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Dapo Adelugba: Daodu’s life in profile

BY MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU

ONE strong achievement of last week’s media meeting designed as part of activities marking the 70th year birth anniversary of thespian scholar, Pa Dapo Adelugba was the fact that the celebrant belongs to one of the privileged Nigerians, whose enviable lives make interesting profiling business.

From every available revelations, Dapo Adelugba has lived like the Chinese would say, “in interesting times.” Born in Ondo State, one of the Yoruba states known for its abundant production of professors, Adelugba, himself , “Grand father of professors”as Duro Oni, one of the organizers of Dapo Adelugba at 70 would describe him, belongs to the pioneer group of scholars, who understood the vacuum that needed to be filled in the emerging politically independent Nigeria in the 60s.

First, Adelugba obtained an English honours degree from the University College, Ibadan, and upon graduation took advantage of two defining factors that foreshadowed his future: his passion for drama and the existence Rockefeller Foundation funds that made it possible for graduates to go for post graduate studies in other fields  of needs.

According to Pa Adelugba, “during our undergraduate days at the University College, Ibadan, there was neither theatre arts department or school of drama. But we had outstanding teachers in the department of English, who had deep understanding of the Greek and Roman theatres. Though I had always liked drama, having belonged to the University of Ibadan Drama Association, but I took advantage of the prevailing social situation in 1962, when the Rockefeller fund for graduate studies came up.”

With Rockefeller funding, Dapo Adelugba proceeded to the University of California for post graduate work in theatre arts and returned to Nigeria in 1967 to join the University of Ibadan, where he helped to give direction to the university’s fledging Theatre Arts department.

In Ibadan, Adelugba did ground breaking work in the areas of theatre criticism, directing and adaptation. One of his most important contributions to theatre scholarship is his translation of Bakary Traore’s Le Theatre negro-Africain et ses functions socials (The Black African Theatre and its Social Functions) from French to English.

Last week as  Pa Adelugba sat comfortably fulfilled in the cozy office of the University of Lagos Faculty of Arts Function Room venue of this meeting, responding to questions from the media, it was all clearly displayed how the old man felt with developments in the nation’s academic and theatre landscapes.

Talking from the point of knowing, Pa Adelugba took a swipe on the managers of the Nollywood industry.

He was blank in condemning the industry’s inability in hiring university  professionally trained theatre graduates because the producers would rather go for the cheap, road side actors and actresses, who would take any price with little or no bidding, noting: “Theatre buffs are afraid of using theatre graduates, who can properly interpret roles in movies,” adding that “there is need for synergy between Nollywood and theatre arts graduates.”

Adelugba, who apart from serving as culture director to the Old  Oyo State Arts Council was also, the director of Nigeria’s drama entry during FESTAC 77 also urged scholars and students to provide intellectual angles to the Nollywood productions through scholarly interventions in the form of research, journal publications and projects. He pleaded with teachers to show more interest in supervising student’s works  on Nollywood productions arguing that by so doing, the industry can be properly elevated to the status of a film culture.

The celebrant, now addressed as Daodu, a Yoruba word for the first born, also regretted that the experience of the Second World Festival of Arts and Culture known as FESTAC 77 has not been repeated after over thirty years of the last one. “FESTAC”, he said, “furthered our understanding and practice of theatre. It helped us to see what our colleagues from other parts of the world were doing. It also helped us to know that they were not doing extra ordinary things that we  weren’t doing in Nigeria.”

Pa Adelugba, no doubt has thoroughly enjoyed his romance with theatre and the stage. This is palpable from the way he relaxed that afternoon taking on the questions with the easy of amala and ewedu soup. But would he have felt otherwise? No way. Perhaps, if you don’t know, Adelugba, apart from having worked with some of the finest scholars of  theatre including Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, JP Clark, Abiola Irele, Martin Banham, James Gibbs late Ola Rotime, Zulu Sofola and Wale Ogunyemi, is also the proud teacher of  Professors Femi Osofisan, Niyi Osundare, Duro Oni, Ziky Kofoworola, Saint Gbilekaa, Oga Steve Abah, Patrick Ebewo, Chuck Mike, Zulu Zik Okafor and Jahman Anikulapo among others.

Why then would he not be fulfilled and relaxed? What else can one say to this great and accomplished scholar than to add to the voice of  his other numerous admirers with the Nigerian slang and say, Pa Adelugba carry go. U don win!


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