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Not too long ago, we commenced the series with the above title and featured great Nigerians with intimidating credentials like late Prof. Adebayo Adedeji and Prof. Akin Mabogunje. Our intention is to generate the feelings of empathy in readers, particularly the young ones and challenge them to aim for the highest heights possible. If people could attain enviable heights when Western educational opportunities and technology were not as rosy as what we have today, there is no reason why the young ones should not develop themselves. Today, our focus is on another segment of the society, from where we have picked a visual artiste who against all odds, has emerged a success through the discovery of his skills and talents. We are all blessed with diverse skills and talents; but many fail to discover these through sheer carelessness.

If only we could pay particular attention to individuals helping themselves, there would have been no need for those dangerous trips by illegal migrants seeking fortune in Europe and the United States.   A little over 60 years ago, Chief Muraina Oyelami, was a nobody; who roamed the streets of what later became Osun State. From all indications, over six decades ago, the future had no hope for a teenager who looked for ways of survival. He has since emerged an international star as a master painter a great performing artist in music and theatre. The Creator is a Perfect Arranger. Prof. Ulli Beier and his wife, Georgina Beier arrived in Nigeria about that period when Oyelami was a teenager to perform the role of helper of destiny in the life of this   famous artiste, who was brought up as one of the ‘Oshogbo Art Movement’ initiated by Professor Ulli Beier and his wife Georgina Beier.

DESTINY HELPER: Ulli & Georgina Beier also discovered other talents. These include Jimoh Buraimoh was known for his mosaic compositions made with local beads, potsherds, or stones; painter Yinka Adeyemi, Yekini Folurunsho, late Asiru Olatunde, Rufus Ogundele, and late UNESCO Artiste for Peace,  Taiwo Olaniyi (aka Twin Seven-Seven) Georgina ran art workshops from which notable names in the art community emerged. Beier found a prominent dramatist, Duro Ladipo useful and worked with him to create popular Yoruba folk operas: Oba Koso and Oba Waja. It was such a successful effort such that they were featured at the 1965 Commonwealth Arts Festival. Muraina started his career as an artist in 1964, and has progressively made impact on the sands of time. The story of Chief Muraina is being highlighted to encourage the younger ones that it is not impossible to succeed in life provided you go through your terrestrial journey with faith, courage, determination, focus and resilience.

AS FOUNDING MEMBER, DURO LADIPO THEATRE:  Muraina Oyelami, who is approaching the 80-year milestone, is the Eesa (Traditional Prime Minister) of Iragbiji, Osun State.  He was part the young people literally picked on the streets by Ulli & Georgina Beier and made to go through the furnace. The Oshogbo art movement was put together by the Beiers, who brought together young and creative individuals without formal art training and encouraged them to paint from the heart. Following the success of the movement, Oshogbo today has become the centre of art movement in Nigeria with an ever-growing group of artists. Six decades after discovering his latent skills, Muraina Oyelami has exhibited his works and performed traditional and fusion music throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the United States. He was a founding member of the late Duro Ladipo Theatre Company performing as an actor and musician. He was in the first Commonwealth Arts Festival in the United Kingdom in 1965 and was among the group that toured the Berlin Festival of Art in 1964.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Oyelami studied technical theatre and specialized in theatre design at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, where he later taught traditional music from 1975 to 1987.  His works represent his experiences, stories, and folktales that dot the landscapes and the global art community. His achievements in the art community have been celebrated at several gatherings. For the records, and for the purpose of encouraging the growing ones, we present the resume of this artiste who battled all odds to emerge a success in his journey through Planet earth.

Traditional Training/Research:

