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Radio O-Y-O | Itafa Olayemi Olaboye

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The only radio station accessible to us was the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service (WNBS), later renamed Radio OYO, based at Ile Akede, Orita Basorun in the ancient city of Ibadan in Western State. Transistor radio sets were fewer in the neighborhood but we had two in our house. One of these two radio sets belonged to my father and it was forbidden for anyone of us to touch it; the other belonged to his driver, Broda Bisi alias Ire and it was accessible to us. We usually converged on Ire’s room leveraging on his wife’s (Iya Mutiat) hospitality to listen to a weekly Yoruba radio play tagged Kootu Asipa by Oyin Adejobi theatre company. Kootu Asipa was a mock court where issues are treated in line with customary court’s procedures.

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The hourly news broadcast from Radio OYO was our link to the outside world and often quoted source of information by most people. It was also a veritable source of timing by most adults who relied on the station’s announcement of time to set their clocks or wristwatches. It was usually an obtrusive moment when Radio OYO came on with its news on the hour preceded with its signature tune thus: ‘Radio O-Y-O’ (ree-dio-ooh-wai-ooh). Then the newscaster voice would rend the air in impeccable Yoruba “Agogo Meta Osan lu. E ka san o, Ibadan la ti nrohin, ni Ile Akede l’Orita Basorun, Akin Akinsolugba ni onirohin yin; saaju, e gbo koko inu irohin …”. The news broadcast usually ended with “Irohin asiko to kun rere, Radio Oyo le o ti gbo o” backed up by heavy percussion.

One other unique but puzzling item on the radio station was the drumming which was its signature tune for its network service. It usually preceded the major news broadcast especially the evening news at 6 o’clock. A lot of interpretations were ascribed to the drumming and strangely all versions sounded logical. The most popular ones were ‘Ninu Koko dudu la ti nse Obe’, ‘Sulu Gambari de ta ni o wa Oko’, and ‘T’Olubadan ba ku ta ni o joye’. It used to generate heated arguments as both adults and children tried to foist their own version on others. The reprieve eventually came when my father intervened in one of those arguments and lectured us that the drumming was by Oba Adetoyese Laoye, the Timi (King) of Ede town. He further informed us that the actual meaning of the drumming was ‘This is the Nigeria Broadcasting Service’. It made sense but I had voted for ‘T’Olubadan ba ku ta ni o joye’ and nothing could displace that interpretation especially when juxtaposed with my earlier encounter with the ephemeral reigns of Olubadan on Otitobori Barber Almanac and the fact that the radio station was based in Ibadan.

There was also the nightly homily from Prophet Timothy Oluwole Obadare popularly known as Wooli T.O. Obadare of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) and later World Soul Winning Evangelical Ministry (WOSEM), He would quote copiously from the Bible and would even correct his Bible reader on air despite being blind in both eyes. His style of preaching appealed to the general public irrespective of faith. He would go like this in his Yoruba laced with a tinge of Ijesa dialect ‘Lo si inu Iwe Ise Awon Aposteli, Kaa lati Ori iketa Ese ikefa… ki lo ti wi?’ .Then the Bible reader would spontaneously read the prescribed chapter and verses (a feat that always astonished me); Obadare would then interject as the reader, usually a female voice, recited with his trademark ‘eeehen, yes, o yes, eehen, kaa siwaju…’. He usually ended by repeating the last phrase of the prescribed verse with emphasis.

My favorite of all the items on the Radio OYO was its public service jingles which addressed virtually all the ills in the society. The jingles came in various forms and renditions as advisory to the general public and mostly handled by the famous Ijala chanter, Alabi Ogundepo. Some of these jingles are worth recalling here and are still very pertinent to the current state of the nation. Every evening at bedtime, there would be the advisory on burglars thus:

E fu ra o, Ifura l’oogun Agba.
Pansa o fura, Pansa ja’na
Aja o fura, Aja jin
B’onile o ba fu ra, Ole ni o ko
Be ba fe sun l’ale
E tana yile po
K’esi tun ti ilekun gboingboin
E t’oju dukia o
K’ama ba f’ara wa le Ole l’owo.

Another one espoused hygiene habits among the populace especially through the provision of toilet facilities in homes by landlords. Radio OYO succinctly put it in this jingle:

Tenant: Iya Aburo se o si nkan?
Visitor: Kini ohun lo ba mi nle. Nbo ni ile igbonse yin wa.
Tenant: Awa o mo ni ohun to jo be.
Visitor: Bawo wa le tin se? ,
Tenant: Bi k’abo si oju agbara. Ka l’oso l’ori atan baun baun.
Visitor: Baba Onile, bi ile yin ti dara to yi, ko si Salanga, ko si ile igbonse. E ya wa nkan se si.

{Excerpts from ITAFA: The Formative Years by Itafa Olayemi Olaboye}.

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