Culture Icon Akinwunmi Ishola is dead

Akinwunmi Isola
Akinwunmi Isola

Yoruba playwright and culture icon, Akinwunmi Isola, is dead.

The Yoruba literary scholar died Saturday in Ibadan , Oyo state.

Reacting to his death, Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, described the death of the renowned playwright and literary giant as a “colossal loss” not only to his immediate family but to Oyo state, the Yoruba race and the world at large.

The governor, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Yomi Layinka, on Saturday, said that he received the news of the death of the Ibadan-born culture ambassador and progenitor of Yoruba literature with “disbelief and utter shock”.

By his death, the governor said the state had lost a venerated son of the soil, who devoted his life to the promotion of Yoruba culture through his creative works and huge contributions to the global body of knowledge.

As a student at the University of Ibadan, Mr. Isola wrote ‘Efunsetan Aniwura,’ a play that has remained a timeless piece in teaching lessons on abuse of power and retribution.

He also wrote the epic novel, ‘O leku,’ widely regarded as one of the best literary works produced by artists of his generation.

Born in Ibadan in 1939, Mr. Ishola, a professor, attended Labode Methodist School and Wesley College in Ibadan, the capital of the old Western Region of Nigeria.


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He proceeded to the University of Ibadan, earning a B.A. in French. He also earned an M.A. in Yoruba Literature from the University of Lagos in 1978 before commencing academic work as a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University where he was appointed a professor in 1991.

Among his most popular plays are Efunsetan Aniwura, Madam Tinubu, Oleku, among others.

His works, Oleku, Koseegbe, Saworoide, Agogo Eewo and Campus Queen were adapted to film by foremost cineast, Tunde Kelani.

“Prof Akinwumi Isola was an unabashed believer in the promotion of the Yoruba language, which he once demonstrated by being the first person to deliver a university convocation lecture in Yoruba at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, which was very unconventional.

“But, in the words of William Shakespeare ‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.’ Baba has played his parts and he has exited gloriously. A ku ara fe ra ku,” the governor said.


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