VETERAN BROADCASTER, OLUSEGUN OLUSOLA DIES @ 77
He practically died on his feet. At 77, he hardly bore the signature malaise of his age. He was a regular face at public forums, especially when it had to do with the arts, culture and refugee-related issues. Perhaps, one of his outstanding trademarks was his ability to speak such perfect English with the phonetic accuracy of a quintessential broadcaster.
Ambassador Olusegun Olusola, television playwright, seasoned broadcaster, diplomat and defender of African refugees, died yesterday after years of meritorious service to home and country. However, the details of his death remained sketchy at press time.
The former ambassador to Ethiopia probably hit national prominence with his epic programme Village Headmaster, which he created and directed on television. It was one of most popular television sitcoms in the 70s and early 80s that ran for over a decade before it was taken off the air. And not too long ago, his footages at public forums were still being shown on national TV across the country.
Ambassador Olusola, who was born at Iperu Remo, Ogun State, on March 18, 1935, apparently took to the arts, as a result of his family background. As the son of a carpenter, his father had many apprentices from different parts of the country.
From them, little Segun began to ingest different cultures, including their songs, folklore, dance. Reflecting on how all these affected his eventual choice of career, he narrated that it influenced his interest in the arts when he got into secondary school, adding, ‘The very last year I spent in that school (Remo Secondary School), I became the secretary of the Literary and Debating Society. It enabled me to engage in public speaking, singing, dancing and everything that had to do with cultural activities’.
His love of the arts soon took him to the then Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation where he produced some programmes for radio and later moved on to Western Nigerian Television (WNTV) where he started off as a participant in debates and later as a presenter. Before this, he had worked briefly as an accounts assistant in the then Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), now the precursor of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
He eventually went to a higher institution, having worked for a few years as a young broadcaster and presenter of a programme, Take a Trip on Television, on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). As a regional manager of NTA, at a time when the station was the only television station nationwide, Olusola undoubtedly became a media maven necessitating his interface with the powerful and mighty men of society.
He soon got nominated to go for a course at the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), in Kuru, near Jos. He graduated along with top-class decision makers of the country, and even became the vice-chairman of the NIPSS alumni association. That drew him nearer decision makers as he regularly held meetings with the then military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida. In no time, he got appointed ambassador to Ethiopia at a time when Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, was the headquarters of the then Organisation of African Union (OAU), now African Union (AU).
He once noted that his diplomatic assignment was the most challenging in his entire career. ‘I was nominated to serve as the ambassador of Nigeria to Addis Ababa, which is the headquarters of the African Union (then OAU). In fact, I was pleased because, for me, it was the most challenging assignment that I have ever had. I served in Addis Ababa till 1993’, he said.
While he served as an ambassador, he handled several important assignments on the continent like Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, etc, which were all crisis-ridden. He soon got exposed to the plight of war victims, many of whom were displaced in refugee camps. His nature easily chimed with the need to assist the suffering refugees. And that was how he ended up setting up the African Refugees Foundation (AREF).
In an interview he granted, he lamented people’s indifference to the plight of others, stressing the need to become a peacemaker. This had become his forte, having imbibed same from his late father, who was, so-to-speak, a community quarrel settler. As he put it, ‘I always feel sad when I see people suffering and nobody is there to help, just like what I have seen in refugee camps. You see people dying on a daily basis and yet the society is not bothered. Such situation is always very painful and sad. And it can move me close to tears’.
‘Outside of broadcasting, what I do now is peace-making, settling and preventing quarrels. That primarily is what I do now with African Refugee Foundation. It was the kind of life I was exposed to early in life that shaped me towards what I am doing today.’
Olusola was married to Elsie, a former TV presenter and actress, who played the role of ‘Sisi Clara‘ in the Village Headmaster. She passed on in 1993. The couple had three children: Ronke, Jimmy and Toyin. He was later to remarry a former classmate of his.
His life’s ambition, he said, was to become a preacher of peace, a task he dutifully pursued. He said: ‘I think I will end up as a preacher of the gospel of peace and reconciliation.’ The desire to help those in difficulty became his defining goal in life. And before he rounded off his task on earth last night, he left a memorable message to humanity: ‘Wherever you are and whenever you can, lift a voice, a finger to assist anyone. Try when you can. Don’t postpone it. Even if it is a wish you can communicate, try and do it because it may well be your very last encounter. And it may go a long way to save a soul.’
Culled from ThisDayLive