If you run into Emmanuel Adejumo any day any time, you will notice that he has a striking resemblance to his father, veteran comedian, Moses Adejumo Olaiya, popularly known as Baba Sala. He is one of Baba Sala’s sons. For those, who don’t know Baba Sala, let’s quickly tell you that he is the father of modern comedy in Nigeria, along side the likes of Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola, Oyin Adejobi and Duro Ladipo who popularised theatre and television acting in Nigeria.
He is an ace comedian, who dominated TV drama and stage play in Nigeria in the 70’s with his weekly comedy show Alawada on NTA Ibadan. He had a cult followership. His comedy was aired at 7pm every Wednesday at the time. And most families in Ibadan usually stayed glued to their chairs to watch Baba Sala on TV. The Ijesha-born actor and comedian is now old. He is also a man of God.
Many don’t know he started out life as a civil servant – a Sanitary Inspector. After work, he would take his sanitary inspection (Wolewole) uniform off and go teaching part-time in an extramural class. Later in the evening, he would do his round in town collecting daily thrift (popularly called ajo by the Yoruba).
Later in the night, he would transform to a highlife musician. Many also don’t know he was into music. So big was Baba Sala that KSA commenced his music career at the then Moses Olaiya Orchestra, a high life musical group, where he picked his talent as a future music hope. The group later deviated to Theatre act. He has influenced lives of many by making them laugh off their problems and anxieties.
He has a way of making people laugh away their sorrows Baba Sala has left a big mark in Nigeria’s world of comedy and today he still remains a house-hold name. Today, he has hundreds of stage plays, TV dramas and films – almost all comedies – to his credit. However, he has got a real life experience that almost threatened his well being.
It was a business engagement that went wrong and ever since the experience, Baba Sala’s life has not been laughter-all-through existence of a happily-bubbly stage master whom people used to fall over one another to have a glimpse of. In 1982, a business miscalculation changed his life forever and ever since things have never remained the same.
After years of making stage plays and achieving great popularity, one of his best fans, advised him to go into films. The man pointed out that even Ade Afolayan, aka Ade-Love, a boy, who trained under him, was already making movies. Ade-Love had made Ija Ominira then. Baba Sala borrowed money to do Orun Moru and the pirates messed the film up.
Baba Sala believed that the film would have made a huge break if it had not been pirated. That notwithstanding, he made other films. After Orun Mooru in 1982, he made Aare Agbaiye in 1983. Then, as a way of consoling himself, he made another, Mosebolatan in 1983.
Other flicks came after – Sugar Daddy, Obe Gbona in 1989, Return Match in 1993, Ana Gomina in 1996 and a TV series, The return of Baba Sala. Ana Gomina was in video format was the last film he made because, according to him, he was badly cheated of the gains by the film marketers.
His costume was a joke in itself as he was always over dressed. Currently, the costume is in Ibadan. His children are planning to build a museum in his name and even produce a book and documentary on him, but it has not been easy to secure funding. For one, they do not have the required amount and attempts to get corporate sponsorship have not been successful.
Emmanuel Adejumo, popularly called “Boy Sala”, is one of the sons of the renowned artiste and veteran comedian, Moses Adejumo, alias Baba Sala. Emmanuel who comes from a family of artistes, a family where dancing, acting, singing and drumming have consistently becomes a way of life for him and his brothers, Lanre Adejumo known as Mr. Patua, Muyiwa known as Adamu Lamidi and Smart Adejumo, a well known figure, who has carved a niche for himself by wearing the type of make-up and costume for which his father was known.
This son of the legendary stage artiste and comedian, was recently interviewed by Dr, SEYE KEHINDE and SUNDAY ADIGUN, where he speaks exclusively on how he has been instructed by his father to follow his footsteps, how he has been into acting for close to 30 years, how he nursed the ambition of being a professional artiste right from his childhood days and how he and his brothers intend to revive their father’s legacy.
I know you are into entertainment, so which aspect of entertainment?
I am into music, dance and comedy just like my father.
How did you start?
