Garlands for the Don-Pedro Obaseki of moviedom at 50
Nollywood literarily stood still on Tuesday, April 25. No, it is not that the practitioners declared a strike; they only took time off work to celebrate an illustrious son of the tribe, who was born on that day, 50 years ago.
Those who couldn’t make it to his newly built Lagos house, where a lavish reception was held, took to their various social media platforms to salute the talented filmmaker and content producer, Pedro Osaro Osamusiame Agbonifo Obaseki, who turned 50 on Tuesday.
Till date, felicitations have continued to pour in for the accomplished actor, director, writer, scholar, administrator and broadcaster, who revealed that he was born “at a General Hospital in Benin City, 250 yards away from the only state prison and opposite a state High Court” to the late seamstress, Sarah, and career civil servant, Samson Agbonifo Obaseki.
Popularly referred to by his peers and admirers as ‘Don-P’ or ‘The Don,’ Obaseki is clearly a pioneer of the Nollywood industry and one of Nigeria’s most influential entertainment personalities and broadcast consultant.
A former radio Deejay and presenter with Bendel Broadcasting Service (BBS) and later Edo Broadcasting Service (EBS), Don-P took to his Facebook wall early on Tuesday to thank his creator and appreciate his friends and family for his journey to the golden age.
In his words: “A king can’t be too mighty not to kneel before his guardian spirit(s) in worship and so with my knee on the floor, I thank my GOD and my Maker, Osanudazi n’akama k’odin Jesu mwen nukugbo lila. Urhuèse Jesu n’Oba.
“As I clock the golden age of 50 years today on Mother Earth, I give unreserved praise to God.’’ Educated at the University of Benin and University of Ibadan, Obaseki, who had a teaching stint at the University of Benin and was at a time general manager in charge of programmes at the Degue Broadcasting Network, otherwise DBN television in Lagos, has written several plays and produced and directed a number of home movies and television soaps.
His first full-length play, Rendezvous at Hell Gate, was performed at the University of Benin in 1989, same year he began a career as a lecturer at just age 21.
A two-time recipient of the Oba Erediauwa Award for Excellence (2011 and 2013), a recipient of the 2013 ‘Nollywood Distinguished Veteran’ Award and Chief Executive Officer of ACC Broadcast Multimedia Ltd (operators of MTN-ACCMobileTV/PIDGIN-TV), Obaseki grew up in Warri and Agbor, both in Delta State, and Benin City.
An old boy of the prestigious Unity School, Agbarho, near Warri, Obaseki holds a doctorate degree in Performance and Praxis. A prolific writer of plays, poetry and an accomplished motion picture director, he did his national service in Kaduna and was formerly president of the Filmmakers Cooperative of Nigeria (FCON).
An award-winning director and one of the very few motion picture practitioners of the Nollywood industry in the professional class, Obaseki directed an international television documentary, Oshogbo and Adunni Olorisha Susanne Wenger, with Dr. Adama Ulrich for ORB Brandenburg, Berlin and with Thorolf Lipp (a German documentary filmmaker) on Adire Batik in 1996.
An accomplished documentary filmmaker, playwright, stage director and unarguably a pioneer of Nigeria’s film industry, Obaseki has written, produced and directed several movies, television dramas and documentaries.
The epic adventure movie, Igodo, which he co-directed with Andy Amenechi, earned him a Best Director award at the 1999 edition of the defunct The Movie Awards (THEMA).
His home-video film, Eziza, was well received and also screened in London, United Kingdom and South Africa. As a playwright, he is well accomplished. His most popular stage work, Obaseki, is presently on high school curricula in parts of Nigeria and in Nigerian universities and was Africa’s entry for the Euro Culture-City ’96 Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark.
His other play, Azagidi, was performed in the Scandinavia in February and March of 1999 and also used to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the MUSON in October 2003 and was the convocation play of the University of Lagos last year.
Author of Songs of a Prodigal (an anthology of poems), Idia (a play), The Bridge (a play), Days of Rage (television soap), Eziza (movie), Brave Soldiers (movie) and Tara (movie), Obaseki holds and has held so many management positions, including owning franchises and proprietary rights to the Nollywood movie channel, MoviStar (former Channels 333 and 330 on Sky UK), and 1-MIC (a music channel available via satellite over West Africa).
He was at a time member of the Governing Board of the Centre of Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), a parastatal of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Married to the broadcaster and theatre artiste, Uchenna, and blessed with children, Obaseki is President and Chief Executive Officer of DonPedro Media Group, the parent body of his other subsidiary companies, including DonPedroMusic.
A former Edo State governorship aspirant, Obaseki, who is widely travelled and can skip a meal just to play football or watch a good game of soccer, was executive project consultant to DAAR Communications PLC, owners of African Independent Television (AIT), managing director, DAARSat (DAAR Communications PLC satellite service) and consultant to CTL cable, ABN (African Broadcast Network), London.
Although he didn’t secure a nomination to contest last year’s governorship election in Edo State, he still nurses the ambition of contributing to the socio-economic, political and technological development of the state as governor.
He said: “I shall be governor of Edo State. I have been blessed and I have a leading to touch lives and liberate my people. “The reception I got from my people during the last campaign process leading to the nomination was humbling.
“Even now, I cannot summate the thousands of goodwill messages, the Facebook likes and comments, the voice notes and phone calls that I have received on my 50th.
“I think that just saying, ‘thank you all’ will be too ephemeral a phrase, but it is all I can say, as tears of joy well up my eyes.
“I consider those messages and encomiums spiritual winds that wing my sail. Though diminutive in height, I feel like a Gulliver. I feel 10-foot tall.
“I thank God, the eternal creator, my family, colleagues, friends and my wife, the peace I found in the raging battle of my mind.”