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Muraina Oyelami

A man of two worlds, Muraina Oyelami is known by many as a master painter and by others as a great performing artist. Muraina is one of the original products of the famous Oshogbo Art Movement. Described as a poetic painter with a romantic approach, his works reflect composition and meaning. His varied and enormous list of credits include Studio Museum in Harlem, New York , Staatlichen Kunsthalle, Berlin, Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC., and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London to mention a few.


Muraina Oyelami was born in Iragbiji, Nigeria in 1940. A man of two worlds, Oyelami is known by many as a master painter while others know him as a great performing artist in music and theatre.Oyelami began his career as an artist in 1964 as one of the original products of the famous Oshogbo Art School initiated by Professor Ulli Beier and his wife Georgina Beier. He studied Technical Theatre specialising in Theatre Design at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife where he later taught traditional music from 1975 to 1987. Described by many as a poetic painter with a romantic touch, Oyelami’s works are a representation of his experiences, stories, folktales and landscapes.

Oyelami was also a founding member of the late Duro Ladipo Theatre Company as an actor and musician. He toured with the group to the Berlin Festival of Art in 1964 and the first Commonwealth Arts Festival in the United Kingdom in 1965. Oyelami composed and directed the music for Wole Soyinka’s famous ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, England.

Muraina Oyelami has exhibited his works and performed traditional and fusion music throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and USA. His varied and enormous list of credits include Guest of the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Poland, Artist in Residence and Fellow of the National Black Theatre in Harlem, New York and Guest Professor in African Studies at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.



Date of Birth: 1940
Place of birth: Iragbiji, Nigeria
Nationality: Nigerian
Marital Status: Married with children



  • Founding Member of Duro Ladipo National Theatre, Oshogbo, 1963-1966
  • Yoruba Dundun Drumming Research/Training under Oba Laoye, Timi of Ede, 1963-1965
  • Yoruba Bata Drumming Research and Training with Abeyefo of Iseyin and Ayantunji Amoo of Okinni, 1963-1966



  • Kunst Akademie, Berlin Germany, 1979
  • Otis Art Institut, Los Angeles, 1974
  • Ru Van Russem 2nd Printmaking Workshop � Ile Ife, Nigeria, 1972
  • Oshogbo Art School, Ataoja�s Palace Oshogbo, Nigeria, 1964 � 67
  • Ru Van Russem Printmaking Workshop, Oshogbo, Nigeria, 1966
  • Summer Art School, Mbari-Mbayo Artists and Writers Club, Oshogbo, Nigeria, 1964



  • International Tutor, Fifth Summer School (for African and Carribean Music and Dance), organized by the B.D.D.T of England, held at the Birmingham Polytechnic campus, Birmingham, UK 1990.
  • International Tutor, Fourth Summer School (for African and Carribean Music and Dance), organized by the Black Dance Development Trust of England,Birmingham, UK 1989.
  • Yoruba Traditional Music and Dance Instructor, Department of Music, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife 1976 � 1987.



  • Copeland Fellow, Amherst College Amherst USA, 2002-2003
  • �2002 Award of Excellence for Arts and Culture� � Chapel of Radio and Television, Osun State Union of Journalists, Nigeria, 2002
  • �2001 Award of Excellence for Arts and Culture� � Chapel of Radio and Television, Osun State Union of Journalists, Nigeria, 2001
  • Best Painter � Osun Festival of Arts and Culture � OSFAC 2000, Nigeria, 2000
  • �Balogun Asa Yoruba� � Title of Honor by the Association of  Yoruba language Teachers of Osun State, Nigeria, 1999
  • Artist-In Residence � Djerassi Foundation, Woodside-Palo Alto, USA, 1985
  • Visiting Professor – Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany, 1981-82
  • Gold plaque �in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of understanding between artists of the USA and Nigeria,� � Art Safari, New York, USA , 1979
  • International Visitor under the auspices of Federal Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, State Department, Washington DC, USA, 1974
  • Visiting Fellow, National Black Theatre, Harlem New York, USA, 1973



  • Society of Nigeria Artists
  • Imole Arts Club (Life President)
  • Confederation of Professional Artists (2nd Vice Chairman)
  • Oshogbo Artists Movement (Chairman, 1998-99)



  • Obatala Centre for Creative Arts (A resource Centre for Artists and Scholars)
    Iragbiji � Osun State, Nigeria.
  • ILE-ONA � A Museum of Art and Archival Records, Iragbiji � Osun State, Nigeria.



