Faleti’s iconic roles in selected Yoruba movies
Alagba Adebayo Faleti was a tactful thespian, who featured in many Yoruba movies. Faleti, in many of his roles, represented the sage who is meant to correct, chastise the Yoruba race. He could be described as the voice of the elders and tradition. He drove his message home through the use of songs, proverbs, illustrations and historical inferences in all the various movies he acted. Faleti’s cameo are crucial to the denouement in all the movies he acted in. some of the songs he used in some movies, his character and the import of his roles to the society at large are examined here.
Saworoide is a satiric movie produced by Mainframe films International in 1999. Faleti played the role of an elderly palace staff, Baba Opalaba, who has been enmeshed in the culture and tradition of the community by listening to various conversations whenever he pretends to be sleeping. He served the community by using music to warn, correct and reprimand. The first song in the play is – Ko iye won,/Yoo ye won lola.
This song is based on the insistence of one of the chiefs, who wants the new King to make riches. Unfortunately, that is not a part of the customs of the community. The literary translation of this song is: ‘they do not understand now, they will understand tomorrow as such they would soon come to the realization of the consequences of their acts sooner or later. In whatever situation that we find ourselves, we are expected to gain wisdom from it:
Oro leye n gbo o/Eye o dede ba lorule o/Oro leye n gbo o!
This song tells the chief, who is regularly questioning him why he gathers information from his vantage point in the palace. This song is a way of admonishing people to be observant of what is happening in their environment.
Won ma le o (2ce)/Awon ijoye yii ma le o,/Ajantiele/…Yoo ma leyin (2ce)/Oro yii yo ma leyin,/Ajantiele
As typical of Nigerian and African politics, the electorate is usually deceived by the various candidates while they are seeking electoral offices. The rendition is a reminder to the political class of the repercussion of their various nefarious activities, which include heavy taxation, bribery and unfulfilled promises to the masses.
Alagisa n jo loru,/Boo pe ile a mo lola
This song is a futuristic warming of an impending shame for a person clad in rags. The significance of this song is that there are many people, who carry out dastardly acts in the dark but unfortunately, the day would break in a short while for everyone to see all that they assumed was hidden.
Asa n ba eyele sere,/Eyele n yoo,/Eyele n dunnu iku
Just like the biblical saying about the relationship between light and darkness, so is the relationship between the hawk and the pigeon. The song is a description of the undiscerning relationship of the hawk and the pigeon. Ironically, the pigeon does not know that death looms in the same relationship. This is a call on people to be discerning in their relationships:
Ojo to ro,/Ojo to ro ti o da,/Olorun lo ma iye eniti yoo pa!
This metaphorical song is connected with nature. Many people would definitely be affected by torrential rain. However, it is only God who knows the exact number of people who would be drenched in the rain. Similarly in Iwogbe, a movie produced by Bayowa Films and Music International, Faleti opens the movie with a short prelude. He plays the role of Alhaji Kamarudeen Koya, also known as Abulesowo, a real estate mogul, who believes in tradition. Koya, in the movie, represents the sanctity of traditional beliefs in being morally upright despite the societal pressure for corrupt enrichment. Koya is eventually helpful to his client, who suffers insanity.
Some of the songs that Koya sings in the movie include: Yoo san ko san,/Olorun ma fi were dan wa wo!/Yoo san ko san!
According to the Yoruba saying: ‘were dun wo loja, ko se bi lomo,’ meaning, an insane person is better watched in the market square rather than having him or her as a child. This prayer song is beseeching God that we should not be inflicted with insanity, whether curable or not.
Ile onirikisi,/Iri ni yoo wo!
This song admonishes hypocrites and evildoers to desist from their callous ways else all of their investments would be destroyed in their lifetime: Eye tun ile se, (2ce)/Ere ikoko tun ile se demi o/Eye tun ile se!
Nobody that loves a messy neighbourhood. This song is a call on the pigeon to make the house tidy for his arrival. This metaphorical song is calling on people to ensure that their character can prepare the way for them ahead future occurrences.
