April 30, 2003 will always be remembered as the date a-yet-to-be-filled vacuum was created in Nigeria’s entertainment industry. It was a Wednesday, a dark one so to speak. The news was bitter for the listener, and must have also made the mouth of the newscaster sour. The news must be cast! “Gbenga Adeboye is dead!” the news reader dropped the bombshell! “Not again!” would have been what many of his fans would have had the strength to mumble. I was still very young when Funwontan was dazzling with the mic, but I had the privilege to listen to his shows—“Gbenga Adeboye in the Mix” on Radio Lagos and “Gbenga Adeboye in the House” on OGBC, usually with his crew. I would later appreciate his works more while growing up (up till today). The news of his “FINAL” death came with heartbreak on the one hand and slight optimism on the other hand. Optimism? Yes, because months earlier, Abefe Okin was announced to have passed on, only to hear the good news that he had “woken up” after six hours. He would narrate his encounter with death and his brief sojourn in heaven in his last musical album “Aye Toto”. Unfortunately, he “came back” to bid his unsuspecting lovers a “proper farewell” with the said album, and his evergreen movie, “Oni Ni”. He was buried on May 14, the same year, also on Wednesday. He had something with Wednesday (Get a copy of Seun Adeboye’s “Omo Majemu”). The world stood still for the African hero.
Gbenga Adeboye was a man of many talents; he was a comedian, a musician, a prophet, a humanist, a philanthropist, a preacher, an activist, orator, a cultural ambassador, a social crusader… With his creativity, he etched his name in the sand of time and unarguably one of the greatest entertainers to have graced the surface of the black continent. His works were a combination of comedy, didaticism, sarcasm, spiritualism. Adeboye had the mastry of Yoruba language which garbed his linguistic performance with cultural aestheticism and clarity of thought and analogy. He consciously and unconsciously deployed literary techniques which gave his performance a touch of uniqueness and beauty. While deploying proverbs, his expertise in tongue twister, idiomatic expressions, history, legends, myth and religious knowledge, Adeboye’s artistic productions are acidic to corrupt and oppressive rulers in Nigeria. “Oro Sunnukun” and “Pasan Oro” perfectly reflect the social crusading side of Funwontan. As a fearless critic, his struggle against bad governance forced him out of the “refuge of comedy” to speak truth to power in its naked form (Get a copy of “Oro Sunnukun”).
The creation of the characters of “Itu Baba Ita” and “Alagba Laisi Abesupinle” is another amazing imagination produced from the blend of his vast knowledge of “street” and traditional world. The two characters give an insight into Adeboye’s religious tolerance. Hence, “Alhaji Pastor Oluwo” numencleture which he christened himself. (Please get copies of “Choices”, “London Yabis”, and “Aye Toto”).
Gbenga Adeboye’s love and promotion of Yoruba culture must be mentioned as he served as a cultural ambassador through his artistic productions.
As the pace setter in Stand up comedy, he created a path in a thick forest; with his originality, he showed that the brain can come up with unimaginable ideas if it is well tasked. He proved that Man Can be Master of All as a Jack of All Trades.
17 years after, his memory lives on, his works did not fade with the passing of time.
Rest on ALAYEMI GBENGULO, ABEFE, ONE MAN BATTALION, JENGBENTIELE, APAGUNPOTE 1, OMO BABA OVERSER, AWO ITU BABA ITA, AWO BABA LAISI ABESUPINLE. TO
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