  • Founding Member of Duro Ladipo National Theatre, Osogbo 1963-1966
  • Yoruba Dundun Druming Research/Training under Oba Laoye, Timi of Ede 1963-65.
  • Yoruba Bata Drumming Research and Training with Abeyefo of Iseyin and Ayantunji Amoo of Okinni 1963-1966
  • Visual Arts Training/Workshops Attended: Kunst Akademie, Berlin Germany 1979; Otis Art Institut, Los Angeles 1974 and Ru Van Russem 2nd Printmaking Workshop – Ile Ife 1972
  • Osogbo Art School, Ataoja’s Palace Osogbo 1964 – 67
  • Ru Van Russem (from Holland) Printmaking Workshop, Osogbo 1966
  • Summer Art School, Mbari-Mbayo Artists and Writers Club, Osogbo 1964
  • Teaching Experience:
  • International Tutor, Fifth Summer School (for African and Carribean Music and Dance), organized by the B.D.D.T of England, held at the Birmingham Polytechnic campus, Birmingham, UK 1990.
  • International Tutor, Fourth Summer School (for African and Caribbean Music and Dance), organized by the Black Dance Development Trust of England, Birmingham, UK 1989.
    Yoruba Traditional Music and Dance Instructor, Department of Music, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife 1976 – 1987.

Institutions Founded

  • Obatala Centre for Creative Arts (A resource Centre for Artists and Scholars)
    Iragbiji – Osun State, Nigeria.
  • ILE-ONA – A Museum of Art and Archival Records, Iragbiji – Osun State, Nigeria.
    Selected Exhibitions (Solo)
  • Mbari Institute, Washington DC USA 2001
  • Nimbus Gallery, Lagos Nigeria 1998
  • Gallerie am Turm, Eltville-am-Rhein, and Germany 1998
  • Palm Beach, Florida 1997
  • Hamburgisches Museum fur Volkerkunde, Hamburg Germany, 1991
  • Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, University of California in Santa Cruz, 1985
  • San Francisco California, 1985.
  • Sergeant Johnson Gallery, Western Addition Cultural Center,
  • Whitney Young Resource Centre, USIS Lagos, 1985.
  • Goethe Institut, Lagos, 1981.
  • Opus2 Gallery, Washington DC.1974.
  • Michigan State University in East Lansing, 1974.
  • Goethe Institut Lagos, 1972.
  • Goethe Institut Lagos, 1970.
  • Humanities Auditorium II, University of Ife – 1969.
  • School of Africa and Asian Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton UK. 1967

Selected Exhibitions (Group):

  • Elf Village, Port Harcourt Nigeria 1999.
  • MUSON Center, Lagos 1999.
  • “Thirty Years of Osogbo Art”, Goethe Institut Lagos, Nigeria 1992.
  • San Jose State University Gallery 1, San Jose CA. USA 1990.
  • Tudor Hall, Montreal, Canada 1989.
  • Goethe Institut, Lagos Nigeria 1989.
  • Zamana Gallery, London UK 1989.
  • Aljira, Newark, New Jersey USA 1988.
  • Commonwealth Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland 1985.
  • Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, London UK 1985.
  • Museum of Traditional Architecture, Jos Nigeria 1984
  • National Gallery of Modern Art, National Theater, Lagos Nigeria 1982
  • Metropolitan Miami-Dade Library System, South Regional Library, Miami FL. 1980.
  • “Twenty Years of Osogbo Art” Goethe Institut, Lagos Nigeria 1980.
  • .Staatlichen Kunsthalle, Berlin, Germany 1979.
  • Africa Heritage Center, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA 1976.
  • Afro-American Cultural Center, Cleveland State University, Cleveland Ohio 1975.
  • Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland USA 1975.
  • Krege Art Gallery,Michigan State University, East Lansing Michigan USA 1974
  • B. Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA. USA 1974.
  • Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC., USA 1974.
  • Ile-Ife Museum, Ile Ife Black Humanitarian Center, Philadephia, Pen. USA 1974.
  • National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston Massachusetts USA 1973.
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 1973.
  • Union Carbide Building, New York, USA 1972.
  • The Art Society of the International Monetary Fund, Washington DC. USA 1972.
  • Newark State College, Union, New Jersey, USA 1972
  • Naprestek Museum, Prague, Czechoslovakia 1972.
  • Museum fur Volkerkunde, Vienna Austria 1971.
  • Lali Kala Akademi, New Delhi, India 1971.
  • Musee de l’Homme, Paris, France 1970.
  • Camden Arts Center, London UK 1969.
  • Civic Arts Gallery, Walnut Creek, California. 1969
  • Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland 1969.
  • Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY USA 1969.
  • Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA., USA 1969.
  • University of Ife Ile-Ife, Nigeria, 1968-69.
  • Goethe Institut Lagos 1967.
  • Institute of Contemporary Arts, London UK 1967.
  • Traverse Theatre Club Edinburgh, Scotland 1967.
  • Neue Munchener Galerie, Munich Germany, 1965.

