Africa News

Vodacom ‘Yebo Gogo’ uncle has died

Nigerian professor Bankole Ajibabi Omotoso, also known as Kole Omotosho, died at the age of 80 in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Omotoso gained popularity in South Africa, where he resided for many years when he was the face of Vodacom’s “Yebo Gogo, Hello Grandma” advert from early 2000.

He became one of the most recognizable faces with his smile seen on billboards and television. The family shared a statement confirming his death. “We are mourning the loss of our father, husband, and grandfather Prof. Bankole ‘Kole’ Omotoso, who passed away after a long period of illness in Johannesburg on July 19th, 2023,” it read.

While Omotoso’s smile captured the hearts of South Africans, he was also a renowned intellectual, author, and social critic. Omotoso’s extensive work, in particular, the 1988 publication of ‘Just Before Dawn’, often put him in conflict with belligerent powers.

From 1989 he was forced to work mostly outside of Nigeria and, in the interest of reuniting the family, in 1992 the Omotosos relocated to Cape Town where Kole Omotoso held professor positions at the English Department of the University of the Western Cape and the Drama Department of the University of Stellenbosch.

He gained his doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.

The renowned professor moved to South Africa with his family when he accepted a lectureship position in 1991 at the University of the Western Cape.

His children include renowned director Akin Omotoso and novelist and architect Yewande Omotoso.

“A born scholar, he never missed an opportunity to engage in new topics. An astute socio-political critic, his criticality never got in the way of his belief in humanity. We will miss him.”


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