(BABA SALA GBENDU-GBENDU IKUN BI OYAA)
He needs no introduction, and I don’t think we need to beat so much about any bush about rendering complements and accolades he truly deserves.
For students of history, Moses Olaiya’s memory can never go or fade away from our hearts just like that in many more years to come, and for those that knew him very well in his active years as a comedian while he was alive, Moses OLAIYA, popularly known as Lamidi Baba Sala, was the greatest comedian in Nigeria’s history.
His appearance alone would knock you out of your feet even before he talks. His huge-size butterfly-like neck tie, his spectacular pair of wire-work eyeglasses and gigantic wristwatch would always add to his comic appearances. His big pot-like tummy too would do the comic works for him anytime he appeared on set. He was indeed a very talented and funny man who knew how to make us laugh and crack our ribs on set and on stage.
With his never-lit tobacco pipe dangling in his mouth, Lamidi would always struggle with his stage wife, Wosila Iya Sala, who always gave him the tough and rough times for his freak stupidities.
Baba Sala’s only dear friend, Adisa Oko Emily Onikaba, would always rescue him in times of trouble and in periods of consequences of his stupidity. Don’t let us forget baba Legbaa, Emily Onikaba and Karile. In fact, Baba Sala’s AWADA KERIKERI theatre group was packed with great talented actors and actresses of all times.
Till today, many still don’t know that the Lamidi Baba Sala taught our one-and-only King Sunny Ade how to play guitar.
Just like legendary ALI in the Arabian comedy collection, Lamidi would always try his best to beat and outsmart whoever that wished to play upon his intelligence. He adapted ALI AND THE ANGEL, a story we read in primary school book in those days. Not only that, he adapted stories from Bible, and books like Alawiye and Oxford English Textbooks of those days…, to mention few.
Lamidi Baba Sala really struggled hard to take film industry to higher level in his time but the dead blow that leakage of ORUN MORU did to him nearly rocked his boat to the end and that obviously set him back in his chosen career.
But against all odds, the Ijesha born comedian never gave up in the eyes of the storm. The rest is the history till today.
These are few from his stable:
TOKUNBO and others.
TOKUNBO was one of the greatest I love from his collection of comedy. It was indeed a story of his own Coming to America.
Lamidi Baba Sala was set to travel to the USA to visit a friend, Adisa, who had stayed in the USA for years.
Baba Sala, in his preparation, he put a partying prayers together in his house to wish himself a safe trips. In his habitual manner of overdoing everything, he’d sent invitations to his church and mosque congregations for prayers which nearly turned violent when Wosila Iya Sala, his wife, sought an intercession to prevent Lamidi from running after women when he get to the America.
A rowdy drumbeat of traditional Egungun worshippers sent the church and mosque people away while the Egungun jamboree stole the show completely. That made the pastor, on citing the Egungun worshippers, to call him Lamidi Alaseju. Truly, he overdid everything.
Baba Sala finally got to the US and Adisa threw a very lavished welcome party for him. Adisa’s other friends were invited from all across the states to grace the occasion, but Baba Sala in his foolish manner disappointed them all when he rubbished the table they set before him, he walked away and brought out from his luggage ‘garri’ and dried fish he took along from Nigeria,
“Tan ni o mo je ewe tutu ti o maa y’agbe dudu”.
He rubbished the table full of salad meal of all types. Some of the invitees even referred to his ‘garri’ as ‘a white stuff like sawdust’. Baba Sala never cared as much as he didn’t taste from their uncooked green leafs they called salad ‘n’ lettuce.
Baba Sala never behaved as if he wasn’t in his country home, Nigeria, where anything goes, he once attempted to beat Adisa’s wife who came to caution him to reduce the deafening volume of the sound system. He thought he was still in Nigeria.
Baba Sala being a stack illiterate always would misunderstand Adisa and all people he came across, he was full of himself and obviously too foolhardy. And in less than two weeks, he was back to Nigeria when he realised he did not fit to live abroad. He was a foolish curious person who never seen himself done anything wrong at any time. He returned home untimely only to ‘form’ as one who he wasn’t.
To the surprise of everybody including his wife, Wosila.., Baba Sala behaved and pretended like he had forgotten the cultures of his people in two weeks he spent in America.
TOKUNBO was a travesty and indeed parodical demonstration of what the Yoruba people loved to call AWON A-D’EKO-D’ERE.
Lamidi Baba Sala shall forever be missed as no one out of the new breed of comedians has yet beaten his record.
Oladele Idowu Joseph