I prefer movies that launder my image
Alhaji Kareem Adepoju, veteran artiste is a popular face in the Nigerian movies of Yoruba extraction. Widely known as Baba Wande (his stage name in an old movie titled Ile ti a fito mo), the actor, whose acting career has spanned four decades appears yet undone with his stage and screen exploits. Recently, Baba Wande was confronted with the question that required speak on his most challenging role.
Wearing the same stolid expression as he has always done in his several movie appearances, he responded, “I have never found any of my roles difficult.”Meanwhile, the artiste who was a pioneering member of late Oyin Adejobi Theatre Group was soon to admit that his role in the famous drama, Kuye, had often been identified as his most challenging by his fans. Even though, he was made to act the role of the deaf and dumb person, Baba Wande, admitted that he found it easy playing the role. “It is a God-given talent,” the artiste summed up his years on stage.
Armed with a pedigree that gives him away as a born-actor, right from his primary school days at the Ansarudeen Primary School, the little Karimu had demonstrated a passion for the stage which thrusted on him the honour of leading the school in many theatrical engagements. Ironically, little Kareem did not know that he was charting a course that would later earn him fame and fortune. Baba Wande recalled those days with nostalgia, “When I was in the primary school, we used to entertain our parents at the end of the year and I was interested in the plays. So, whenever they wanted to stage a play, I was always asked to join late Oyin Adejobi's itinerary to learn more about acting.” The idea, the actor told Daily Sun, was that he would come back to teach his colleagues what he gained from the acting tour.
Born to a tailor-father, Baba Wande began his acting career with the late Duro Ladipo Theatre Group in 1963. In less than a year after joining the group, he left for Oyin Adejobi's group having acquainted himself with the group since his primary school days. So, it was not a surprise that he stayed with the group for 25 years.
In 1988, he yielded to the urge to form his own troupe. “When I wanted to leave, I wrote him (Adejobi) a letter in which I declared that anytime he needed my service, he should feel free to send for me.” However, he further recalled, his decision to leave did not go down well with his boss who felt that he had not had enough of him. “Of course he (Adejobi) was not happy, Adepoju disclosed, stressing that, “if you have a good actor, you wouldn't be happy if he decides to leave your group. Even if you have a good wife, you would not want her to divorce you?”
Since Baba Wande left Oyin Adejobi 16 years ago, he admitted that there was no love lost between them, until the latter's death in 2000. Between 1988, when Alhaji Adepoju inaugurated his group and now, he has produced 10 movies, including Obuko Dudu, Ekun Oko Oke, Ika lomo Ejo, Ajibola, Owo Gbemu among others.
Baba Wande, a devout Moslem said that his main hobby is reading the Quran. He further explained how he demonstrated that passion by anchoring an Islamic programme on TV tagged Iwa lesin, on the bill of Alhaji Abdul Azeez Arisekola Alao, the Aare Musulumi of Yoruba land. But owing to lack of sponsorship, the artiste told Daily Sun that he has since stopped the programme.
On his frequecy on screen, Adepoju told Daily Sun that he selects his scripts. “I only feature in films that will boost my image, not the ones that will damage it, ”the actor confessed.