Duro Ladipo

Duro Ladipo

Duro Ladipo (1931–1978) was one of the best known and critically acclaimed Yoruba dramatists that emerged from postcolonial Africa. Writing solely in the Yoruba language, he captivated the symbolic spirit of Yoruba mythologies in his plays which were later adapted to other medium such as Photography, Television, and Cinema. His most famous play, Ọba kò so (The king did not hang), a dramatization of the traditional Yoruba story on how Shango became the God of Thunder, received international acclaim at the 1961 Commonwealth Arts Festival and on a European tour, where a Berlin critic, Ulli Beier, compared Ladipọ to Von Karajan.[1] Ladipo usually acted in his own plays.


Early life

Duro was raised in a Christian family, his father was a minister at an Anglican church in Osogbo. However, Duro may have been influenced by his grandfather, who migrated to Osogbo after the Jalumi war. His grandfather was well versed in Yoruba mythology, especially those emanating from Old Oyo, and was known to have worshipped Shango and Oya.


Ladipo tried hard and succeeded in exposing himself to traditional and Yoruba cultural elements especially when living under the veil of a Christian home. At a young age, he would sneak out of the vicarage to watch Yoruba festivals. This fascination with his culture goaded him into researching and experimenting with theatrical drama and writing. After leaving Osogbo, he went to Ibadan, where he became a teacher. While in Ibadan he became one of the founding members of an artist society or club called Mbari-Mbayo and became influenced by Beier. He later replicated the club in Osogbo and it became the premier group for promoting budding artists and dramatists in Osogbo. Throughout his career, Duro Ladipo wrote ten Yoruba folk operas combining dance, music, mime, proverbs, drumming and praise songs.

He started his theatre group in 1961 but he became fully established with the founding of the Mbari Mbayo Club in Osogbo. His popularity as a folk opera group really rests on his three plays: Obamoro In 1962, Oba ko so and Oba Waja in 1964. (Oba Waja - "The King is Dead" - is based on the same historical event which inspired fellow Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman.[2]) He also promoted Moremi. He later transformed the Mbari Mbayo into a cultural center, an arts gallery and a meeting point for young artists seeking to develop their talents. Duro Oladipo wrote quite a number of plays. e.g.; Suru Baba Iwa, Tanimowo, Iku. Some of his plays were also produced for television. In fact he created Bode Wasinimi for N.T.A Ibadun.


  1. ^ Ulli Beier, p.c. (1965) to Prof. Herbert F.W. Stahlke.
  2. ^ Soyinka, Wole (2002). Death and the king's horseman. W.W. Norton. p. 5. ISBN 0393322998. 


  • Ladipọ, Duro (1972). Ọba kò so (The king did not hang) — Opera by Duro Ladipọ. (Transcribed and translated by R.G. Armstrong, Robert L. Awujọọla and Val Ọlayẹmi from a tape recording by R. Curt Wittig). Ibadan: Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ladipo, Duro — ▪ Nigerian dramatist born Dec. 18, 1931, Oshogbo, Nigeria died Mar. 11, 1978, Oshogbo       Nigerian dramatist whose innovative folk operas incorporating ritual poetry and traditional rhythms performed on indigenous instruments were based on… …   Universalium

  • theatre, African — ▪ art Introduction       an art, concerned almost exclusively with live performances in which the action is precisely planned to create a coherent and significant sense of drama, as it is presented in sub Saharan Africa.       The content and… …   Universalium

  • Nigerian theatre —       variety of folk opera of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria that emerged in the early 1940s. It combined a brilliant sense of mime, colourful costumes, and traditional drumming, music, and folklore. Directed toward a local audience,… …   Universalium

  • Ọba kò so — (The King Did Not Hang) is a play by Duro Ladipo depicting the mystical and ambivalent personality known as Shango of Yoruba mythology. Background Shango is the protagonist of the play, according to some historians, as the king of Oyo, he was a… …   Wikipedia

  • Yoruba language — Yorùbá èdèe Yorùbá Spoken in  Nigeria …   Wikipedia

  • Mbari Mbayo Club — ▪ African arts club       club established for African writers (African literature), artists, and musicians at Ibadan and Oshogbo in Nigeria. The first Mbari Club was founded in Ibadan in 1961 by a group of young writers with the help of Ulli… …   Universalium

  • Yoruba (Sprache) — Yoruba Gesprochen in Nigeria, Benin, Togo Sprecher über 30 Millionen Linguistische Klassifikation Niger Kongo Sprachen Benue Kongo Sprachen Defoide Sprachen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Osogbo —   LGA and city   …   Wikipedia

  • Death and the King's Horseman — Written by Wole Soyinka Characters Elesin Olunde Iyaloja Simon Pilkings Jane Pilkings Amusa Date premiered March 1, 1975 (1975 03 01) …   Wikipedia

  • Yinka Adeyemi — is a Yoruba artist from Osun State, Nigeria. He was born in Iragbiji and lived in Ilé Ifẹ̀ for four decades before moving to Oakland, California, United States.Adeyemi began his career with the Osogbo Arts Movement in Nigeria in the 1960s. He… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.