•Set To Celebrate 60th Birthday
+The Inauguration Of His Theatre School
Veteran Yoruba movie actor, Yinka Quadri will be celebrating his 60th birthday in a few weeks time. The frontline Yoruba movie icon has a lot going for him. He is the chairman of the Odunfa Movie Caucus made up of Ogogo and Abbey Lanre
The history of modern day Yoruba movies cannot be written without a mention of Quadri, who is the Agba Akin of Oro Kingdom in Kwara State, a traditional title he will be the first to hold in the history of Oro Kingdom.
He was recently a guest at our corporate office in Lagos. He gave us a historic account of how he got into acting. He also gave an account of how he became friends with the duo of Taiwo Hassan (Ogogo) and Abbey Lanre, who joined hands with him to form the prestigious Odunfa movie caucus. Yinka Quadri spoke extensively on many things you don’t know about him.
How would you describe your journey of 42 years on stage?
I was born into a rich family. We hail from Irepodun Local Government, Oke-Ola, Oro in Kwara State. They found it difficult to believe why I chose to be an actor. In those days actors were seen as beggars. I was learning to be a Draughtsman then. My dad felt I didn’t like the profession, he made me to supervise his business all in the efforts to divert my attention away from Theatre Arts. I met a friend, Fatai Alabi popularly known as Adekanbi while learning to be a draughtsman. Both of us did a lot of things relating to theatre arts together. Before my parents knew it was around 1984. I had rough in those 36 years.
Do you regret you chose acting as a career?
No, I have never regretted. The only issue is that as a celebrity people don’t allow us to live like we want to live. At every opportunity they gather round us. I thank God that among my colleagues and in the country as an actor, I am not a push-over. To God be the glory. Four of my children are graduates. I also have undergraduates. I have some of them in USA and some in United Kingdom. They all went there to study.
Years back, you bagged the chieftaincy title “Agba Akin of Oro Kingdom”. What is the significance of the title and has it in any way affected your acting career?
No, my becoming the Agba Akin of Oro Kingdom has not in any way affected me. To me it is part of goodwill. My late dad was Asaoye of Oro Kingdom. The Oloro of Oro Kingdom called me then that I would be made traditional High Chief.
He told me, he would have loved me to take xxx late dad’s chieftaincy title but he knows I have elders in my family and someone already holds that title in my extended family. To this end, he created the Agba Akin title. The King told me being a High Chief will not affect me in any way.
Tell us about your role in the establishment of Odunfa caucus?
Fatai Alabi, Apostle Abiodun Majekodunmi a.k.a Baba Kekere formed a group and held our first meeting on April 27, 1978, coincidentally, I will be celebrating my 36 years on stage on April 27. We had a leader, late Taiwo Olayinka a.k.a. Agbodorokun. He led us for 2 years. Initially we had no leader for about 6 months until someone introduced Taiwo Olayinka to us as some who had experience in theatre arts. He changed the name of the group from Afopina Theatre to Isale Oro Theatre Organisation. We learnt how to compose songs, beat drums and basics of theatre arts from him.
He also taught no how to commercialise the plays. Our group was the first group to present a special programme when LTV was established in 1979. The programme was called ‘Agbodorogun’. After 2 years he left us to form his own group. We formed another group known as Adetutu Theatre Organisation. There was an election as to who would lead the group.
Fatai Alabi and I contested but he won. He led the group between 1980-1983. I contested in 1983 and won. I led the group till 1986, I won the 1986 election again. We used to rehearse at Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, Onikan, Lagos. Mr. Gbenga Shonuga was the Director then. Most members of our group were members of Lagos Troupe. There was to be a stage presentation titled ‘Ori’ at San Francisco, USA. 70% of my members were involved. I had a drama series running on TV then.
I couldn’t stop people travelling out from travelling. I was very young despite that producers brought me and preferred me. It was really a tight situation. It was at this time I knew Rasak Ajao a.k.a. Ara Osan who is now in the United States. He was a member of Chief Leke Ajao a.k.a. Kokonsari. His dad was also a trader at Idumagbo market in Lagos where he saw me. We exchanged pleasantries. At that time, there was a producer called Segun Bankole, he worked with NTA Channel 10. He produced ‘xxxTheatre’. Then it was Mr. Rafiu Balogun (the husband of Fausat Balogun a.k.a Madam Saje) whose group had the opportunity to present the programme then. It was through Rafiu Balogun’s presentations I would first appear on TV.
When I met Rasak Ajao and told him most members of my group are going to San Francisco, he told me he has some friends who are based in Ebute Metta who are actors. That was when I met Taiwo Hassan a.k.a. Ogogo, Abbey Lanre, Fatai Adetayo a.k.a. Oodua and Group then, known as Oodua Theatre which Lalude now runs. We all met at Ebute Metta then. Also while I was courting my wife, she lived at Ebute Metta with her parents.
I believe God ordained it that Odunfa caucus will be formed in 1986. Interesting, we never sat one day for an election that I should be made the leader. I believe the love between us has helped us to come time far.
Why did you name it Odunfa caucus?
Then, the street where we met was majorly occupied by herbalists commonly called Babalawos. Then, we met at Rasak Ajao’s grandfather’s house where we all met. People referred to us as Odunfa Group, after sometime, we adopted ‘Odunfa Caucus’.
So what has kept you people together?
I think it is God’s doing. We do everything in love. We did not establish it to be rivals to any group. You would recall we started as friends.
What about the Odunfa Caucus Drama School and Prominent Students you have churned out?
After a while, we discovered a people came to us to learn theatre arts. Late Rebecca Bimpe Adekola a.k.a. Ireti was my student. Her graduation was the first graduation which was held at Lagos Tennis Club in 1996. After her Keji Yusuf graduated in 1997. It was after that, students who passed through us graduated in large numbers. Among star actors that have passed through Odunfa Caucus are Saidi Balogun, Fathia Balogun, Bisi Ibidapo-Obe, Iyabo Ojo, Yomi Gold, Toyosi Adesanya, Funke Akindele, late Bisi Komolafe, Sanni Ali, Alesh Onilegbale and others.