By Tunde Alabi-hundeyin Dudu
I met Uncle Tunji for the first time in 1973. Yes 46 years ago. I was a fresh student into University of Ibadan. My subsidiary was Theatre Arts. Uncle Tunji was the sound technician of the theatre.
In those days, I don’t know if they still do, the department used to have a single festival production for the year. Oke Langbodo, adapted by Wale Ogunyemi, was the choice for that year. I acted Agbako. So, every night I would shout, scream and yell at the top of my voice for a dramatic entrance and then proceed to wrestle 7 hunters and strange elements.
My throat was burning and voice becoming hoarse. One night after performance, Uncle Tunji tapped my shoulder and asked me to come to his office in the morning. That’s was how I found my way into his tiny studio at the back of the stage filled with a lot of sound equipment. He asked me to make various sounds for a period. And I left.
In the night I was ready for another round of throat torture, when Uncle Tunji came to me backstage and said don’t scream tonight, just look fearful and bully them as usual.
Lo and behold, as I crashed onto the stage, I just heard my voice resounding amidst thunder strikes and all sorts of effects filling the whole arena with very fearsome acoustics. I became his junior friend and acolyte from that day.
It was the age of analogue and was very very effective. Unlike today when you can do a whole album on the laptop.
This was a season of aesthetics and emerging vision of Afrocentrism in Nigeria theatrical history. Spearheaded by Wole Soyinka, Abiola Irele , Biodun Jeyifus, Kole Omotosho, OSOFISAN , Bayo Oduneye , Dapo Adelugba, Jimi Solanke , Tunji Oyelana etc.
I was thrilled to see Uncle Tunji a few years ago at a cultural event on Freedom Park Lagos, when he flew in from London to perform. We shared cold drinks and as he sang on stage, I was filled with nostalgia of the age when I was moulded. The age I named myself DUDU. A totem I still carry till today.
I celebrate a man today at a graceful age of 80 who is in all respects a folk hero and a national asset.
I wish musicians of today will listen more to the wealth of creativity of people like him and understand that celebrating drugs, opulence, half nudity, throwing fake money around is a shallow well of creativity. It does not endure.
Pa TUNJI OYELANA. God will continue to shower you with kindness and his grace. I salute your dedicated wife too. All of us who know you know that you have peace in your home. It’s at the root of your longevity. E pe fun wa sir. God bless you and yours.
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