In Ejalonibu, a movie written by Yemi Ademokoya and produced by Yemad Films Productions in 2001, Faleti is introduced towards the end of the movie as Baba. As typical of the Yoruba, ‘oro ti a ni ki Baba ma gbo, Baba ni yoo pari re,’ meaning, ‘the father of the house would be finally consulted to resolve all the knotty issues that were previously hidden from him.’ The intervention of Faleti as Baba resolves the tension that has built up between the siblings. The younger brother is the surrogate father to the son of his elder brother. They have a prior meeting before coming to a larger meeting, where the elders ask the son, who he prefers to his father. The son says since the elder brother pays his mother’s bride price, he remains his father. The only song that Faleti leads in the movie goes thus: Eru mi papo ju,/O ri pe orun wo mi,/O gba eru fun mi, o dogun,/Igba ti a de ibuso,/Oni ki n gberu kale,/Ki n gbori lasan lo ile wa,/Eemo loru o,/Iwo ko loni o
The song is a call on those who trick their associates and convert what does not rightly belong to them as a forbidden parcel. This is one of the virtues fast receding in our society and it has become an albatross that has destroyed the concept of ‘Omoluabi,’ which sets boundaries in our relationship with everyone.
Asides playing roles that are adequately spiced with music, Faleti took part in other movies, where he evidently showcases the Yoruba culture, tradition and history. He wrote Thunderbolt (Magun), a Mainframe Productions film in 2001. He was an herbalist, who interprets the challenges of the Corps member, who is being maltreated Ngozi, an Igbo lady who is married to a Yoruba man, Yinka. She has been jinxed with Magun and the cultural difference really deepens the issues around the so-called “African AIDS”. However, the use of incantations is prominent in this movie.
Equally in another movie that he wrote, Afonja, produced by Remdel Optimum Communications in 2002, Faleti plays the role of Oyedokun, an herbalist, who dissuades the king, Alafin Aole, from cursing the Yoruba race, but the King insists. The movie is historical account about the role of Afonja, Aare Onakakanfo, in conquering the Alafin and how Ilorin was ceded to the Hausa/Fulani through the power drunkenness of Afonja.
Equally in the movie, Ite Oba, a movie directed by Segun Ogungbe and produced by Gemini Films in 2011, Faleti plays the role of Olori Ebi. The movie opens with the passing of the King and royal families are in contention for the throne. However, one of the princes, whose family is not selected by the oracle, wants to become the King at all cost. He eventually becomes King, but commits a taboo, which his son’s wife runs in error. The family eventually suffers a lot of catastrophic experiences and the king does not enjoy the throne. Olori Ebi comes with the wisdom of a sage and advises people to wait for their turn and not be forceful about seeking positions.
Faleti also featured in the movie Ijaodola, written by Lukman Balogun and produced by Jewiturn Movies Limited in 2011, where he is the King, who joins the ancestors and this leads to the struggle for the throne by the sons of the two Olori. He appears to the two warring factions, led by Balogun and Adifala, pleads with them to desist from destroying the town. He reminds his sons of the charge he gave them years ago and encourages them to be brave and guileless. He also warns them to be discerning so that they will not be misled by praise-singers and their advisers. This restores peace to the community eventually.
In 2015, Faleti stars as Asiwaju in the movie Eru Amukun (Sins of the Father), written by Kehinde Olayinka and produced by Olly-K Culture and Heritage Presentation. The movie is a re-enactment of the journey to independence of Feyinkogbon town from the British colonialist. The movie reflects the clamour of Nigerians, metaphorically represented by the Olugbon, Arese and Orangun agitators in the movie. The sage in Asiwaju makes him confront the colonialist with the frank truth about the desire of the locals for independence and he is permanently silenced through a gunshot. The colonialist also deploys divide and rule method to create conflict among the agitators by branding them traitors.
Faleti was a tree full of divergent fruits; he belonged to the generation of those who did not hold back all their talents to enrich the world. From his writings to his acting career to his expertise in spoken words, both in poetry and in the broadcast, he showed strength of character. Faleti was a staunch cultural colossus and his departure is a challenge for this generation to carry on the baton of promoting Yoruba culture, literature and language. Alagba Adebayo Faleti, orun ire o!
• Irantiola is PR specialist, Atọ́kùn, Yorùbá Lákọ̀tun, creative writer, culture advocate, poet and citizen journalist