Remembering Akinwunmi Isola
It is no longer news that renowned Nigerian playwright, actor and scholar Akinwunmi Isola has passed on at the age of 79. That his legacy remains largely in his contributions to the promotion of the Yoruba language and culture.
He was born in Ibadan on December 24, 1939 and attended Labode Methodist School and Wesley College. Isola would later earn a B. A. in French at the University of Ibadan. In 1978, he gained his M.A. in Yoruba literature from the University of Lagos before beginning a career as a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. In 1991, he was appointed a professor at the same university.
Isola’s career as a playwright kicked off when he wrote his first play, Efúnṣetán Aníwúra, between 1961 and 1962, while still a student at the University of Ibadan. It was followed by O Leku, reportedly watched by forty thousand people at a single performance in Ibadan. Subsequently, he wrote several more, as well as novels.
Isola would also venture into broadcasting, and created a production company which adapted many of his plays into television dramas and films. Although, he initially wrote in English, they were translated to Yoruba, to suit his target audience and promote the language. Acclaimed works include Iyálóde Ìbàdàn, Tinúubú, Ìyálóde Ẹgbá, Madam Tinubu, Ogún Omọdé, Belly Bellows, Herbert Macaulay and the Spirit of Lagos.
Akinwunmi Isola received numerous accolades for his work, including the National Merit Award and the Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters in 2000.
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