His biography is a very compelling and interesting read.He had his primary education in Lagos at Ansarudeen, Oke-Ejigbo and secondary at Adebo commercial school in Lagos. He later went to Lagos drama school created by Christoper Olude.
Oga Bello was born May 9, 1953 (age 62) so he shares a birthday with my sister.(smiles)
He started his acting career at the tender age of 11 in 1964.He started under another acting legend
who's life was unfortunately cut short before he even reached his prime.Ojo Ladipo otherwise known as Baba Mero.Their group was known as the Young Concert Party before it was changed to the popular Ojo Ladipo Theatre group also known with the moniker Awada Kerikeri..Baba Mero died in 1978.Sadly his wife ,the equally popular Sabitiu followed suit in 1985.
This proved to be a very tough time for Oga Bellow who actually contemplated retiring from the acting world.The reason for this was because after the death of Sabitiu who was Ojo Ladipo's wife,certain people began peddling rumours and accusing him of having killed his master and his wife in order to take over the group.These incident troubled him so much that he was ready to pack it all in and retire.Thankfully,another Yoruba theatre and playwright legend Hubert Ogunde persuaded Adebayo from doing so.
He then went on to star in his first movie Ogun Ajaye in the same year.
Asked about how his love for acting started,Oga Bello says-I think right from my youth, I have always love anything that has to do with acting. I have been involved in so many activities relating to that on the Island then whenever there were festivals such as Ramadan, Eid-el Fitri and Kabir, Easter and Christmas. Then, we would perform many plays just to entertain and keep people busy. There was a group called Young Stars Concert Party at the back of my school when I was in the elementary school then. Once I heard them rehearsing then, I would peep out of curiosity and longed to be part of what they were doing. Eventually in 1964, I decided to join them and since then, I have been acting. It was this group that later metamorphosed into the Ojo Ladiipo Theartre and Awada Kerikeri Theatre Group respectively. It was led by the late Ojo Ladiipo(Baba Mero).
Speaking further about the influences the Yoruba movie and theatre outlets has had on Nigerian entertainment industry,Adebayom Salami had this to say- If you look inward and trace the history of movies in Nigeria to its origin, you will discover that the Yoruba movie industry kicked it off. Right from the time of Alarinjo, the first Nigerian Yoruba movie, a celluloid, we have started movies. It was the first Nigerian movie in Yoruba. Wole Soyinka produced Kongi Harvest although it was not a commercial film. Ola Balogun produced the first Yoruba movie Ajani Ogun, it is a commercial film. Ija ominira followed, by Dr Balogun’s idea and co-ordinated by late Duro-Ladipo. This was also followed by Taxi driver, Aye and then my own films; Ogun Ajaye, produced in 1985 and Ija Orogun. Which were all in celluloid. So if you start tracing the history of movie industry it all started from Alarinjo- the traveling theatre..
Among Oga Bello's children is the famous actor Femi Adebayo,who has made himself a household name and an A lister in the Yoruba Movies sector.He is also a Property Lawyer and the boss of J-15 School of Performing Arts, located at Mokola Area of Ibadan.He is the second son.
Wale Adebayo is the first son of the family. He was based in America before he relocated to Nigeria some years ago to monitor his companies here .
Sadiq Adebayo is a location manager in the same industry.Tope Adebayo is a movie director. He graduated from the University of Ilorin in 2006 as a Computer Engineer.Then there is Ridwan and Hakeem..
Talking about one of the downsides of fame,Oga Bello stated that there were a few prices to pay- I can’t go to the market to buy anything. I can’t work on the street any more. If I go to party I have to sneak in because if I don’t, I will have to greet everybody. I can’t go shopping for myself except I send somebody.
Adebayo Salami aka Oga Bello,we salute you for 50 years years on stage and all the entertainment and laughter you have given us through the years.Actually a little correction there,it is now 52 years on stage as he marked his 50th in 2004.
Here is to the next 50 years!