Curtain drops on Dejumo Lewis, the brand builder

By Felicia Nwosu

As espoused by William Shakespeare,” life is but a stage, the poor actor comes and struts his hour upon the stage. And he is heard no more. It is like a tale told by an idiot,full of sound and furry,signifying nothing.”‘

This Shakespearan immortal words resonated more poignantly last weekend with the passing of Dejumo Lewis, a global brand building icon as he bowed out gracefully from the terrestrial sojourn.
Just like a stage drama, where the curtain closes after a scene, but this time it is on a very sad note that the curtain of life cycle closed on the life of an actor of international stature. This marked the exit of a versatile actor who had used his amazing talent to give brands a share of voice and visibility as a brand builder.

Over the years, he had always represented a figure of respect in the soap opera. As the producer of popular programmes, he has helped to build several outstanding notable brands in Nigeria. The light has gone dim as the curtain closed on the man whose distinctive strong voice represented authority, fearlessness and royalty in the minds of teeming TV viewers when he starred as Kabiyesi in the weekly series of the Nigerian television authority, “The Village Headmaster
Dejumo Lewis, who played Kabiyesi, the Oloja of Oja in the new Headmaster, reignited nostalgic feelings among older generation bringing much excitement to one of the most iconic and longest -running Nigerian TV series, which ran for 2 decades (1968-1988).

Today, as movie lovers mourn this brand builder, one painful part is the fact that some of the brands that leveraged this iconic producer’s soap opera to gain visibility ,market stardom while boosting sales are no more. While some have have expanded, others are nowhere to be found, due to inability to cope with the harsh economic realities facing in today’s global market place.

The once vibrant, energetic and cheerful veteran actor who brought enduring smile to many homes and brands especially in raising the bar of many local and multinational brands to become household names featured as the king in the Nigeria’s longest-running television soap opera that ran from the 60s to the 80s.

The era of the Village Headmaster recorded the period of intensed and strong brands engagement with audience whose touch points were captured and endeared to the target consumers of the products via the iconic drama series that was considered one of the 10 all-time best during that period.

It was an immense opportunity for companies who were aspiring to make their brands household name to tap into consumers passion points, leveraging a drama series whose presence as a network programme cut across the country with million eyeballs as viewers running on an hourly time- belt.
Lots of multinational companies used the platform to ward off competition.

Then there was an intense competition between the then Liver Brothers maker of Omo blue detergent, Close Up toothpaste, and other numereous brands, whose strong competitors was PZ Cussons Nigeria whose products are broadly categorised into Personal care- comprising of Imperial leather, Carex, Cusson Baby, Premier,and others.

There was also a stiff competition between Nestlé Nigeria and Cadbury and among other companies as well. These companies were all out to make both impressions and also increase brand awareness to drive sales and outshine competitors through other several soap operas as well.

Little wonder, telecommunications giant, Globacom in conjunction with Wale Adenuga Productions, did not waste any time in grabbing the opportunity when the programme resurfaced with a revamp with old and new characters to the TV screens on Sunday, April 24, 2022, it was received with an open arms.This is because Glo understands that it would serve as another ladder for successful marketing and sales strategy that the companies can expand their customer base and drive sales. Since then, glo has continued to tap into its consumers touch points to boost bottom line.

The programme was created by diplomat, television producer, director, broadcaster, and art patron, Ambassador Segun Olusola who passed away in 2012 and produced by Dejumo Lewis.The series started life in 1958 as a radio program. It migrated to television in 1968 and quickly became Nigeria’s most loved television series with its constellation of different characters speaking a mix of Yoruba, pidgin, and Queen’s English in a bucolic setting that mirrored many provincial locales.

He became synonymous with acting as a fantastic actor, an administrator and a good producer-director, as he also featured in other notable movies such as “A Place in the Stars” (2014), “Crossroads” (2020), and “Power of 1” (2018).

The Oloja of Oja in the new Headmaster was also a broadcast teacher. Born in Lagos State in 1943, he was a staff of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA. He died at the age of 80 in Lagos.
It is unfortunate that the light finally dimmed and the curtain dropped on the epochal life,face and voice, which brought smiles to many through various soap operas and movies.

No wonder C Y Gopinath once wrote that “Death is like a sentence. Sooner or later it will meet its full stop. But the story never ends there.” The great Iroko tree has fallen but his dedication and personal charm brought dignity to the weekly drama series, and his demonstration of kingship and royalty set a standard that inspired many. The icon of the Village Headmaster has bid farewell to the media space and the world. The great man of the screen will forever be missed by many but never forgotten.


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