Final Wrap For Nollywood’s Biodun Aleja

by Araayo Akande

Tears have continued to flow since Saturday morning when news of the passing of production manager, choreographer and actor, Abiodun Aleja broke.

Aleja, the CEO of Compacte Schedulers and former staff of Dudu Productions and the National Theatre of Nigeria from 1984 to 2007, passed on Friday evening at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).

He had suffered a domestic accident previously, slipped into a coma but was reportedly recuperating before he passed on Friday.

Aleja’s untimely death has thrown the creative sector into another round of mourning, with friends and associates taking to social media to lament the dimming of his star at noon.

One of his close friends, the producer Yinka Akanbi, while commiserating with others, thanked them for coming to Aleja’s aid. 

He wrote: “I must acknowledge the speed with which we rose in support of Biodun Aleja. I can authoritatively say that if Biodun had to stay in the hospital for months more, there wouldn’t have been any fund issue because you all dipped your hands into your pockets and donated generously. Biodun didn’t die for lack of funds. I thank you all. You will never be stranded. You will find help before you seek.  A ku amumora o. Odun a jinna si odun o.”

Visual and performance artist, Mufu Onifade penned a heartfelt tribute. It read in part: “Biodun Aleja and I might not see often, but we were always talking and chatting. Until recently, I was permanently in Abuja, and he lived in Lagos. We talked more about Nigeria and her politics than our matters. He was passionate about the country and dispassionate about the enemies of our dear nation. He hated fake news and its purveyors with distaste.

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“He was an enigma in the film industry. Not many people knew he was a fantastic dancer. We met for the first time in 1985. I was a dancer with the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture. He belonged to another group called Troupe Afrikana led by Mama Lizzy. The group depended heavily on Biodun for each of their performance’s end bit. It was the era of breakdance, but what Biodun did with so much fluidity and excellence was Bata Break Dance – a fusion of traditional African and American contemporary dance steps. It was so unique and peculiar to Biodun Aleja only. 

“We called him Alefight adapted from his surname, Aleja. The name could literally translate as WE CAN FIGHT or THE ONE WHO CAN FIGHT, yet this was someone who could not even hurt a fly. The Biodun I knew was a passionate lover of peace. He did not wish to fight anyone. Neither was he happy at people fighting or keeping malice. May my friend’s gentle soul rest in perfect peace.”

Actress Iyabo Ojo on her part, wrote, “Goodnight, Biodun Aleja; darling friend! Painful, but what can we do? Rest peacefully.”

Comedian and academic, Hafiz Oyetoro wrote, “Biodun Aleja: He could fight. He fought gallantly. But God called him to rest…Rest well, Biodun.

Ekiti State Commissioner for Tourism and Culture and a renowned choreographer, Professor Rasaki Ojo Bakare also wrote, “Sail well, Biodun. I can see you choreographing the heavenly theatre.”

Producer, Semoore Badejo, also mourned the artist’s demise, declaring that: Abiodun Aleja! You celebrated me on your wall, March 31st, my birthday! I will drop a tear for you. Hmmmmmmm. Oku nsunkun oku, akasoleri nsunkun ara won. Don’t we all owe death this debt? And when death takes your contemporaries, you should understand the proverb it is sending across. How I wished RIP meant “Return if possible”. Ile aye Ile asan. Rest well, Biodun, my in-law. It’s a final wrap!”

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