• An icon ripens with grace and dignity

Veteran Nigerian actor, Oludotun Baiyewu Jacobs popularly known to many simply as Olu Jacobs or Uncle Olu Jacobs to the younger generation, virtually lifted the life curtain to behold his 80th birthday anniversary on the 11th of July with pomp and pageantry. His family and Nollywood pulled out all stops to celebrate and thank him for his contributions to the growth and popularity of the industry. His love of the theatre and acting dates back to his early childhood in Kano, where he was a member of both the debating and dramatic societies at Holy Trinity School. Legendary Hubert Ogunde perhaps sparked the interest of the young Olu Jacobs in taking   acting as a career path after he attended one of his annual concerts as a young boy. He then travelled to pursue education at The Royal Academy of Arts in London.

His passion for acting and his education armed him for a life that has made him something of a metaphor, as one of the most accomplished male actor gifts from Nigeria to the world. He started off appearing in some British shows and series in the 1970s. He went international when he appeared in John Irvin’s war film, The Dogs of War, and Roman Polanski’s adventure-comedy, Pirates, among others.

Despite his accomplishments abroad, he remarkably moved back home to contribute his quota to nation-building through the arts and what a success he has made of his chosen career path! Olu Jacobs stands today as one of the strong pillars of the Nollywood industry who has taken the world by storm. He has featured in many stage plays and films and has many awards to show for it, including the prestigious Industry Merit Award for outstanding achievements in acting in 2013.

We rejoice with the great thespian for all he has achieved in Nigeria’s entertainment industry as a mentor, a beacon and a teacher. His life on and off the stage has been ennobling. Many young people take him just the way he admired the late Hubert Ogunde. Many are pursuing a career in the arts because of the beauty and pizzazz he brought to the stage. That is the hallmark of excellence: giving to others what you received even when they have no physical contact with you is the zenith of inspiration and enhancing human flourish.

His marriage to a fellow award-winning actress, Joke Silva, proves that his professional excellence and success goes beyond the stage. They have been married for thirty six years. Their relationship is widely admired beyond the industry. Their love story seems to be a work of art on its own, but more than anything, it shows how cosmopolitan Olu Jacobs is. In a very patriarchal society like Nigeria where husbands with low self-esteem prevent their spouses from pursuing a career, the partnership they have had in the industry has been as admirable as it has been inspiring.

The stability of their marriage in an industry that daily witnesses the breakdown of marriages between actors or even across other professions due mainly to petty jealousy from the men who feel their spouses must be less famous than them is very admirable.  While marriage is a team work, Olu Jacobs’ humility even as an accomplished actor marks him out. He had repeatedly shown through actions that real love is about humility, partnership, loyalty, respect and kindness. They have worked together as family and professionals to the admiration of the world.

As Jacobs celebrates his 80th birthday, we thank him for his contributions to the art, his patriotism and the example he has shown as an educated  leader in his field who knows that a man’s life and education only has value dependent on the impact and contributions he makes to humanity. Uncle Olu Jacobs is an epitome of a valuable citizen, a husband, father, mentor, teacher and everything in-between in a society desperate for heroes. His life is a testament to the fact that individuals must not hold political offices to impact their society. We thank, celebrate and wish him many more impactful years ahead.