Wednesday, September 6, 2017 12:43 pm
Gbenro Adesina, Ibadan
As the final transitional rites of a cultural legend, Alagba Adebayo Faleti, commenced on Tuesday 5 September 2017 at Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, UI, both gown and town as well as family and friends gathered for a night of tributes tagged, “Adebayo Faleti in the eyes of his people”. Among the scholars and others in attendance were: former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Ambassador Yemi Faronbi; Oyo State Commissioner for Information and Culture, Toye Arulogun; Professor Gbemi Adeoti of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU; Tubosun Oladapo, Tubosun Odunsi, Alagba Oladipo Yemitan, Toyosi Arigbabuwo, Alagba Alabi Ogundepo, Prince Ajibola Afonja, Dr Kola Oyewo, President, Association of Theatre Arts and Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria, TAMPPAN (Dele Odule). Others are: Ola Omonitan alias Ajimajasan, former NTA boss, Alagba Bamiji Ojo, former Permanent Secretary in Oyo State, Paul Samuel Olayiwola Taiwo, Kayode Olaiya alias Aderupoko, Yemi Ogunyemi, TAMPPAN Governor, Oyo State Chapter, Rose Odika, and Oladipo Yemitan. The groups in attendance include: Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria, Egbe Akomolede Atasa Yoruba, Association of Nigeria Authors, ANA, Alebiosu group, and Egbe Onkowe Yoruba.
The programme was spiced with poems recitations from Tubosun Oladapo, Gbemi Faleti, Alabi Ogundepo, Adewunmi Faleti, and Adebobola Omowon, stage play titled “Fere bi Ekun” written by the deceased, drumming, dancing and singing by Cultural Centre Troupe, and documentary on the deceased by Tunde Kelani, Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, BCOS and Nigerian Television Authority, NTA.
In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, UI, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, who was represented by Dean, Faculty of Arts, Professor Ademola Dasylva, described Faleti as a great pillar and mobile encyclopaedia of indigenous Yoruba culture as well as a social mobiliser.
Olayinka said, “We are glad to be able to say, without equivocation, that Alagba Faleti truly lived a life of honour and that is why his passage is this honourable. Unlike the lip service tributes often paid at the funeral of a notorious person, the encomiums poured at the passage of an honourable man are both genuine and well-deserved. Alagba Faleti was a life truly worthy of emulation. His life as a consummate public servant who rose to the peak of his career as a permanent secretary was characterised by the Yoruba Omoluabi-principles: patriotism, prudence, honesty, transparency, diligence, hard work and selflessness. These are virtues that rare these days in our nation’s public service. The honouree of today etched his name in the annals of state and national public service landmark contributions.
“As a language expert, he was entrusted with the duty of translating, from English to Yoruba, the speeches of two of Nigeria’s past heads of state,-General Ibrahim Babangida and Chief Ernest Shonekan-and the speech of Chief Bola Ige while he was the governor of Old Oyo State. He was also responsible for translating Nigeria’s current national anthem from English to Yoruba. His records at BCOS, and MAMSER, where he served at the helm of affairs, were absolutely impeccable. In the culture and literary sectors, he was appointed the Chairman of Oyo State Council for Arts and Culture. This could not have been possible without his numerous achievements in the areas of the propagation, projection and preservation of Yoruba culture as a broadcaster, culture historian, culture custodian, ewi poet, dramatist, stage and screen theatre director, actor, repository of information for cultural researchers and public affairs commentator. Alagba Faleti was not only a distinguished alumnus of this great UI, he was also an adjunct lecturer at our university’s Department of Linguistics and African Languages, as well as the coordinator of the Oyo Study Centre of our Distance Learning Prograammme in the 1970s”.
