Legendary Nigerian performer Jimi Solanke passed away early Monday morning at age 82.
The iconic dramatist, musician and folk artist succumbed to a brief illness while being rushed to the hospital near his Ogun State home, in Ipara Remo, Remo North Local Government Area of Ogun State to Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilisan
Solanke was a towering figure in Nigeria’s arts and culture, enjoying a vibrant career spanning over 50 years. Known affectionately as “Elder Jimi,” his acts brought traditional Yoruba performance styles to the world stage through numerous plays, operas and other works.
Starting in the 1960s, Solanke helped pioneer contemporary Nigerian folk opera. He later gained fame as lead actor of the traveling theater troupe Ori Olokun in the 1970s and founded the Pan-African Orchestra in 1995.
His performances were marked by a fusion of traditional music, satire and mythology. Solanke toured globally, starring in award-winning plays like “Oba Moro” and “Ore-meta.” He also produced several popular TV shows and over 20 albums.
In 1998, UNESCO appointed Solanke an original Member of the Foundation For African Culture and Intangible Heritage. He used the platform to promote and preserve Yoruba culture through youth arts education programs and foundations.
As his home region of Remo, Ogun State mourns, the entire Nigerian arts world grieves the passage of a creative visionary. His colorful masks and stirring stage presence has left an indelible mark on African culture.