By DAPO FALADE
In his lifetime, he was a man of many parts: a broadcaster, writer, playwright, poet, literary giant, actor, stage play director, school teacher and an administrator, among others.
Born in Oyo, Oyo State on 26 December, 1921, the late Alagba Adebayo Mosobalaje Akande Faleti wrote, produced and acted in several popular Yoruba plays and movies. Some of these include Thunderbolt: Magun (2001); Afonja, 1 and 2 (2002); Basorun Gaa (2004); and Sawo-Sogberi (2005). He was also known for his poems.
He recorded many firsts in the African Continent in his long and eventful lifetime. According to Wikipedia, he was Africa’s first newscaster; the first stage play director; first film editor and librarian with the first television station in Africa, Western Nigerian Television (WNTV); first Yoruba presenter on television and radio; and first Yoruba translator, among several others.
He was the first school teacher at Ife Odan, near Ejigbo in present-day Osun State and he was also the General Manager of the state-owned Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Ibadan.
The renowned thespian was also responsible for translating the National Anthem from English to Yoruba, and also translated from English Language to Yoruba Language speeches made by the late Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; the late former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige; former military President Ibrahim Babangida and Head, National Interim Government of Nigeria – Chief Ernest Shonekan. Faleti also published a dictionary containing the formal or official use of Yoruba names.
Like every other mortals born before and after him, he didn’t leave this world alive as he took his final exit on 24 July, 2017. His passage, due to old age-related ill-health, left a big vacuum in the hearts of prominent Nigerians across the six geopolitical zones. Like a meteor that he was, he was more celebrated, even in death.
Some three years after his passage into eternity, the late Alagba Faleti literally came back to life on Saturday, 26 December, 2020 when members of his immediate family gathered to honour him with his post-humous birthday celebrations.
As a mark honour and seeking to immortalise his memory, the family of the late renowned thespian, through the AKAAF Folorunso Foundation, donated a borehole to Ile Baale Idode Compound at Pakoyi, Oyo. Also food items, clothes and live chickens were distributed to beneficiaries, totaling 164 people.
The borehole was commissioned after the distribution of the food items and clothings by one of the wives of the Alaafin of Oyo. The act, according to the Foundation, was in line with the belief of the late Faleti in putting smiles on the face of the people.
Before the distribution of the materials, various activities were also put on display, including one of baba’s favourite, ewi, by two young men, and to the admiration of the gathering, among whom was one of the wives of the Alaafin of Oyo, Ayaba (Alhaja) Sulat Motunrayo Adeyemi (aka Iyamolaba), the Aare Isese of Oyo Empire, Oba Morakinyo Fatokun Jayeola and several others.
The borehole was later commissioned by Olori Motunrayo Adeyemi, even as many people in the community had gathered with their buckets and other containers to fetch water for usages in their various homes.
Speaking with newsmen at the event, the President, AKAAF Foloruso Foundation, Mr. Kolawole Folorunso, said the Foundation donated the borehole to the community for the 98th post-humous birthday of Alagba Faleti in order to immortalise his name and also to keep his legacy alive.
Kolawole, an in-law to the Faletis, said social responsibilities in the community and putting smiles on the peoples face were some of the hallmarks of the activities of the late thespian while alive. He added that his positive impacts on that regard, both in his community and in the society in general, cannot be over-emphasised.
The widow of the late seasoned administrator, Mrs. Olubunmi Faleti, described her late husband as a generous man who impacted positively on people lives. She also said Faleti’s children have retained the legacy of their father by giving back to the society.
Also speaking at the event, Mrs Adebola Orunsolu, who is the first daughter of the Faleti family, said the Idode Community has been in need of potable water. This need, she said necessitated the step taken by the AKAAF Foundation to construct a borehole as a means to give succour to the community and its people.
A daughter of Alagba Faleti and vice president of AKAAF Foundation, Adewunmi Faleti-Folorunso, spoke on the essence of the Foundation as she described it as being essentially established for community service.
“That was why we decided to donated the borehole to the community. This borehole is necessary for the community for them to have access to portable water. Apart from the borehole, we also gave out clothes and food items and live chickens. We have in our record a total number of 164 beneficiaries, apart from some other side attractions.
“All these were done in loving memory of our late father, Alagba Adebayo Faleti. It is part of our little effort in keeping his name and legacy alive and living. As we all know that the Year 2020 has been a tough and challenging year for every one of us, we feel this will be a great way to end the year by showing love and care to our people in the neighborhood.
“This is what Adebayọ Faleti would have done if he had the opportunity, though he already did a lot in his lifetime in Ọyọ town, Ọyọ State and in Nigeria as a whole.
“December 26 is his birthday, Adebayọ Faleti had set apart this day in bringing friends and families together in celebration, and we intend to keep celebrating the day by bringing people together to be helped and celebrated on such a day as he also did.
“We hereby all stand to emulate this module as we call on families and friends to carry on the legacy of love. It is a great way to end the year is to show love, care and compassion. And we intend to keep on improving on our service to the community as our late father would have done, if he were to alive,” she said.
A resident of the community, Mr. Oyeniyi Olaoye, thanked the Faleti family and AKAAF Folorunso Foundation for the kind gesture. He also called on well-meaning Nigerians to emulate what Faleti family has done.