The Vice Chancellor pointed out that as a student in the premier university, the deceased founded the English Club- a society for English Students and emerged as the first President of the club. Also, he was the editor of a students’ magazine of the Department of English, the Horizon, adding, “As an accomplished author of Yoruba Literary works, he played a prominent role in the Yoruba orthography committee, the work of which led to the formalisation and decolonisation of the Yoruba language. He didn’t only write for the stage, television and film, his creativity produced memorable characters out as a model in acting in the Yoruba Nollywood films. His dramatic works, collections of poems, novels and scripts include: Nwon Ro Pe Were Ni, Omo Olokun Esin, S’awo S’ogberi, Basorun Gaa, Magun, Afonja, Ofin Ga and Idaamu Paadi Mukaila. In his days at the Western Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation now NTA, Ibadan, where he worked as a film editor and librarian. He directed and produced popular dramas such as Oba Koso by Duro Ladipo, Ekuro Oloja by Oyin Adejobi, and The Deer and the Hunter’s Pearl by Zulu Sofola. All the achievements listed above are, no doubt, honourable deeds which attracted to him honouary Doctor of Letters from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho; Fellow’s Award from the Nigerian Academy of Letters and the National Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger, OON, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the presidency of Alhaji Shehu Musa Yar’Adua”.
He concluded, “Alagba Adebayo Faleti might not have been affluent in the material sense, but he left a name rich in honour and integrity. Many of us present here have a share in his wealthy legacy as children, relations, students, associates or simply admirers. It is about this rich and honourable life that we are all gathered here today to proffer testimonies. As we offered different perspectives on this legend of culture, may we also in our various callings and positions live a life that is worth of emulation. Alagba Faleti will remain in our memories as a man of honour and integrity whose death is only in the physical sense, and whose legacy will be truly enduring”.
Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11 and Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, in their tributes sent to the family earlier described Faleti as one of the best exponents of Yoruba language whose dexterity and skills were demonstrated while alive. Oba Adeyemi said, “He was a man who faced life with equanimity, as he hardly worried himself about earthly desires. His dressing was distinctive and replica to Oyo Yoruba tradition. Whenever he attended public event, his cap uniquely bent horizontally and almost covering the right ear. His tall, imposing physique with oblong face and trademark of Oyo six tribal marks depicts symbol of Oyo royal family. Faleti’s skills in both English and Yoruba languages could be seen in the way he translated the national anthem into Yoruba language. The roles interpretation played in his films showed his adaptability in all circumstances”.
For Oba Ogunwusi, “Adebayo Faleti was a great ambassador of Yoruba Culture that will forever remain in the hearts of members of the Yoruba race both at home and in the diaspora. The late multi-talented communicator had spent almost all his life serving the Yoruba race in various areas of cultural development for which he would be forever remembered. I admonish the South West governors to immortalise him with befitting Arts institutions with a view to eternally making him a reference point to the youths whom I also charged to always find the great playwright and famous actor worthy of emulations in the various areas of their chosen careers, especially in Arts. You will find him relevant virtually in all segments of Arts and culture. That is why the governments of the South West must immortalise him”.
Professor Wole Soyinka, in his tribute titled “Adebayo Faleti: Still Waters Run Deep”, noted that Faleti was a pioneer in virtually every genre of literary creativity and its expansion. He said: “Yoruba scholarship owes him much, and will honour him accordingly.
While Femi Osofisan pointed out that the demise should not be mourned but be celebrated, he stressed that the custom of Yorubaland is not to shed tears of grief for men and women who have lived a long life and amply fecund life and left a bounteous legacy for their offsprings, “No. Instead, we celebrate such men joyously”, he said.
Professor Akinwumi Isola who said that he is the most affected by the demise declared, “Faleti didn’t place western culture above indigenous culture. It can even be concluded that he hates western culture. Because he loved bush meat, he was a good hunter. If I go to his house, we eat in the same plate. We usually eat ‘Amala and bush meat. I cannot forget my friend”.
Araba of Osogbo, Yemi Elebuibon who noted that he met the deceased through his late boss, Duro Ladipo and described the deceased as his father, mentor and friend said, “He was the one who taught me that no child is too young to inherit knowledge and power and that it is never too late to learn. Baba was also the one that corrected others when they misspelled and mispronounced my name. He said the correct pronunciation is Elebu-Ibon and not eleburu-ibon. As one of our akewi observed, Faleti is an example that all poets should follow”.
Others who described the demise of Adebayo Faleti as a great loss to the nation were: Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State and his Ondo State counterpart, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, former Oyo State Governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, NTA, Ibadan, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Ibadan national station, University Press PLC and Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes, CCII.