  • Mbari Institute, Washington DC USA, 2001
  • Nimbus Gallery, Lagos Nigeria, 1998
  • Gallerie am Turm, Eltville-am-Rhein, Germany, 1998
  • Palm Beach, Florida, USA, 1997
  • Hamburgisches Museum fur Volkerkunde, Hamburg Germany, 1991
  • Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, University of California in Santa Cruz, USA, 1985
  • Sergeant Johnson Gallery, Western Addition Cultural Center, Whitney Young Resource Centre, USIS Lagos, Nigeria, 1985
  • Goethe Institut, Lagos, Nigeria, 1981
  • Opus2 Gallery, Washington DC., USA, 1974
  • Michigan State University in East Lansing, USA, 1974
  • Goethe Institut Lagos, 1972
  • Goethe Institut Lagos, 1970
  • Humanities Auditorium II, University of Ife, Nigeria, 1969
  • School of Africa and Asian Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton UK, 1967



  • modernafricanart exhibition at BTJ, Lund, Sweden, 2006
  • modernafricanart exhibition at M�klarhuset Hellborg & Partners, Lund, Sweden, 2006
  • Elf Village, Port Harcourt Nigeria, 1999
  • MUSON Center, Lagos, Nigeria, 1999
  • �Thirty Years of Oshogbo Art�, Goethe Institut Lagos, Nigeria, 1992
  • San Jose State University Gallery 1, San Jose CA. USA, 1990
  • Tudor Hall, Montreal, Canada, 1989
  • Goethe Institut, Lagos Nigeria, 1989
  • Zamana Gallery, London UK, 1989
  • Aljira, Newark, New Jersey USA, 1988
  • Commonwealth Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1985
  • Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, London UK, 1985
  • Museum of Traditional Architecture, Jos, Nigeria, 1984
  • National Gallery of Modern Art, National Theatre, Lagos Nigeria, 1982
  • Metropolitan Miami-Dade Library System, South Regional Library, Miami, Florida USA, 1980
  • �Twenty Years of Oshogbo Art� Goethe Institut, Lagos Nigeria, 1980.
  • Staatlichen Kunsthalle, Berlin, Germany, 1979
  • Africa Heritage Center, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, 1976�
  • Afro-American Cultural Center, Cleveland State University, Cleveland Ohio, 1975
  • Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland USA, 1975
  • Krege Art Gallery,Michigan State University, East Lansing Michigan USA, 1974
  • E.B. Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, California, USA, 1974
  • Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC., USA, 1974
  • Ile-Ife Museum, Ile Ife Black Humanitarian Center, Philadephia, USA, 1974
  • National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, Massachusetts USA, 1973
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado USA, 1973
  • Union Carbide Building, New York, USA, 1972
  • The Art Society of the International Monetary Fund, Washington DC, USA, 1972
  • Newark State College, Union, New Jersey, USA, 1972
  • Naprestek Museum, Prague, Czech Republic, 1972
  • Museum fur Volkerkunde, Vienna Austria, 1971
  • Lali Kala Akademi, New Delhi, India, 1971
  • Musee de l�Homme, Paris, France, 1970
  • Camden Arts Center, London UK, 1969
  • Civic Arts Gallery, Walnut Creek, California, USA, 1969
  • Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, USA, 1969
  • Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA, 1969
  • Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA., USA, 1969
  • University of Ife Ile-Ife, Nigeria, 1968-69
  • Goethe Institut Lagos, Nigeria, 1967
  • Institute of Contemporary Arts, London UK, 1967
  • Traverse Theatre Club Edinburgh, Scotland, 1967
  • Neue Munchener Galerie, Munich Germany, 1965



  • Mosaic Mural at Wema Bank Plc., Iragbiji Nigeria, 1983.
  • Oil Paintings � State House, Lagos, 1976
  • Two large mosaics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria, 1975.



  • Presidential Lounge, International Airport, Lagos Nigeria.
  • CNN, Atlanta Georgia USA
  • IWALEWA-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth Germany, 1982.
  • Johnson Wax Company, International Council House, Racine Wisconsin USA, 1976
  • Mbari Art, Washington DC. USA
  • A.G. Leventis Ltd, West African House, London UK
  • National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos Nigeria
  • Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 1974
  • Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria



