The death of veteran actor and comedian, Asonaba Kweku Darko, known by many as “Super O. D.” was reported on Tuesday 12th February, 2018 at the Agona Swedru Government Hospital in the Central Region. He was 82 years.
The actor/comedian’s peerless screen performances brought torrents of happiness to many homes. His side-splitting jokes- which he got from his mother, known as ‘Jack Johnson’- earned was his endearing charm.
Super OD, who stumbled on acting by accident had always nurtured a dream of becoming a policeman. “Becoming a policeman had always been my wish and therefore there could not have been any better deal for me than this.”
But, twice he was rejected due to his lack of formal education, attributed to the early death of his father and his mother’s dire economic situation. His earlier job as a Native Authority Policeman (Ahenfie Police) in 1958 wasn’t enough guarantee into the police force.
In need of a trade, Super OD became a driver’s mate, acquiring of a driver’s license after six years of apprenticeship. He gained employment as a taxi driver. He however, lost that job after a while. That loss was a turning point in his life. It marked his entry into acting, which began whiles lodging with a friend at Labadi and working as a labourer for the company constructing the Cantonment Police Station.
It was around that time that the ‘Appiah Agyekum Concert Party’ came to Labadi to perform. He joined the band as a backing vocalist. Sharing jokes during performances, Super OD soon realized his popularity was soaring. He began performing with different concert groups including Akwasi Effah’s Band, Happy Stars, Akomanyi’s Guitar Band and Oppong Kyekyeku Guitar Band which he stuck with.
Realizing the band owner was given them a raw deal, all the members of the Oppong Kyekyeku Band resigned from the band, leading to the formation of the S.K Oppong Drama Group. The group, comprising S.K Oppong, Super OD, Frimpong Manso, Fred Addae, Beatrice ‘Bea’ Kissi and Akua Boahemaa, the group became the resident drama group of the African Brothers Band led by highlife legend Nana Ampadu in the 1960s. It was uncommon for highlife bands of the 70s to have concert party groups attached to them. The concert party groups (theatre groups) acted as opening acts for the band during tours by staging sketches to entertain the audience.
The group’s move from the stage to television happened during a performance of ‘Aku Sika’, a play by playwright Prof. Martin Owusu. A director at the state owned broadcaster (GBC) was thrilled by their performance. That led to the creation of the TV series ‘Akan Drama’ on GBC TV. The group’s name was changed from ‘Oppong Drama Group’ to ‘Osofo Dadzie’ Group (Pastor Dadzie) on the recommendation of the script writer of the series director, Joris Wartenberg.
Between the late 80s to the mid-90s, Super OD and members of Osofo Dadzie educated and entertained millions of Ghanaians through their enacted of real life situations geared mostly towards shaping morals of the citizenry. Those were the days when TV was a luxury and owned by the rich within the community. Whenever it was time for Osofo Dadzie, the homes of those with TV became a convergence point for people in the neighborhood.
Remembered for his stellar acting along with Kwadwo Kwakye and Fred Addae and his famous phrase: ‘This is fantastic’. (This phrase has been immortalized by M3nsa on his song “Kelewele Pimping”).
Despite his many memorable performance, one scene had stuck in my mind all these years. It was a scene in a movie where Super OD was sent to deliver a message to someone. As a custom, he was served water (ice water he preferred). Realizing how uncouth his slurping was, he turned to the lady who had served him the water and as an apology said ‘I am from far away’.
Super OD’s talent wasn’t only reserved for TV. His stellar performances led to him starring in movies like ‘Double Trouble’, ‘Crossfire’, all produced by HM Films. The movies further enhanced his status as a talented actor.
Super OD retired backed to his hometown of Abodom in the Agona Swedru District until his death. If you ever hear the assertion that Fantes are comedians, know that Super ODs exceptional performances helped in entrenching this erroneous notion.
May the man who brings joy to many be forever remembered.