The story of Nigeria’s entertainment industry will be incomplete without giving kudos to the veteran artiste, Jimi Solanke. Uncle Jimi, as the Storyland narrator is fondly called, still remains one of the core professionals the industry has ever produced. With multiple awards in his kitty, the 68-year old playwright, actor and narrator, has trained a couple of young stars, and he has been described as one of the most successful artistes in the country. In a chat with www.nigeriafilms.com over the weekend, Uncle Jimi recalled some of his memorable events, disclosing that being a theatre arts practitioner did not afford him a successful home front until later. He said based on the facts that most actors lived in penury then, no woman agreed to marry him. The story, however, changed in 1983 when he returned from a trip to the United States of America. “That was when I met a young lady that agreed to marry me. She actually changed my life and she is my wife till date. Her name is Mrs. Toyin Solanke,” he said. Although there is a 20-year age difference between the couple, the Ife, Osun State based thespian described Toyin as his most prized possession. He said: “She is not just my wife, she is more of my mother and sister…in fact, she’s my everything. I don’t know where I would have been without her.” www.nigeriafilms.com gathered that while Uncle Jimi was in United States, a citizen had a baby girl for him. “Yes, a woman had a child for me in America but she didn’t give me the child. The lady was actually the reason why I’ve decided not to go back to US,” he affirmed. Asked if he has seen the child since he broke up with the woman. He said: “She is a grown up girl now, but she has not been here (Nigeria), apparently because of what her mother must have told her about Africa and Nigeria. www.nigeriafilms.com further gathered that the relationship between Uncle Jimi and the lady in question hit the rocks because the lady wanted him to quit acting. She was of the opinion that African actors are fetish. Meanwhile, since Solanke stepped out of limelight about 12 years ago, he has been busy setting up theatre groups in rural areas of the southern Nigeria. He started his career, which blossomed for decades, as a singer after leaving school. The likes of Recks Williams and Orlando Julius were members of his group. He later extended his tentacles to acting, where he met the likes of Professor Wole Soyinka and others in 1965
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