Following the death of Chief Olanrewaju Adepoju, a Yoruba poet, writer, artiste, and religious leader, the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (SYNW) has expressed profound grief and sorrow.
Adepoju died on Sunday, December 10, 2023, at his residence in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, southwest Nigeria.
He was 83 years old.
In a statement issued by Wole Adedoyin, the President of SYNW said the late Adepoju was born in the village of Abà Òkè Pupa in Ọ̀yọ́ State, Nigeria, in 1940.
It described Adépọ̀jù, also known as Lanrewaju Adepoju, as a self-taught intellectual who mastered Yoruba and English languages.
His immersion in the Yoruba verbal arts and culture during his formative years shaped his later work. Initially employed as a proofreader in a newspaper house, Adépọ̀jù transitioned to become a renowned poet and novelist. His poetry collection, Ìrònú Akéwì, published in 1972, and the novel Ládépò Ọmọ Àdánwò, published in 1975 (later adapted into a 2005 movie), were among his notable literary contributions.
“A trailblazer in spoken word - ewì poetry - Adépọ̀jù showcased his political fervour through his craft. His words served as a poetic conscience for the Yoruba-speaking nation, critiquing politicians, advocating for the masses, and promoting religious ideals.
“Detained by military administrators for his activism, Adépọ̀jù never wavered in his commitment to using his voice as a powerful tool for social change. Despite losing supporters due to his unwavering political stances, his unparalleled talent and influential contributions to the ewì genre solidified his place as one of its foremost exponents,” it said.
Adépọ̀jù's impact extended beyond traditional mediums, as he embraced emerging technologies. Transitioning from the Western Nigerian Broadcasting Service to an independent poet and record producer, he distributed his spoken Yoruba poetry directly to the public through vinyl, cassettes, and CDs, amassing an impressive catalogue of almost a hundred spoken-word ewì albums.
The Society of Young Nigerian Writers recognised Ọláńrewajú Adépọ̀jù as a literary icon whose legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of generations to come.
SYNW finally extended its heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and the literary community as members of the literary body collectively mourn the loss of a remarkable poet and cultural luminary.