Tunji Oyelana (born October 4, 1939) is a multi-award winning Nigerian musician, actor, folk singer, composer and once a lecturer at the University of Ibadan.
In the 1960s, Tunji Oyelana was one of the original members of Wole Soyinka’s 1960 Orisun Masks. He calls Soyinka “Oga”, meaning “boss” in Yoruba. He was one of the original Soyinka actors travelling all over the world to interpret roles in such plays as Kongi’s Harvest, The Road, Madmen and Specialists and Opera Wonyosi, to the delight of audiences.
He later burst out on his own as an ethnomusicologist, producing folk music which ruled the airwaves in the 70s and 80s with a group famously known as Tunji Oyelana and The Benders.
Many of his albums would qualify as classics in their genre, deploying native wisdom, folklore and wit, mixed with sparse syncopation and antiphony, relying heavily on the human voice and its inflections to lift the spirit.
Radio stations loved to play his music and listeners derived much pleasure from them.
He is the leader of the defunct Benders Band whose popular numbers include Agbal’ode, Alaaru to nje buredi, Guguru perere, epa perere, Mo lo Soko, Which Way Africa?, Osekere, Okete, Enia Bi Aparo, among others
SURA THE TAILOR
In the 1980s, Oyelana also acted on television (NTA Ibadan particularly), perhaps the most famous of his engagements in this regard is a sitcom titled Sura de Tailor in which he played the lead role. Many would recall the theme song of that programme which soon caught on with viewers: “Sura de tailor, oko Adunni, the friend of Major, expert in Toro, danshiki, and buba, also English coat and trouser o…. Sura de Tailor is your frie-n-d.”