By Abimbola Ogunnaike
Veteran actor, Jimi Solanke, mostly addressed as Uncle Jimi, has passed on Monday, 5 February, 2024, just 59 days to his 82nd birthday.
It was gathered that Solanke, a folk singer, poet, and playwright, passed on while he was being taken to the Babcock University Teaching Hospital from his country home at Ipara Remo, in Remo North Local Government Ogun State.
He has been in and out of hospital since December until his death on Monday morning, 5 February, 2024.
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State confirmed the death of the actor in a statement issued on Monday, 5 February, 2024, to newsmen.
While mourning Solanke, Governor Abiodun condoled with the family, describing the death as a colossal loss to the theatre community in the state.
In the statement, 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 School of Drama”.
The Governor urged relatives and other loved ones of the late poet to celebrate his life and ensure that the many legacies he left behind are preserved even for generations yet unborn.
“Renowned for his tireless dedication to the arts, Baba Agba as he was widely known by his numerous fans across the country was a great ambassador of our dear state. He promoted the culture and tradition of the Yoruba race on the global stage with his drama, music, poetry, and other works of art.
“In 1961, he emerged as one of the pioneer members of the Orisun Theatre Group, founded by Professor Wole Soyinka. He went on to put in several decades of diverse exposure and experiences into the global entertainment industry across several broadcast stations, countries, and festivals, impacting the sector greatly.”
Solanke’s versatility shone through epic performances such as “Death and the King’s Horseman,” “Kurunmi,” “Kongi’s Harvest,” “The Divorce,” and “Ovaramwen Nogbaisi.”
The Oxford Times hailed him as a “Skilled Nigerian Actor,” and the New York Times recognized him as the star of an “Excellent Troupe” during a performance of Wole Soyinka’s “Kongi’s Harvest.”
The late Solanke was also a songwriter, performer, visual artist, and storyteller.
Born on July 4, 1942, in Ipara Remo, Jimi Solanke’s artistic journey began as a pioneer member of the Orisun Theatre Group, founded by the renowned Wole Soyinka, in 1961.
His contributions to the global entertainment industry spanned seven decades, leaving an indelible mark on various platforms, from Western Nigeria Television in the 1960s to international festivals in Senegal and Algeria during the 1970s.