HISTORY: TRIBUTE: Jimi Solanke, an Ogun-born artist who ran away from home to become a ‘renowned master storyteller’

Every time we learn of someone’s passing, regardless of age, it serves as a reminder of how fleeting life is. We lose more than just body and soul when someone passes away. We lose each person’s unique characteristics, availability, and presence. We lose the knowledge and insight needed to navigate the present, which is the key to the past, when an elderly person passes away.

Upon the death of a young individual, we are left with less strength and agility to construct a temporary society. Even if we wish for everyone to live forever, memories cannot exist. Sadly, memories and immortality can not co-exist. It’s a challenging puzzle. There will always be death. Nature owes us this duty. It’s an obligation we owe God, say theologians. Although the timing varies, everyone will experience death. It is inevitable that we will pass away regardless of how long we live on Earth.

Those who lead cautious lives will ultimately perish too. The grave-renderer and the earth have joined forces to oppose the person whose height falls below six feet. The terrible reaper has vanquished Jimi Solanke, the legendary figure who never stopped grinning.

On Monday, the legendary Jimi Solanke began his bold new voyage to the afterlife by sacrificing everything he had ever wanted. He was the embodiment of knowledge and intellectual battle, so when word of his passing spread, it devastated many who had treasured their private or public discussions with him.

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Chief Solanke was reported to have been in and out of the hospital from December until his death on Monday morning following his hasty transfer from his rural house at Ipara Remo in Remo North Local Government Area, Ogun State to Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilisan, to his rural house at Ipara Remo in Remo North Local Government Area, Ogun State. The cause of his death is still unknown as of the time this tribute was written.

For his generation as well as the one that follows, Jimi Solanke was a true blessing. The perpetually cheerful man led a modest, careful, and straightforward existence. He was so careful that he wished he could weigh each item of food or liquid that he put in his mouth.

He was moderately rich and well-known Nigerian, but he also possessed excellent financial and personal self-discipline. He was also a workaholic who was motivated by grace in his creations. In an interview, his spouse disclosed that Solanke works late on studies and seldom gets any sleep at all.
From ‘Run-Away Boy’ to ‘Master Storyteller’

Solanke’s rise to fame began as an ambitious young man who, as a teenager, fled home, returned to the uncertainties of life, and rose to prominence as a renowned storyteller, according to CNN. For his goals to come true, Jimi Solanke had to travel a difficult route. Despite all the obstacles, he was prepared, self-assured, and committed to fulfilling his life’s goals.

First off, his father disapproved of his choice to pursue a career in theater since he did not want his intelligent son to become a clown. Thespians were viewed as clowns or unemployed in his early years. His father served as a barrier or a boundary between his aspirations and his past.

He gave up riches and the perks that come with it as the son of a well-known chief in order to follow his aspirations. He broke free from obstacles in his own personal growth wheel by fleeing his house. He made sure his name would be mentioned till it vanished from history. He started off as a runaway child and went on to become a poet, teacher, dramatist, filmmaker, singer, and cultural hero.

In an interview with THE PUNCH, Solanke revealed that he started working harder to become a good artiste, and along the way, he began to get recognized.

“I began to get accolades; journalists began to write about me in newspapers, and I was also featured on television and the radio as well.

“Also, my father began to get compliments from his friends about my accomplishments, and that started to break his ice of anger.

“Each time I made an effort to go back home in Ipara or Lagos, wherever I knew he was, I would buy him gifts and upon receiving them, he would smile.

“When I got married in Ile-Ife, he started visiting me. That was how we became friends again”, he narrated in an interview.

Jimi Solanke was born on July 4, 1942 in Lagos State. He’s a native of Ipara-Remo, Ogun State.

Prior to attending Odogbolu Grammar School in Ogun State, he completed his primary education at Olowogbowo Methodist School. He earned a diploma in drama from the University of Ibadan, where he graduated.

Solanke had a marital relationship with three women. In an interview, he revealed that his union with the first woman who had his first three kids, was short-lived.

“The relationship was ended prematurely by her parents, who felt since I was an artist, I would be irresponsible. I eventually took my children from them and moved on. When I travelled out of the country, I left my children with my father in my hometown and they were fine”, he further disclosed.

While disclosing how his second marriage ended, Solanke said when he travelled to the US, he felt getting married there would be better and he got married to Elizabeth.

But I later found out that she was not the kind of woman I wanted, he added.

According to Solanke, he had already given up on marriage when he met another woman, who he became attached to and loved so much.

“By the time I came back to Nigeria and was employed at the Dramatic Arts Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, I gave up on marriage. But I met a woman, who I became attached to and I got married. We have been married for 40 years now. Her mother knew me well and I was ready to be a father as well as husband to her. Though I am certain God has a hand in our union, I respect her a lot too. She makes food for me and ensures the house is in order. She does all these with passion”, he disclosed.

Solanke joined the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) in 1969. After graduation, Solanke moved to the United States, where he created a drama group called The Africa Review, focusing on African culture. Members of this group usually put on African clothing, specifically Yoruba costumes. Jimi Solanke established himself in Los Angeles, California, where his storytelling career began. He was described as a “master storyteller.”

Solanke brought three African Review Group members back to Nigeria in 1986 so they could work with the Nigeria Television Authority. He was cast in the lead roles of the majority of Ola Balogun’s films thanks to his notoriety. He was a member of the group that produced the film adaptation of Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s Kongi’s Harvest. He dabbled in music, reinventing and reshaping Nigerian music tradition.

His roles on stage included Kongi’s Harvest, Sango, Death and the King’s Horseman, Kurunmi, Chattering and the Song, Shadow Parties, Ovoramwen Nogbaisi, and The Divorce.

In addition, he starred in other TV series, such as African Stories, For Better for Worse, Village Headmaster, Family Scene, Children’s Half Hour, Storyland, and The Bar Beach Show.

The versatile performer wrote and recorded songs such as Adara, B’areni j’oye, Jenrokan, Onile Gogoro, and Owuro l’ojo. In the course of writing his tribute, it was discovered that he was the narrator of JagunJagun, a recent Nollywood blockbuster JagunJagun, which was produced by Femi Adebayo.

In addition to the Order of the Niger, he also received the National Merit Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award. At the age of eighty-one, Solanke, one of Nigeria’s most notable representations of what men may do with unwavering drive, disappeared off the stage. Jimi Solanke left without a goodbye but we will be consoled by his wonderful memories and amazing works of arts. Rest well, Legend.….CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>> 

About the author


JOLOWO BUNALAYEFA PIUS is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BUNADY NEWSLITE GLOBAL ENTERPRISE (Bunady.com). He started his Blogging/Journalism career at God's Own Wireless Company 2012. He's a graduate of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko Ondo State, with a major in History And International Studies. You can contact him for press events, advertisement promotions on Email: contact.bunady@gmail.com

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