Nigerian TV Classics, “Papa Ajasco” and Its Timeless Comedy Legacy
Nigeria’s film industry, known as Nollywood, has grown from humble beginnings to become a vibrant and influential force in the world of cinema. It started in the form of peephole viewing of motion picture devices. These were soon replaced in the early 20th century with improved motion picture exhibition devices, with the first set of films screened at the Glover Memorial Hall in Lagos from 12 to 22 August 1903. The earliest feature film made in Nigeria is the 1926’s “Palaver” produced by Geoffrey Barkas.
The Nigerian video film has emerged as a strong element of Nigeria’s popular culture. It has established for itself the unique characteristic ability to meet the entertainment and educational needs of the cross spectrum of the Nigerian society. It is patronized by the honorable members of the National Assembly, members of the executive and by the low peasantry class in the real area.
The creation of numerous new movie theaters at that time shows how the 1960 declaration of independence influenced the growth of Nigeria’s film industry.
The shift from theater to film in the late 1960s and early 1970s, led by Nigerian artists like Hubert Ogunde and Moses Olaiya, helped to expand the amount of Nigerian-produced material shown in theaters. In particular, Western Nigerian plays became a major draw for audiences.
“Papa Ajasco” is a hugely popular Nigerian comedy series, which has its origins in a film by Wale Adenuga that was released in 1982. “Papa Ajasco” was the first English language comedy film released in Nigeria, and it enjoyed wide success throughout Nigeria, West Africa, and Europe. It became the first blockbuster, earning an impressive 61,000 in just three days. A year later, Moses Olaiya’s “Mosebolatan” (1985) also found great success, earning over 107,000 in only five days. It was in 1997 that Nigerians started having “Papa Ajasco” comedy series on television.
Wale Adenuga, MFR, 65, is the chairman of Wale Adenuga Productions (WAP) and producer of Papa Ajasco comedy series. He is a former cartoonist/publisher, and currently an IV series producer, with sizzlers such as “Super Story,” “Nnena and Friends,” “This Life,” under his belt. Before the emergence of the Nollywood film industry, Adenuga had released the celluloid movie, “Papa Ajasco,” which was based on the main character in “Ikebe Super” in 1983.
“Papa Ajasco” made history as the first English comedy in an industry which had been dominated by Yoruba productions. Then a film version of “Binta,” re-entitled “Binta My Daughter” was released in 1995. A year later, the television series “Papa Ajasco” (formerly “The Ajasco Family”) was aired on Nigerian Television Network (NTA) for the viewing pleasure of Nigerians.
With the burning desire to provide qualitative education, Adenuga and his wife, Ehimwerma, founded Binta International School in Lagos. He also opened the Pencil Film and Television Institute (PFTI) now a leading institute in the art of film production, directing, and cinematography.
There are six main characters in the sitcom, “Papa Ajasco,” and they are:
Papa Ajasco: He is considered the head of the family. He mixes a great sense of humor with bombastic diction and usage of English. He always runs into trouble. His bald head, big tummy and stylishly tied wrapper are his most unique features.
Mama Ajasco: She is the wife of Papa Ajasco and a semi-literate woman who can barely speak good English. She is as troublesome as she is meddlesome.
Ajasco: A dullard whose sense of mischief is legendary, he performs abysmally always in school and most often comes last in the class. His fez cap is his distinguishing characteristic.
Boy Alinco: Boy Alinco is the skinny dude with a long head whose penchant for speaking raw riddles is legendary. He is well known for his monkey jacket.
Pa James: Pa James is the illiterate poor old man whose foolishness is his most striking feature. He always runs into trouble and speaks pidgin with dexterity.
Miss Pepeiye: Miss Pepeiye is another skinny lady who lures men into her traps to extort them. She runs into troubles sometimes, too.
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