 Major Commissioned Works: Mosaic Mural at Wema Bank Plc., Iragbiji Nigeria 1983.; Oil Paintings – State House, Lagos 1979; Two large mosaic, Faculty of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria 1975.

Selected Public Collections:

  • Two Large Oil Paintings at the Presidential Lounge, International Airport, Lagos Nigeria.
  • CNN (Lady Director), Atlanta Georgia USA * Collected through Nike Gallery In Lagos*
  • Five major oil paintings and two large applique hangings by IWALEWA-Haus, University of Bayreuth, bayreuth Germany 1982.
  • An 8’ by 4’ Oil on hard board at Johnson Wax Company, International Council House, Racine Wisconsin USA 1976. Mbari Art, Washington DC. USA
  • G. Leventis (Overseas) Ltd, West African House, London UK
  • Five oil paintings at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos Nigeria
  • An untitled work at Studio Museum in Harlem, New York 1974.
  • Early oil and oil-pastel paintings at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.

 Selected List of Musical Performances/Lectures/Lecture-Demonstrations:
Music/Dance Workshop at Asante Waa Cultural Centre, London 1998.
An Evening of Drumming and Poetry –  Africa House, London 1998.
Performance/Lecture/Art exhibition: Miami-Dade Community College Cultural Affairs Department, Miami Florida 1997.
Concert: ‘Dance Africa’ – Miami Florida, USA 1997
Lecture-Demonstration: Rietberg Museum, Zurich Switzerland 1992
Composer/Musical Director for Wole Soyinka’s ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester UK 1990.
Composer/Musical Director for ‘Profile in Black’ by Bob Ramdhanie and world premiered by Kokuma Dance Company of Birmingham at the Midlands Art Centre Birmingham UK 1990.
Musical Director – ‘New Earth’ , a dance-drama performed at London International Festival of Theatre, Great Britain 1987.
Concert/Lecture-Demonstration: University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 1985
Drum Recital: Canberra University, Canberra Australia 1985
Artistic Director/Producer of ‘Oya Ko’ko’, a dance-drama adapted from Wale Ogunyemi’s ‘Be Mighty Be Mine’ performed at the Museum of Traditional Architecture, Jos Nigeria 1984.
Artistic Director/Musician – ‘Agbegijo Masqurades’ at the Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore 1982.
Fusion music/solo performances with Indian drummers in Madras, Bangalore and Bombay India 1982
Lecture-Demonstration: University of Bangalore, Bangalore India 1982
Lecture-Demonstration: Max Mueller Bhavan, Madras, India 198
Lecture-Demonstration: Tata Theatre, Bombay India 1982
Musician at ‘Africa Musica’ Festival in Florence, Milan and Rome Italy 1980.
Musician at the ‘1st Horizontal Festival, Berlin Germany 1979.
Directed and Composed the dramatization of Okot p’Bitek’s ‘Song of Lawino ‘ at Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan; Goethe Institut Lagos and the Pit Theater, University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria 1975.
Led and Directed a production of 17-piece instrumental Yoruba music at the National Arts Festival, Lagos Nigeria 1974.
Lecture-Demonstration: Inner City Cultural Centre, Los Angeles 1974
Lecture-Demonstration: Watts Cultural Centre (Watts Tower) Los Angeles 1974
Lecture-Demonstration: E.B. Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento 1974
Lecture: School of Arts and Craft, Oakland California 1974
Lecture: Moorehouse College, Atlanta Georgia 1974
Lecture: Berea College, Kentucky 1974
Lecture-Demonstration: Cleveland State University, Ohio 1974
Lecture-Demonstration: University of Wisconsin, Madison 1974
Artistic Director – ‘Alo-Ipada’ (They Never Return) , University of Ife Festival of Arts, Ile-Ife, Nigeria 1973.
Director/Composer – ‘Ayanmo’ a music-drama performed at the All Nigeria Festival of Arts, Ibadan, Nigeria 1972.
Musician at the ‘Cultural Olympics’, Munich Germany 1972.
Musician in Leopold Senghor’s ‘Chaka Zulu’ , directed by Akin Euba at Serano Theatre, Dakar Senegal 1972.
Actor/Musician in Duro Ladipo’s Theatre productions during the First Commonwealth Arts Festival tour in Great Britain, The Nederlands, Belgium and West Germany 1965.
Musician in ‘Oba Koso’ by Duro Ladipo performed in Nigeria and West Berlin (Germany) during ‘Berliner Festwochen’, 1964.