  • Music & Dance Workshop at Asante Waa Cultural Centre, London, 1998
  • An Evening of Drumming and Poetry � Africa House, London, 1998
  • Performance/Lecture/Art exhibition: Miami-Dade Community College Cultural Affairs Department, Miami Florida, 1997
  • Concert: �Dance Africa� � Miami Florida, USA, 1997
  • Lecture-Demonstration: Rietberg Museum, Zurich Switzerland, 1992
  • Composer/Musical Director for Wole Soyinka�s �Death and the King�s Horseman� performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester UK, 1990
  • Composer/Musical Director for �Profile in Black� by Bob Ramdhanie and world premiered by Kokuma Dance Company of Birmingham at the Midlands Art Centre Birmingham UK, 1990
  • Musical Director � �New Earth� , a dance-drama performed at London International Festival of Theatre, Great Britain, 1987
  • Concert/Lecture-Demonstration: University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 1985
  • Drum Recital: Canberra University, Canberra Australia, 1985
  • Artistic Director/Producer of �Oya Ko�ko�, a dance-drama adapted from Wale Ogunyemi�s �Be Mighty Be Mine� performed at the Museum of Traditional Architecture, Jos Nigeria, 1984
  • Artistic Director/Musician � �Agbegijo Masqurades� at the Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore, 1982
  • Fusion music/solo performances with Indian drummers in Madras,
    Bangalore and Bombay India, 1982
  • Lecture & Demonstration: University of Bangalore, Bangalore India, 1982
  • Lecture & Demonstration: Max Mueller Bhavan, Madras, India, 1982
  • Lecture & Demonstration: Tata Theatre, Bombay India, 1982
  • Musician at �Africa Musica� Festival in Florence, Milan and Rome Italy, 1980
  • Musician at the �1st Horizontal Festival, Berlin Germany, 1979
  • Directed and Composed the dramatization of Okot p�Bitek�s �Song of Lawino � at Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan; Goethe Institute Lagos and the Pit Theater, University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, 1975.
  • Led and Directed a production of 17-piece instrumental Yoruba music at the National Arts Festival, Lagos Nigeria, 1974.
  • Lecture & Demonstration: Inner City Cultural Centre, Los Angeles, USA, 1974
  • Lecture & Demonstration: Watts Cultural Centre (Watts Tower) Los Angeles, USA, 1974
  • Lecture & Demonstration: E.B. Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, USA, 1974
  • Lecture: School of Arts and Craft, Oakland California, USA, 1974
  • Lecture: Moorehouse College, Atlanta Georgia, USA, 1974
  • Lecture: Berea College, Kentucky, USA, 1974
  • Lecture & Demonstration: Cleveland State University, Ohio, USA, 1974
  • Lecture & Demonstration: University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1974
  • Artistic Director � �Alo-Ipada� (They Never Return) , University of Ife Festival of Arts, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, 1973.
  • Director/Composer – �Ayanmo� a music-drama performed at the All Nigeria Festival of Arts, Ibadan, Nigeria, 1972.
  • Musician at the �Cultural Olympics�, Munich Germany, 1972.
  • Musician in Leopold Senghor�s �Chaka Zulu� , directed by Akin Euba at Serano Theatre, Dakar Senegal, 1972
  • Actor & musician in Duro Ladipo�s Theatre productions during the First Commonwealth Arts Festival tour in Great Britain, The Nederland, Belgium and Germany, 1965.
  • Musician in �Oba Koso� by Duro Ladipo performed in Nigeria and Berlin, �Berliner Festwochen�, 1964.



  • With �Jazz Combo�- Miami-Dade Community College, Miami Florida, USA, 1997
  • Tunji Beier: Gangan, Tavil, Mridangan, Kanjira; M. O. Dundun, Gudugudu;. Sydney, Australia and Germany, Iragbiji, and Ife in Nigeria, 1981- 1990
  • With Indian Ramesh Shotham: Tavil, Gatam, Mridangam; M.M. Various Yoruba percussion Instruments, Germany, 1982 �85
  • Tabla and Mridangam Musicians: Singapore & India; M.O Dundun, 1982
  • The Embryo (Jazz/Rock); M.O. Dundun and various percussion Instruments Germany 1982-87
  • Helmut Beiler: Piano; M.O.: Dundun Germany, 1982
  • Daniel Blatt: Cello; M.O.: Dundun Germany, 1981
  • With Prof. Akin Euba in major concerts in Nigeria and Overseas: Instruments: A.E. Piano, Compositions; M.O. Dundun, Xylophone, Sekere and Bells, 1967-1978.



  • �Abefe�-An autobiography of Muraina Oyelami; pp.83; Edited by Ulli Beier from taped interviews with Muraina Oyelami: Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany, 1993
  • Thirteen Yoruba Songs: Transcribed and Translated by Muraina Oyelami. (Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus)
  • Yoruba Bata Music: A New Notation with basic Exercises and Ensemble Pieces. (Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus, 1991)
  • Yoruba Dundun Music: A New Notation with basic Exercises & Five Yoruba Drum Repertoires. (Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus, 1989). 72pp
  • �Mbari Mbayo and the Oshogbo Artists�, African Arts (Los Angeles) 15 (2): 85-87 February 1982.
  • My Life in Duro Ladipo Theatre (Bayreuth): Iwalewa-Haus, 1982. 16pp.port. (Duro Ladipo Memorial Series; No.1).
  • �Wie Ich Kunstler Wurde�, pp. 101-106. In: Neue Kunst in Afrika, Berlin, Reimer, 1980. illus



  • �Mister Johnson�: Joyce Carey
  • �Kurunmi�: Ola Rotimi
  • �Yoruba Dundun Music�: Muraina Oyelami



Manuscript of �The making of an Eesa�: Rituals and Politics Involved.



  • �Oyelami�Showcasing Nigeria to the World�: The Guardian, Feb. 9 2003
  • �Copeland Fellowship for Multi-talented Artist� : The Nigerian Guardian, Jan. 5, 2003.
  • �Die Welt ist ein Maskentanz�-Afrikanische Kunstler in der Samlung Greiffenberger; Sigrid Horsch-Albert: Iwalewa-Haus, Afrikazentrum der Universitat Bayreuth 2002.
  • �Thirty Years of Oshogbo Art�,- Ulli Beier; Muraina Oyelami � �Visual Experience�, Muraina Oyelami � �Creative Process�; photo illus. Ps. 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 76, 77.
  • �The Return of Sango�, The Theatre of Duro Ladipo: Ulli Beier; photo illus. P. 36, 42, 46, 85, 89. , Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth 1994.
  • Artists of Africa; [exhibition held in cooperation with Carleton University and the Canadian Association of African Studies, Tudor Hall, Montreal, Canada, November 29-December 9, 1989. Ottawa: CUSO, 1989. 18pp. Reviewed: Ann Duncan, �Third World Will Benefit from African Art Exhibit,� The Gazette (Montreal) November 29, 1989.
  • Beier, Ulli. �Patience is the Father of Good Character: The Artistic Career of Muraina Oyelami,� pp. 69-90. In: Three Yoruba Artists: Twins Seven-Seven, Ademola Onibonokuta, Muraina Oyelami, Bayreuth, Bayreuth University, 1988 (Bayreuth African Studies Series, (12). Reviewed: Olu Oguibe, �To Cast a radiant Fog,� West Africa (London) no. 3730:229, February 13-19, 1989.
  • �Director Commends Oshogbo Artists,� Lagos Weekend (Lagos) September 8, 1988.
  • Kennedy, Jean. The Generic Portraits of Nigerian Artist Muraina Oyelami and Their Links to Yoruba Cosmology. Paper presented at the Seventh Triennial Symposium on African Art, Los Angeles, UCLA, April 1986. 10pp. bibliog… [unpublished].
  • Neeley, Paul. 1995 Review of Yoruba Dundun music and Bata music by Oyelami, Muraina. EMI News 4 (2): 4-5
  • Contemporary African Visual Expression, PhD dissertation, Ohio State University, 1985,
  • Ann Arbor, University Microfilms International, 1985. See pages 623-635 for interview.
  • Prutt, Sharon Yvette. Kuntu Paintings from 1964 to 1975, pp. 120-165. In the author’s “Perspectives in the Study of Nigerian Kuntu Art”: A Traditionalist Style in Biddle. Printmaking, International Review of African America Art (Los Angeles) 6 (4): 3-54, 1985. illus. (some color).
  • Deltgen, Matthias. “Africaology instead of African Studies: New ways at Bayreuth University ” Kulturchronik Bonn 1: 46-47, 1983. illus., port. Lewis, Samelle & Bob
  • OKIKE (Nsukka) no. 21, July 1982. [illus. only].
  • Contemporary Nigerian Artists: Ten Artists of the Oshogbo Workshop; [exhibition held at the New World Centre Campus Art Gallery, Miami, Florida, January 30-February 29, [1980] [and] Metropolitan Miami-Dade Library System, South Regional Library, Miami Florida, March 7-28 [1980] text by Roberta Griffin. Miami: Miami-Dade Community College, 1980. [4]pp.
  • Aiyetan, Dayo. “Oshogbo Artist in a Rebirth”, Daily Sketch (Ibadan) August 30, 1980.
  • Awoonor, Kofi. “Contemporary Art Forms,” pp. 337-346. In the author’s – The Breast of the Earth: A survey of the History, Culture and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara, New York, NOK, 1975.
  • Kennedy, Jean. “Muraina Oyelami of Nigeria”, African Arts (Los Angeles) 6 (3): 32 – 33, spring 1973. illus. (color).
  • The Art Society of International Monetary Fund Presents Works By Asiru Olatunde, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Muraina Oyelami, September 19-October 19, 1972 / introduction by Jean Kennedy Wolford. [folder]. Port. Washington, DC 1972.
  • Black Orpheus (Ibadan) no. 19, March 1966, vignettes on pages 2, 9, 14, 21, 30, 44. [llus. Only]



  • Special Symposium: A Passion for Difference: Ulli Beier and His Work in African Art, IWALEWA-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany 2002.
  • “Yoruba Identity”: Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth Germany 1982
  • Duro Ladipo: 10 Years After: Goethe Institut Lagos, 1989
  • African Studies Association Conference, Syracuse, NY USA 1974