Who is Tunde Kelani?

Uncle Tunde Kelani: Film-Maker

I have been an ardent follower of this great Nigerian film maker right from when I was a little girl. I vividly remember watching one of his films with my entire family in the living room – Ti Oluwa Ni Le. It was so memorable that one of the characters, Baba Wande, has become a franchise (at least in my home). Whenever this guy pops up in a film, my mum goes, “oh, that’s Baba Wande again, ah this film will be interesting then…” till date.

Uncle T.K’s films are so simple, engaging and entertaining on the surface, yet loaded with paradoxical socio-political messages for all those who care to decode them. My family’s favourite past-time has always been to identify which dictator Uncle TK was ingeniously trying to depict in his film without stepping on the toes of ‘the powers that be’ :).

I finally had the honour of meeting with this great yet humble cinematographer sometime in 2003 during a production on which I accompanied my aunt. He later visited my university to screen one of his films in our Mass Communication department. Earlier this year, I was also greatly privileged to work with him. The things I learnt in that short while, told me that Uncle TK (as we fondly call him) is greatly passionate about making films and more so, films about his culture that would impact the society positively.

Tunde Kelani @ Work

Mainframe Film and Television Productions is Uncle TK’s company, and as is typical of him, the name is loaded in meaning. On the official website the explanation goes, “The name MAINFRAME comes from the concept of the FRAME as the fundamental rudimentary base of motion picture. On the other hand the concept of a FRAME as load bearing structure expresses our readiness to accept the challenges of promoting our culture by producing high quality motion pictures. This is why we are “OPOMULERO”, the solid pillar that holds the fort”.

The main goals of this film company are to promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage within and outside the country, to improve the standards of film production in Nigeria and to give technical support to other production houses in the country.

He has been honoured at film festivals both locally and internationally, garnering so  many awards I lost count in his office.

Some of the great films on Uncle TK’s filmography are Arugba (2008), The Narrow Path (2007), Abeni (2006), Campus Queen (2003), Agogo Eewo (2002), Thunderbolt (Magun) 2000, Saworoide (1999) and many more.

His current project is a film called MAAMI…

Uncle TK and his Mother, Ayooka

One exchange I can never forget: Photography session.

Uncle TK: Tomi what is the colour of light?

Tomi: (looks uncertain and hesitates) … white?

Uncle TK: No, the colour of light is blue.

More posts on Uncle TK and MAAMI project coming soon.

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