Spotlight on stars of the good old village headmaster
It was about this time, 50 years ago, that the idea of long-rested, but popular television drama series, Village Headmaster, was born.A must-watch series until the early 90s, when it was rested by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Village Headmaster started as a radio programme in Ibadan in 1958, with the late sage, Chief Segun Olusola, as creator and producer. However, in 1968, it made its debut on television under the direction of Sanya Dosumu, now an Oba (Olowu of Owo Kingdom), who had just returned from training in production and directing at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London.
With Dosumu and the effort of scriptwriters, such as Ted Mukoro, Demola James, Fela Davies, Nelson Olawaye, Alex Akinyele and Alan Aroyeun, who he trained in the arts of script writing for television, the first 13 episodes of the series were ready for public viewing.One of the key members of cast, Dele Osawe, who featured as Teacher Fadele, recalled that after he shot and produced the first 13 episodes, Dosumu “then dedicated the production to his apparent boss, Olusola, the first Nigerian television producer and creator of the programme.”
Fifty years after and the bulk of the prominent members of the cast and crew have passed on.Chief Elsie Olusola passed on over three decades ago, so for Chief Ibidun Allison, who featured as Amebo. Others who have transited include Chief Wole Amele, who featured as Councilor Balogun; Sam Agbebi, who featured as Lawyer Iyanda; Chief Funso Adeolu, who featured as Chief Eleyemi; Joe Layode, who featured as Teacher Garuba; Jab Adu, who played Bassey Okon; Chief Femi Robinson; Ted Mukoro and Chief Justus Esiri, all of who featured as village headmasters at different times.
However, there are a few members of cast, including Chief Dejumo Lewis; Dele Osawe; Lara Akinsola; the Edo State-born Daniel Imoudu, who featured as Prince Dagbolu, and Kate Adepegba, who are still around and in active practice and who, according to Osawe, are regrouping to commemorate 50 years of that legendary television drama.Celebrity salutes some of the living stars of Village Headmaster.
BORN Adejumoke Lewis, but popular as Dejumo Lewis, the Erijiyan Ekiti-born actor is a veteran film and television actor, who is famous for living delightfully the role of the Oloja of Oja in the Village Headmaster. A cultural activist and one who is passionate about cultural communication, Dejumo once explained that he was forced at the early stages of his career to shorten his name because most of his friends were always making jest of the full value of his given name.“I had to shorten the name to Dejumo because most of my friends were calling me asewo (prostitute), probably because of the Jumoke in the name.
“But I was christened Adejumoke, which means ‘a crown that must be cherished by all.’ The name says a lot about person. I always say that I am not an ordinary person,” he explained.An actor of vast credit, Dejumo, star of critically-acclaimed screen productions, such as A Place in the Stars, Otelemuye and Agogo Eewo, joined the Village Headmaster crew after watching the first episode. Satisfied that the programme was designed to propagate the true African culture, Dejumo attended the auditioning exercise and pronto, he was given a role, that of the Oloja of Oja, by Dosunmu.He played the role until the programme was rested in the early 80s. When it was recalled in 1984, Dejumo was given the opportunity to bring the programme back to life as producer. A man of culture, Dejumo looks forward to the commemorative event and added that he would love to be part of any effort aimed at brining back the series.
AN actress of long-standing, who is totally committed to the arts, Kate’s journey as an actress started on stage and during the good old days of television. Many still recall how she spiced up all the episodes of that longest running television drama, New Village Headmaster, she featured in.Kate, it was, who lived delightfully the role of Folake, one of dutiful girls that served as apprentice in Sisi Clara’s shop in the New Village Headmaster. Even Kate agreed that it was her role in that NTA drama that brought her fame and opened doors for other acting opportunities.
Described by close friends as humble and friendly, Kate had her early education in Lagos and worked briefly with the Nigerian Tobacco Company (NTC) before she joined the cast of Village Headmaster in 1983.Prior to joining the cast, Kate did some acting on television as a regular member of cast of the NTA Channel 10 drama programme, The Arm Chair Theatre. But it was Adeolu that played the role of Eleyinmi on Village Headmaster that provided the referral with which Kate was given a role in The New Village Headmaster.
Kate and the late actor lived in the same neighbourhood and when Dejumo wanted some talents to serve as interns in Sisi Clara’s sewing institute, Adeolu didn’t hesitate to recommend Kate to him. Kate was auditioned and given the role of Folake to live for as long as the television drama lasted.On plans for the commemorative event, Kate looks forward to the event, as it would provide the opportunity for the cast and crew to reflect on old times.
A THESPIAN to the core, Dele Osawe is one of the surviving members of the cast. The graduate of Administrative Management from the University of Ilorin, who was raised in Uyin in Ekiti, Ile-Ife in Osun and Lagos State, respectively, is easily remembered for playing the exuberant and boisterous Teacher Fadele in the series.An actor of the stage and screen, the Edo State-born veteran actor, who was inspired to venture into theatre practice by theatre greats, such as the late Chief Hubert Ogunde and Duro Ladipo, had his big break on screen playing Teacher Fadele.
When the series was rested, Dele, who is a trained screenwriter, returned to his beat at the NTA until he retired. Now retired but not tired, Dele has traversed the various media of the performing arts and is one of the very few faces of the series still active in the industry.One of the arrowheads of the 50 years commemorative celebration, Uncle Dele, as younger colleagues call him, anticipates a memorable commemorative event. “Maybe we can then agree on how best to proceed with our plans to get the Village Headmaster back on air again. The show must go on,” he enthused.
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