In such a fascinating “impersonation” of the great acts of the late Nollywood icon of Comedy; Babatunde Omidina AKA Baba Suwe, Thiago Isola has shown yet again his aesthetic personification of the essential Oyo/global artist.
In an extract from one of the several hit scenes of Baba Suwe that can yet be caterogized as farcical dramatic skit, Thiago acts both Baba Suwe as a “Babalawo” and a respondent who have a bad understanding of the Yoruba etymology. Baba Suwe asks his client to get a bottle of gin; and “atawewe” which means alligator pepper, but the client jokingly asks whether it’s the same Atawewe the Fuji Musician, to which the enigmatic Baba Suwe responds with a blast saying the client must have borrowed his brain.
Aside Baba Suwe being an embodiment of laughter, his comic words carry meaning and great uses of allusions, mockery, sarcasm and other ingredients of a good satire. The originality of Baba Suwe’s wits are legendary.
Thiago’s wearing of the Baba Suwe’s character, despite the disadvantages of body size and facial mien, is quite brilliant and shows what a good actor Thiago is. His switch while responding to his client, just exactly like Baba Suwe’s is also very inspiring and admirable.
Some Social Media Anti-racists have tried to blast Thiago for choosing the exact costumes of Baba Suwe which makes him paint his coloured face black. But such elements are Reductionists who take pleasure in making pettiness out of the struggles against Racism.
Thiago, by all global rules, is no more a Portuguese really. He is essentially an Oyo guy who have imbibed all the cultural, language, and artistic vibes of Oyo. So, it is mischievous for anyone to accuse Thiago of being racist by impersonating Baba Suwe. Like my Teacher, Tunde Awosanmi noted; an actor is an impersonator. Act it the way it is, and get more brilliant by advancing same artistically and in meaning.
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Choosing the skit on “Atawewe” is a literary tribute to the beauties in the Yoruba etymology. Atawewe means “small pepper” in pure translation, but the Yorubas actually mean what the English call “alligator pepper.”
The Yoruba do not see the imagery of the alligator in the shape of the particular pepper, but sees more of it’s hot values while small in size. So, most pint-sized fighters or humans in Yoruba etymology uses or adopts such a nicknames as “Atawewe” which can be referred to as “small but mighty.”
On Thiago Isola’s Brilliant Portrayal Of Baba Suwe pic.twitter.com/YYH1JG1GLf
— Eaglesforesight (@eaglesforesight) January 13, 2024
The Fuji Musician which Baba Suwe refers to in this skit- Sule Atawewe- is such an underrated but quite legendary musician who has since carved a niche for himself while also standing the test of time in the Fuji music industry.
This piece is both an artistic tribute to the late legend in Baba Suwe. It is also a literary appreciation of finesse and originality in the brilliant acts of Thiago Isola, the young Oyo chap of Portuguese origin who has personified the global phenomenon in the language, culture, and the theatre of the Yoruba in Southwest, Nigeria. Yio dara fun o, Thiago!