By - Usman Sanusi
Moses Olaiya Adejumo better known by his stage name “Baba Sala”, was a Nigerian comedian, dramatist and actor. He was born on May 17, 1937 in Ilesha Osun State. Baba Sala started out as a civil servant and a sanitary inspector. He also worked as a part-time teacher and late in the evenings, he would transform into a highlife musician. He was titled Father of Comedy in Nigeria fifty years ago, he alongside other dramatists like Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola, Oyin Adejobi and Duro Ladipo popularized theater and television acting in Nigeria. Bala Sala laid the foundation for theatre and comedy that has taken Nigeria’s creative industry.
Baba Sala was married to 18 wives and had 50 children. According to his son Emmanuel… “My dad was a very nice man who loved all his children equally. He always wanted the best for all of us (his children), he was always ready to give up anything for his children. His name also opened doors for us and we are thankful for that.”
Baba Sala was also one of the first Nigerian filmmakers to be affected negatively by the activities of movie pirates. His film Orun Mooru released in 1982 was pirated and it affected him adversely.
He said, “Initially, we did it on 36mm and later reduced it to 16mm. This film, unknown to us, was dubbed by some wicked people and pirated as original. I had never experienced such a disappointment in my life. I was shocked to the marrow and only God knew how I survived paralysis at this period. I was cheated and left shattered. For the realisation of this dream, I had gone to borrow over N1.5 million from a bank to see me through the business. You can imagine how much that translates to in the present day, I automatically became indebted, and I sold most of my properties to settle the debt.”
Baba Sala went into great debt after his film was pirated and he had to sell off most of his properties to pay off the debt, listed among the properties are Awada Spot in Ibadan; Alawada Standard Hotel, Ilesha; Alawada Records, Ibadan; and Ibukun Alawada Photo magazine.
The book, ‘The Triumph of Destiny,’ which was co-authored by Babatunde Akinola, Collins Oyedokun, and Kunle Ajani, was launched at the Eko Hotels in Lagos December 2017. The book is about the biography of the great legend Moses Olaiya Adejumo aka Baba Sala.
Baba Sala died on 7th October, 2018.
Born: May 17, 1937 in Ilesha Osun State, Nigeria
In 1964, he formed a group known as Federal Rhythm Dandies, the band was the toast of Nigerian elites. Baba Sala tutored and guided the jùjú music maestro, King Sunny Adé who was his lead guitar player. By 1969, Moses Olaiya had become a full-time professional theatre comedian after he disbanded his Moses Olaiya Concert Party. He founded the Moses Olaiya International Alawada Theatre Limited shortly after and together they travelled extensively round Nigerian towns and cities.
According to him “Drama was in my blood. I was a drummer. Sunny Ade liked playing guitar. I taught him how to play guitar and he was very good at it. I am proud of him. Sunny Ade’s ambition was to play drums. He said that it was not in him to act. I felt that I should concentrate on acting and leave Sunny Ade to drumming and playing guitar. That was why I gave him my drum and musical instruments,”
Some of his drama includes ‘Orun Mooru,’ ‘Aare Agbaye,’ and ‘Mosebolatan,’ which starred late magician, Professor Peller. His other blockbuster movies includes, Agba Man, Obe ‘Gbona, Return Match, Diamond and Ana Gomina.
Did You Know?
In 1978, the Military head of state in Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, conferred on him Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) title.
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