Segun Olusola, one of Nigeria’s best known culture aficionados, broadcasters, patron of the arts and diplomats, has died. Mr. Olusola died earlier, Thursday June 21, 2012. A versatile and pioneering figure in Nigeria’s theatre, he was also an extraordinary broadcaster, gallery owner, and an engaged culture activist. A family friend told SaharaReporters that Mr. Olusola had passed on after “a brief illness.”
Born March 18, 1935, Mr. Olusola’s influence was felt in various sectors of Nigerian and African cultural practices. Most Nigerians know him as the brain behind one of the most enduring television drama programs in Nigerian history. However, his influence and role touched many other areas of the arts and culture industry.
Mr. Olusola, who earned several chieftaincy titles, worked as an actor, playwright, and was a founding member of “Players of the Dawn,” an amateur outfit that dominated the theater scene until the end of the 1950’s decade. The influence and dominance of “Players of the Dawn” was only eclipsed with the establishment in 1960 of “Masks,” a more professional theatre troupe founded by future Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.
Mr. Olusola had a reputation as one of Africa’s leading art connoisseurs. Thanks to his cultural enterprise, his family gallery, Ajibulu-Moniya Gallery, was transformed into one of Nigeria’s magnificent commercial galleries, which is open to the public.
Mr. Olusola’s resume as a brilliant broadcaster began in 1959 when he became one of Africa’s pioneering television broadcasters with the debut of television transmission in Nigeria at the WNTV, Ibadan.
Venturing into diplomacy, Mr. Olusola became Nigeria’s longest-serving ambassador to Ethiopia, representing his country in Addis Ababa from 1987 to 1993. Given his background in the arts, it was no surprise that his diplomatic career was marked by the deployment of the tools of arts and culture to pursue the goals of deepening relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Mr. Olusola was also a well known philanthropist and humanitarian. Using his intimate knowledge of refugee issues in Africa, he established the African Refugees Foundation in 1993, shortly after the end of his diplomatic service, to help ameliorate the condition of refugees in various African nations.
Mr. Olusola is survived by his wife, Beatrice Fehintola Olusola, his children – Ms. Aderonke Ajibulu-Moniya, Mr. Jimi Olusola III, Ms. Toyin Laditi, Mr. Sabitu Olusola, Ms. Toyin Adejumo, Mr. Samuel Olusola – and his immediate younger sister, Mrs. Biodun Kehinde.
A family source stated that burial arrangement will soon be announced by the family.