The Nigerian educationist and author Babafemi Adeyemi Osofisan, also known as Femi Osofisan or F.O., is well known for his criticism of societal issues as well as the use of surrealism and African traditional performances in several of his plays. The conflict between good and evil is a recurring theme in his work. His didactic writings aim to revitalize his decaying civilization. He has also published poems under the pen name Okinba Launko. Dream-seeker in Divining Chain (1993), Cordelia (1989), and Minted Coins (1987), which won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize, are some of his poetry collections.
Early Life and Education
Babafemi Adeyemi Osofisan was born on June 16, 1946, in the village of Erunwon, Ogun State, Nigeria, to schoolteacher Phoebe Olufunke Osofisan and lay reader and church organist Ebenezer Olatokunbo Osofisan. His paternal ancestors were artists and artisans who worshiped the god of beauty and ornamentation, as his surname “Osofisan” indicates.
Osofisan completed his secondary education at Ife Primary School and Government College in Ibadan. Later, from 1966 to 1969, he attended the University of Ibadan, where he majored in French. He spent a year studying at the University of Dakar as part of his degree program, and he later pursued postgraduate work at the Sorbonne in Paris.
He began his academic career as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan. He also worked his way up the ranks to become a professor. He retired as a full professor in 2011 before becoming a Distinguished Professor of Theatre Arts at Kwara State University in Nigeria.
Femi Osofisan is one of Africa’s most talented playwrights. He has a distinguished academic career. He previously taught drama at Nigeria’s University of Ibadan. He directs plays, performs them, writes reviews, poems, and novels, edits them, and writes newspaper columns. Osofisan has written and produced over sixty plays, five poetry collections, four novels, and numerous essay collections.
Osofisan received the first Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) literature award in 1983 for Morountodun and Other Plays. In 1993, he won another award for drama with Yungba-Yungba and the Dance Contest. Osofisan also received the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service [WNBS] Prize for Independence Anniversary Essay and the first ANA Literature Award.
Minted Coins, a collection of poetry published under the pen name Okinba Launko, won both the Regional Commonwealth Poetry Award for First Collection and the ANA Poetry Prize in 1987. In 2000, he was a finalist for the prestigious Neustadt Prize in the United States. Among the honors bestowed upon him are Officier de l’Ordre Nationale de Mérite, Rep. de France (1999), Nigerian National Order of Merit in the Humanities (NNOM) (2004), Fonlon-Nichols Prize for Literature and the Struggle for Human Rights (2006), and Fellow, Nigerian Academy of the Arts (FNAL). Osofisan also worked as a drama consultant for the Movement for Mass Mobilisation, Social and Economic Recovery (MAMSER) in Abuja, Nigeria (1989), the Cultural Olympiad, and the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.
In addition, from time to time (1988-1990), he served as General Manager and Chief Executive of the National Theatre in Lagos, Nigeria, and as President of PEN, Nigeria. His plays are among the most frequently staged in Nigeria. Osofisan’s plays have been performed in Japan, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Lesotho, China, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and South Africa, among other places.
Femi Osofisan was the artistic director of Kakaun Sela Kompani (1979), the founder of CentreSTAGE-Africa [the Centre for Studies in Theatre and Alternative Genres of Expression in Africa], and the editor of the poetry chapbook Opon Ifa (1974), which later became Opon Ifa Review, a quarterly arts journal primarily for creative writing.
Osofisan has written and produced over 60 plays. He also wrote four literary works: Ma’ami, Abigail, Pirates of Hurt, and Cordelia. They began as newspaper columns in The Daily Times and then The Guardian. Ma’ami, one of his prose works, was made into a film in 2011. Osofisan’s adaptations of other authors’ works include Who’s Afraid of Solarin? and Women of Owu from Euripides’ The Trojan Women. J. P. Clark’s Another Raft; Sophocles’ Tegonni: An African Antigone; Antigone; and others.
Osofisan’s works also place a strong emphasis on gender. He depicts women as subjects capable of thought, endowed with consciousness and will, capable of making decisions and acting, as well as objects of social division due to ephemeral customs and enduring traditions.
The great author prefers to live a private life rather than a public one. Many details about his personal life are unknown. He is, however, married to Nike Osofisan, a computer science professor and the first Nigerian female to study the subject at a Nigerian university.
- Kolera Kolej. New Horn, 1975.
- The Chattering and the Song, Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1977.
- Morountodun and Other Plays. Lagos: Longman, 1982.
- Minted Coins (poetry), Heinemann, 1987.
- Another Raft. Lagos: Malthouse, 1988.
- Once Upon Four Robbers. Ibadan: Heinemann, 1991
- Twingle-Twangle A-Twynning Tayle. Longman, 1992.
- Yungba-Yungba and the Dance Contest: A Parable for Our Times, Heinemann Educational, Nigeria, 1993.
- The Album of the Midnight Blackout, University Press, Nigeria, 1994.
- “Warriors of a Failed Utopia?” “West African writers since the 70s” in Leeds African Studies Bulletin 61 (1996).
- Tegonni: An African Antigone. Ibadan: Opon Ifa, 1999.
- “Theater and the Rites of ‘Post-Negritude’ Remembering”. Research in African Literatures 30.1 (1999).
- Women of Owu ( 2006)
- The Oriki of a Grasshopper and Other Plays ( 1995)
- The Nostalgic Drum: Essays on Literature, Drama and Culture ( 2001)
- Who’s Afraid of Solarin? ( 2007)
- Aringindin and the Nightwatchmen (1991).
- Birthdays are Not for Dying and Other Plays (1990).
- Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels ( 1991)
- Kolera Kolej (Opon Ifa Readers) ( 2000)
- Literature and the Pressures of Freedom: Essays, Speeches, and Songs (2006)
- Two One-act Plays: Oriki of a Grasshopper AND Altine’s Wrath ( 1986)
- Yungba Yungba and the Dance Contest: A Parable for Our Times (1994)
- The Album of the Midnight Blackout (1994)
- The Chattering and the Song ( 1976)
- The Engagement: A Play (1995)
- Excursions in drama and literature: Interviews with Femi Osofisan (1993)
- Farewell to a Cannibal Rage (1986).
- Midnight Hotel (1986)
Awards and Nominations
Femi Osofisan has won numerous awards, some of which are:
- The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) literature award
- Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service [WNBS] Prize for Independence Anniversary Essay
- 2015: PAWA Membership Honorary Award
- 2016: Thalia Prize from the International Association of Theatre Critics
- Femi Osofisan has been listed as a notable writer by Marquis Who’s Who.
His net worth is currently unavailable.