Nigerians on Saturday paid tributes to renowned playwright, culture activist and scholar, Akinwunmi Isola, who died on Saturday in Ibadan.
Isola, who is renowned for his work in promoting the Yoruba language, died at 79 years.
Mr Toye Arulogun, the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, in an early reaction described the news of Isola’s death as a rude shock, saying the state government would soon react.
Dele Odule, a renowned actor, said that the late Isola lived a fulfilled life, adding he did well as teacher, actor and playwright.
“Death is natural and I don’t think there is anyone who will not die. Isola died at a ripe age and left a legacy of excellent performance in all he did. He was very relevant to his generation,” he said.
A socio-cultural group, Yoruba Youth Socio-Cultural Association(YYSA) described Isola’s death as a monumental loss.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Olawale Ajao, said Isola was one of the most respected Nigerian writers.
“Isola was extraordinarily gifted in imaginary literalism, a cultural icon and a renowned teacher who impacted morally, culturally and socially on the lives of Nigerian youths,” it said.
Society writer and publisher of Ovation Magazine, Mr Dele Momodu, said: “Sad to receive the news that Nigeria has lost the legendary writer Prof. Akinwunmi Isola, my former lecturer and supervisor; author of O Leku and Efunsetan Aniwura and others…..Rest in Peace Sir.’’
Isola was born in Ibadan in 1939 and attended Labode Methodist School and Wesley College, before proceeding to the University of Ibadan where he earned a B. A. in French.
He also bagged an M.A. in Yoruba literature from the University of Lagos in 1978 before commencing academic work as a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he was appointed professor in 1991.
Isola wrote his first play, Efunsetan Aniwura, between 1961 and 1962 while still a student at the University of Ibadan.. This was followed by the novel, O Leku, which was turned into a movie. He also wrote a play entitled, Olu Omo, published in May 1983 by Onibonoje Press & Book industries (Nig.) Ltd.
In 1986, he wrote and composed the college anthem for Wesley College, Ibadan.
Since then, he had written a number of plays and novels. He also ventured into broadcasting, creating a production company that has turned a number of his plays into television dramas and films.
In recognition of his immense contributions to literary production, he was in 2000 awarded the National Merit Award and the Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters. He was also visiting professor at the University of Georgia.
The late scholar was married and had four children.