Sisi Quadri: … And The Dream Evaporates, By Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu

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By Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu

The hall of the Osun State Council for Arts and Culture was filled to the brim with excited thespians in May 1996. It was the monthly general meeting for practitioners under the aegis of ANTP, Osun State Chapter.

 

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The weather was friendly; sunny and pleasant with no cloud in the early noon sky. A few cars parked close to the hall, witnessed the impromptu visits of owners dashing in and out of the meeting to pick up forgotten items.

 

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ANTP stands for Association of Nigeria Theatre-Arts Practitioners. The group was founded by the pioneer Yoruba theatre-arts geniuses in the likes of Chief Hubert Ogunde, Prince Oyin Adejobi, Apostle Moses Olaiya Adejumo, Chief Jimoh Aliu, Chief Ayinla Olumegbon, all of blessed memories, and a few others.

 

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Shortly after the commencement of the meeting, there was persistent muffled laughter from the back of the hall, at the right side corner. From my vintage sitting position on the stage, I fixed my gaze on a skinny, dark boy who obviously was the cause of the continued laughter.

I scribbled an inquiry on a sheet of paper. “Who is that young lad making members laugh ceaselessly over there?” Being the Public Relations Officer, I always sat beside the State Secretary, Tunde Onilewura. I passed the note to him. He had a brief look at it and passed it to the Chairman, Leke Ajao, widely known as Chief Kokosari. The Chairman was briefing the house. He glimpsed at the note as the young lad was giggling, and said, ” O ya, Quadri, leave that place!” He called someone from the other side of the hall to exchange a seat with Quadri.

READ ALSO: ‘They brought joy to Nigerians’ — Tinubu mourns Mr Ibu, Sisi Quadri

 

After the meeting, Quadri mounted the rostrum where we were packing our belongings in preparation for departure.

“Baba, kini ki nba yin gbe.” He offered to help Kokosari organise his papers and put them in the bag on the table. That was when Chief Kokosari revisited his pointless behaviour during the meeting. He cautioned him not to be playing during meetings. I then chipped in, ” The next time you attend our meeting with your unseriousness, I will beat you.” He immediately dropped the bag he was about to carry and faced me. ” Maami, e kuku ni binu naa ni. Agba ti o binu l’omo e npo. ” (My mother, don’t be annoyed. Patient elders have more followers.) “Okay, you come here next month with your erépá, and see how I will handle you.”

From that day, anywhere he saw me, he would help in carrying my bag and jokingly say, Maami, I don’t want you to beat me. Let me help with your bag.

Soon, he began to move with other artists and began his slow and gradual rise to fame. He went to film locations with or without roles and amuse people.

One day, he told Ojo Arowosafe, popularly known as Fadeyi Oloro. ” Oga, we are coming behind you. Run faster. By the time our stars are shining, the Queen of England will be inviting us to special events”. Everyone started laughing. By then, we already nicknamed him, “Omo Kokosari.” They were both from Iwo, in Osun State.

Yes, Quadri prophesied. He had a vision. The tall dream of a young lad. Through the years, he worked towards it. Quadri carved a niche for himself by creating his own style – mimicking the feminine gender. His aspiration came to fruition. The set goal was achieved. Quadri became a household name. He lived his dream. Unfortunately, the grim reaper cut short his glory, and the dream evaporated. Yes, the dream just evaporated.

Quadri left the stage when his ovation was loud. Somewhere beyond the clouds, I could imagine him telling Chief Kokosari, ‘Baba, ki lo nsele. E ja wa si. E so fun awon tiyin pe Quadri ti de! A gbodo pawo o’. ‘ ( Baba, what’s going on. Show me the way. Tell your people Quadri is here. Money must be made.) And Kokosari probably replying to him : ‘ ‘You this boy! What’s the hurry. Why did you come this early?’

May God grant Quadri and all other departed theatre-arts practitioners graceful rest and take good care of their families on this side of the divide.

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