By Babatunde Tiamiyu

If reference is to be made to dramatists who breathed life to cultural theatre in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, Chief Duro Ladipo would hold a special place for his craft and contributions to it’s development. Based in Osogbo, the capital of today’s Osun State, ChiefDuro Ladipo was a Yoruba cultural icon who elevated the people’s history and tradition through theatre. Despite the demise of the late icon in 1978 his legacies in the theatre industry continue to be a guide for the new generations of practitioners. Also, the spirit of Yoruba cultural theatre has made Duro Ladipo’s family its permanent abode.

One of the children of the late enigma, Mrs Solabomi Duro Ladipo Akinsola has been a worthy ambassador of the Duro Ladipo theatre dynasty having contributed immensely to the development of culture and theatre in Osun State. After years of meritorious service to the state which took her as high as the Director of Culture in the Ministry of Arts and Culture, Osogbo Osun State, Mrs Akinsola is bowing out of civil service with pride and fulfilment. Her giant strides in the promotion of culture, theatre and tourism in the State of the Living Spring will remain unrivalled for years to come—a feat that will make the family patriarch proud from the world of the immortals. She served in several capacities in government parastatals and contributed immensely to the growth of the creative arts industry.

To demonstrate her passion for and ancestral connection to culture and theatre, she has refused to retire from promoting same after her years of active service. Her pet project, AREWA ASA CULTURETAINMENT FOUNDATION has become her personal platform to further deepen the influence of cultural theatre in the society.

This move brings back to memory her father’s contributions to Yoruba history and culture through his theatre company. His Mbari Mbayo club which he founded in 1962 with the help of German scholar, Ulli Bieier, served as an art gallery and a theatre where he performed his Yoruba folk opera. It was at the club his theatre company performed his popular operas Oba Moro (“Ghost-Catcher King”), Oba Koso (“The King Did Not Hang”) and Oba Waja (“The King is Dead”) which are based on the history of the Oyo kingdom.

In affirmation of the popular Yoruba proverbs “Omo ajanaku kii y’ara, omo ti eya ba bi, eya ni jo”, it is natural that Mrs Akinsola continues to toe the path her father has created. “Arewa Asa” simply translates to the beauty of culture. This is to exhibit Yoruba cultural aesthetics and spirituality for promotion and preservation among the teenagers and youth especially.

Like Mbari Mbayo Club, which gave platform to several cultural and creative entrepreneurs like Chief Jimoh Buraimoh and Twin Seven Seven, Arewa Asa Culturetainment Foundation will create opportunities for teenagers and youths through cultural and creative entrepreneurship, as contributions towards supporting government to create platforms where they can be consciously contribute positively to the society while encouraging them to explore their talents and potentials by empowering them with creative skills.

The Foundation which will be launched at a grand ceremony on the 2nd of May is in partnership with the Osun State Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The event billed to hold at the Centre for Black Culture and International Understand, Osogbo, Osun State will have royal fathers, government functionaries, captains of industries, culture enthusiasts and theatre practitioners gather to celebrate Mrs Akinsola’s exit from Osun State Civil Service while the company’s Twenty million Fundraiser for the construction of the Arewa Asa Culturetainment foundation Studios.

Apparently, this magnificent project will no doubt have a significant impact on tourism and promotion of values in Osogbo and Osun State at large. The foundation is a massive boost for the state known to be rich in Yoruba cultural values and spirituality. It is expected to bring innovations into theatre, performing arts, and cultural and creative arts industry in Osun State while attracting both local and international collaborations with prominent and reputable cultural arts organisation both home and abroad.

As Mbari Mbayo was a delight to the people of Osogbo, Arewa Asa Culturetainment Foundation will equally be a source of excitement for local communities through Culturetainment events, exhibitions, and initiatives to strengthen the bond between the foundation and the diverse communities it serves. This iconic project deserves massive support from well meaning Yoruba indigenes who desire to see cultural reinessance which will translate to restoration of value system.

As we celebrate the birth of Arewa Asa Culturetainment, it is essential to fête the brain behind the brain behind the laudable idea, Mrs Duro Ladipo Akinsola. As she completes her statutory 35 years of service she deserves all accolades showered on her for the landmark achievements she recorded throughout her stay. Indeed, she is an epitome of excellence in civil service. Hopefully, beyond the partnership between Arewa Asa Culturetainment Foundation and Osun State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the state government will engage her to make use of her experience and knowledge in theatre, culture and entertainment.