Ajimajasan a.k. a. Baba No Regret, real name, Ola Omonitan, remember him? He was the rave of the moment in the 70’s and 80’s with his own brand of television comedy plays. Based in Ibadan, Oyo State, together with Papalolo, Aderupoko and the late Jacob, they ruled the South West, Kwara and Kogi states, with their comedy plays particularly on the television.
Daily Sun had a chat with Ajimajasan at his Cocoa House, Ibadan, Oyo State, office, recently. Excerpts:

“I am Ola-Omonitan, born almost seven decades ago in Ilesa Osun State. I started drama at age 18 with folk drama and not comedy. It was the time people watched play and burst into flames. Between 1956/59, in the time of WNBC/WNTV, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, Ayinla Olumegbon, Oyin Adejobi and Akin Ogungbe all of blessed memory, I was the youngest among them. Moses Olaiya was into juju music and magic then. I could remember vividly Chief Lere Paimo was with Oyin Adejobi, before he joined the Duro Ladipo group.”

Special gift /talent
“It is given by God to whoever He pleases. It’s not sold in the market, mine is different from yours. The most important thing is to discover it on time through prayer. Most of the plays I acted that made me popular were revealed to me by my grandmother in my dreams. Though, she died years long ago, yet the talent remains.”

Parental influence
“I was brought up in a polygamous home. Things were not smooth for me, because my father died at a very tender age. My mother picked the struggle frm there to make sure I become something in life. She vehemently rejected the idea of being an artist. After her effort to fix me back into school failed, she appealed to me to learn a trade. That led me to learning furniture at Oke-Ado in Ibadan. I still participated in drama, without the knowledge of my mother. I only learnt apprentice to satisfy my mother, my main interest then was in drama.”

At the beginning
“At the beginning, things were so rough, I worked like a jackal to make a name. I didn’t see money as a priority in theatre until now that everything has suddenly changed. I went into theatre to make people happy, learn, and share with the people, the experience of life at large. Ninety percent of the people who started drama then were there for fame while money was secondary.”

Omonitan group
“I formed my theatre group in 1968 with just a group of 10. I gave each member a stage name aside their real names, such as Arikuyeri, Oloye Ajere, Jacob, Papalolo, Aderupoko, Iya Ijebu, Adamson, Baba Eleko and my humble self Ajimajasan. We were together for years until three among them, Jacob, Papalolo, and Aderupoko decided to graduate, I supported them on their mission. Some of my fans then frowned at it,
believing that, their departure at that time would bring a set-back to Ajimajasan Theatre Group. I told them that God is the best knower.”

“I’m a human being, I am highly romantic. It is only my wife who can testify to that.”

Role model
“I am a Christian. I believe that without God I am nothing. I don’t know enough. I keep on learning everyday. The strength comes from God, from prayers. My strength comes from having a close relationship with God that is the strength I have.”

Best role
“I haven’t thought of it, before now, but the most important thing is, if you are not ready to take a role, don’t take it. If you take a role, then fall in love with that character and play it to the best of your ability. When you do that, remember that every role is challenging.
“I don’t have any best or the most challenging. In every role, you are named to be a different person, with certain attributes and circumstances. From experience, what you do is to create illusion of being another person. So it is challenging for any actor to play any role. My best play? I don’t know.”

How I came into limelight
“The play that really brought me out was Ogunlaye. Omo araye le, my first Yoruba play that was transmitted on the network. It was followed by Bata wahala, another popular comedy play of 52 episodes. It focused on the government programme, War Against Indiscipline (W A I). Through that I became a star. The name Ajii became a household name. Many people did not even know my real name.”
My ordeal
“I was on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, very close to Gurumaraj village. The last thing I knew was that my driver was struggling with the steering of the car. I said Baba owo Re ni mo fi emi mi le. The V- Booth Benz was a right-off, the driver died. How I survived the accident was beyond my imagination. The last thing I saw was a narrow gate to heaven. It was a drama beyond drama, before I went into coma. It was a terrible thing.”

Baba no regret
“I took on that name as a consolation when people started making jest of me after that incident, that things had turned upside down for me. The meaning of baba no regret is that, as an artiste, a comedian, who makes people laugh, and happy, I have no reason to regret. I have so much belief in God. I shall never regret being in the theatre industry in my life. I believe things will soon be okay for me, though, things are not as such rosy for me. That incident engulfed almost everything I laboured for. I was on treatment in the hospital for almost four years, because I had internal injury. I thank God for His mercy. I am gradually regaining my health. I am still alive, no regret.”

Home videos
“I never believe in castigating or condemning people’s work but, as an experienced artist, I believe in constructive criticism which will yield positive result to all. Truly, people release films, and market them, but the people who buy films are not fools. There comes a time the customers demand will dictate the type of film to produce. If you spend huge amount to produce a film and at the end, the demand for it is relatively low. You won’t need anybody to advise you to produce something worthy, before you go for a quality work. Most of the home videos now are commonly based on marital affairs. So within a few minutes, the audience can easily predict its end, because is no more a new thing to them. Let them touch other aspects of life. We artists, mirror life, while the life we mirror is not static let the home video makers diversify, produce meaningful films, which will hit the target of the audience.”

Leadership tussle in ANTP
“I don’t think serving people should cause any rancour among the members. They are intelligent people, they know what is good for the members. We artists mirror the society, as a result, in most cases we demonstrate maturity in most things we do. I have a very good relationship with them, they are doing well, I am current with ANTP. The outgoing president, Oga Bello, performed brilliantly, though, you can’t satisfy everybody. As a father, I am not to take side. If somebody like Dele Odule takes the mantle of the leadership of ANTP, I hope he would take the association into the promised land, based on his track record.”

My fans
“I assure them that God willing, I will be back to stage in full very soon. They should not relent in their efforts, because their prayers have positive impacts on me and my family. I will say without them, there wouldn’t be Ola-Omonitan (Ajimajasan). I love them all let them keep on supporting me with prayers. I assure them, my best is yet to come. I promise them more interesting comedy. I strongly believe in the Almighty God. I know He created me for a purpose and spearing my life in that accident was a clear demonstration that he made me for a special purpose.”

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