The drummer is gone but the rhythm remains upbeat
The drummer is gone home but the beat plays on’ was the theme, last Tuesday, at the Service of Songs in honour of Chief Tunde Oloyede, a veteran TV producer and director of Village Headmaster series. It was an occasion of warm memories as men of repute in the arts industry gathered at the deceased’s residence in Festac, Lagos.
Enthralled by her husband’s successes, Abimbola read gently a poem she composed for her husband as a tribute. The over 300-word piece portrayed the late veteran producer as a man who gained mastery in everything he did. According to her, the deceased, through tireless pursuit of his vision, contributed to the success of others.
She wrote: “You have always been creative, your abilities shone through. A revered artistic icon, what was it you could not do? You were a writer, dancer, producer, and director. A clever, witty and energetic fellow, that is the Tunde I knew.
“A man of great integrity, principled and wise; yes, was yes and ‘no was no’ for you; there was no compromise. God-fearing and dependable, no subterfuge, no lies. Your friendship was unshakable and on you many relied.
“You were such a cheerful giver and did not care from whence they came, either North or South or East or West, you treated all the same. You provided opportunities but you didn’t claim the credits. Through your vision several prospered, many talents made their names. You were an easygoing person, free-spirited, unbound.
“With your pranks and funny stories much laughter would resound, you would brighten up the atmosphere and smiles would replace frowns, yes there was never a dull moment when you were around.
“I am proud of your achievements of the many lives you have touched of our 40 years together. To the memories I will clutch of your courage and bravery. I have rarely witnessed such. Thank God I have shared your name, which really means so much.”
Also, a tribute that was written by the immediate past Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management), University of Lagos, Prof. Duro Oni and read by Soni Irabor, a legendary on-air-personality, showcased the don’s several encounters with the veteran producer. The duo had met at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, in 1971. They, however, lost contact but reconnected in 1976 when Oni relocated to Lagos.
He said, “His famous residence at Surulere was truly the home of the boys. Anyone who didn’t have a place to stay in the 1970s was always welcome there. At any given time when we visited you would find different types of sponges and soaps in the bathroom.”
On the professional side, Oloyede’s penchant for professionalism and absolute creativity was unparalleled. He was devoted to his profession and gave the very best in whatever he did.
“As a television producer, director of the famous Village Headmaster series, he combined a huge sense of humour in running the series for almost seven years. His other television programs included Arm Chair Theatre and For Better for Worse, which preceded the Nigerian Video Film Industry later known as Nollywood. When he relocated from his position as Controller of programmes at NTA to the advertising world at Lintas, it was also a continuation of the strive for excellence.
“Tunde Oloyede along with Elder Steve Rhodes and Femi Odugbemi was to be instrumental to the establishment of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN) Chief Oloyede was multi-talented and even played music with Tunde Oyelana’s band, The Benders in Ibadan in the early 1970s.
In a chat with The Guardian, Irabor urgedNigerian leaders to lead by example rather than leading for themselves and noted that this was what distinguished Oloyede in his journey in life.
According to Irabor, “Today, we have leaders who do not lead by example but for what they will get. Most our leaders do not go by the responsibility that goes with leadership. Chief was not like that; he was a creative man. He worked more than he rested and led by example. He worked as much as he played and that is why he is successful in his chosen profession.”
On his own part, veteran filmmaker, Bayo Awala, said: “I am lost for words; we worked together for many years and he was a workaholic and highly committed. He makes sure everything goes on well.”
Also speaking, Oba Gbenga Sonuga, Fadeshewa of Simawa, said: “He was a good and faithful friend for all the period I knew him. I admire him for his consistency and dedication. I respect his sense of professionalism; there is no difficulty in his dictionary. Though he is no more but his work continues.”
Another actor, Keppy Ekpenyong, said, “He is a man of many parts in one minute. He was a friend to all and the industry itself. Irrespective of the fact he was ahead of us, he encouraged and embraced us. He is not dead; he lives on.”
His neighbor, Apostle Tunji Amusan, said, “Though he has his shortcomings, since I knew him he has always kept his temper. When you are downcast, he would cheer you up. He makes everybody happy.”
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