The One Man Riot Bomb

One in ONE out
(Tribute to a Star I lost)
Let the dirge cease.
There is LIFE
to wipe the tears
of the depressed.
CHUKA NNABUIFE’s wife was delivered of a boy this morning

The day he performed a poem by Langston Hughes and recited his favourite poem of all time: THIS POEM by Mutabaruka, which he had set into his own musical accompaniment, my head fattened up. And I remember his famous better half… with all its brown skin already peeled off. He joked that the briefcase was in transition, and in fact had been in transition since the day of one Chief something whom I suspect must have been his father.
There is always a story to Funsho Alabi. I think only few people, maybe Tunji Sotimirin and his close friends, would have heard him relate why he for a long time went about in ‘Rubber Shoes.. yes o, the one we in-famously call Tekowiiiii – never leather. And why he liked his car – aside economic factor – to look like that now famous Junkman’s Nigeria exhibited at the last Lagos Book and Art Festival now permanently (?) resident at the French Cultural Centre Lagos.
There is a story on why he refused to be married to any woman, though you could say he looked every inch a lady’s man. There is a story between him and Richard Mofe-Damijo. There is a story between him and Bayo Oduneye and the National Troupe of Nigeria. There is a big story between Funsho and Nollywood. He did not hate Nollywood – it took me time to discover that, though – rather he had issue to grind with matter of etiquette and professional conduct, in other words DUE PROCESS and its application to Nollywood..
On Mutabaruka: Funsho had become acquainted with Mutabaruka in 1982 when the Jamaican performer-poet visited Nigeria, especially the then University of Ife. They had a lot of interesting exchanges then, especially as both were one--man actor.
When I met Mutabaruka in Ghana in 1997 during PANAFEST, we went down memory on his visit to the country, and all the hassles he had, which almost got him deported by the Shagari govt. He was still embittered even in 1997, but he said Nigeria had the most beautiful women in the world (hear hear) and that our dress culture was the best in the world.. In fact his costume in 1997 was made of aso oke and an agbada-like long dress made of thick Mali muddy cloths. Instructively, he recollected his visit to Nigeria and his meeting with many Nigerian artistes: He said: ‘I met a crazy actor then in Ife, really crazy but very good....' He gave the actor's name as name as ‘Funton’ – he scribbled it in my notebook -- , but then I recognised that that actor must have been Funsho Alabi, who was reading theatre at Ife at that time – the years of Mahmoud Ali Balogun, Edmund Enaibe, Ahmed Yerima, Yemi Sodimu, Niyi Coker; while a fellow called Bisade Ologunde (producer of masked musician, Lagbaja) was already super-stardoming on the guitar and rising to be toast of the campus babes… so I corrected Muta that the name was -- FUNSHO ALABI -- and he leapt to his full 6 plus .. ‘ yeah, that’s him.. crazy good guy…’
Muta's passing shot on Alabi was: 'I like to work with him someday when I come to great Nigeria (he had referred to the country as 'shytshtem' earlier). Respect to him'.
I told Funsho Alabi of the encounter. He remembered Muta and their exchanges too. Thereafter, he asked for the man's CD, which I eventually dubbed for him, and then he started his one-man thing on THIS POEM… one of Muta's greatest compositions.
Later he told me he had been in touch with Muta through his manager, a Ghanaian-Jamaican, who had lived in Lagos around 1981 when we staged Reggae Sunsplash in Lagos. Funsho said they were working on some collaboration. I never followed up to ask him how far they had gone into the dream...
Now… Funsho is no more. He has abandoned the dream midcourse or is it the dream that was scared of fulfilling Funsho Alabi?
Well the creator of ‘Hotline Aids’ and ‘Theatre Against Drug Abuse’ and founder KOMITAT PRODUCTIONS has gone the way of those other comrades hacked down by illness midstream to artistic fulfilment: Bode Osanyin, Segun Ayota, Amatu Braide, Hakeem Shitta, Ralph Aboyeji, Segun Narset, Femi Ayeni, Charles O’Neil, Ezenwa Ohaeto etc.
May the path to the graveyard grow unattractive to the green feet of the walkers in the vineyard of dreams.
I have lost my tear gland.. pemanently. Death, You shall not draw my tears again.


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