Happy 80th Birthday Sir Jimi Solanke

by Duchess Magazine

Jimi Solanke was born on July 4, 1942 in Lagos State, Nigeria. He is a Nigerian film actor, dramatist, folk singer, poet and playwright. He is from Ipara-Remo in Ogun State, Nigeria.

Solanke obtained a Diploma certificate in drama from the University of Ibadan.

He later left for the United States, where he created a drama group called The Africa Review which focused on African culture. Members of this group were known for performing in black African schools, clad in Yoruba costumes.

Solanke started his career in Los Angeles, California. He was widely accepted and referred to as the “master storyteller”.

He came back to Nigeria in 1986 with three of his drama group members to work with the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA after which he bagged the lead role lots of Ola Balogun’s films. He even featured in the film of Kongi’s Harvest by Wole Soyinka.

Solanke was previously married to a woman who bore him children but later passed on. He met his current wife, Margaret at the National Theatre during the screening of the play “The Divorce,” by Wale Ogunyemi which he played the lead in 1979. They later got married on September 17, 1983. Solanke and Margaret’s union is blessed with four children.

In 2021, he organised a project in his native home which he calls “Ibudo Asa”. The project was targeted at training Nigerians to be folklore musicians so as to enliven the genre.

According to him,“ I am training Nigerians to be folklore musicians, because I do not want that genre of music to die. I am not going to be here forever. So, I want to leave a part of me behind.
Part of the curriculum is to train children as early as five years to express themselves through folklore so that we can have plenty of Jimi Solanke.
Folklore music is more lucrative now than when I started; then, people pay N100 to watch per episode, but now it is a different thing.

To attest to the fact that folklore music is more lucrative now, recently, a particular local record label paid me royalty for one of my tracks done in 1979,” he recounted.

Solanke relocated to his hometown four years ago to setup a theatre resort which will be dedicated on his 80th birthday which comes up on Monday 4th, July, 2022.

Also, to celebrate his 80th birthday, two books will be released. One is a Photo book and the other, a Biography titled “The Indestructible”, a name Prof. Wole Soyinka had given him.

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