Heart of Arts

Toyin Falola: Orisa-At-Large

Michael Afolayan


In all honesty, if he came at the early time of Yorùbá civilization, I could never doubt that he would have bagged the status of an Orisa.” S.K.

My friend, Serges:

Ah, apparently, you were not at TF’s decoration and robing for the honorary doctorate at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife Nigeria just a few weeks ago.  I was there. It would have taken you a long time to convince those rambunctious university students at the occasion that TF was not an Orisa. Although they did not pour libation at his feet, and that is probably because he sat at the high podium where he could not be reached easily, no orisa received more proclamations and acclamations on that day more than TF, even in Ile-Ife, a city known for playing host to all the 401 deities in the pantheon of Yoruba Orisas! My point: Although he arrived centuries later, TF remains a living Orisa. His name invokes the anthropomorphic enigma that mere mortals must cringe at its sound and mouth it with eeriness and reverence accorded to an Orisa. That’s why Professor Osofisan calls him Iwin (Sprit).

More seriously, Serges, you provided here an awesome appraisal of an enigma. You beautifully crafted the image of a man that has defied every rule of conventional wisdom. Eleven years ago today, at his 60th birthday celebration, I asked the two-word rhetoric question “Sixty Péré?” It literally meant “Only sixty?” It was not a telegraphic utterance but I asked the question just to problematize the indubitable enigmatic nature of a man who at 60 had done what 60 peers combined had not done half of it in all their professional years! And, honestly, I would still ask the very same question today, “Seventy-one Péré?” How could someone just entering the septuagenarian age have done what 100 people have not done in their lifetimes? It beats me big time. But as one of TF’s friends, I have long stopped questioning the weirdness of the essence of his complexity. I recently read somewhere that he works 18 hours a day, and I shouted, “For where! No, this man only naps; he “neither slumbers nor sleeps.” Send him a message at 2:am and you get his response at 2:01 am. He holds the unwritten title of “Olóru of Òru, Ọba Atẹ́nímásùn.”

As the former governor, Rauf Aregbesola, said during the Toyin Falola at 65 Conference at the University of Ibadan, six years ago, the governor hoped he (Aregbesola) should be there to celebrate Falola 70th, 80th, 90th, and100th birthdays. He then warned that after 100, Falola was on his own! My prayer is that may our TF have many, many more years to celebrate in good health, and in the land of the living!

Happy Birthday, TF; many happy returns of the day. Happy New Year to you, Yeye Bobapitan, and your loved ones!

 as well.


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