Occupational hazards, health and safety:The Hubert Ogunde Approach – Rasaki Ojo Bakare

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From Prof Rasaki Ojo Bakare: Mysteries:

 

Occupational hazards, health and safety:The Hubert Ogunde Approach – Rasaki Ojo Bakare

 

Apart from Efuntajobo’s son, a character played by a grandson of Hubert Ogunde, I was, probably, the youngest member of cast in Hubert Ogunde’s film *Aropin n teyan*.

While on location at OSA film village in 1981, we visited the riverine communities of Agbowa, Ikosi, and Ijede to shoot several scenes on the very salty Osa River. The first three days were seamless even though adequate preparations were made for the unexpected. Three expert divers wore character costumes and makeup and embedded in each of the canoes. Six or seven real actors joined the safety merchants inside each canoe. We had about 12 canoes on the river.

 

Beyond the divers in the canoes, the peripheral water body was intentionally flooded by an army of local divers and fishermen who were also costumed like characters. They were engaged in different kinds of ‘stage businesses’. Meanwhile, their real business was to watch out for any accident and respond swiftly.

 

On the fourth and final day of shooting on this river, the depth of the grandmaster was called to task. Baba Ogunde was not on location on the first three days, and neither was he supposed to be there on the last day. We were in the safe hands of his white collaborators led by a certain Mr Brown.

 

So, on this fateful day, as we got cladded in our costumes with our hands holding the bamboo clappers, we were set for the final rehearsal of our Apepe music and songs before boarding the canoes for the last shoot. As Mr Brown gave the count and we sang: A nbo ba wa ree boluweri, Awa nbo ba wa ree boluodo, ewe aje, ofo agba, ire wa ato run, ire wa atorun, loju ota ile…etc …etc

 

It was as if our voices angered the Lord of Waters! The river became troubled. Troubled? No! I lack words to describe it. Rising and falling tides, leading to dangerous turbulence, nobody could go fifty meters close to the river. Mr Brown was going to call off the day’s proceedings when Yeye Ibisomi, Ogunde’s senior wife, took action. She jumped into a vehicle with a waiting driver and asked us to wait for her calmly.

 

After about 90 minutes, Yeye returned with Baba Ogunde spotting a knicker, T shirt, and cowboy hat. A bull ( dwarf cow) was brought out of a Van that came with the couple. Another man came out of the Van and followed Baba Ogunde with the bull to the river Bank. The man slaughtered the bull, and normalcy returned instantly! An extreme calm returned to the surface of the river. Baba Ogunde returned to his car and drove off without saying a word to anyone. We hurried ourselves into the canoes to conclude the day’s job.

 

I was reminded of this experience by the recent riverside accident in Nollywood that reportedly claimed lives.

 

May the good Lord accept the souls of the departed.

 

What is your calling? Learn it beyond the surface.

 

Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare,

Former theatre apprentice under Hubert Ogunde and Jimoh Aliu,

Current, Ekiti State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Creative Economy

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