Ben Tomoloju; pioneer of Nigerian art journalism who through his literary enterprise added value to journalism. With his Saturday column in the Punch called Portrait of an Artist, Tomoloju projected very powerful productions to national reckoning. He also reported developments in policy and implementation in the country’s cultural sector[i].
Places of Growth
Ben Tomoloju was born December 18, 1954, Igbo-Egunrin, ilaje LGA, Ondo State. He had his elementary education at Owo, Ilu-Titun, and Okitipupa towns of Ondo State before heading to Agege in Lagos and Ikeja where he finished the primary school. Ben also went to Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, 1968-72 and in 1974.
Tomoloju studied at the University of Ibadan from 1975 to 1978.
Between 1982-83 Ben Tomoloju combined his work as Chairman, Editorial Board in the Punch, with the work of an English Language Teacher at Saka Tinubu Memorial High School, Agege. Before him, what was supposed to be art journalism was riddled with everything but the actual appreciation of – theatre, performing, visual or literary arts. In 1985, he joined The Guardian as the pioneer Arts Editor. There he flourished and with his advocacy won the affection of the military president, General Babangida who decreed the formation of the National Troupe of Nigeria. Encouraged by this, Tomoloju began to send people all over the country to cover events and culture-related issues. He founded the Kakaaki Performance Troupe in 1980.
In the 1980s also, Tomoloju involved in Anti-Piracy, policy drafting of Nigeria’s National Cultural Policy. He was a member of the Governing Board, National Commission for Museums and Monuments from 1991-93 and Project Consultant, Afrika Project ’98. He was the Chairman National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, 1989; and member, National Association of Nigerian Authors, 1989-90; Chairman, Arts Writers Organisation of Nigeria, 1990; Executive member, Nigerian Folklore Society: fellow, Young African Leadership Forum, USA, 1990. In 2013, Tomoloju joined eminent dramatist, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett for a film adaptation of Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka‘s childhood memoir, Ake[ii].
[i] TheNation December 24, 2004
[ii] Newswatch Who is Who