Jimi Solanke was one of the key shapers of Nigerian theatre and television in the second half of the last century.
The legendary poet and playwright died on Monday at the age of 81. He was said to have died while being rushed from his country home at Ipara Remo in Remo North Local Government Area of Ogun State to Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilisan when he succumbed to the cold hand of death.
Chief Solanke was said to have been in and out of hospital from December until he died on Monday morning.
“It is with a heavy heart that President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the passing of Nigeria’s creative icon, Mr. Jimi Solanke, who died on Monday,” presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale wrote in a statement.“Baba Solanke was an actor, dramatist, folk singer, poet, and playwright.Hon Dickson Awolaja representing Remo North State Constituency at the state Assembly confirmed his death on Monday afternoon.
Hon Awolaja said: “I got wind of the demise of Pa Jimi Solanke not long ago.“His death is no doubt another big loss to us in Remo North and Ogun State as a whole given his worthy contributions to the development of our dear nation.“May his soul rest in peace.”
Born on July 4, 1942, in Ipara Remo, Jimi Solanke’s artistic journey began as a pioneer member of the Orisun Theatre Group, founded by the renowned Wole Soyinka, in 1961.
His contributions to the global entertainment industry spanned seven decades, leaving an indelible mark on various platforms, from the Western Nigeria Television in the 1960s to international festivals in Senegal and Algeria during the 1970s.
Solanke’s versatility shone through in epic performances such as “Death and the King’s Horseman,” “Kurunmi,” “Kongi’s Harvest,” “The Divorce,” and “Ovaramwen Nogbaisi.”
His captivating stagecraft and theatrical brilliance earned him accolades and recognition, both locally and internationally.The Oxford Times hailed him as a “Skilled Nigerian Actor,” and the New York Times recognized him as the star of an “Excellent Troupe” during a performance of Wole Soyinka’s “Kongi’s Harvest.”
Author: Okunlola Kayode. F