Chief Hubert Adedeji Ogunde was born into the prestigious family of Jeremiah Ogunde and Mrs Eunice Ogunde on the 10th of July, 1916 in Ososa, Ogun State, Nigeria.
His father, Pa Jeremiah Ogunde was an Ifa worshipper and was among the founders of the Ososa town in Ogun State.
Ogunde was a Nigerian actor, musician, theatre manager, folklorist, playwright, teacher, activist policeman, forecaster and a prophet.
Ogunde started his educational career at the age of nine(9); he started his elementary school at St. John’s primary school in Ososa in 1925. He left the school in 1928 for St. Peter’s faji school, Lagos till 1930.
Chief Ogunde completed his formal education at Wasimi African school. He spent seven years altogether in acquiring his formal education. With his little education, his use of English and choice of words were superb and even surpasses that of many university graduates of that period.
OGUNDE AS A TEACHER
Ogunde was a classroom teacher at his Alma Malta, St. John’s primary school in Ososa for good eight(8) years(1933-1941). He taught the elementary classes where the special skills he used launched his talents in opera and folklore.
OGUNDE AS A POLICE OFFICER
He joined the Nigerian police force in 1941 after spending eight years as a classroom teacher. He was transferred to the police training school in Enugu on training which after his return, was appointed as a third-class police constable. Ogunde as a police constable, was faithful, diligent and serious with his job which led to his transfer to Force `C’ division in Ebute-meta.
In March 1945,Ogunde resigned from the Nigerian police force in order for him to pay full attention to acting and singing.
GENESIS OF OGUNDE’S DRAMA
The genesis of chief Ogunde’s drama can be traced as far back as the time he was teaching at St. John’s primary school where he used different teaching techniques and skills for his students to understand; He teaches with gesticulation of his whole body parts, which can be said, symbolizes acting.
On the 12th of June, 1944, “church of the lord” in Ebute-meta sponsored “The garden of Eden and the throne of God” which was his oldest opera and primarily focused on the happenings in the Bible. Mrs S Okeowo, Mr E Adeleke, Miss M Adenuga, Miss K Ashabi, Miss M Samuel Mrs King and miss Kotoye were the characters in the movie. Also, Messrs Ogunde and G. Kuyinu’s folk dance during the presentation of the drama was complimented by the people there present which were over 1, 000 in numbers.
Ogunde however established “African Music Research Party” after the success he recorded in the presentation of “The garden of Eden and the throne of God”.
He produced “Tiger’s Empire” in 1946 under his new company. The movie which was the first to be produced under his company experienced an enormous love from the people as it was showed throughout the Western Region of the country. Nigerian Police warned Ogunde for showing the movie and it was banned from being staged in Jos in 1946.
In lieu of the temptations and challenges he encountered, Ogunde relocated the “African Music Research Party” to Dahomey(now Benin Republic) which marked the genesis of his international outings.
Out of his curiosity to explore in the training, development and becoming a professional playwright, he and his late wife, Mrs Adesewa Ogunde(popularly known as MAMA EKO) applied for United Kingdom visas and the application was declined which led to his battle with the government. In 1947, both visas and passports were granted to him after he rigorously battled the government with the support of the media.
Chief Ogunde gained admission to Buddy Bradley school of Dancing in London, United Kingdom.
Later, the name of his company was changed to “Ogunde Theatre Party” and “Ogunde Concept Party” in1947 and 1951 respectively.
Ogunde produced “Song of Unity” in 1960 when Nigeria gained independence. Ogunde theatre was banned from 1964 to 1966 by chief Ladoke Akintola after a play titled Yoruba Ronu(Yoruba should think) was written by Ogunde and stage-played. The real cause of the play was actually when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was accused of treason by the then premier of the Western region. After “Yoruba Ronu”, he later produced “Otito Koro”(truth is bitter);which was an indirect reaction to his ban by Akintola.
The Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners(ANTP) initially known as “Union of Nigerian Dramatists and playwright” (UNDP) was founded by Ogunde. He was the founder of the Yoruba theatre.
AWARDS AND HONORARIES OF BABA OGUNDE
His exceptional success in drama and singing have fetched him several awards and honoraries which include;
- Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(OFR) in 1983 under Alhaji Shehu Shagari regime.
- Award of excellence from Ogun State government in 1987 and 1988.
- Honorary degree of Doctor of Literature in 1985 by University of Ife(now Obafemi Awolowo University).
- Doctor of Letters(Hons) in January 1986 by the University of Lagos.
Hubert Ogunde died on the 4th of April, 1990 at a hospital in London. According to history, he was in a location of a movie, “Mr Johnson” when he became ill and was transported on a private jet to United Kingdom where he finally gave up the ghost. He was 73 years of age as at the time of his death.
He was married to Mrs Idowu Philips a.k.a Iya Rainbow from 1960 to 1990.
Photos sources: Ogunde museum and Wikipedia
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