Friday, June 17, 2016 9:23 am
As 70th birthday anniversary of a prolific writer, Babafemi Osofisan entered the third day on 16 June 2016, scholars and educationists converged in Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan, UI, for his birthday lecture and dinner. While the lecture lasted, the door of the hall was flung open.
Among those that attended the lecture titled, “Femi Osofisan and the Fascinating Journey along Many Paths”, delivered in the day time by Professor Olu Obafemi, of University of Ilorin were: the Chairman, Tanus Advertising, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi and his wife, Folasade, Ayo Banjo, Ayo Bamgbose, Abiodun Jeyifo, Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka of University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA, Gemisola Oke, Olabode Lucas and Remi Raji. Others were: Mufutau Temitayo Lamidi, Duro Adeleke, Ayo Kehinde, Adenike Akinjobi, all professors, Managing Director, Bookseller, Ibadan, Kolade Mosuro, and Executive Editor of The News Magazine, Kunle Ajibade.
In his opening remark, Banjo who affirmed and reiterated that no one in attendance knew the celebrant more than him said, “I have known him from his teenage. I know him longer than any of you. Femi still has more than 20 years to write. I was interested to hear the key lecturer describing Femi but I didn’t hear one word, idealist and he didn’t say that Femi has been pursuing utopia for Nigeria. For a long period, Femi has sought and still seeking an egalitarian society where there is justice, fairness, fair play, equity and things like that. There is still some journey for Femi to make. Between Osofisan and Osundare, I don’t know who will first earn Nobel laureate prize”.
After Banjo intensely persuaded the celebrant to address his guests, Osofisan said, “When elders talk, younger ones must obey. I want to thank everyone for coming. Obafemi, is my friend, don’t take everything he says on my behalf. He is biased. Just listen to him and say ok”.
Obafemi who corroborated Osofisan that they are best of friends opened his lecture by disclosing, “The fact is that Femi and I, and a few other close or closer friends perhaps, talk all the time-on the traumas of society, our private lives, our work as writers, teachers, public commentators and theatre workers, and so on. The boundaries of our engagements have blurred so considerably that it has become difficult to separate friendship banter form purist discourses; jokes and jangle from pedantic demagoguery; rage and rail in work-a-day and in our trade of storytelling or indeed the landscape of scholarship”.
He added, “The term, the concept, the notion and thus the curative metaphors that I have found most apt as deployed by Femi Osofisan for capturing the travails of our lives and the life of our motherland, as perceived, at times with supernumerary devotion is trauma. Osofisan is deeply concerned with the damage trauma does to the individual and collective psyche”.
Obafemi claimed that among writers, Osofisan is the most persistent, and consistent writer who has devoted a substantial part of his life and work to reflecting, pondering and refracting on the power of deprivation, anarchy, chaos, violence and dystopia, and indeed, traumatizing experiences, to produce qualitative and socially regenerative literature.
Concluding, Obafemi who described Osofisan as the most versatile inter-textual aesthete on the African dramatic landscape said that the celebrant has recreated texts of African, western and Eastern European origins. “A restless artist and multiple award winner, with over two dozen plays in print, plus four novellas and five volumes of poetry, Professor Osofisan has been honoured with fellowship from various international bodies, including the British Council, the International Writers Programme at Iowa, the Henri Clewes Foundation in Napoule, France, and the Ragdale Foundation at Lake Forest. Osofisan is a peripatetic cultural ambassador of this country.
“Femi Osofisan’s role as a trans-cultural ambassador is both unique and inimitable. Now, at seventy, at the middle of the season of autumn, it has been fascinating paths for one of Africa’s most prolific and important writers—playwright, poet, novelist, translator, singer, dancer, inter-textual aesthete, a radical artist and activist intellectual who has published one hundred works, comprising: fifty-one plays, seven critical studies, four volumes of poetry, five novels, one published biography, three translated works, seven monographs, eight edited books, eighteen essays in books, and thirteen essays in journals”, he said.
In Ajayi-Soyinka’s presentation, she disclosed, “Osofisan writes about love”.