I first encountered Adébáyọ̀ Fálétí on the premises of WNTV/WNBS, Ibadan in the seventies when I was employed as a cine-cameraman at the threshold of my career as a filmmaker. It was usual to meet him smiling and sauntering on the corridors from the studio to the office with his trade mark Ìbílẹ̀ cap, twisted to an absurd length, jutting dangerously to the usual right position, defiant and ooszing self confidence. Broadcasting was pleasant and natural, translating the English bulletin to a flawless Yoruba, mesmerising audiences far and wide.
He was a born storyteller and raconteur with an unbelievable sense of humour, most times irreverent with his sense of spirituality intact. Any topic he broached was handled with depth coming from his knowledge and conviction as a scholar versed in the Yoruba culture and language. But he made everything so simple and his genius permitted unpredictable, dramatic endings.
Let me narrate an instance that endeared this man and his works to me.
One mid-morning, I heard voices at the back of my office, Film Unit of the WNTV/WNBS, sensing a fight, I went out to find out. I met a crowd at the corridor trying to spur on two boys who were at each other over a matter I could not immediately discern. Adébáyọ̀ Fálétí strolled down casually obviously on his way from the studio and intervened to settle whatever was the dispute. The two combatants took a break at Faleti’s query. “Kílódé, kí lẹ wa njàá sí?” “Ó bú ìyá mi ni sà”, one of them disclosed. Faleti calmly remarked “Nítorí ó bú ìyá rẹ l’ẹyin méjèjì wá njàá sií, tí gbogbo yin fi péjọ ti ẹ nwòran laarọ̀ kùtùkùtù; jọ-un pé ẹ ò níṣẹ́. Kò burú, gbogbo àwa tí a wà níbí, ó ba ìya wa lọ kàn-ànkan”. The crowd dispersed and melted away instantly without a whimper. One of his admirable qualities was a readiness to welcome young and old with open hands – an ability to work with neophytes as well as established professionals without any discrimination.
No wonder my first attempt at adaptation from literature to film was my choice ofAdébáyọ̀ Fálétí’s Ìdààmu Páàdi Míkáilù (The Dilemma of Father Michael) which I found fascinating for it’s drama and my favourite theme of a clash of cultures. The film was titled Ìwà, adapted by Lọlá Fani-Kayọ̀dé was released to mixed reception from the audience and finally disappeared to Rank Film Laboratory after the two prints wore out. But the project gave me enough experience in producing and adapting film from literary source which has strengthened and shaped my career as an African Filmmaker. It definitely paved the way for my success with another of his great work – ‘The Whore With The Thunderbolt Aids’, which gave birth to the popular film Thunderbolt Magun. We planned the remake of Adéyẹmí Afọláyan’s (Ade Love) ‘Ijà Òmìnira’, adapted from ‘Ọmọ Olókùn Ẹṣin’. Since his transition, I have decided on a remake of Ìdààmu Páàdi Míkáilù, a return to where I cut my teeth as a budding filmmaker.
Today, let us celebrate and not mourn ADÉBÁYỌ̀ FÁLÉTÍ, a legendary Yorùbá prince, scholar, teacher, poet, translator, writer, dramatist, culture advocate, administrator, raconteur, hunter, who came, saw, conquered and gave us so much knowledge and wisdom.

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