Ade-Yemi Ajibade was a Nigerian playwright, actor, and director who, after settling in England in the 1950s, made significant contributions to the British theatre and the canon of Black drama.
Yemi Ajibade was born on July 28, 1929, in Ibadan, Nigeria, and died on January 24, 2013, in Lagos, Nigeria, where he was buried. In a career that spanned more than half a century, he directed and wrote several popular plays, in addition to appearing in a variety of dramas for television, theatre, radio, and film.
Profile Summary of Yemi Ajibade
Adeyemi Olanrewaju Goodman Ajibade
28 July 1929
Ìlá Òràngún, Osun State, Nigeria
|Died||24 January 2013 (aged 83)
|Other names||Yemi Goodman Ajibade; Ade-Yemi Ajibade|
|Occupation||Playwright, actor, and director|
Waiting for Hannibal
Adeyemi Ajibade Biography and Educational Background
Adeyemi Olanrewaju Goodman Ajibade, a royal prince of the house of ràngn from the town of lá ràngn in Osun State, in the south-west of Nigeria was born and raised as a royal prince of the house of ràngn. He attended Abeokuta Grammar School before continuing his education in London, where he attended Kennington College of Law and Commerce (1955), The Actors’ Workshop (1960), and the London School of Film Technique (now the London Film School) from 1966 to 1968, where he was a contemporary of filmmaker Horace Ové (who has recalled that they were the only two black students in the school at the time).
Adeyemi Ajibade Works
Ajibade began acting in radio dramas for the BBC African Service as soon as he arrived in the United Kingdom. As Fiona Ledger, a producer, recounted back in 2007: “It was in 1960 that the late BBC producer John Stockbridge was approached by the Head of the African Service and asked to create a piece of drama for African listeners. Stockbridge agreed. He came up with the idea for a television series, a soap opera set in London. Although no copy of the novel has survived, “Yemi Ajibade” played the role of a social worker, traveling around England and mediating disputes.”
In 1963, he was acclaimed as “one of the most promising actors from West Africa” for the continued development of his acting profession.
In 1973, Ajibade appeared in a production of Lindsay Barrett’s Backblast!, which was filmed for a special edition of the BBC Two arts and entertainment program Full House devoted to the work of West Indian writers, artists, musicians, and film-makers. The cast included Yulisa Amadu Maddy, Leslie Palmer, Eddie Tagoe, Karene Wallace, Basil Wanzira, and Elvania Zirimu, among others. Ajibade was
His acting credits would eventually include roles in television series such as Armchair Theatre (where he appeared in “The Chocolate Tree” by Andrew Sinclair in 1963, alongside Earl Cameron and Peter McEnery), Danger Man (1965), Dixon of Dock Green (1968), Douglas Botting’s The Black Safari (1972), Prisoners of Conscience (1981), Silent Witness (1996), and Danger Man (1965). He would also work on films such as The Black Safari (1972), The Fosters (1976), Prisoners of (2007).
In 1966, Ajibade led a delegation of British, West Indian, and African members to the World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal, where he directed a production of Obi Egbuna’s play Wind Versus Polygamy. In 1977, Ajibade served as supervisor of Drama Events at the 2nd World Black Arts Festival in Lagos, where he directed a production of Obi Egbuna’s play Wind Versus Polygamy.
1975 saw him recruited as a professor by the Inner London Education Authority. He also took on the role of artistic director of the Keskidee Centre in north London, where he produced a production of Wole Soyinka’s The Swamp Dwellers, which ran from March 13–23, 1975.
His best-known plays include Parcel Post, which was performed by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in 1976–77 and was directed by Donald Howarth. The play featured Rudolph Walker, Christopher Asante, and Taiwo Ajai in a cast that included Rudolph Walker, Christopher Asante, and Taiwo Ajai among others (who has said that her own acting career started by chance “when she stumbled across Yemi Ajibade on a production”).
The play Fingers Only (originally titled Lagos, Yes Lagos when it was broadcast by the BBC in 1971 and published in Nine African Plays for Radio in 1973) was one of Ajibade’s subsequent works, and it was staged by the Black Theatre Co-operative (now NitroBeat) in 1982 at the Factory Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, under the direction of Mustapha Matura.
