FOR decades, Moses Olaiya, popularly known as Baba Sala, stood for comedy. But today, down with a stroke, the man has become the opposite of his real self.
At a briefing held on his biography due for presentation on December 4, Baba Sala, who is 80, spoke with difficulty. However, his family, including one of his wives, Funmi, said the octogenarian was not suffering from old age but lack of funds for medical treatment. Rumoured dead twice (two years ago and last August), Baba Sala who was dressed in a white buba and sokoto with a red cap to match could barely walk and had to be supported at the event. He looked frail and had difficulty breathing when he spoke.
“I’m sick and need help,” said Baba Sala.
“I am alive. But I’m sick. I am too weak to talk and I can’t walk. I don’t want to be confined by paralysis. I don’t want to die like this. Nigerians should please help me.”
A pioneer of Nigerian comedy, Baba Sala entertained millions across the South-West from the 60s to the 90s. He also made his mark in music and the King of World Beats, King Sunny Ade, had his skills honed under the tutelage of the Ilesha, Osun State-born performer. That Baba Sala is first among equals is indisputable and the new book, entitled ‘Triumph of Destiny,’ and written by Collins Oyedokun, Akinola Babatunde and Kunle Ajani, reveals unknown facts about the artiste.
With a foreword written by Professor Gbemisola Remi Adeoti, of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, the book which is published by Sunshine Consults documents Baba Sala’s life and achievements for posterity.
“The book chronicles the pride of place that Baba Sala has in the Nigerian theatre industry as a comedian and consummate entertainer,” said Collins who said they were also moved by the actor’s health challenge in writing the book.
“It captures the antecedents and essence of the creative energies of a comical trailblazer.”
The book ‘The Triumph of Destiny,’ will be presented in Lagos and proceeds from the sale of the book will be used in taking care of the ace comedian.
According to the authors and the promoters of the book, ‘Triumph of Destiny,’ the launch is one of the efforts being made by family and friends of the Ijesha born comedian to rehabilitate him.
“The book chronicles the pride of place that Baba Sala acquired for himself in the Nigerian theatre industry as the first comedian and consummate entertainer. It captures the antecedents and essence of the creative energies of a comical trailblazer,” Collins said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Precision Edge Limited, facilitator of the news briefing, Mrs. Bidemi Ojoawo Oladoye, also requested young musicians to come to Baba Sala’s aid.
“A legend doesn’t deserve to die like this. People like Davido, Wizkid, 2Face Idibia, Kunle Afolayan among others can help and should help Baba Sala,” she said.
Baba Sala’s investments, according to his first son, Reverend Dele Adejumo, had all been wrecked by circumstances and debt incurred as a result of scrupulous business man, who pirated his ‘Orun Mooru’ many years ago. Among his investments listed by Adejumo are the Awada Spot in Ibadan; Alawada Standard Hotel, Ilesha; Alawada Records, Ibadan; and Ibukun Alawada Photo magazine.
“He has investments but they have all been wrecked by mismanagement,” Adejumo said.
“He also had a three-storey building in Mushin, Lagos which he had to sell to offset debt incurred when his work, ‘Orun Mooru’, was pirated. We still have some of his recorded works not in public yet but machines that will be used to transform them to an acceptable format are not easily available. We do not have the kind of money they are charging us.
“We have been told that baba needs a lot of money for medical treatment abroad. He is suffering from a stroke and other ailments. There are many people of his age who are not like this. We are trying our best as family members. We take him to the teaching hospital weekly but he needs proper medical attention.”
Baba Sala reigned alongside legends like Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola, Oyin Adejobi, Duro Ladipo, Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade Love) and Ishola Ogunshola (Isho Pepe). He started the Moses Olaiya International Alawada Theatre Limited and tutored music maestro King Sunny Adé who was once his lead guitar player.