The Nigerian professor, Bankole Ajibabi Omotoso, who enjoyed great popularity among South Africans when he became the face of Vodacom’s “Yebo Gogo, hello Ouma” advertisements in the early 2000s, died on Wednesday at the age of 80.
With his broad smile, he became one of the most recognizable faces in South Africa and was often seen on giant billboards and the box office.
Although Omotoso’s kind face stole the hearts of many South Africans, he was above all a well-known intellectual, writer and social critic.
His family confirmed his death on Thursday.
“We mourn the loss of our father, husband and grandfather, Prof. Bankole ‘Kole’ Omotoso, who died on Wednesday in Johannesburg after a long illness,” reads the family’s statement.
“Writer, playwright, teacher, critic, actor, colleague, mentor, friend… prof. Kole Omotoso led a rich, meaningful and purposeful life.
“He was a born scholar and never missed an opportunity to get involved in new subjects. He was an astute socio-political critic, but his criticism never stood in the way of his faith in humanity.
“We are going to miss him a lot.”
Omotoso settled in South Africa with his family in 1992 when he accepted a position as a lecturer at the University of the Western Cape.