As well as the Albany Empire Burt Caesar and Ajibade directed a cast that included Judith Jacobs, Wilbert Johnson, and others in Waiting for Hannibal, which premiered in June 1986 at the Drill Hall and went on to receive a national tour. A Long Way From Home was produced by Nicolas Kent at the Tricycle Theatre in 1991, with Ajibade himself directing the cast.
Ajibade also worked in Ibadan during the late 1970s, most notably as a writer and director (1976–79) with the Unibadan Masques, an acting group affiliated with the University of Ibadan’s School of Drama
Iata Fahodzi celebrated its tenth anniversary in February 2008, and Ajibade was recognized as a leader of British-African theatre at an All-Star Gala held at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which included Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Dotun Adebayo, Dona Croll, Femi Oguns, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hugh Quarshie, and others.
Yemi Ajibade passed away in the United Kingdom on January 13, 2013, at the age of 83.
Adeyemi Ajibade Plays
- Award (unproduced)
- Behind the Mountain – first produced: Unibadan Masques, 1977
- Fingers Only – first produced: The Factory, Battersea Arts, London (Black Theatre Co-operative, directed by Mustapha Matura), 1982. As Lagos, Yes Lagos, BBC Radio, 1971.
- A Long Way from Home – first produced: Tricycle Theatre, London (directed by Nicolas Kent), 1991
- Mokai – first produced: Unibadan Masques, 1979
- Parcel Post – first produced: Royal Court Theatre, London, 16 March 1976
- Waiting for Hannibal – first produced: Drill Hall, London (Black Theatre Co-operative, directed by Ajibade with Burt Caesar), 1986
- Para Ginto (black version of Peer Gynt)– Tricycle Theatre, 1995
Adeyemi Ajibade Bibliography
- Fingers Only and A Man Names Mokai. Ibadan: Y-Book Drama series, 2001, 142 pp.
- Parcel Post and Behind the Mountain. Ibadan: Y-Book Drama series, 2001, 147 pp.
- Gwyneth Henderson and Cosmo Pieterse (eds), Nine African Plays for Radio (includes “Lagos, Yes Lagos” by Yemi Ajibade), Heinemann Educational Books, AWS, 127, 1973.
Adeyemi Ajibade Movies and TV Series
- 1962: The Sword in the Web (TV Series) – Jean
- 1963: Suspense (TV Series) – Joshua
- 1963: Armchair Theatre (TV Series) – Jacob Jones
- 1964: Festival (TV Series) – Aide to Lichee
- 1964: Espionage (TV Series) – Sergeant
- 1965: The Wednesday Play (TV Series) – Rebel soldier / Man in pub
- 1965: Danger Man (TV Series) – Barman
- 1966: The Witches – Mark (uncredited)
- 1967: Theatre 625 (TV Series) – Tsilla Mamadou
- 1967: Thirty-Minute Theatre (TV Series) – Observer
- 1968: 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia – New Lodger (uncredited)
- 1968: The Devil Rides Out – African (uncredited)
- 1968: Dixon of Dock Green (TV Series) – Roger Bunda
- 1969: The Power Game (TV Series) – Premier of Malta
- 1970: Carry On Up the Jungle
- 1972: The Black Safari (TV Movie)
- 1973: Full House (TV Series) – Black Blast! cast member
- 1974: Shatter – Ansabi M’Goya / Dabula M’Goya
- 1976: Shades of Greene (TV Series) – 1st Head boy
- 1976: The Fosters (TV Series) – Mr. Fuller
- 1981: Prisoners of Conscience (TV Series) – Walter Sisulu
- 1987: Truckers (TV Series) – Watchman
- 1989: Behaving Badly (TV Mini-Series) – Church Elder
- 1991: Smack and Thistle (TV Movie) – Pedro
- 1991: London Kills Me – Tramp
- 1993: Rwendo (Short)
- 1995: Skin (Short) – Neville
- 2002: Dirty Pretty Things – Mini Cab Driver (as Ade-Yemi Ajibade)
- 2004: Exorcist: The Beginning – Turkana Shaman
- 2007: Silent Witness (TV Series) – Samson Moyo
- 2007: Flawless – Guinean Negotiator (final film role)