Professor Kole Omotoso, widely recognised as the face of Vodacom’s long-running “Yebo Gogo” advertising campaign, died yesterday (Wednesday 19 July 2023).

The “Yebo Gogo” advertisements promoted the Vodacom brand in the early 1990s and early 2000s in South Africa.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub says: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Prof Omotoso, a respected academic and playwright. At Vodacom, we remember him as an iconic figure who helped put brand Vodacom on the map through the inventive ‘Yebo Gogo’ advertising campaign that went on to win several advertising accolades.

“Professor Omotoso leaves behind a rich legacy, having played a significant role in inserting brand Vodacom, a brand with deep African roots, in the national conscience. I would also like to offer my personal heartfelt condolences to Prof Omotoso’s family.”

From the early 1990s as the winds of democracy where blowing in South Africa and immediately after 1994, when Vodacom was issued with a licence to operate in South Africa, Prof Omotoso was the face of its adverts and with his image dominating the advertising media landscape, he became one of the most visible persons in the country, reflecting the changing face of a new South Africa.

Prof Omotoso was born on 21 April 1943 in Akure, Ondo state, Nigeria. He obtained South African citizenship in 1999. He was married to Marguerita Omotoso, an architect and urban planner, originally from Barbados. The couple have three children — including actor, director and filmmaker Akin Omotoso and author and architect Yewande Omotoso. He studied at King’s College, Lagos, the University of Ibadan, and the University of Edinburgh. He passed away in Johannesburg on 19 July 2023.