OLD MUSIC: DOWNLOAD EKO (LAGOS) – HUBERT OGUNDE
Born on Monday, July 10, 1916 to Mr. Jeremiah Dehinbo Ogunde and Mrs. Eunice Owotunsan Ogunde, in a small ancient town (Ososa) found in the heart of Ijebu province (currently under Odogbolu Council). It is home of the delicious, Aadun (a local bread).
Hubert Ogunde would later grow up to become a teacher, police officer, teetotaler, human rights activist, seer, prophet, folklorist, Nigerian actor, playwright, musician, dancer, dramatist, and a rare nationalist. He was the founder of the Ogunde Concert Party (1945), the first professional theatrical company in Nigeria. Often regarded as the father of Nigerian theatre, Ogunde sought to reawaken interest in his country’s indigenous culture.
Ogunde’s most famous play, Yoruba Ronu (performed 1964; “Yorubas, Think!”), was such a biting attack on the premier of Nigeria’s Western region that his company was banned from the region—the first instance in post-independence Nigeria of literary censorship. The ban was lifted in 1966 by Nigeria’s new military government, and in that same year the Ogunde Dance Company was formed. Otito Koro (performed 1965; “Truth is Bitter”) also satirizes political events in western Nigeria in 1963. An earlier play produced in 1946, The Tiger’s Empire, also marked the first instance in Yoruban theatre that women were billed to appear in a play as professional artists in their own right.
In 1986, he was invited by the Nigerian government to form a national drama troupe. During this time, he represented Nigeria in the Commonwealth Festival of Arts, performing a play called Destiny (which was a re-arranged Ayanmo that he had released earlier in 1970). Destiny was a production with thirty dancers. In the play, Ogunde incorporated some of his favorite dance steps, Ijo-Eleja (or the dance of the fishermen), Asan Ubo-Ikpa from the Ibibio culture, and the kwag-hir from Tivland.
Hubert Ogunde established an estate at Ososa. The venue served as the rehearsal center for the national troupe before his passing in 1990.
Ogunde married more than ten wives and had many children. The Ogunde Theater was largely a family-run business, and all the wives and children took part in the productions at one time or the other. Some of the children were actors and actresses, while others were drummers, singers and ticket sellers. All of the wives shared the stage with there husband at various points in the history of the theatre.
The manager of the Ogunde Theater, who also happened to be one of the wives, was the former Miss Clementina Oguntimirin. She later became known as Adeshewa Clementina Ogunde or Mama Eko, taking the latter moniker from the popular 1960s play of the same name that she starred in. His other wives included Ibisomi Ogunde, Risikat Ogunde and Emily Kehinde Olukoga-Ogunde.
Ogunde became the leading producer of Yoruba celluloid movies, with J’ayesinmi (Let the world rest) and Aiye (Life!), blazing the trail.
He was ill during the shooting of the film “Mr. Johnson”. Chief Ogunde died on the 4th of April, 1990, at London’s Cromwell Hospital following a brief illness.
A portrait of Ogunde hangs in the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos.
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