Experimental/Fusion Music:

With ‘Jazz Combo’- Miami-Dade Community College, Miami Florida, USA 1997
Tunji Beier: Gangan, Tavil, Mridangan, Kanjira; M. O. Dundun, Gudugudu;. Sydney, Australia and Germany, Iragbiji, and Ife in Nigeria 1981- 1990.
With Indian Ramesh Shotham: Tavil, Gatam, Mridangam; M.M. Various Yoruba percussion Instruments, Germany 1982 –85.
Tabla and Mridangam Musicians: Singapore, Singapore; Madras, India;
M.O Dundun 1982.
The Embryo (Jazz/Rock); M.O. Dundun and various percussion Instruments Germany 1982-87.
Helmut Beiler: Piano; M.O.: Dundun Germany 1982.
Daniel Blatt: Cello; M.O.: Dundun Germany 1981.
With Prof. Akin Euba in major concerts in Nigeria and Overseas: Instruments: A.E. Piano, Compositions; M.O. Dundun, Xylophone, Sekere and Bells. 1967-1978.


“Abefe”-An autobiography of Muraina Oyelami; pp.83; Edited by Ulli Beier from taped interviews with Muraina Oyelami: Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany 1993.
Thirteen Yoruba Songs: Transcribed and Translated by Muraina Oyelami. (Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus)
Yoruba Bata Music: A New Notation with basic Exercises and Ensemble Pieces. (Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus, 1991)
Yoruba Dundun Music: A New Notation with basic Exercises & Five Yoruba Drum Repertoires. (Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus, 1989). 72pp
“Mbari Mbayo and the Osogbo Artists”, African Arts (Los Angeles) 15 (2): 85-87 February 1982.
My Life in Duro Ladipo Theatre (Bayreuth): Iwalewa-Haus, 1982. 16pp.port. (Duro Ladipo Memorial Series; No.1).
“Wie Ich Kunstler Wurde”, pp. 101-106. In: Neue Kunst in Afrika, Berlin, Reimer, 1980. illus
Prizes, Honors, Fellowships:
Copeland Fellow, Amherst College Amherst USA 2002-2003
“2002 Award of Excellence for Arts and Culture” – Chapel of Radio and Television, Osun State Union of Journalists, Nigeria.
“2001 Award of Excellence for Arts and Culture” – Chapel of Radio and Television, Osun State Union of Journalists, Nigeria.
Best Painter – Osun Festival of Arts and Culture – OSFAC 2000, Nigeria.
“Balogun Asa Yoruba” – Title of Honor by the Association of Yoruba language Teachers of Osun State, Nigeria – 1999.
Artist-In Residence – Djerassi Foundation, Woodside-Palo Alto, USA 1985
Visiting Professor – Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany 1981-82.
Gold plaque “in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of understanding between artists of the USA and Nigeria,” – Art Safari, New York, USA 1979
International Visitor under the auspices of Federal Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, State Department, Washington DC. 1974
Visiting Fellow, National Black Theatre, Harlem New York, NY USA 1973
Membership of Professional Organizations :
Society of Nigeria Artists
Imole Arts Club (Life President)
Confederation of Professional Artists (2nd Vice Chairman)
Osogbo Artists Movement (Chairman, 1998-99)
On-Going Research:
Manuscript of “The making of an Eesa”: Rituals and Politics Involved.
‘Oyelami…Showcasing Nigeria to the World’: The Guardian, Feb. 9 2003
‘Copeland Fellowship for Multi-talented Artist’ : The Nigerian Guardian, Jan. 5, 2003.
‘Die Welt ist ein Maskentanz’-Afrikanische Kunstler in der Samlung Greiffenberger; Sigrid Horsch-Albert: Iwalewa-Haus, Afrikazentrum der Universitat Bayreuth 2002.
“Thirty Years of Oshogbo Art”,- Ulli Beier; Muraina Oyelami – ‘Visual Experience’, Muraina Oyelami – ‘Creative Process’; photo illus. Ps. 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 76, 77.
