Nollywood icon and veteran actor Ojo Arowosafe, AKA Fadeyi Oloro, famous for Yoruba classics like Alagbara Ilu and Ija Abija has passed away at the age of 66 on March 7, 2023.
Arowosafe was a big star in the 1980s, andI recently had a conversation with his dear friend and fellow actor, Adeshola Makinde AKA Shomak. Here’s all you need to know about the actor who created one of the most iconic villains in Nollywood history.
Life before he became famous
Before he got in front of the camera, Arowosafe was in Ado Ekiti, learning to be a mechanic. He found his passion for acting when he was about 25 after he joined a drama group organised by another Yoruba movie icon, Jimoh Aliyu. The group travelled around Nigeria doing stage plays, and it was at one of these stage plays in Kaduna that Arowosafe met his friend, Shomak in 1982.
The two were in different drama groups but ended up bonding over their love of acting.
His big break as Fadeyi Oloro
Before we started calling Patience Ozorkwor “Mama G” or Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme, “Aki and PawPaw”, Arowosafe was one of the earliest actors to eat a role up so well everyone forgot his real name and started calling him Fadeyi Oloro.
Arowosafe’s big break was on the Yoruba TV show, Arelu, which aired in 1987. Arelu means catastrophe, and it was Super Story before Wale Adenuga even created Super Story. The show had such an influence on pop culture back then, that the late fuji icon Sikiru Ayinde Barrister sang about Fadeyi Oloro (Arowosafe’s character) in a song on his 1988 album, Barry @ 40.
The character of Fadeyi Oloro was the show’s villain who used jazz to deal with anyone who crossed him. Fadeyi was also famous for iconic one-liners we can still use today, like: Bó bá sí wú ọ́, má fiyè dénú [if you like, don’t calm down o] and Mo lọ mo bọ̀, n ò bọmọ jẹ́ [I went, and I’ve returned with my name and character unsullied]. E for Energy.
Shomak recalls feeling very proud to see his friend blow up and become a cultural icon on the screen. “He played Fadeyi Oloro so well that people thought he was scary in real life,” he said. “They were always surprised that he was just a funny guy.”
Arowosafe as Fadeyi Oloro inspired his other villain roles in Yoruba films like Jagun Ina and Inu Bibi.
What will his friend miss the most about him?
Less than 24 hours after his passing, Showmak tells Zikoko that while he regrets not seeing his friend this year (2023), he’ll miss Arowosafe’s kindness, his ability to always give the best advice and make everyone feel comfortable.
“He could be sitting with you for the first time and still think of a joke that’ll make you laugh,” he says. “Fadeyi Oloro always made everyone around him feel like they belonged.”
R.I.P to an icon who changed the game, leaving behind a legacy that remains unmatched even after almost 40 years in the industry.