Sunday, 19 January 2014

Jide Kosoko, a true thespian at 60

It was a celebratory mood at the Kosoko’s residence last weekend. The occasion was the 60th birthday of the Nigerian movie veteran, Jide Kosoko. The actor who had not planned anything big was overwhelmed by the number of well-wishers that thronged his home. Actors, producers, directors, marketers, and a lot of players in the entertainment industry were all there to have a good time with Kosoko.
 It is a well-deserved honour for the man. Kosoko has been a key player in the industry for over 40 years and today he is still very relevant. Despite being an old timer, Jide Kosoko is still well sort after and features in modern day big budget productions. He was in the award winning ‘Last flight to Abuja’ and he’s still in the cast on ‘Tinsel’. 
(more after the cut)

In a chat with him, the ever jovial light skinned actor expressed joy for reaching such a milestone in his life. “I am happy and I thank God for that. There are many who do not get to my age. There are some you get there but not in good health. So I thank God for keeping me till now, and for also keeping me in good health.”
Jide Kosoko was born on January 12, 1954. He had his first taste of acting in 1964, when he was just 10 years old.  It was in a television production titled ‘Makanjuola’, produced by a then popular theatre group, ‘Ifelodun Travelling Theatre’. He was called into the production by chance.  It happened that one his neighbours an old actor named Dele Toyibo, was a member of the Ifelodun Travelling Theatre. They incidentally wanted to have a production on television- LTV Bar Beach. They needed a boy of Kosoko’s age to play the lead role. Dele urged Kosoko to audition for the role. He eventually got the part and stayed with the troupe for another eight years before forming his own group, The Jide Kosoko Theatre group in 1972.
While speaking about his early life as an actor, Kosoko spoke passionately about the days when the theatre was still booming. He also believes that the art could be brought back to life. “We are still talking about the need to bring alive the theatre, it is something that is close to my heart. In fact, there is a production I did last year. It was called Ogun Awoyaya (The boiling battle). It is the history of Lagos in the 18th century. It is about the fight between King Akintoye and King Kosoko. It is very historical. We are still planning to continue staging it in the New Year. We are trying to encourage our people to also do stage performances once in a while to keep it alive.”
Jide Kosoko is also a notable movie director. He has produced over four blockbusters including ‘Olorire’ and ‘Arewa okunrin’. He was even chosen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to produce a docu-drama on climate change. The production titled ‘Battle for life’ is still in the production process.
Jide Kosoko is also endorsed many consumer products. The most popular one being the Chivita adverts where he appears on billboards and on television.
Speaking with some of his colleagues, they all had good words for him. Fidelis Duker said; “Jide Kosoko is quintessential gentleman and a brilliant actor with talent that surpass many of his contemporaries. I'm really proud of him as he has transverse acting to directing and producing. He has been the bridge between the Yoruba and English movie industry. He is also a very talented actor and I will say in the over 25 years I have known him, he is a great guy having featured in several of my productions since 1991 with ‘Ese Atijo’,”
Saheed Balogun was also full of praise for the man. “Jide is a great man a man and I know that many people will say the same thing about him. For someone like me, it was people like Jide Kosoko we looked up to while building our careers. After so many years in the industry, he is still relevant and still growing from strength to strength. He also is a visionary, from the onset he seems to know where the industry is heading to and he equipped himself accordingly. He is a national hero,” he said.
Jide is also a leading figure in the industry being senior members of many movie associations and guild. He was also once the Association of Nigeria Theatre Practitioners president. Since he left the Association, there has not been peace in the association and there continues to be a power tussle. Jide Kosoko continues to play a leadership role in the association.
Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) president, Ibinabo Fiberesima said about Kosoko, “He is a Father completely. On set he radiates love and care. Always ready to listen and help. I totally adore him”. Former AGN president Segu Arinze also had kind words for him, “Jide Kosoko is a great actor and gentlemen. He's been inspirational and a motivator to me. He's also to me a father figure and uncle. Full of humour and always lively. Never a dull moment with him.”

Jide Kosoko had a word of advice for up and coming actors. “They should remain focused in whatever they are doing. The problem most of them have is that they want to be stars overnight. They need a quick stardom without adequate knowledge of what they are doing. Please try and learn the job very well and keep your head straight towards where you are going. Set a pace for yourself and be determined,” he said.

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