OBITUARY: Bukky Ajayi – tomboy, Jazzman Olofin’s grandma-in-law – begged for forgiveness 4 months before her death - FAITH ADAMA'S BLOG

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Thursday, 7 July 2016

OBITUARY: Bukky Ajayi – tomboy, Jazzman Olofin’s grandma-in-law – begged for forgiveness 4 months before her death

Age gives one the privilege of hindsight and luxury of foresight.
Zainab Bukola Ajayi died four months after she won the Industry Merit Award at the 2016 African Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) and five months after she celebrated her 82nd birthday, which would turn out to be her last on earth, as she now journeys forth into the afterlife.

The name of the iconic thespian will forever be etched in the memories Nollywood followers. Her journey in the Nigerian film industry spans decades of amazing performances in classic film productions such as the unforgettable Village Headmaster and the likes of  ThunderBolt,OduduwaWomen’s Cot.
Ajayi was born a Christian but would later convert to Islam in the 80s, when she chose the name ‘Zainab’ for herself.


Her acceptance speech at the AMVCA — her last public outing — moved the audience to tears, as she was visibly overwhelmed to receive a prolonged standing ovation from her peers, admirers and mentees.
Perhaps she knew this was going to be her last public engagement the movie-industry literati. With tears swelling in her eyes, she longingly held on to her plaque, evidently overwhelmed by emotions. Ajayi, speechless for a minute, sought forgiveness from whomever she may have wronged during the course of her exemplary career.
“I just want to say to all my friends and non-friends thank you very much, you do not know how much this award means to me,” she said at the occasion.
“If I have offended in one way or another please find it in your heart to forgive me and if you think you have offended me, don’t worry I have forgiven you a long time ago. I am very happy from the bottom of my heart. I wish I could stand up but if I do I will fall but you all standing for me I say thank you.”
Many will remember her as one of Nigeria’s greatest actresses ever, but who exactly was she?


In a 2010 interview, Ajayi described herself as the archetypal tomboy during her formative years.
She said she got into countless fights as a kid and she often won. But whenever she happened to be losing a fight to a boy, her older brother would always swoop in, to the rescue.
Perhaps, growing up in the midst of boys largely contributed to her love for “fights” but while she thrived in the act, Ajayi hoped her grandchildren would emulate their parents — her children — by shunning the trait.
“I will never allow anybody to cheat me, as a matter of fact nobody can cheat me, I will never allow that. And I do not like people cheating any other person, I will fight for you,” she once said.
She was such a relentless fighter that she took her pastime with her when schooling in England, where she once dealt with a fellow student in Pitman’s College for taking her seat.


She was artistic and entrepreneurial from inception and she found avenues to direct her creative tendencies.
As a girl, she would carve up a cardboard cinema through which she entertained children who would cough up half a penny as gate fee for her performance.
Her father introduced her to the cinema, where she got to know stars like Doris Dave and Clarke Gabel.
These visits eventually sparked her interest in following the same route and she told her father: “one day, you will see my name written bold in the cinema.” However, his death ensured he wasn’t around to witness her fame.
After her father’s death, her grandparents took care of her education in England but again, death didn’t avail her the opportunity of showing her gratitude to them.
“I never met with them because they died long before I returned to the country,” she would say in an interview.


Far more than an actress, Ajayi was also a broadcaster. A year after returning from England in 1965, Bukky Ajayi joined the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) as a presentation assistant but she later rose to become a presenter and a news reader with the organisation.
Ajayi also presented a couple of children’s programmes and culturally-inclined TV shows.


She strongly believed in hard work and self-help.
Ajayi made sure she personally prepared her meals even when she could easily secure assistance to carry out the household chore.
“I believe in hard work, otherwise I would have been sitting down and calling on my servants to give me this or that but I am not cut out for that kind of life,” she said of herself.
“As I am now, nobody cooks for me; I cook for myself and I love cooking till date. If you look in that direction there, you will find my coal pot; I love using coal pot to cook.
“Honestly, I love cooking and also I love to eat a lot but what fascinates me most is when I see people enjoy eating my food. When I give things out to people and I see them using it, it gives me great joy that I don’t know how to explain. I’m a happy woman when I give and share with people.”


Unlike the entertainment stars of modern times, Ajayi belonged to the school of the old that believes your private life should remain private.
She was hardly ever keen on discussing her marriage and when she once was asked about the topic, she said, “No, no, no; that is a no go area.  It is a no go area, let us just forget about it.” 


The actress was so cool that on several occasions, she was photographed doing the ‘peace sign’. Also, one of her sons, Abounce (real name, Olakunle Fawole) is a rapper.
One of the harbingers of the Nigerian hip hop game, Abounce laid the foundation of the present industry with the likes of Ruggedman, Trybesmen, Ruff Rugged & Raw, OJB Jezreel, Jazzman Olofin and Elajoe.
Apart from being a rapper, he’s also a music producer and actor who has featured inDiamond RingApostle KasaliZaraDoctors’ QuartersFuji House of CommotionTales of EveSoaked SecretSo Wrong So Wright among others.
Bukky Ajayi is also grandmother-in-law to rapper/singer, Jazzman Olofin, a long-time collaborator of late producer, OJB Jezreel.

(The Cable)

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