By TAYO SALAMI
One of the things that set him apart from majority of his contemporaries is his love for the Yoruba culture. He also has a good command of the language. And you would have thought that he studied Yoruba in the university. But no, Alaagba Adebayo, who is also proficient in French, studied English language at the prestigious University of Ibadan, Ibadan and graduated in 1968. Also, during his Cambridge examination, he opted to do French rather than Yoruba.
In an interview, the respected culture activist, said, “I studied English because I felt that opportunities might come for me to take a position in the broadcasting industry, which my study of Yoruba language might actually hinder.” In the years, his versatility in Yoruba language had opened doors for him in many ways.
But how then did he gain his mastery of the Yoruba language? Faleti, the first child of his father, and was born in Oyo Town, Oyo State on December, 26, 1930. Being the first child of his family afforded him the opportunity of having so much attention from his parents.
Apart from this, growing up in the village made him have access to so many things, which included swimming in the river, hunting in forest and drumming. Through this experience, he started garnering Yoruba culture. At night, Faleti was not left out in listening to exhilarating moonlight tales of legends. His father was devoted to anything that would make him successful; hence, he made him read Yoruba textbooks and story books to him. In the process, he was corrected wherever he made any mistake or pronounced a word wrongly.
As a result, his knowledge of the festivals, jokes, stories, proverbs, idiomatic expressions and the culture was further deepened. He partook in the activities and mastered all the knowledge. “Living in the village gave me depth in my use of Yoruba language. All sorts of things come up, including story- telling, chanting, traditional singing, dancing and Ifa corpus. I know of an uncle who was a hunter and he taught me Oriki (praise songs) of hunters and important animals,” he said.
Anything he read in books was an additional knowledge. But all the while, he wrote things down right from his primary school in his note books. No wonder, he’s a poet, an author and an actor.
Faleti, who once taught at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, was among the pioneer staff of the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Services, where he worked as a newscaster and television producer. One thing that stands him out from his colleagues is the way he dons his cap sideways, which is now regarded as a fashion.
While he was the General Manager at the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, he made numerous contributions to broadcasting in Nigeria. Some of his outstanding achievements include translation of the Nigeria’s national anthem to Yoruba language, initiation of broadcasting Islamic programmes during the Ramadan period and mobile Father Christmas from village to village.
He is also reputed to have translated and coined Father Christmas to Baba Keresi. Also, he initiated the idea of getting immediate feedback in broadcasting through phone-in programmes, which virtually all the broadcasting stations in Nigeria inherited.
The octogenarian started acting in 1949 and founded Oyo Youth Operatic Society in which all your actors sing their dialogues. The experiences he had while acting made him a television producer for 25years at the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV).
His words: “I was responsible for producing plays of Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Oyin Adejobi, Kola Ogunmola on television. I even produced those of some English writers in the university. I would say it became part of me as an independent producer after I retired. But you see, we had an opportunity when we were in broadcasting. When you are a producer on television, you are free to introduce anything. You are even free to found a group of yours acting on television, and I took advantage of that.”
Being a television producer gave him the opportunity to institute Alebiosu Theatre Group. He introduced scripting to Yoruba television acting, which is now accepted universally.
He has featured in many Yoruba films, including the culturally rich movies produced by Mainframe Productions. His appearance would not go unnoticed as he has successfully wove the beauty of Yoruba language together.
Adebayo Faleti has authored many books which include: Basorun Gaa, Idamu Padi Mikailu, Magun, Won Ro Pe Were Ni, Ogun Awitele,and Ija Orogun tabi Bi o bu mi, Ng o bu o.
He also wrote, produced and directed 40 plays, including Ibinu Ladele, Amao Amoye, Ohun to sa pamo, E wa kani, Baba Keresi and Oriire Baraba.
He created Adeboye, a detective series in Yoruba language on radio and television. Most of the books he published and the ones he didn’t publish were produced into films.
He has received many awards including the national honour, Officer of the Order of Niger (OON).