Which is the most popular TV drama ever on Nigerian television?
Is it the Village Headmaster?
Yes, you have no choice but picking the program created by Ambassador Segun Olusola, a highly respected creative aficionado in Nigeria.
Village Headmaster was a simple but imaginative script built around a cosmopolitan Nigerian village with all shades of characters and mountain-sized egos.
The King was, at every point in time, busy calming hot nerves and solving all manners of disputes, you might be forgiven for saying that is the job of the ruler.
And he, the Kabiyesi, managed to wade through the murky waters of fights, quarrels, gossip, ignorance and all other negative occurrences in the village to keep his people happy, united and loyal.
We at Sharemyfame celebrate and pay tribute to the creator of the program Ambassador Segun Olusola for his creative genius, the wonderful crew that helped to birth and make the show a success, and lastly the great actors who really brought fun and laughter to millions of Nigerians.
It’s been fifty years since it first ran on national television, many of them have left us, a handful remain.
To all of them we say ‘…The labors of our hero’s past, shall not be in vain’, rest on heroes, the torch has been passed and we will run with it.
The cast roll will help tell the story better:
As the Oloja or Kabiyesi, the traditional ruler of Oja, a level headed chief who sometimes, no, scratch that, most times relies on the headmaster for advice on burning village issues. He radiates gracefulness and is a revered monarch; loved by all, and somehow managed to find the solutions to every conflict. Dejumo Lewis was actually the longest serving Oloja of the show.
As Gabriel Fagade, the first Headmaster who was an old-fashioned school headmaster at that. A very intelligent asset to the Oloja and the people of Oja, by his numerous insightful intellectual assistances to Kabiyesi. He was always wearing khaki shorts and carrying books as he trekked to school.
The role of the Headmaster was initially played by Ted Mukoro, then he was replaced with Femi Robinson after Ted took a leave of absence to go take care of his very sick wife.
As ‘Ife Araba’, the headmaster who replaced Ted Mukoro. He also went beyond the headmaster job, to be a very soothing voice who calmed nerves in the village following confusion created by Amebo’s gossip. He was one of the few educated minds in the village, helping to explain governments intentions and new developments.
He was a kind of special adviser to the Oloja on happenings in the village.
As the headmaster or Adebirigbe Ali who later replaced Femi Robinson, the late Justus Esiri ran the last lap of the Oloja trilogy, he was a perfect gentleman and an urbane character that brought a touch of civility and western decorum to the series.
As a Lawyer in Chief Eleyinmi’s customary court. He was later a popular act in Ken Saro Wiwa’s drama creation ‘Basi and Company’.
As palmwine seller, lover of idle talk and the owner of the village main gossip and drinking spot. Chief (Mrs.) Ibidun Allison was the inimitable Amebo and this is the most popular social expression that Village Headmaster bestowed on the Nigerian society: Amebo, gossip, gossip, gossip.
Chief Eleyinmi labelled her ‘Radio Oja’ as in whenever or wherever she turned up, news flowed for good and for bad.
As feisty Bassey Okon, the ‘doctor’, chemist, dispenser and pharmacist of Oja village.
He was one of the most popular characters on the show with his provisions and chemist shop invariably patronized by everyone in the village. This gave him the false feeling of being very important and his trademark exclamation was ‘Chei, Chei, Chei!’
As Senior Chief Nicholas Ologbenla Eleyinmi, in flowing agbada with his hands always hidden behind it. For many people this was the funniest character, he was proud, arrogant and brash. You dare not cross his path; lest he confers on you an ignoble label that will hunt you for life; e.g. ‘hunter of rats and rabbits’!
He was the second in command to the Oloja and Chief Justice of Oja Customary Court.
As Teacher Garuba, senior teacher in the village school with impeccable English diction, who was prone to drinking and had a rather unending personal crisis. This ‘poor’ teacher was always grumbling about his situation in life, feeling he deserves better and he was seldom found at Amebo’s bar consoling himself with palm wine.
As Sisi Clara or Clara Fagade, the wife of the first Village Headmaster, Gabriel Fagade. Sisi Clara was a tailor and good friend of Amebo, but always displayed more intelligence than Amebo by topping her in her tracks whenever she began her gossip tales.
SISI CLARA was played by the series’ creator’s late wife, Elsie and was typified a Calabar woman; combining the best of womanhood with a spirit of entrepreneurship, self-assurance and dignity.
As Gorimapa, the palace servant, messenger and town crier who always sat at the foot of the throne, this late addition to the cast became an instant hit with his clean-shaven head which the ever witty Eleyinmi dubbed ‘sahara desert’! Till today the slang Gorimapa is used to describe bald-headed people.
As Mama Kunle.
As Mama Kayode on the show, Felicia Mayford has a unique part in the history of Nigerian television, in that while she was part of the cast for the drama that birthed production in Nigeria, she coincidentally or, as some say, interestingly also featured in Living in Bondage, the movie that is tagged as the vanguard of modern day Nollywood.
Was an actor, writer, later assistant producer and director.
As Chief Dagbolu.
As Councilor Balogun, very popular for his boldness and confidence, and the fact that he was a thorn in Chief Eleyinmi’s flesh.
As Boniface, a sales boy at the village chemist. Skinny Boniface was always ridiculed as Boni-nose, Boni-mouth or Bony-bony by Chief Eleyinmi.
As Okoro, the great snuff sniffing Okoro and part owner of the chemist/supermarket in the 1980-1988 era of the drama. This frequently red eyed and short-tempered character was another late entrant, but immensely popular.
As Teacher Ogene, who was a more intelligent teacher than the scheming Garuba. He also had an enviable diction like Garuba, always neatly dressed in white shirt, tie and short, with a pair of long socks pulled to his knees. He also spotted a biro pen stuck in his breast pocket, and wielded a cane.
As Chief Kokonsari the village Chief Priest.
As the police inspector that always came from Jebako to resolve crisis in Oja village.
As Mrs Cosmas Ali
As Lakunle Ojo in the Palace.
There were also Fathia Okon, Dagbolu, Cosmas, Titilola Dada, Chief Arigbadu in Palace and Chief Afilaka who was dubbed Chief Tain-Tain by Eleyinmi.