The roots of Nigeria’s organised film industry predate the 1990s which would usher in the stylistics of contemporary movies. By the 1980s, there was already a burgeoning cinema culture dating back to the colonial era, but a decline during the military-led government of the time forced a transition to TV productions. TV series and movies released directly to television thrived during this period.
The industry was much more fragmented along ethnic lines, so local TV channels used to air a Yoruba series called ‘Arelu’, which was said to have been such a big deal for locals that it left the streets quiet when a new episode was airing. It was in this series that Ojo Arowosafe, alias Fadeyi Oloro, played the lead role that sprung him into stardom.
He gained fame during the cinematic era for his antagonistic roles and energetic recitation of Yoruba incantations.
“You could rob houses while ‘Arelu’ aired and no one would know,” said Ifedayo Olarinde, the media personality, aged 46.
Fadeyi Oloro would go ahead to feature among prominent actors in multiple Yoruba titles including ‘Alagbara Ilu’, ‘Jagun Ina’, ‘Inu Bibi’, and ‘Ija Abija’, ‘Osimi Ika’, ‘Adani Lori’, ‘Fitu Fona’, ‘Ruke Rudo’, ‘Bola Ele’, and ‘Ade Ogu’.
But the film star passed away on March 7 after a protracted undisclosed illness.
At 65, Fadeyi died a legend. He remained one of the actors who revolutionised the movie landscape in Nigeria with his breathtaking inventive works.
FADEYI OLORO’S THREE-YEAR BATTLE WITH AILMENT
As recently as February 2023, Fasunwon Bidemi Oluwafunke, Fadeyi Oloro’s daughter, opened up that her father had been struggling with his health for over three years.
She later revealed that the actor had been diagnosed with a kidney condition at UCH Ibadan in Oyo state, among other complications that left his legs swollen.
Sunday Ajana, the journalist who spearheaded the earliest fund-seeking drive that help Fadeyi Oloro get medical attention, said it all started with swollen legs that prompted the actor to seek assistance from the now-late clergyman TB Joshua.
He said, during the doctors’ diagnosis in January, they attributed the mild kidney situation to some traditional herbal concoction he had been consuming.
“The doctor recommended certain drugs, but the main issue was with the herbs. So he was put under treatment,” Ajana said.
MONEY PROBLEMS, EVICTED FROM HOME
In December 2021, the coalition for better Nigeria called on citizens to support the Yoruba actor in salvaging his ailing health.
In late 2022, the actor also opened up about losing some of the donated funds to fraudulent associates caring for him.
By 2023, as his health deteriorated, public figures further pledged and donated sums to the veteran actor.
In February, Oloro’s daughter confirmed her father had been evicted from the small apartment where he lived.
“It’s not exactly a place where a veteran like Fadeyi Oloro should stay. Instead of getting a new apartment, the daughter resolved that his half-completed home be finished, so he gets to move to his own place,” Ajala said.
At some point, Fadeyi Oloro was said to have been on admission at Orile Agege General Hospital (OAGH) in Lagos.
Fadeyi was reported to have sold his properties while moving from one hospital to another in search of a cure.
Beyond the media frenzy that marked his health crisis and the actor’s repeated calls for aid, Fadeyi Oloro never recovered.
FADEYI OLORO’s LEGACY
Born in 1957, Fadeyi Oloro began his acting career in 1985 at the age of 28.
He began his studies at St. Pauls’s Catholic Primary School, Umbarra Odo, in Ekiti state.
The ace actor continued at Timmy Agbale Grammar School in the former Oyo state but now in Osun state.
The actor started his theater career in 1977.
In films, Oloro frequently appeared as a dangerous, wicked, and calm herbalist with his character interpretation.
His role in a movie was considered to be so unique, his stage name was used to refer to a wicked person in real life.
“He’s part of the people that shaped my youthful understanding of entertainment. He glorified our culture by being an expert in incantations. The small incantations I learned in my lifetime, I learned from him,” Olarinde added.
Fadeyi may have passed away, but in years to come, he would be remembered for his towering legacies in the development of the country’s film industry.
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