By Yinka Olatunbosun
Concrete Communications Studios is revving up for the formal launch of 100 songs composed and performed by the multi-disciplinary artist and journalist, Benson Omowafola Tomoloju, which have been captured in an Application (App) which was released a few days ago on Google App. Scheduled to hold on Saturday August 29 on Zoom, the songs are just a fraction of his body of unreleased songs. Produced by Ropo Ewenla, the work is a product of years of networking with students and colleagues.
“It is quite significant and exciting that Concrete Communications and her partners have deemed it necessary to compile these songs,’’ he began. They are a hundred in number. But the hundred are just a fraction between a quarter and a third of my entire repertoire of original compositions. I’m not sure we can recover all. But we’ll try. So far, in quality and magnitude, and also for its combination of the philosophical and the popular, I think we have here a bumper harvest of music with a cross-over appeal.
“This collection of 100 songs of Ben Tomoloju is dedicated to that big family known and referred to as KAKAAKI, to everyone who has been positively connected with her from the cradle on June 8, 1980, till the present moment.
Tomoloju maintained that the body of work celebrates humanity and reflects his own unwavering passion for music.
“One other point I shouldn’t miss out is the relief I’m going to have now from singing these songs live day-in-day-out to recorder-wielding project and research students from our Universities and Colleges of Education who are working on any of my numerous plays. They travel from various parts of the country to my home or Theatre Base and I’m singing as they record. Until now I also explored recording on my own and sending it to students on-line. Yeah, I love the interaction with the young people. Could be very exciting. But right now, I think I can do without the stress. They only need to log in on 100 Songs Of Ben Tomoloju and harvest whatever songs they require from ‘Jankariwo,’ ‘Mujemuje,’ ‘Askari,’ ‘Iphigenia Finds Aiyelala,’ ‘Amona,’ ‘This Proverb’ and any other play of mine,’’ he said.
Tomoloju was born in Ilaje LGA, the coastal and riverine belt of Ondo State, Nigeria, in 1954. He attended various elementary schools in the old Western Region of Nigeria. He moved to Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti in 1968-72-74 for his School Certificate and Higher School Certificate respectively. It was in this secondary school that he began to exhibit his potentials as an all-round artist with great prospects. He wrote his first play, “The Son of A Witch and Sweet Poison” at the age of 18, under the tutelage of the renowned poet, Prof. Niyi Osundare. He later obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literary Studies from the University of Ibadan (1975-78) where he also had a comprehensive training in Theatre Arts.
Thereafter, Ben Tomoloju was engaged in numerous occupations, especially in the areas of education and journalism. He taught English Language and Literature in English at Saka Tinubu Memorial High School, Orile-Agege, Lagos between 1979-82, even as a freelance journalist.
As a teacher, he established The Kakaaki Performers on exactly June 8, 1980 for the development of young talents from his school and other institutions in Lagos State. Quite a good number of those budding talents are icons in their own rights in the performing arts and the media today. They include Jahman Anikulapo, Antar Laniyan, L’oni Spak Awoyokun, Ola Tehinse, Leo Onwordi, Bayo Fayaman Adesewo, Kay Tomoloju, Akeem Anisere, Abiodun Ayoyinka (Papa Ajasco), Kola Olawoyin, Sunday Adewale and a much younger generation which includes Salome Eketunde, Omo-Oba Jerry Adesewo, Tomi Ogunjobi and Toyin Adewale. Kakaaki, having been founded 40 years ago, is actually the milestone for this project on Ben Tomoloju’s 40 years of creative exploration.
He is the pioneer of professional arts journalism in Nigeria, a renowned playwright and theatre director. Some of his plays have been performed on the international stage just as he has also represented Nigeria in various cultural missions in Europe, the USA, Latin America, and parts of Africa.
Ben Tomoloju’s published plays include ‘Jankariwo,’ ‘Askari,’ ‘Flowers’ Introspect,’ ‘We Only Went in Search of Happiness,’ ‘Let The Vanguards Come To Town,’ ‘Just Married,’ ‘Aminatu: The Legendary Queen of Zazzau.’ He co-authors ‘A Vote for Tolerance with Jahman Anikulapo Anikulapo and a book of Yoruba folktales ‘Ogorun-Un Itan Lati Ile Yoruba’, sponsored by Dr. Bukar Usman Foundation.