‘I HAD TRAINED AS A BOXER, PRINTER BEFORE MUSIC MADE ME POPULAR’
Energetic Fuji music artiste, Abas Akande Obesere, has been described at various quarters as humble and humanitarian. Odd as these qualities may seem among his peers, they are true of him. You may even be shocked to find out that in spite of his obvious wealth and exposure, this successful singer is amiable and shy. These attributes sure contrast his showbiz personality as a brand of wave-making jargons and symbol of erotic nude dancers. 'Omorapala' as he is fondly called who also confirms to Victor Akande in this interview that he would never touch alcohol and cigarette with the longest pole explained howmuch he dread 'Area Boys' (street urchins) with passion. Excerpts:
How long have you been in the music industry? Let us put it at 25 years.
How old were you at that time?
I started when I was at St Paul Primary School in Ebute-Metta, from where I went to Jibril Martins. Music had since that time been in my blood before the desire came banging on me to develop my talent as a professional musician, especially after trying my hands on several other professions.
Including the boxing profession?
Yes. I trained in boxing at a time. At another point, I tried my hands on electronics business, I also attempted the job of a printer but all were in vain until I went into music.
What would you say brought about your interest in boxing?
At that time, I had a lot of ideas running in my youthful mind. Boxing just happened to be one of those ideas, until I realized that music was my way, to add to that, I hail from a family of musician.
What are your full names please?
Abas Akande Ajanlariwo.
What exactly is your dad's name?
People wonder why you dropped your father's name.
I did not. Ajanlariwo is my family name. We all bear that as a surname.
In those days, parents' reactions to children who wanted to do music was not always encouraging. What was your parents' disposition like especially since they would want you to be educated?
Well, my father was an educated man and a politician who truly wanted me to be educated but destiny cannot be changed. Be that as it may, I give God the glory because there's nothing that a man who is well educated can be proud of in terms of achievements which I don't have. And talking about basic literacy, I can tell you that the little education that I acquired has enabled me to engage in other pursuits in life.
How smooth was your rise to this level as a musician?
It was pretty rough, but I give God the glory that in spite of all odds, my efforts are able to yield good results. The end, they say justifies the means. My success story is also an indication to the fact that God has endorsed me as a music star; otherwise, I wouldn't be whom I am today.
How do you manage your popularity as a star, especially as a Yoruba musician who is prone to different shades of people including street urchins?
Even with that, I still give God the glory because in spite of the fact that stardom robs you of your privacy, there are one thousand and one people out there who desire my type of fame but have not got it. I cannot walk freely on the street of Mushin for example. As a matter of fact, I cannot drive any car without having to tint the wind screens.
What informs the Ramadan event of today?
There is the need to thank God for his mercies and for my achievements in the music industry, and this Ramadan period is just right to seek the face of God. I am also doing this to honour my mother who has been there for me at all times.
Your fans are of the opinion that you have been a bit scarce in Nigeria in recent times as they have not been seeing you at live shows especially after releasing your last album.
I am not as scarce as people think, it's just that the recent happenings now among the Yoruba musicians is this debate about who the king of Fuji music is, and I am not interested in that, perhaps it is because I have not joined issues with any of the parties is the reason why people feel I am scarce.
But you should have lent your voice to the debate at least as a way of helping to resolve the rivalry.
But Alhaji Ayinde Barrister and Chief Killington Ayinla are already wadding into the crisis.
People say one of the things you have going for you is your humility, how would you react to this?
That was the kind of orientation given to me by my parents; that one has to give respect to everybody irrespective of their status. Sometimes too, there are people who are trained from childhood to respect elders but as they grow up, they depart from that way. But I have the grace to adhere to that training and as such, I have never pretended to be respectful, I am just acting my true self. It has become part of me.
They also say that you have the passion of helping the needy. Again, what do you say to this?
Well, only God is perfect. Because as much as I have been talked about as a philanthropist, you may be shocked that some other persons do not think I am doing anything spectacular. That boils down to the fact that you cannot satisfy everyone in life. Therefore, I only try my best within my little powers to impact on people so that I can in turn be favoured by God. Even as I do the little I can, I cannot but pray that they are not misdirected or misconstrued.
How would you react to the speculations that a great number of Fuji fans are street urchins?
The fact about life is that where about 10 people are gathered, there are bound to be bad eggs among them. One can only pray that the bad eggs do not outweigh the good ones. However, I can proudly tell you that 90 per cent of my fans and followers as the case may be, are responsible and highly placed people in the society. Moreso, I believe that the remaining 10 per cent are often well behaved when they see the good conducts of the others. Besides, I do not tolerate area boys wherever I am performing. I don't like them one bit. I can give them money when they hail me on the street but honestly, I do not like them to come near wherever I am performing.
Is it also true that you neither drink alcohol nor smoke? If this is true, isn't it strange that among your peers you are odd and one imagines where you get the energy to dance all night during your shows?
My job is different from my personal life style. As a press man that you are, I am sure it is part of the expertise of your job to be courageous; and in doing that, you necessarily need not be under the influence of alcohol. My job is to sing, dance and entertain people. If I know how to take alcohol or smoke cigarette, I would do it but unfortunately (or fortunately), I don't because they just don't go well with my body system. Every thing that I do as an artiste is natural.