Apart from sharing the same first names, actors Yemi Shodimu and Yemi Solade have lots of other things in common. They are both January children, born two days apart on January 29 and 31 respectively. They are also Independence children, born in 1960, the year their country untied itself from the apron strings of Britain. What’s more, they are both talented actors, pleasuring millions of Nigerians as consummate entertainers for over half of their six decades on terra firma.
Though some people often wrongly assume that the acting career of Shodimu who clocked 60 on Wednesday started with his role as ‘Ajani’ in Tunde Kelani’s ‘O Le Ku’, he had been in the game long before then.
From Abeokuta, Ogun State, the actor, broadcaster, closet musician and culture activist spent part of his early years hanging out with Chief Ebenezer Obey’s Band before deciding to formalise his training in the arts. He studied Dramatic Arts at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). He capped it with a Masters in Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. He had previously appeared in ‘Village Headmaster’. He also spent some years at NTA Ibadan before moving to Kelani’s Mainframe Productions.
Apart from ‘O Le Ku’, he also featured in Mainframe’s ‘Koseegbe’, ‘Saworo Ide’, and ‘Agogo Ewo’ before setting out on his own. He established his outfit, Yemi Sodimu and Associates and produced exciting TV shows including ‘Gbarada’ and ‘Panadol Extra’ show.
Though his dream of joining Evangelist Ebenezer Obey’s band after his youth service didn’t materialise, Sodimu’s love for music, mainly that referred to as ‘Old School Music’, burns ever so brightly. He has compered several of such ‘Old School Music’ shows and sometimes often take some numbers alongside the artists on stage. You will most likely find him at Freedom Park, Lagos Island whenever there’s any Highlife music show, affirming the correctness of the Yoruba saying, ‘akuru ye jo’ with his dancing skills.
After seemingly conquering the highest mountains in entertainment, the TV presenter, producer, director, actor, compere and businessman had a stint in politics. He worked with the ex-Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel as a Special Adviser until he left office in 2011. After that, he tested his mettle as an entrepreneur by producing bottled palm wine called ‘Emu Shobam’.
A stickler for standards and professionalism, he consistently highlights the flaws of the country’s movie industry. He has always spoken out against piracy, the cankerworm of Nollywood.
Little wonder then that accolades poured in as he clocked 60 on Wednesday. Actress and TV presenter, Feyikemi Niyi-Olayinka who starred alongside him as Asake in ‘O Le Ku’ volubly praised him in a Facebook post.
She wrote: “So, my Ajani is 60 today? Wow! I remember when I met him on the set of the award-winning movie ‘OLEKU’ by Mainframe Films and TV Productions in 1997(23years ago). Made me feel at home, being my first time in a movie, A very good role interpreter (which made many people think we actually got married !lol!), a versatile broadcaster, MC per Excellence, a wonderful friend and brother. What else do I wish for that God hasn’t given to you? Good health? Plenty of money? Peace of mind? Happiness? Fruitfulness? All these God will multiply in hundredfold as you step into your Diamond Year. May you remain forever Young and Handsome. Happy Birthday Uncle Yemi Shodimu. My Ajani ojo, ojo weliweli. Ekun oko Àsàké.”
Media entrepreneur, Fidelis Duker also had high words of praises. “Happy 60th birthday to the young, old man, Alagba Yemi Shodimu. The Egba man, quintessential actor, broadcaster, compere, father, husband, custodian of culture and of course a fellow good tennis player. You have been an inspiration and role model to many. In the about 30 years I have known you, you have remained a distinguished colleague with an unparalleled commitment to excellence. An epitome of humility and panache. A good dresser, orator and having awesome command of the English language. A trained thespian. As you celebrate today, I wish you the best of celebration. As per that age-long movie role I have always promised you …. be rest assured it will be this year big brother. Congratulations.”
It’s equally been an impactful six decades for Solade, also an Ife alumnus who will celebrate his Diamond anniversary on Friday, January 31.
The versatile actor who has had roles in movies including ‘Iriri Mi’, ‘Madam Dearest’, ‘Pasito Deinde’, ‘Thunderbolt’, ‘Voiceless Scream’, ‘Oloture’, ‘Elevator Baby’, ‘Esin Obinrin’ and several others was born and raised in Lagos. He went to St. Thomas Aquinas Primary School and Birch Freeman Secondary School, both in Surulere.
He did his A’ levels in the UK at Tyhill College in Coventry and at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science (OSCAS) before eventually studying Dramatic Arts Ife.
The actor who has paid his dues in moviedom got his first experience as an actor in a 45-minute monologue on stage. The production titled ‘Crazy Youngie’ saw him play the passenger, driver, and conductor in an imaginary bus.
The Pioneer President of Theatre Art and Motion Picture Producers Association of Nigeria (TAMPPAN), has strong views on issues and never shies away from expressing himself strongly.
Commendably, he has always lived on acting though he once voiced out that it could no longer pay his bills. The actor’s trademark teddy beard and bald head make him easily recognisable is the toast of movie buffs.
As the two Yemi celebrate their Diamond Anniversaries, TCN joins millions of their fans across the globe to wish them more prosperous years.