“The Return of Sango”, The Theatre of Duro Ladipo: Ulli Beier; photo illus. P. 36, 42, 46, 85, 89. , Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth 1994.
Artists of Africa; [exhibition held in cooperation with Carleton University and the Canadian Association of African Studies, Tudor Hall, Montreal, Canada, November 29-December 9, 1989. Ottawa: CUSO, 1989. 18pp. Reviewed: Ann Duncan, “Third World Will Benefit from African Art Exhibit,” The Gazette (Montreal) November 29, 1989.
Beier, Ulli. “Patience is the Father of Good Character: The Artistic Career of Muraina Oyelami,” pp. 69-90. In: Three Yoruba Artists: Twins Seven-Seven, Ademola Onibonokuta, Muraina Oyelami, Bayreuth, Bayreuth University, 1988 (Bayreuth African Studies Series, (12). Reviewed: Olu Oguibe, “To Cast a radiant Fog,” West Africa (London) no. 3730:229, February 13-19, 1989.
“Director Commends Osogbo Artists,” Lagos Weekend (Lagos) September 8, 1988.
Kennedy, Jean. The Generic Portraits of Nigerian Artist Muraina Oyelami and Their Links to Yoruba Cosmology. Paper presented at the Seventh Triennial Symposium on African Art, Los Angeles, UCLA, April 1986. 10pp. bibliog.. [unpublished].
Neeley, Paul. 1995 Review of Yoruba Dundun music and Bata music by Oyelami, Muraina. EMI News 4 (2): 4-5
Contemporary African Visual Expression, PhD dissertation, Ohio State University, 1985,
Ann Arbor, University Microfilms International, 1985. See pages 623-635 for interview.
Prutt, Sharon Yvette. “Kuntu Paintings from 1964 to 1975,” pp. 120-165. In the author’s ‘Perspectives in the Study of Nigerian Kuntu Art’: A Traditionalist Style in
Biddle. “Printmaking,” International Review of African America Art (Los Angeles) 6 (4): 3-54, 1985. illus. (some color).
Deltgen, Matthias. “Africaology instead of African Studies: New ways at Bayreuth University “ Kulturchronik Bonn 1: 46-47, 1983. illus., port. Lewis, Samelle & Bob
OKIKE (Nsukka) no. 21, July 1982. [illus. only].
Contemporary Nigerian Artists: Ten Artists of the Oshogbo Workshop; [exhibition helad at the New World Centre Campus Art Gallery, Miami, Florida, January 30-February 29, [1980] [and] Metropolitan Miami-Dade Library System, South Regional Library, Miami Florida, March 7-28 [1980] text by Roberta Griffin. Miami: Miami-Dade Community College, 1980. [4]pp.
Aiyetan, Dayo. “Osogbo Artist in a Rebirth”, Daily Sketch (Ibadan) August 30, 1980.
Awoonor, Kofi. “Contemporary Art Forms,” pp. 337-346. In the author’s ‘The Breast of the Earth: A survey of the History, Culture and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara, New York, NOK, 1975.
Kennedy, Jean. “Muraina Oyelami of Nigeria”, African Arts (Los Angeles) 6 (3): 32 – 33, spring 1973. illus. (color).
The Art Society of International Monetary Fund Presents Works By Asiru Olatunde, Bruce Onabrakpeya, Muraina Oyelami, September 19-October 19, 1972 / introduction by Jean Kennedy Wolford. [folder]. Port. Washington, DC 1972.
Black Orpheus (Ibadan) no. 19, March 1966, vignettes on pages 2, 9, 14, 21, 30, 44. [llus. Only].
Conferences and Seminars attended:
Special Symposium: A Passion for Difference: Ulli Beier and His Work in African Art, IWALEWA-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany 2002.
‘Yoruba Identity’: Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth Germany 1982.
Duro Ladipo: 10 Years After: Goethe Institut Lagos, 1989
African Studies Association Conference, Syracuse, NY USA 1974


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