Jimi Solanke dies at 82

By Tosin Brown

Veteran actor, dramatist, folk singer, poet, playwright and master raconteur Jimi Solanke, has passed on at the age of 82.

According to report, he breathed his last on Monday, February 5, 2024.

He was said to have died this morning after a brief illness while enroute to the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital.

The late Jimi Solanke was born on July 4, 1942 in Lagos Island, where he grew up in a musical environment. He started writing songs in secondary school and later joined various bands in Ibadan, where he also attended the University of Ibadan and obtained a diploma in drama.

He is widely regarded as a master storyteller who has preserved and promoted the rich culture and heritage of Nigeria through his captivating performances. He is also a pioneer and a mentor in the Nigerian art scene, having worked with some of the most influential figures such as Wole Soyinka, Ola Balogun, and Demas Nwoko.

In  1969, he moved to the United States, where he formed a group called The Africa Review, which showcased the beauty and diversity of African culture. He also performed as a solo artist and gained recognition as a storyteller by CNN. He returned to Nigeria in 1986 and continued his career in film, television, radio, and stage. He starred in several movies such as Kongi’s Harvest, Sango, and Shadow Parties. He also hosted popular TV shows such as Storyland and Maggi Family Menu. He composed and sang many songs, some of which were recorded by famous musicians such as Roy Chicago. He also wrote and recited poems, some of which were featured at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival.

Solanke was a father of seven children and a grandfather of many. He lived by the philosophy of being true to oneself and one’s art. He was passionate about educating and inspiring the younger generation of artists and preserving the legacy of Nigerian art. He was a recipient of many awards and honors, such as the National Merit Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Order of the Niger.

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