Veteran folk singer, playwright, actor, Founder and Artistic Director of Ibudo Asa, Mr. Olujimi Solanke, has died.

He was 81.

Solanke died yesterday en route Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital at Ago-Iwoye in Ogun State, five months to his 82nd birthday.

He is survived by a wife, Toyin, children, and grandchildren.

President Bola Tinubu and Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun yesterday expressed sadness over the passing of the veteran thespian.

A statement in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, reads: “It is with a heavy heart that President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the passing of Nigeria’s creative icon, Mr. Jimi Solanke, who died on Monday.

“Baba Solanke was an actor, dramatist, folk singer, poet, and playwright.

“President Tinubu mourns the literary and cultural virtuoso and describes him as one of the finest of Nigeria’s creative artistes and bastion of our cherished mores and cultural heritage.

“The President condoles with the Solanke family and all those who mourn this painful loss while praying for the peaceful repose of the beloved departed.”

Governor Abiodun described Solanke’s death as a colossal loss to the theatre community and Ogun State.

The governor also condoled with the family of the veteran poet, and dramatist, as well as the people of Ipara-Remo in Remo North Local Government Area of the state.

He noted that the departed actor would be remembered by many for his television programme: “Story Land” on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

In a statement in Abeokuta, Abiodun said the late Solanke had “consistently put the name of the state in the limelight for very good reasons, especially in the arts right from his days at the University of Ibadan (UI) School of Drama”.

The governor urged relatives and other loved ones of the late poet to celebrate his life and preserve the many legacies he left behind for generations yet unborn.

Solanke’s versatility shone through epic performances in such plays as “Death and the King’s Horseman”; “Kurunmi”; “Kongi’s Harvest”; “The Divorce”, and “Ovaramwen N’ogbaisi”.

His captivating stagecraft and theatrical brilliance earned him accolades and recognition, both locally and internationally.

The Oxford Times hailed him as a “Skilled Nigerian Actor,” and the New York Times recognised him as the star of an “Excellent Troupe” during a performance of Wole Soyinka’s play, “Kongi’s Harvest”.

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