Ben Tomoloju, fta

BEN OMOWAFOLA TOMOLOJU was born on December 18, 1954 in Ilaje Local Government Area, the coastal part ofOndo State Nigeria. He had his Primary Education in Various parts of the old Western Region between 1960 -1967. He attended Christ School, Ado-Ekiti for his School Certificate and Higher School Certificate between 1968- 1974.
He proceeded to the University of Ibadan and graduatedwith a degree in English and Literary Studies in the University, he also had a comprehensive training in theatre and dramatic arts. He effectively combines his career as a dramatist with that of a pace-setting arts journalist. In both cases his motive-force is humanism, especially one that protests against man's inhumanity to man acrossage-groups, sexes, races and creeds. His role in the development of journalism in Nigeria clearly shows the masonry of a visionary intent upon building a viable legacy for future generations of professional's arts journalists. More copiously, his plays, published and unpublished, celebrate the rites and rights of posterity with "the child" at the centre of theirphilosophical articulation.

BEN TOMOLOJU started his career in journalism at the age of 19, in 1974, as a free-lance cartoonist withthe defunct Newbreed Magazine and later the Nigerian Upon his graduation in 1978, he worked as a producerwith the Nigerian Television, Makurdi for his National Service. There after, he returned to Lagos. He took upa full time job as a teacher and part-time job as the Arts Editor of Weekly Focus. In 1982, he joined The Punch as the Chief LeaderWriter. Although his job entailed leading discussions and writing the editorials, BEN TOMOLOJU'S passion for arts journalism compelled him to open a column in ThePunch in 1983 called "THE PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST". Leaving The Punch, he took up an appointment as the Reviews Editor of The Democrat Weekly in 1983. His success as Reviews Editor in The Democrat Weeklyled to his invitation by the management of The Guardian to open the paper's Arts desk in April 1985. Added to his background activities in Weekly Focus,The Punch and The Democrat, BEN TOMOLOJU'S tenure as the pioneer Arts Editors and later Deputy Editor of professionalism in arts journalism in Nigeria. In theearly st6ages, his colleague described his desk as"the one-man arts desk". He was his own reporter,sub-editor, typist and line-editor. But with zeal and passion, TOMOLOJU expanded thevision and scope of arts journalism, bringing a widerange of artistic and cultural into public focus. His advent also created job opportunities for scoresof young graduates of the humanities as virtually allprint and electronic media created Arts Desks afterthe success of The Guardian. So much that some of thedistinguished editors and writers in various Nigerian newspapers today are product of the old "one man artsdesk".Most significantly, through the developmental journalistic practice of the BEN TOMOLOJU School, thepower of compilation, dissemination and articulation of strategic information in the relevant in the fields of the literary, performing and visual Arts, as well as culture administration demonstrates to Nigerians,the relevance, vitality and viability of culture in the national scheme of things. In recognition of his historic contribution to Nigerian cultural life, BEN TOMOLOJU was listed in the book WHO IS WHO IN NIGERIA as the pioneer ofprofessional arts journalism in Nigeria in 1998.

Writing a citation on him during his 50th birthday celebration in 2004, one of Nigeria's distinguishedpoets and essayists, AFAM AKEH describes Tomoloju as follows: "The hero-presence in a creation story is sometimes sosignificant that it becomes possible to engage with the whole story as a conflation of relatedhero-narratives. In this sense the modern origins o farts journalism in Nigeria can be constructed in theimage of BEN TOMOLOJU, its most distinguished local luminary, and some his contemporaries. The Tomoloju story is significantly the pioneering story of the modern practice in Nigeria. It was thus fitting tribute that in celebrating his Fifties birthday inlate 2004, his media colleagues also find inspiration for a serious evaluation of the practice he gave his name". (Position, International Arts Review, Vol.3Number 3). As a culture activist and dramatist, Tomoloju has participated in various capacities in the evolution of national programme on culture, such as Management of the National Arts Theatre, the National Cultural Policy, the National Troupe of Nigeria and Copyright Implementation. He was the chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee that brought into existence the National Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners)NANTAP) and also performed a similar role for theArts Writers Organisation of Nigeria (AWON). He was a guest at the Giffioni Film Festival, Italy, 1984,covered the Afro-Arab Festival of Popular Arts,Morocco, 1986, led Kakaaki to the Festival of African Theatre, celebrating Wole Soyinka's Nobel and Agip Literature Prizes in Turin, Italy, 1987 and the Chieri Festival in 1992.He was a member of the Nigerian Cultural Delegation to the Commemoration of 150 years of the Abolition of Slavery in the West Indies and Latin America 1988. He was also a member of the Young African Leaders Programme in the United States of American in 1990. He has a musical album, Song for Nigeria to his credit. Between 1993 and 1994, he produced and presented a popular art and culture magazine programme on the screen called ART ALIVE.He is author of Amona and project consultant of AfRIKAPROJEKT (1996-2001) staged in Nigeia and Germany. The celebration of Soyinka's Nobel Prize in Italy with his play, JANKARIWO and Soyinka's JERO"S METAMORPHOSISin 1987 marked a high point of Tomoloju's career as a dramatist.

