Tunde Kelani’s movie, “Ayinla” Makes History; Wins Isaac Oluwole Delano Prize for Yoruba Studies

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Tunde Kelani’s musical eponymous movie, Ayinla, has made history as the winner of the Isaac Oluwole Delano Prize for Yoruba Studies in the creative and performance category.

It was a delight as the Supervisory Board and Distinguished Jury for the prize announced this year’s winners, Akin Ogundiran’s The Yoruba: A New History in the book category and Tunde Kelani’s Ayinla in the creative and performance category.

The Isaac Oluwole Delano Prize includes a citation, a certificate, $1,000 to be shared equally among both awardees, and public acknowledgment at the annual Convocation Ceremony at Babcock University.

Ayinla, a biographical adaptation of Ayinla Omowura, the Apala music legend, has become a defining point for biographical adaptations in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Despite being predominantly in the Yoruba language, the movie found widespread acceptance among viewers. It has been one of the top five highest-grossing movies in Nollywood and has been among the top 10 trending movies on Netflix for weeks, further testifying to the strength of the movie’s broad appeal and how quickly it gained popularity among Africans and other lovers of good productions.

The production of the Ayinla movie was no mean feat, with the arduous production process, the continuous refining of creative representations to ensure they project the finest of details, and the place of good storytelling, continuity, and the ability to connect with and sustain the audience’s attention. The movie demonstrates the artistic and creative ingenuity of the cast and crew, especially the producer and the writer, for an apt summation of the life of Ayinla in such a eulogizing way and the director, for the intricate selection of the cast.

Since the movie premiere, not only has the director and the producer been receiving laurels, but the actors and actresses have also received their own warm and large share of the accolades, particularly Lateef Adedimeji, who did not just take on the role of Ayinla but rebirthed himself as the protagonist of the movie. Àyìnlá is the winner of the 2022 Programmer’s Best African Narrative Award in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Literature is the mirror of life, and the Ayinla movie is another wonderful product of literature that mirrors different aspects of society during Ayinla’s existence and several circumstances that could have contributed to his untimely death. The portrayal of Ayinla in the movie is such that one cannot but love the protagonist’s character, regardless of his whimsical nature.

The movie is a beautifully arranged masterpiece, with great commendation given to the director and producers for the attention paid to the movie’s setting. The financial resources pumped into creating a setting that suits the story, the intellectual capabilities forged together to birth the masterpiece, and the human resources pulled together to make the movie a success are priceless and invaluable.

Research must have been conducted to learn about Ayinla’s hometown and his life. We see Ayinla, a musician and band leader subject to the whims and caprices popular among musicians—reneging on promises, devising dubious means to slip out of performing engagements, womanizing unashamedly, downtown brawls, one of which eventually led to his death, and general controversies.

The movie showcases Ayinla’s life, and the average person, no matter how old, can easily relate the struggles of Ayinla as a thespian to the struggles of artists across all ages, from the new-generation artists to the much older ones, and across genres of music.


Joseph Omoniyi



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