The Oloy­ode I knew

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - MID WEEK ARTS - By Yinka Ogundaisi

IWAS un­der­go­ing the manda­tory but a rather tough tute­lage of “ca­reer script­ing” at the fa­mous “Room 30 of NTA, Lagos” to even­tu­ally num­ber amongst the revered club of writ­ers for Play­ofthe­week. The Ihria Enakimios, Larri Wil­liamses... My tough as­sign­ment, “Write an hour se­ri­ous dra­matic episode with a cast of max­i­mum 3 on a sin­gle set... not just di­a­logues but plenty of ac­tions!

Are you kid­ding me? A cast of 2 on a sin­gle set! And for an hour? But there I was sweat­ing at churn­ing out scripts after scripts to get at least one ap­proved for pro­duc­tion. All along a very in­flu­en­tial pro­ducer was watch- ing me with­out me know­ing that he was pay­ing me any at­ten­tion! One day this se­nior pro­ducer just burst in and told his col­leagues: “Ejeki og­beniy­i­maalosi ‘Youth and Chil­dren!’” (Let this chap move to the ‘Youth and Chil­dren’ unit)...

That was the be­gin­ning of a long and prof­itable as­so­ci­a­tion with the Eg­bons that I still re­mem­ber for his dandy, white shirt, white trousers and wait for it, the then fash­ion­able men’s high heel, white shoes. And it was by his de­ci­sion that I moved to the ‘Youtgh Fo­rum’ pro­gramme to start writ­ing its weekly drama sketches (I still have copies of some of these chil­dren’s drama episodes). I was launched as a new young writer in March 1976 on the pro­gramme by a for­mer NTA DG, Sola Omole.

When I was pro­duc­ing the res­i­dent Theatre group at Na­tional Mu­seum, Onikan, Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Young Artistes (OYA), Eg­bons, who I now re­call as a top shot with the gi­ant ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany, Lin­tas, was amongst the re­spectable group of “Veter­ans” reg­u­larly vis­it­ing and giv­ing us use­ful cor­rec­tions dur­ing our re­hearsals...

Dur­ing his ten­ure as In­de­pen­dent Tele­vi­sion Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (ITPAN) pres­i­dent, Chief Tunde Oloyede and ITPAN Sec­re­tary (Un­cle Al­bert – Mr. B.) gave me a com­mis­sion for a busi­ness fac­ulty of the as­so­ci­a­tion’s train­ings for pro­fes­sion- als. This led to my train­ing mod­ule; The Busi­ness of Tv/movie Pro­duc­tions, which I was de­liv­er­ing reg­u­larly dur­ing ITPAN’S train­ings.

I put my “mil­lions” of gra­tu­ity from the multi-na­tional, Xerox, to re­vive the rested Yoruba TV pro­gramme, Feyikog­bon. I en­gaged a pro­duc­tion house, re­assem­bled the scat­tered cast and bought air­time on NTA to broad­cast the then weekly pro­gramme. After only six episodes, with no ad­verts or spon­sors, my “mil­lions” van­ished! I had a young fam­ily to cater to. It was Chief Oloyede who saved me from this pre­ma­ture bank­ruptcy. He coasted me on the path of prof- itable and ef­fec­tive COL­LAB­O­RA­TIONS with NTA, the artistes group and a pro­duc­tion house, his Me­dia In­ter­na­tional. And that was how I sub­se­quently suc­ceeded putting the pro­gramme to broad­cast on the states and NTA sta­tions in South­West on Unilever spon­sor­ship from 2000 - 2004.

Be­fore and after I launched “African Reper­toire Theatre (ART) to restage late Chief Duro Ladipo’s epic, Obakoso ), Global Chil­dren Theatre (GCT) and Big Screen for part­ner­ship screen­ing at Lagos Coun­try Club in the year 2000, Chief Oloyede’s Me­dia In­ter­na­tional pro­duced all our pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als.

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