A renowned playwright, actor, culture activist and scholar Professor Ishola Akinwunmi has passed on after a prolonged illness.
He died yesterday in his Ibadan residence at 78.
Isola, who wrote the popular play Efunsetan Aniwura when he was a student of the University of Ibadan in 1961 died in Ibadan after age-related ailment according to a family source.
“Baba has gone,” said the source, who preferred anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the family.
“He had been sick for some time and was getting better. But this morning, he died peacefully. He left a good legacy and his life was a good example for mankind.”
Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi described the death as a colossal loss not only to his immediate family but to Oyo state, the Yoruba race and the world at large.
The governor, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Yomi Layinka, said that he received the news of the death of the Ibadan-born culture ambassador and progenitor of Yoruba literature with disbelief and utter shock.
By his death, the governor said that the state had lost a venerated son of the soil, who devoted his life to the promotion of Yoruba culture through his creative works and huge contributions to the global body of knowledge.
Ajimobi said: “The late Prof. Ishola was also a blessing to his Alma Mata, Wesley College, Ibadan because he composed the school anthem, which is still in use till date.
“He was a man of many parts. Not only was he a prolific writer but he was also a talented actor and astute broadcaster who churned out many plays, drama series and box office films.
“Prof Akinwumi Isola was an unabashed believer in the promotion of the Yoruba language, which he once demonstrated by being the first person to deliver a university convocation lecture in Yoruba at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, which was very unconventional.”
A friend of the deceased and chairman of Kakanfo Inn and Conference Centre, Dr Lekan Are, who also confirmed the demise of the professor of Yoruba and writer of several Yoruba plays, praised Akinwumi for his passion for Yoruba culture, language and tradition.
Are said: “When his wife called me this morning and told me that Isola had died, I was shocked because I had visited him two weeks ago he told me that he was getting better. We had a vibrant discussion. He was excited to see me again.
“This is why I was taken aback by his death. He was a brilliant individual who made Yoruba history popular beyond Africa.
“He delivered lectures in Yoruba language. He wanted the language of Yoruba to feature prominently in our education system but unfortunately, this did not happen in his life time. May his soul rest in peace.”
Also, a very close associate of the deceased , a foremost
cinematographer, Tunde Kelani confirmed the departure of the famous playwright .
“Yes, Prof Ishola died this morning in Ibadan. He has been down for about two years now,” Kelani said over the phone.
Ovation Publisher, Dele Momodu, also confirmed the death in a Facebook post.
“Sad to receive the news that Nigeria has lost the legendary writer PROF AKINWUNMI ISOLA, my former lecturer and supervisor; author of O LE KU and EFUNSETAN ANIWURA and others… Rest in Peace Sir…,” Momodu wrote.
Born in Ibadan in 1939, Ishola attended Labode Methodist School and Wesley College in the capital of the old Western Region of Nigeria.
He studied at the University of Ibadan, earning a B.A. in French.
He also earned an M.A. in Yoruba Literature from the University of Lagos in 1978 before commencing academic work as a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University where he was appointed a professor in 1991.
Among his most popular plays are Efunsetan Aniwura, Madam Tinubu, Oleku and Olu Omo.
His works Oleku, Koseegbe, Saworoide, Agogo Eewo and Campus Queen were adapted to film by Kelani.
He worked with Kelani as a member of a trio of late Adebayo Faleti and late Larinde Akinleye.