Baba Suwe: The humour merchant leaves stage at 63

Veteran Nollywood actor, Babatunde Omidina aka Baba Suwe passed on at the age of 63 on Monday, November 22, 2021.

His death was announced by one of his sons, Adesola Omidina, many months after he was rumoured dead following relapse on his health. Baba Suwe was buried in his home in Ewu Elepe, in Ikorodu area of Lagos state on Thursday, November 25, 2021.

Baba Suwe
Baba Suwe

The humour merchant was born on August 22, 1958 and he was raised in Inabere street on Lagos Island, Lagos. Baba Suwe, an indigene of the Ikorodu area of Lagos, was first married to his colleague, who is popularly known as ‘Suwe,’ for some years before the two went separate ways due to irreconcilable differences. The estranged couple had children together. After quitting his marriage with Suwe, Omidina went on to marry another actress, Modinat Omidina aka Moladu Kenkelewu. The marriage lasted few years before Moladun passed away.

Getting into klieglights

Omidina, in a 2014 interview explained that he started acting at 18 when he dropped out of secondary school. He said he developed the passion when Baba Mero and his group came to Children boarding school in Osogbo to act. After watching them, he got drums and other musical instruments, picked some guys in my street like Mufutau Ilumoka, Sola Taiwo and a host of others and formed a theater group. And that was what metamorphosed into the brand ‘Baba Suwe.’ He began acting in 1971 and became a popular face on Nigerian Television state, NTA 7 in the early 90s. He came into the limelight after he featured in a movie titled, ‘Omolasan,’ a film produced by Obalende. Baba Suwe became popular for his comic roles in several Nollywood films and television productions between late 80s and mid 90s. The actor and film producer became famous for his Television series, Erin Keeke, which had Yoruba as the language of communication. The Television series made waves on NTA Channel 7 in the 90s and featured popular film stars like Opebe, Madam Saaje, Suwe, Emukay, and others, until it stopped airing in 1996.

The veteran actor went on to make an impact on the home video scene by appearing in several movies and later producing over 10 under his Erin Keeke imprint and late Babs Omidina Production. His fame continued to grow after he featured in Olaiya Igwe’s ‘Iru Esin,’ in 1997. He also worked with various major movie producers and marketers like Bayowa Films and Corporate Pictures. Some of his memorable works includes ‘Baba Laarinlodu,’ ‘Baba Londoner,’ ‘Baba Jaiye Jaiye,’ ‘Pink Ladies,’ and ‘Elebolo.’

Life trials

Baba Suwe had kept featuring in several movies and was at some point one of the most influential movie stars. He hobnobbed with the high and mighty including some popular society bigwigs and politicians, whom he constantly sing their praises at every opportunity while on set. he was not so educated but knew the director had the power to cut scenes when he goes beyond his boundaries. His ability to leave film crew and directors laughing hysterically with his dialogues and ability to twist several Yoruba proverbs to suit his character became his mantra. Though some viewers perceived him as one who over-acts, he maintained that only the director knows and has the ability to cut him whenever he’s on set. So, he blossomed and gathered more fans.

Before his marriage to popular actress, late Monsurat Omidina aka Omoladun Kenkelewu, Omidina was married to a co-actor, who featured on his popular TV series, Erin Keeke as his daughter, Suwe. The marriage, which produced children, crashed as Omidina’s fame grew. Suwe, later quit acting after the crashed marriage.

Few years after, Omidina made his relationship with Omoladun official and they became an item on the movie scene. The two acted as a couple in many of their films and their fame grew further.

However, things began going awry for Omidina after unconfirmed tales of marital abuse filtered into public space. It was widely rumoured that his marriage to Omoladun was marred by abuse. Neither Omidina nor Omoladun confirmed nor denied the allegations till their deaths. In 2009, Omoladun passed away. Her death shattered Baba Suwe, who failed to recover from the shock of her death.

In a 2014 interview, Omidina had reiterated that the death of Omoladun was a great loss he cannot get over in his lifetime. He said she will remain his best companion saying she understood him more than any other person on planet earth. He, however, said whenever they have couple’s quarrels in the house, she would abuse him on set and that would mark the end of the issue.

The beginning of the end

Two years after his wife’s death, the late actor and comedian was arrested on October 12, 2011, after a body scanner at Lagos airport allegedly identified suspected drugs in his stomach. After many weeks in detention on the insistence of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and legal back and forth, Omidina was freed in 2011. He sued the agency for several millions of Naira to claim damages but nothing came out of the move.

However, five years after his ordeal in the hands of NDLEA, Omidina’s health never remained the same. The late actor battled chronic diabetes and in 2018, his health deteriorated badly that he had to resort to the public and well-meaning Nigerians to help him out.

Many Nigerians donated graciously to ensure Baba Suwe got back on his feet but the ill health didn’t grant him the opportunity to return to set even after a medical vacation in the United States of America.

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