999), My Best Friend, Azima, Ajana (all 2002); Dons in Abuja (2003), Super Hero, Women World (both 2004), and Ogodobiri (2006).
His prodigious exertions in a seemingly innumerable number of scripts for television plays suggest a restless and fecund mind that somehow can produce satisfactorily under these harsh homeland conditions. See what I mean; he wrote several episodes for network soaps, Ripples (from 1987), Candlelight (1998), One Too Much (13 comedic episodes, 2000), Living for Tomorrow (drama, 104 episodes, 2001-2007); Our Time (comedy, 26 episodes, 2006); Broken Songs (soap opera, 65 episodes, 2010), etc….
Truly, a ‘wordy’ fellow of the Muse. By the way, Oghosanine (which in Itsekiri means ‘It is good to have money’) was 60 on 8 November, 2022.
CHARLES NOVIA @ 51
Born into a creative environment in Benin – the father an unpublished author, and mother a singer with filial roots with the Efosa music wizard, Victor Uwaifo – Charles Osa Ighinovia (calibrated to Novia) was set for the limelight at a tender age. After leaving the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1993, the fellow with hands in different creative pies launched himself into our consciousness.
He had tested his talents as an MC, a singer, a comedian (ask them at Jazzville)…and writing and acting on TV sit-com (One Big Family)…then he got tired of entertaining frontally, and elected to shift his talents behind the camera. And thus came, via his direction and producership, the following: The Pastor and the Harlot (2002), When Love Dies, Husband & Wives (both 2003), Covenant Church, Atlanta, Cinderella, Missing Angel (all 2004); Adam & Eve (2007), Alan Poza (2013),
Novia, restless and intuitive, currently runs what can arguably pass as the first TV channel devoted to teen programmes. Surely the future of our acts is in good hands. Congratulations, November man!