The late Ireti, born and raised in Abeokuta, Ogun State, was a multi-talented individual who excelled as a producer, film writer, director, and exceptional actress. Her contributions to the Nigerian film industry extended beyond her acting prowess.
Interestingly, Ireti’s influence transcended generations within her family. Her younger relative, Opeyemi Adekola, not to be confused with Odunlade Adekola, was inspired by his late aunt to pursue a career in acting. In an interview with Naijarchives, Opeyemi Ohiomare Adekola revealed that Ireti and his father were cousins, cementing their familial connection. He clarified that while both Odunlade Adekola and their family hailed from Oyo State, they came from different parts: Ireti’s roots lay in Ogbomosho, while Odunlade Adekola hailed from Otun Ekiti. This revelation dispels the popular misconception that Odunlade Adekola was Ireti’s younger brother.
During her acting career, Ireti was renowned for her collaborations with Taiwo Hassan, popularly known as Ogogo Omokulodo, one of Nigeria’s most celebrated actors in the Yoruba genre of Nollywood. Together, they graced the screens in numerous movies, leaving an indelible mark on the industry.
Ireti’s legacy as an accomplished actress, alongside her influence on her family members, solidifies her place in the history of the Nigerian film industry, ensuring that her name will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come.
The nation mourned collectively following the tragic passing of Ireti, and an overwhelming outpouring of grief swept across the country. On September 30th, 2002, her body lay in a resplendent white coffin, making its final public appearance at the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, before her burial.
Throughout her life, Ireti served as a mentor to numerous aspiring actresses, nurturing their talents and guiding them towards their own stardom. One such actress she mentored was Bisi-Ibidapo Obe, also known as Omo Logba Logba, who benefited from Ireti’s guidance and went on to establish her own successful career.
Ireti’s impact extended beyond mentoring individual actresses; she was also a role model for many others in the industry. Ibironke Ojo, popularly known as Ronke Oshodi-Oke, found inspiration in Ireti’s remarkable career and looked up to her as a guiding light.
The influence and mentorship provided by Ireti left an indelible mark on the lives and careers of those she touched. Her legacy lives on through the actresses she mentored, who continue to shine brightly in the Nigerian film industry, keeping her memory alive.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME ‘IRETI’
Rebecca Adebimpe Adekola acquired the name ‘Ireti’ through her role in Jide Kosoko’s 1993 movie titled Asiri Nla. Her portrayal of the character named Ireti in the film resonated with audiences, and the name stuck with her ever since.
Rebecca Adebimpe Adekola sadly passed away after a brief illness, suspected to be complications from typhoid fever. She breathed her last at Unity Hospital, a private medical center in Surulere, Lagos State.
IMMORTALIZING HER LEGACY
In October 2012, a decade after her demise, the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) launched the Ireti Adekola Foundation (IAF) at the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos. This foundation was established to honor her memory and provide support to single mothers while also mentoring aspiring actors and actresses.
HER CONTRIBUTIONS TO NOLLYWOOD
During the 1990s, Rebecca Adebimpe Adekola, widely known as Ireti, captivated millions of viewers across Nigeria, particularly fans of Yoruba movies. Her acting skills dazzled audiences, leaving a lasting impression. Until her passing on Friday, September 27th, 2002, she appeared in several notable movies, including “Ike Owo,” “Agba Akin,” “Olaoniran,” “23/24 Loro Ile Aye,” and “Aye Awa Obinrin” (her final film before her demise). Other films she starred in include “Alamu S’Eniyan,” “Enikan O Laye,” “Edunjobi” (which brought her into the limelight), “Afinju Alapata,” and “Sikira Ereko.”
You were a screen goddess, one of the sought-after younger actresses who played a significant role in making Nollywood attractive in the late 1990s. You were part of the generation of actors who popularized home videos during that era.
Your passing brought immense sorrow, and the loss is still deeply felt to this day. Today, we celebrate you as one of the greatest talents in the movie industry.
Rest peacefully, beloved Rebecca Adebimpe Adekola. You will forever be remembered. We love you, but God loves you even more.