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Light finally dims on ‘Pa Kasunmu’ of moviedom

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Before he suffered that partial stroke that kept him bedridden for a few years, which later led to the complications that finally dimmed the light on him on March 1, 2020, veteran actor, Francis Olukayode Olugbenga Kasunmu’s greatest was to be remembered as a peace-loving patriot and one, whose major interest was to make people happy and to make them co-habit in peace.

“It is for me to be known all over the world as an apostle of peace. Call it a peace-loving patriot if you like. I want to be known as that person, who made the next person always remember to be at peace with himself, his neighbours and everyone. We need to live in peace you know. That is what makes life enjoyable,” the actor of vast credit, who is popular as Pa Kasunmu, said in an earlier interview with The Guardian.

Light, however, dimmed on the apostle of peace and devoted disciple of theatre, who is popular as Pa Kasunmu. The actor died March 1, 2020, about 15 days before his 67th birthday, having been born on March 16, 1953 in the Agbeni area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

It was the notable actress, Foluke Daramola- Salako, who announced the death of Pa Kasunmu on Sunday on her social media handles.

Daramola- Salako, who is at the head of a rehabilitation effort for ailing veteran artistes, said: “Our model veteran actor, Pa Kasunmu Kayode Odumosu, finally takes a bow. It is with so much heavy pain in our hearts that we regret to announce that our Para Africa Foundation model-actor Pa Kasunmu, has given up the ghost after a brief illness.’’

Tributes have continued to greet the demise of the actor, producer and father. His colleagues described him as a “core professional that had great regards for the ethics of the profession. He was a thoroughbred professional and was in a class of his own,’’ was how veteran actor, Prince Jide Kosoko described him.

He was native of Odogbolu, a vast-growing farming and trading town in Ogun State, Sir Kay, was an actor who kept a ‘goatie.’ He was educated at various times at Bethel Primary, St. Paul Primary School, Nigerian People High School (now Ago Egba High School), Ebute-meta, New State High School and at Odogbolu Grammar School in Ogun State.

The actor, who was married with children, later attended Yaba College of Technology between 1979 and 1983 from where he obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Administration.

Upon graduation, he secured a job as an administrative manager with Lagos-based transport company, SBTS. He said he was paid about N2000 for the job and he also got a car attached to him. It was at that point that he knew that it was just a matter of time for him to become as comfortable as he desired.

Prior to this time, Kayode worked at TOP breweries as a factory worker. He earned less than 1000 naira weekly. He was later to join a haulage company where he worked as a clerk before he decided to further his education.

But Kayode soon quit his job as SBTS after an encounter with a certain Uncle Folabi aka SINBAD who was related to his childhood friend. Uncle Folabi was founder of the then popular SINBAD Concert Party. Each day after work and even during work, Kayode will ‘steal out’ like he said to watch the concert party at work. It was from that moment that he fell in love with the acting profession. He got closer to Uncle Folabi and didn’t hide the fact that he wanted to be weaned in the acting profession. It was through Uncle Folabi that Kayode met a theatre spirit whom he said influenced him greatly- Chief Ayinla Olumegbon aka Wole-wole Arufin. Indeed ‘no one’ says Kayode, deserves credit for Kayode’s emergence as an actor as Chief Olumegbon. ‘I respect him so much. He influenced me greatly. I was glad that I met him at the time that I did’.

Reputed to be one quiet personality who would rather have his works do the talking for him, Kayode’s first run as an actor was on stage. The play was titled ‘Omo ‘Ekere’. This was in 1969. He followed that up with a couple of stage performances until he got a break on screen. The screen role came through Babatunde Omidina aka Baba Suwe. ‘It was in a television series- Erin Keekee. I played the role of Baba Idogo’. It took that screen debut for the roles to come tumbling in for Kayode who has so far stared in about 600 video productions. The star of ‘Eeku-Meji’ and other titles named his effort in ‘Ese Eye’, ‘Agbefo’, ‘Isiko Oro’, ‘Owo-Blow’, ‘Professional Bachelors’, ‘Lagos Na Wah’, ‘Sango’ as some of his many screen credits. Plays like ‘Oluwalomejoda’, ‘Out from the River’, ‘Aye-ye-won-tan’ and ‘the house money built’ where he featured prominently as Chief and Landlord featured on his stage and television credit list. Of all his screen credits, Kayode picks Femi Lasode’s epic encounter ‘Sango’ as his most memorable take yet.

Even though Kayode has exhibited the capability of transiting smoothly into roles, the general feeling, particularly among those who have followed his career that has spanned over 3 decades now, is that he has become something of a stock character, playing the elderly and educated ‘been to’ in most of his movie runs. ‘Well it may be true that I have played mostly the kind of roles that you have described but what is certain is that I am trained to assume whatever role I am giving. So what you have basically see me do are scripts that are offered to me and because I have to work to remain relevant and since I don’t have any other profession or source of livelihood, I pick them up. I personally don’t believe that there is any role I cannot assume except may be when I am asked to play a little child’.

Since he took the decision to engage the acting runway, Pa Kasunmu says he has never looked back. He remarked that at no time did he broach the thought of doing something else outside acting. ‘This is all I wanted to do. This is all that make me happy. I wonder whether I would be this contented or happy if I were not an actor. I am doing what I have passion for and I would be here until my body will say ‘hey man you have to rest’. That’s only when I can retire. Outside that I am going to be doing this until that necessary end’.


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