Tributes pour in for late Gbenga Adeboye, Toba Opaleye

On April 30, 2003, Nigeria’s self-acclaimed ‘king of Oduology’, Olugbenga Adeboye, died after a battle with kidney related ailment.

Mr. Adeboye, broadcaster, comedian and musician, popularly known as ‘Funwontan’ among his legion of fans and friends, until his death was popular in the Yoruba entertainment industry, and nurtured a generation of broadcasters.

On April 29, 2006, three years after the death of Mr. Adeboye, Toba Opaleye, another popular Yoruba broadcaster, died.

For the Yoruba radio and television independent content producers’ association, it was a tragic incident.

On Sunday, April 30, which marked the fourteenth and eleventh year anniversary of Messrs. Adeboye and Opaleye’s death respectively, some broadcasters who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES hailed the two iconic presenters.

TWO BRILLIANT MINDS

“Gbenga Adeboye and Toba Opaleye could be referred to as two brilliant broadcasters with distinct professional traits,” said ace broadcaster, Sulaiman Adegbenro.

Mr. Adegbenro, who is also known as ‘Consoli gbadun’ on radio, explained that Mr. Adeboye in particular broke away from the norm to create a new genre in broadcasting in Nigeria when he came up with a radio programme titled ‘Funwontan on FM’.

He said, “A chitchat programme that was spiced with hilarious stories he called ‘Odu’ which simply means incredible, he (Adeboye) did this at a time when there was no programme that had such flavour before him.

“He was a bundle of talent, intelligence and creativity. A mobile talk box, a budding music talent, a poet, and showbiz impresario,” the ace broadcaster added.

The presenter also explained that the late comedian influenced many of today’s broadcasters especially those who use the Yoruba language as a medium of communication, adding that his contribution to broadcasting in Nigeria is yet to be matched.

Similarly, Mr. Adegbenro noted that the late Mr. Opaleye was also another brand entirely.

“His (Opaleye’s) major strength lies in his firm control of his baritone voice,” Mr. Adegbenro said, adding that the late Abeokuta-based broadcaster was “…a master of vocal wizardry with which he handled narratives with so much splendour and made them a must-listen.”

“He started a prose narrative musical style which was quite different in style from the Ewi style of the earlier generation of Lanrewaju Adepoju,” he added.

For Abass Adefulu, another independent content producer who presents programmes across the southwest, the late Mr. Adeboye was an enigma who would continue to be remembered by many broadcasters in the Yoruba genre.

“He (Adeboye) was a founding father who opened ways for many and encouraged indigenous language in the media industry,” Mr. Adefulu told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.

Olumide Awolowo, a presenter and event compere, explained that the late Mr. Adeboye was a source of inspiration whose contributions to the career growth of many young broadcasters cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

“Gbenga Adeboye gave me the first ever opportunity to speak on FM radio… then on OGBC FM,” Mr. Awolowo told PREMIUM TIMES.

“Before then I was presenting only on AM channel… He can never be forgotten in my life because he was my boss, my mentor, my leader, my role model; and even in death, I remain loyal to him and the association he left behind, FIBAN.”

A presenter and staff of an Ilorin-based radio station, Royal FM, Olayinka Ajani, popularly known as ‘Omidan Olayinka, said the late Mr. Adeboye still remains irreplaceable.

“He is a role model to all successful broadcasters. I don’t want to use ‘was’ because up till today, lots of broadcasters still want to be like him.

“I didn’t have the opportunity of meeting him when he was alive, which is the most painful thing to me but I do celebrate his anniversary every year on radio.

“Gbenga Adeboye Abefe Funwotan is irreplaceable,” she said.

Born in September, 1959, Mr. Adeboye’s parents hailed from Ode-Omu and Gbongan communities in Osun State, which prompted him to adopt “Ode-gbon”, a jocular mismatch of the names of the two towns, as his hometown.

He started a career in broadcasting in 1980 at the old Radio Lagos Amplitude Modification (AM) station where he presented a weekly Yoruba programme entitled Fuwontan, aired from 11am to 12 mid-day on Saturdays.

Funwontan would later become one of his numerous sobriquets, among which are ‘Jengbetiele’, ‘Alhaji-Pastor-Oluwo’, ‘Alabefe’, ‘Alaye mi Gbengulo’, among others.

Mr. Adeboye’s popularity soared with the recording of his debut album, Iya Onibeji Ato’da, an instant success in 1981.

He recorded other albums including Exposure, Ijinle Oro, London Yabis, Oro Sunnukun among others.

He was acclaimed to have founded the Freelance and Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria, FIBAN, with support from other notable broadcasters like Bashiru Adisa (Baba Gboin), Abiodun Fagboro, Akeem Enudunjujo, Ajide Olayinka, Fatai Adeniyi (Dan Kazeem), Goke Babalola among others.

Toba Opaleye, on his part, was also famous for a number of publications including film productions.

The most popular of his films were ‘Igba nla dogi ‘, ‘Abeni Oni Pangbe’, and ‘Aso Esu Beleke’- an audio production.

Messrs Adeboye and Opaleye, together with Kola Olawuyi, were the three leading voices of the Yoruba broadcasting industry, who rocked the airwaves for years between the early 1990’s and late 2000’s.

Mr. Olawuyi, popularly known as ‘Akolawole’, presenter of the dreaded ‘Nnkan nbe’ programme on radio, died in 2007.


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