In the beginning was a village called Oja and it had a headmaster and they both became the village headmaster drama series.
It all started with the Village Headmaster, then came Samanja, Icheoku, Basi and Company, Hotel de Jordan, Koko Close, The New Masquerade, Sunny Side of Life, Cock Crow at Dawn, Treasure, Super Story, Agbara Nla/Ultimate Power, Koto Orun, Papa Ajasco, Mirror In The Sun, Fortune, Ripples, Everyday People, Palace, Fuji House Of Commotion, I Need to Know, Checkmate, Tales By Moonlight, Things Fall Apart, Skinny Girl in Transit, Jenifa’s Diary, Tinsel, The Johnsons, Husbands of Lagos, Rumor Has It, Before 30, This Is It, Gidi Up, Hotel Majestic, Shuga, Lekki Wives, Dowry, One Chance, Professor Johnbull, Industreet, Jacob’s Cross, My Flatmates, Candle Light, Family Circle, Jagua, baba sala show and others.
Fans and industry practitioners still site The Village Headmaster as the best amongst the rest.
Why? What made it such a great show?
The Village Headmaster or (VHM) and later The New Village Headmaster, from the stable of Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), was a Nigerian television drama series that was created by late ambassador Olusegun Olusola.
Olusegun Olusola had conceived a program to showcase and relive the life and times of old headmasters of those days.
He got across to friends like Christopher Kolade who was the then Director of NBC TV, with whom he would later share the diplomatic duties for Nigeria.
Dr. Kolade brought in Sanya Dosunmu (now His Royal Majesty the Olowu of Owo), who was then in UK for studies and came back on completion to became the first producer/director.
In addition, the they sort the help of the following men to bring the project to fruition: Ted Mukoro,
Demola James, Alex Akinyele, Fela Davies, Nelson Olawaye and Alan Aroyewu.
Chief Dejumo Lewis served as the director with Sanya Dosunmu, and also produced it with Sanya Dosunmu and Olusegun Olusola as the executive producer, later Jimmy F. Atte stepped into the role of EP.
The music score was composed and performed by Kehinde Okusanya, with a gong and several talking drums. Incidental music with a similar melody was later done with a saxophone.
It was such a huge success and is seen by many industry watchers and practitioners as the building block for today’s Nollywood industry.
But it was rested severally by NTA until Dejumo Lewis was handpicked to revive it in 1984 as The New Village Headmaster, after a while he brought in Tade Ogidan to take over as the head.
Tunde Bamishigbin was an actor and writer, later he graduated to assistant producer/director.
Produced after Nigeria gained independence, it was the first major television drama with an ensemble cast from different ethnic groups.
Actually, the first production in 1958 as radio drama and this aired on radio for about six years before the format was transformed into a television series.
The television drama series began in 1968, with an initial order of 13 episodes and it ran until 1988, after having been repackaged as The New Village Headmaster. It was finally rested in 1991.
The original recordings are not known to have survived, as a result of poor storage systems. But the 1964 master-script by Segun Olusola was published by Ariya Productions in 1977 with a cover drawing by cartoonist Josy Ajiboye.
On February 2013, according to the Nigerian Tribune newspaper, Tunde Oloyede, who produced 364 episodes of the series said: “Before the Ambassador [Olusola] died, we had been working on bringing back ‘The Village Headmaster’ in three possible formats. On film; on stage and back to television.”
It was the longest running television series that was shown on Nigeria’s oldest television channel, NTA or Nigerian Television Authority (1968-1988) and was considered among the early successes of our television drama series.
The TV series plot was focused around a fictional Yoruba village in Nigeria called Oja and how they survived or reacted to the topical social issues and government policies such as inter-ethnic harmony, problem-solving and intervention in public affairs, health education and family enjoyment
The local patois or Pidgin English was mixed with standard English and a smattering of the Yoruba dialect as language of choice by residents of Oja.
The drama introduced a lot of phrases and words into the Nigerian English dictionary, even for people that didn’t grow up in it’s time. A gossip is now known as Amebo, a bald headed or close-shaven fellow is known as Gorimapa, an Igbo shop owner is known as Okoro, a lot of people still use Chief Eleyinmi’s catch phrases like ‘immediate effect and automatic alacrity’, ‘nonsense and ingredients’, konkobility, etc.
Also, most of the scenes took place in the palace of Oloja of Oja and in the headmaster’s school.