How Nollywood’s Most Dreaded ‘War General’ Lost The War

By Rotimi Ige 

VETERAN actor, Ojo Arowosafe, popularly known as Fadeyi Oloro, was an enigma in the Yoruba-speaking sector of Nollywood. His acting prowess, without a doubt, was one that sent chills down the spines of the old and the young alike owing to his war generalissimo character and unique costumes. At the peak of his career, he was the go-to character for indigenous or relic Yoruba plays that required a wicked or hard-hitting war general or Balogun. In other films, he frequently appeared as a dangerous and calm herbalist. The common denominator for his characters was his perceived ‘wickedness’; Fadeyi Oloro rarely showed mercy to anyone who offended him.

Very few came close to mimicking his dexterity at interpreting such roles that were so believable that the name ‘Fadeyi Oloro’ (meaning one bound by Ifa that inflicts serious pain) stuck with him on and off screens throughout his lifetime.

Ojo Arowosafe began his career in the Nigerian film industry in 1985 at about age 28. His first appearance was in ‘Arelu’, a popular television series at the time. The local TV channels used to air ‘Arelu’, which was such a big deal for locals that it left the streets quiet when a new episode was airing. In this series, Ojo Arowosafe, alias Fadeyi Oloro, played the lead role that sprung him into stardom.

“You could rob houses while ‘Arelu’ aired and no one would know,” Ifedayo Olarinde, a media personality, was quoted to have said.

He has appeared in over 100 other films, including ‘Alagbara Ilu’, ‘Jagun Ina’, ‘Inu Bibi’, ‘Ija Abija’, ‘Osimi Ika’, ‘Adani Lori’, ‘Fitu Fona’, ‘Ruke Rudo’, ‘Bola Ele’ and ‘Ade Ogu’. ‘Yanponyanrin’ was another career-defining movie for Fadeyi Oloro, with massive reception from Yoruba film lovers.

He was one whose character seemed larger than life and it was with great shock that his death, a few days ago, was received by those who knew him, after he battled with a protracted illnesses.

In 2019, Fadeyi Oloro made public, the decline in his health and at various times, he cried out to Nigerians, seeking financial assistance.

The veteran actor was at a time reportedly diagnosed with a kidney-related ailment, but during interviews, he revealed that he had conducted a series of tests to ascertain the nature of his ailment to no avail. He also said he sold all his property while moving from one hospital to another in search of a solution.

He once revealed during an interview with an online newspaper, Premium Times, that he could no longer walk properly and he experienced excruciating pains in his body, pleading for financial assistance from Nigerians.

He alleged that his colleagues failed to reach out or help him.

In May 2021, the actor attended the Synagogue Church of all Nations where he was ‘healed’ by the late Prophet T.B. Joshua. Before the encounter, he said he suffered from an illness that caused decay in his leg.

Bidemi Oluwafunke Fasunwon, Fadeyi Oloro’s daughter, also revealed that her father had been struggling with his health for over three years, stressing that he had been diagnosed with a kidney condition at the University Teaching Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, among other complications that left his legs swollen.

When he spoke with the newspaper, Fadeyi Oloro claimed that he was indeed healed by the late philanthropic cleric after battling ill health for two years.

While saying that he was still interested in acting, Arowosafe revealed that he had written a movie titled ‘Fadeyi Oloro Ogbodoku (‘Fadeyi Must Not Die’) which he would love to produce but that he couldn’t do that until after adequate treatment.

Also, during an interview on a Yoruba broadcast station’s programme, ‘Agbagba’, the actor said despite working with people in authority, he had been abandoned to face his fate alone.

He said: “The suffering is too much despite my closeness to the governors and ministers. I worked with them with all I had and almost lost my life in the process. They should all come to my aid now that I need them.”

Explaining his closeness to politicians, the actor said, “I was not a politician, I only worked for them. When it was time for their campaign, I volunteered to do whatever they wanted me to do not only for them but for all of the South-West.”

In December 2021, the Coalition for a Better Nigeria called on the citizens to support the actor in salvaging his ailing health. In 2022, the actor also opened up about losing some of the donated funds to fraudulent associates caring for him.

Amidst all the challenges, Fadeyi Oloro died on March 7 at the age of 66.

Confirming his death via his verified Instagram page, Bayegun Oluwatoyin, a.k.a. Woli Arole, posted, “So happy I reached out to you sir, so happy we played our part, so happy we laughed together, so happy we were able to show our support. Rest in peace, legend ‘Fadeyi Oloro’. Let’s check up on people when they are alive. Let’s show love when people can feel, let’s help when it can be seen.”

Before his death, the ‘Arelu’-famed actor was said to have struggled to cope with life as his daughter revealed on an Instagram live session some days ago that his father was served a quit notice and would be forced to leave his current apartment if urgent financial assistance did not come his way.

His death came barely three weeks after London pastor, Tunde Adegboyega, pledged to give the ailing actor N3 million after a video on Instagram in which he was struggling to speak.

Ojo Arowosafe was born to the family of Mr and Mrs John Arowosafe on September 15, 1957, in Ekiti State. He attended Saint Paul Catholic School and Timi Agbale Grammar School, both in Ekiti State, for his primary and secondary education. He is survived by his wife and children.

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