I read a recent story on this platform bookartville.com, titled The Osofisan Season: Film Screening in America, Book Launch in Lagos.
My immediate response was that Professor Femi Osofisan, the man we call Okinba Launko, the author of One legend, Many Seasons, has earned several seasons.
It is certainly gratifying to see new initiatives, programmes and events launched to advance African culture and society through discourse and any of the regions of creativity within the continent and without.
I am express my wish that we continue these connections by all means exploiting every available opportunity that offers itself.
Certainly we must continue to extol our heroes’ landmark contributions to our history and contemporary culture. We must pull up our trouser bands here because that gallery of the honoured, the honourable – which refers to the partially acknowledged and the unacknowledged- is crowded at this stage of our struggles.
Professor Femi Osofisan is definitely a sterling figure in this space.
When I read here his long list of performance areas and accomplishments, I sensed first of all that despite the incredible extent of his skills and specialisations, they are yet to exhaust. And this for me is the reason he has received less acknowledgement than he deserves in all his manifestations.
In that sense, his strength serves him adversely: reviewers and critics have not been able to catch up with him! He is a masquerade dancing so fast and well in a myriad of twists and turns that we find it difficult to count his steps.
Now I commented in a conversation to some of our colleagues many years ago that Osofisan had not ascended sufficiently as an artist to the international pedestal he ought to. As a much younger reader of his writings, I was concerned that he was looking no further than his immediate linguistic surrounding for an audience despite the fact that his mastery of English as a medium of creative expression is among the greatest.
Looking back I think my hot-headed commentary was a bit unfair because, having an array of literary talents comparable to Soyinka, and being himself a close associate and collaborator with Soyinka, it was inevitable that we would see him in Soyinka’s light, forgetting completely that it was pointless and unnecessary to subject him to that kind of comparison.
I end on this note:
I am persuaded looking back that Osofisan views literature and art in general as endeavours that one begins and continues c through the mediations and creative/intellectual contributions and interventions of others.
No one illustrates this point further than the current discussant. D. O. Fagunwa wrote in the Yotuba language and straying fingers such as mine would go so far as translating one of his novels into English. Soyinka has translated two other novels by Fagunwa. So Fagunwa begins in a linguistic context and leaves the stage for others to extend and expand what he has done. Moreover, Soyinka writes a beautiful childhood memoir but what did interloping interpreters like my humble self do? Go and adapt, produce/direct it as a film.
Taking one endeavour from one state in which it was quite content and satisfied to the next stop.
Who knows whether what we have done will still go on to inspire someone else to do or make further inroads by way of interpreting, taking to some new media or worse, something even more unspeakable?
I salute the author of Cordelia. May billions of people around the planet see more of your work.
Dapo Adeniyi’s first play was broadcast on BBC World Service in 1986. He became a British Council Fellow in Downing College, University of Cambridge in 1994. He was appointed to write the television adaptation for the famous childhood memoir by Wole Soyinka entitled Ake by the Nigerian Television Authority, which he eventually adapted for film and directed and screened in Lagos and Cannes in 2016.