Gladstone, Emmanuel Olawale Rotimi, also known as Ola Rotimi, was the centre of attention for a variety of reasons. The Google Doodle for today honours the acclaimed Nigerian writer, director, actor, choreographer, and designer, who utilised his art to reflect on the country’s rich culture, diversity, and local traditions.
Ola Rotimi was born in 1938 into an artistic family: his mother ran a traditional dance troupe, and his father ran a community theatre. His father also directed and produced a play in which Rotimi made his first appearance on stage at the age of four. His future work was heavily impacted by his mixed parentage—an Ijaw mother and a Yoruba father—as well as his family’s passion for the arts. Later, he studied theatre at Boston University and earned an M.F.A. in playwriting and dramatic literature from Yale University.
Rotimi wrote and directed hundreds of plays and short tales that poignantly probed Nigeria’s ethnic cultures and history throughout his career. He was noted for having a larger-than-life vision, and his productions included dance, music, and even mime. Rotimi’s plays drew back the curtain to show audiences all around the world traditional Nigerian rites, songs, and dances. The Gods Are Not to Blame, Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again, and Kurunmi are some of his most well-known and award-winning works.
Ola Rotimi, dubbed “the father of Nollywood” and one of Nigeria’s best dramatists, celebrates his birthday today.