While attending to journalistic duties, he had, since 1980, established a multi-dimensional theatre group known as KAKAAKI. In sync with his youth-friendly philosophy, KAKAAKI become a renowned creative workshop for young performing artistes inNigeria. A good number of them later developed to be the leading lights of Nigerian theatre, movie, soap and comedy at home and abroad. For those young acts,Italy 1987, courtesy Wole Soyinka, was a huge morale booster. And, for Ben Tomoloju, it was great fulfillment of a responsibility he feels he naturally owes members of the younger generation; that they must progress. Ever since then, Tomoloju has remained outstanding as a distinguished directing playwright and culture-promoter. His play Jankariwo (Ital, 1987),Mujemuje (Italy,1992) and Amona (Germany,1996) projected the critical poise of Ben Tomoloju against the political and cultural decimation of modern-day Africa, a situation that continually alienates the child, the youth and women in the general scheme of things. In 1997 while serving as consultant to Goethe Institut's Afrika Projekt". He was also commissioned by the International Committee of the red Cross (ICRC)to produce his play ASKARI for a campaign on tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Against the backdrop of the genocidal carnage in Rwanda, the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the brutal military dictatorship in Nigeia, BEN TOMOLOJU led his theatre train on a tour of 20 out of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The play highlighted the plights of the child-solder, children, women, the aged and disabled in Africa's horrendous theatres of war.In 1999, his adaptation of Goethe's "Iphigenia in Tauris", tittled "Iphigenia finds Aiyelala" was produced by Goethe Institut to emphasize the essence ofpeace. A combination of his theatre and cultural activities in the late 1990s earned Ben Tomoloju "The PlatinumAward", an initiative of PLATINUM BANK OF NIGERIA,rewarding professional excellence. Within the last seven years (2001-2007), Tomoluju hasremained consistent in productivity and relevance to the advancement of the Nigerian culture. He led a Nigerian troupe to Ghana and the Ivory Coast in 2001 with a Germa-Susan Amatosero's - play Asylante, a dramatic expose on young Africans seeking asylum abroad. In 2003, his play Alafia was produced for a UNDPE/EU/TMG CAMPAIGN ON VOTER-Education inNigeria. Also in 2003, he was a member of the CreativeTask Force of the 8th All-Africa Games chaired bynobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. He wrote andproduced the play AMINATU - The Legendary Queen of Zazzau for the continental event. Two of his plays, ASKARI and AMINATU have been adaptedand produced as movies. Quite a number of hispublished and unpublished plays are being read and produced in Nigeria's Institutions of Learning his published plays are JANRIWO (Einaudi, Turin, 1987) ASKARI (BTC, LAGos, 1997) and AMINATU(Orbit, Lagos,2005)
He has also edited ASHES AND DIAMOND, ananthology published by the association of Nigerian Authors as well as VOTER FOR TOLERANCE (ICR, LAGos 1997) in collaboration with H JAhman Anikulapo. In further recognition of his contribution to the development of culture, the National Council for Arts and Culture December 2007, honoured Ben Tomoloju with a NATIONAL MERIT AWARD FOR PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE. He currently runs his own company, BTC-BEN Tomoloju and Company, a Media and Creative Consultancy Outfit. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the prestigious NIGERIA PRIZE FOR LITERATURE sponsored bythe Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas.