By Mike Adeyemi
The University of Ilorin community was yesterday thrown into mourning following the demise of Professor Ayo Akinwale, a professor of theatre Arts after a brief illness.
Until his demised, late Akinwale was the Dean, Faculty of Arts at the University of Ilorin and also a laureate of the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA).
He was billed to retire early next year at the mandatory age of 75 years stipulated for university professors.
Speaking with our reporter yesterday, the Director of Information, University of Ilorin, Mr Kunle Akogun described his death as unfortunate and a great lost to the university community.
“His death is very unfortunate. He is a nice man and indeed a workaholic. He had trained a generation of theatre artists and top academics.
“Many of his students are now professors in their own rights. May his soul rest in peace and may the Almighty God comfort the family he left behind and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss,” Akogun said.
Late Prof. Akinwale was born in the early 50s to the royal household of Pa Akinwale in the ancient City of Ibadan. He began his education at the St. Lukes Demonstration School, Molete Ibadan, Oyo State, and then proceeded to Methodist High School also in Ibadan, where he was introduced to theater arts.
In 1966, he acted as ‘Imodoye’ in a movie titled ‘Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmole,’ produced by one of his teachers and then moved to Molusi College in Ijebu Igbo, where he obtained his Senior School Leaving Certificate.
He began his academic career as a Science Teacher and a Drama Coordinator at Ilora Grammar School and performed in a theatre play titled ‘Beyiose’. His love for theatre made him change his field of study from Sciences to Arts.
Akinwale gained admission into the University of Ibadan, where he performed at international theatre festivals under the leadership of Prof Adelugba. He was a household name in the late 70s when he featured in many TV plays and dramas.
He gained employment at BCOS (The Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State) in the 80s and later moved to the Ibadan Polytechnic Iree Campus from where he was appointed the Head of the Department of the Performing Arts at the University of Ilorin in 1985.
Prof Akinwale has written several books and articles on Theatre Arts in Nigeria. Some of his publications include; ‘From Compound Space, to the Living Stage’ Nigerian Theatre Journal, ‘Theatre and Democracy in Nigeria, Arts Administration in Contemporary Nigeria; The Nigeria Broadcaster’ Media, ‘The Theatre and Nigeria’s New Democratic Environment: A Sociological Overview,’ and many more.
A seasoned actor with a fantastic Yoruba accent, the late professor was also known for his impeccable spoken English and has featured in a number of movies as actor and producer such as Sango, Ladepo Omo Adanwo, Clash of the Gods, Iranse Aje, Eti Keta among others. He won the Best Indigenous Actor award at the 4th Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) and has remained prominent on issues regarding Arts in Nigeria.
By Mike Adeyemi