Kole Omotoso

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(1943-) Academic, drama and language lecturer, playwright, director and actor. Internationally known for his academic writing as well as his plays. Also known as Bankole Omotoso, Bankole Abidjabi and Bankole Abayomi.


Born Bankole Ajibabi Omotoso (pronounced "Omotosho") on 21 April 1943 in in Akure, Ondo state, Nigeria. He obtained South African citizenship in 1999.


He studied at King's College, Lagos, the University of Ibadan, and the University of Edinburgh. There he completed a doctoral thesis on the modern Arabic writer Ahmad Ba Kathir.


He taught at the University of Ibadan to lecture on Arabic studies (1972–76), then moved to the University of Ife to work in Drama (1976–88). This was followed by visiting professorships in English at the University of Stirling and the National University of Lesotho, as well as a period with the Talawa Theatre Company, London. Brought out to South Africa by Dr Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, he settled in Cape Town to become a professor of English at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa (1991–2000). in 1994(?*). He became a lecturer in the Department of English, University of the Western Cape and obtained South African citizenship in 1999 (?*). From 2001 to 2003he was an extraordinary professor a in the Drama Department of the University of Stellenbosch. Author of 9 novels, three plays and and numerous academic publications.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

As lecturer

In 2001 he joined the University of Stellenbosch's Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies as researcher and was contracted as a professor in the Drama Department for three years. In this time he taught African theatre and wrote and directed a play for the department. On the expiration of his contract in 2004 he became a freelance writer, actor and businessman.

As writer

Besides the nine novels and the numerous articles and formal lectures on theatre matters, he also gave many talks on literature, drama and playwrighting at festivals and other events.

Two key academic works on theatre are The Theatrical Into Theatre: a study of the drama and theatre of the English-speaking Caribbean (1982) and Achebe or Soyinka? A Study in Contrasts (1995).

Film work

Roles in

Mandela and de Klerk (1997), playing Thabo Mbeki.

Sista kontraktet (1998)

Technical advisor on Africa for Lord of War (2005).

TV work

He did some advertising work, and since 1996 he has been a familiar and popular icon for South Africans, since he was used in a classic and long term Vodacom television and poster ad for cell phones, a campaign which began and became associated with the 1995 Rugby World Cup. He soon became known to most South Africans as "Yebo GoGo" [= "Hello, Grandma"], after the malappropriate words used by the dumb white character played by Michael de Pinna in the ad, and this public role would continue well beyond 2001.

Roles in

Charlie Jade (TV Series) , episode called And Not a Drop to Drink (2005)

Jacob's Cross (TV Series) under the name Bankole Abayomi (2007)


He has published two plays, namely The Curse (1976) and Shadows in the Horizon (1977). In addition he wrote and directed a play called ** with the students at the Drama Department in Stellenbosch in 200*. This was not published.

Stage appearances

In 2005 appeared at the Baxter Storytelling Festival, telling stories.

Awards, etc




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