I learnt everything from my father, when I completed schooling, my father told me specifically that he wanted me to follow his path in entertainment, I agreed and worked with him for some years. After a while, I told him I wanted to go for a degree (Bachelor of Arts) programme and he asked me to hold on for a while because there was so much to learn about entertainment, I was following him everywhere until I joined the National Troupe of Nigeria, so I can say my father taught me acting, music, comedy, dance. I learnt how to play some musical instruments such as saxophone, guitar, keyboard whenever he was playing those instruments. My mother even used to be one of his dancers when we were young.
Are you the only one he picked?
No, some of us about four of us are active in the entertainment industry. We have Lanre Adejumo popularly known as Mr. Patua, Smart Adejumo my younger brother, Muyiwa popularly known as Adamu Lamidi, and my older brother Biodun Adejumo, who works with BCOS.
What does it feel like being one of the sons of a legend?
I feel great, because whereever I go, the name has been paving way, it has been God and the name, even when I was processing my university degree, somebody just spotted me and took it from there, so many ways even at work, the name has really been an instrument of success.
What do you do for the National Troupe?
I am a dancer, I joined as a dancer and was later moved to the music department. I danced for the National Troupe for over 12 years, travelling around the world, projecting Nigerian dance and culture.
So you don’t act for now?
I act, I have featured in some films, and I am working on my own too, I have done series of comedy. Now, I am into acting, dancing, comedy and music fully because everytime I go to my father, he is always asking how I was faring in the industry. Even though he is old now.
How old is Baba Sala now?
He is over 80 years.
What kind of person is Baba Sala, being your father and also an entertainer?
At home, my father loves his children so much, and he is a wonderful father. He inculcated in us the fear of God. He always preaches and everyone must be in church to avoid his koboko (cane). He wants us to love God and his job too.
Which church does he attend?
He is a Minister-in-Charge of C&S Church at Ilesha…Parish 1. While Growing up, we joined different churches, but we are all C&S by birth. But on stage, my father is another thing, because I have directed him on some of his acts, when you tell him to do something, he would always add more, but outside the stage, he is a very shy type. He is very funny on stage.
Is he funny at home too?
Sometime, when he plays with his wives, he plays the husband and wife’s roles in front of us, making every one laugh. He sometimes joke with my brothers too about their girlfriends. He is full of humour and he is fun to be with even at home, but he is a very shy person outside.
How do you see the comedy industry today, looking back at it from when Daddy was into it up till now?
I worked with my father for a while, so I can say comedy of then is different from the present. Today, we have different genres of comedy now like, stand up, radio and so on. During my father’s time, comedy was natural. He doesn’t copy. He would fall down, if he wanted to fall. Comedy is a satire, but educative then, but today, we have comedy that would make people laugh without any sense in it. My father’s comedy was so natural, he read the news, watched politicians and make humour out of it. Some people copy some of his past works and some people are creating their own. I can say comedy has moved on from what it used to be then. The way I do my comedy is in English and sometimes Pidgin so, I have been refining some of his works to suite the purpose of now. One of my bosses also taught me that you could write comedy now. (Prof. Amadi Edima) comedy has left where my father left it to another level. One just have to swang with time.
So, how do you intend to bring back that brand?
The family is working on it. We have held several meetings, but I have suggested that even if we want to rebrand him, we must make sure the content is acceptable in the contemporary society. Everybody is doing his/her thing, Mr. Patua is doing his thing in Yoruba version, I am doing my own in English and we are thinking of bringing back the Alawada Movies or Alawada Comedy to life.
There has been speculations twice now that your father is dead. What is the story behind those speculations?
Nothing is wrong with my father, it is just the Press misunderstanding things. Sometime ago my elder brother facilitated a book launch for my father (a biography), he needed to do a press conference, so that people can get awareness about Baba Sala’s biography and he brought father in. You know, I said my father is a natural comedian. If he wants to fall in any of his plays, he falls totally, making it real, so age is telling on him. Having used his body towards making his comedy real is what is telling on him now.
What is the health state of Baba Sala now?
Some ailments come naturally with old age. And coupled with several wives that he has , he has used his strength heavily for the success of his comedy play. Baba is old now and he is not as strong as he use to be, so he needs assistance sometimes to walk and do some things, but he is doing fine.
That was what the Press saw and said Baba Sala was paralysed, and that was the misunderstanding. Even my brother, who facilitated the event was shocked at the news. I still spoke with him yesterday, he is still a Minister in his church. He goes for his check-up regularly at UCH.