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MALIKI THE 'SHOWMAN' BOWS OUT

By NBF News
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Maliki Showman on stage
Famous Nigerian tenor saxophonist, Alhaji Suleiman Abubakar Maliki, popularly known as Sir Maliki Showman, bowed to nature on Saturday and bid the world a final goodbye. His saxophone, if played, would be by the breath pumped in by another.

The highlife musician was knocked down by a vehicle at Maryland, Lagos, last month and was rushed to the General Hospital, Ikeja.

Fellow highlife musicians visited him in the hospital and presented some cash to offset some of his medical expenses.

Lovers of his music would remember Showman for his dexterity on the sax. Whenever he was introduced on stage, he would jump in from among the crowd or make his entry already blowing hard on the sax, making the audience go wild with joy.

In his lifetime, he played with Bobby Benson, Victor Uwaifo, Sonny Brown, Bala Miller, Rex Lawson among others.

In Uwaifo's hit song, Guitar Boy, Maliki Showman was the saxophonist. The name, Showman, he said, was given him by an officer, Colonel Roy Gabriel he once played with in Kano before he formed his own band.

Maliki Showman headed his The Golden Africa International Band which he founded.

Born in Auchi, Edo State, he began his music career with playing the Bongo drums and then, much later, would learn to play the sax with which he became famous and had a distinguished career.

The 60s were Maliki's formative years. At that time he played with the Harbours Band. Music critics described him as having evolved from the 50s, a la saxophone style in the Baby Face Paul's mould.

His performances were always characterised by energetic display of his craft on the sax. He always could get the crowd high with the music on his sax. He seamlessly led his audience from their seats to the music of the past.

Showman has a total of eight albums to his credit. They include Maduduogene (We beg God to forgive our sin) which, according to him, brought him to limelight. His albums also include Aiyegbeni, Loweyero, Opanosorode and Bolanle, a Yoruba song which was a hit.

In an interview, he told the story of Bolanle and how the idea came about:

'When I was still young, I was going out with a girl and in one club, where I played in a Nite club the girl saw me talking to another girl who happened to be a niece of mine. The girl just came to us and tore my shirt. I said why did you do that? and she said after all, she bought the shirt for me. I said okay then. She truly bought the shirt for me out of 'love.' Since that time, I have learnt my lesson and no woman can buy me anything that I will accept. This is to avoid the kind of disgrace I had on that day. I later told her to go away. It was that incidence that made me release the hit album, Bolanle.'

A founding member of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Maliki Showman was for many years a member of its National Executive Council.

His motivation to learn to play Sax came from the late Baby Face Paul Asamade. He would later learn to play the instrument from the late Chike Ekwe, one of the greatest saxophonists Nigeria has produced. He was part of the Central Band led by Eric Onuoha where he played with Easy Kabaka, the famed guitarist.

Culture activist, Ben Tomoloju, said he was partly conversant with his showmanship and had observed the deceased at close range.

'He stands out as one of the most outstanding performers in the highlife genre. Highlife takes on a coloration of particular sub cultures. For instance, there is Ghanaian highlife and if you go to Ghana, you will find them playing and interpretating the music in their own way. In Nigeria, you will find Eddy Okonta doing it the same way. Crosdale Juba did it in the Ikale way. Orlando Owoh interpreted highlife in Ondo culture. Rex Lawson did so to reflect his Ijaw culture. At the end of the day, you find one thing: their songs may have reflected their culture but it had universal appeal.

'Showman gave highlife a feel of Auchi, Agenebode and even the core parts of Edo State. He lifted it to give it a universal appeal. He was one of the best saxophonist around. You find that you enjoy his live performances more than his records. He will be highly missed especially by those who love highlife music.'

Critics credit Maliki Showman as the one who created the Joge beat in the late '70s/early 80s. In the performances before his passing on, he was able to bring highlife parties alive with vocal renditions and saxophone solos that remind one of the past.

His introduction of Joge music from his native Edo Etsako part of Nigeria made a lot of impact on the music industry and won him several accolades. His introduction of the music was brilliant because he tried to use it to revive the cultural kind of music.