Juliana , Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Renowned playwright, actor, dramatist and cultural activist, Prof. Akinwunmi Isola, has died.
According to family sources, the revered poet passed away yesterday morning in Ibadan at the age of 79 after a protracted illness that spanned over two years.
The late Isola, who was best known for his literary works, authored Efunsetan Aniwura, O le ku, Madam Tinubu and also translated Prof Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman and Aké: The Years of Childhood, into Yoruba.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the demise of the renowned literary icon. A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, said that the literary world would surely miss the cultural activist for his steadfastness and dedication to the promotion of the native language as a means of sustaining the culture and tradition of Africa.
The President joined the entertainment industry in mourning the loss of a producer and director whose contributions to the evolution and transformation of the entertainment industry from a disparaged genre into a major contributor to the nation’s economy will never be forgotten.
He called on other members of the academica to follow the sterling qualities of the National Merit Award Winner and Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters who was more focused on the development and transformation of minds as opposed to material gains.
The President prayed Almighty God to grant the soul of Professor Ishola eternal rest.
Similarly, the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, described the death of the literary giant 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, Mr. 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.
As a student at the University of Ibadan, Isola wrote ‘Efunsetan Aniwura,’ a play the governor said had remained a timeless piece in teaching lessons on abuse of power and retribution, while he said that his epic novel, ‘O le ku,’ was also evergreen. Quoting from William Shakespeare’s book, ‘As You Like it,’ the governor said that the world was a stage, where he said Isola had played his part meritoriously and had gloriously exited to be with his maker. Ajimobi said, the late Prof. Isola was also a blessing to his Alma Mater, Wesley College, Ibadan, because he composed the school anthem, which is still in use till date.
His words: “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.”
The governor prayed the Lord to grant the deceased a peaceful rest and family the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.