FUJI MUSIC ICON SIKIRU AYINDE BARRISTER CLOCKS 60
Chief Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Balogun a.k.a. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister in 1958 created a unique traditional music style known as Fuji music. Today the man who through his efforts in music has earned himself a national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR). As the fuji music icon clocks 60 he granted an exclusive interview on his life, why he is unique, how he rose against all odds to become one of Nigeria's greatest musician, his relationship with Kollington Ayinla and K1 and issues of controversy in the fuji music industry.
Q: How do you feel turning 60?
A: Living 60 years on earth is a long journey. To me attaining the age of 60 is a very long journey because I lost my father when he was 45 years old. Turning 60 means I have lived longer than my father which is a great achievement. Moreover, I have performed for 50 years as a musician which is also a great achievement. To me music is Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister is music.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your 60 years journey on earth?
A: I was born on 9th February 1948 to a polygamous house at No. 15 Oke Street, Itafaaji Lagos Island. I started singing in 1953 at the age of 5. I schooled at Mushin. I lost my father at the tender age of 10. While growing up I had nobody to monitor or tell me to do the right things. I was just determined on my own that I have to become a successful person in life. Then the journey was very rough and tough. For instance I was once employed as a commuter bus conductor popularly called Danfo which plied Ajegunle to Idi-Oro Mushin.
All I wanted then was to keep body and soul together and clothe myself. Also I once worked as a goods carrier sleeping all night at Awolowo market,Mushin all to keep the good name of the family of 6 wives and many kids my father had. I tried to educate myself from proceeds I got from the odd jobs. I attended Muslim Mission School from there I proceeded to Mainland Model School also at Mushin where I did my First Living Certificate Examination also known as G2 in 1960.
I started my secondary school education in 1961 and had to stop in my third year school because of financial constraint and I had no support from nobody. But I thank God today for giving me a sense of direction and I have lived carefully and tried to be a law abiding citizen.
Q: Is there anything unique about your person and existence?
A: I have been born 3 times and on the same day, 9th February. That is why I love my mother so much. The first time, I was born as a girl named Kudi . I was given a mark on my back. When I was exactly 5 years old I told my mother I am going back she begged and persuaded me but I died on 9th February.
My mother got pregnant again and gave birth to me on 9th February and I died again on 9th February at the age of 3. Disturbed by this my mother made spiritual
findings about me and they told her I will come back as a boy but she should never stop me from doing anything I want to do, that I will grow to learn and do things my way.
They also told her I will become a celebrity and she should not tell anyone or even me till when I am grown up. She was also instructed that my birthday should not be celebrated. She was further instructed that whenever I want to celebrate my birthday I should be stopped but she should find a means of distracting my attention. That is the reason why I have never celebrated my birthday. My turning 60 will be the first time I will celebrate my birthday. Since I have grown to known myself I fall ill exactly a week o my birthday every year. Every 9th of February I find myself in the hospital. Even when I turned 40 I only recorded an album and did a musical video.
It was after then that my mother called me and told me she was told when I turn 40 I will sing and dance to celebrate my birthday. While telling me she wept and prayed for me. When I turned 50 my friends and fans planned a big birthday for me but as God would have it that day it rained cat and dog till the next day and the party was disrupted.
I don't know whyGod has made it so but anything after 9th February I will be alright. My mother understands all these and I think that was the source of the bond between my mother and I. And I did not realize all these but I know lots of people had always wanted to associate with me and while I was like age 10 I thought and behaved like a 60 year-old. That also reflects on my music. I don't have a composer. I write, compose and produce my songs.
Q:Why did you decide to celebrtate your 60th birthday?
A: I have muslim clerics who are based in Senegal who have been praying for me since last year towards my birthday this year. Their instruction is that I will celebrate the birthday but not on February 9th, 2008. So I have consulted them and I told Wasiu Ayinde (K1) and together with City People Entertainment they plan to celebrate my birthday on May 24th. I have the intension of going to Saudi Arabia so that I will be in Kabba Sherif and Medina to pray for more than a month before coming back to Nigeria. Though my fans in Chicago plan a party for me on 29th March and those in New Jersey on 6th April.
Q: How did music start for you?
A: I started singing in Mushin at the age of 10 in 1958. In 1964 I joined the band of Jibowu Rabiu he was the captain and composer of the band. I was with the band for 2 years after which we parted ways. I went to a record label known as Niger Songs at Abule-Oja near University of Lagos. I produced my first album under that label in 1966.
The album is entitled 'Eje ka gbo ti Olohun' it was released about the same time with King Sunny Ade's 'Alaanu l'Oluwa' Basically Were music is an awakening call for Muslims for early morning meal. Were music metamorphosed into fuji music through my effort. People call me Fuji Music Creator but I because I don't want to be immodest I sang a song that people should stop calling me the creator of Fuji music. In my view God created Fuji music I am just an instrument God used. I started to play Were Music in 1958.
I remember about that time that was part of a singing competition in Lagos and I emerged first position. By 1966 juju music, apala music and sakara music were reigning. It was then I decided to create a music that would encompass all the styles of music and would not bepurely Were music which was seen as an Islamic rendition.
Then I would sing different styles of music. By 1966 when I started singing professionally there was no one to support me. Fuji music is a combination of highlife music, afro, juju music, sakara music and others. I sang to the amazement of people as I sang like Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade and Ayinla Omowura. All I was concerned with was how make the music popular and put food on my table.
Then I have been a close friend to King Sunny Ade Commander Ebenezer Obey over the years and we have spent good times together. While I call Ebenezer Obey my elder brother and boss, I call Sunny Ade, Ishola and he calls me Ayinde. Sunny Ade is about a year and a half older than me. In 1967 I decided to join the Nigerian Army. I served for 10 years and I was wounded at Awka during the Nigerian Civil war. Now I surfer severe pains because of my age from the bullet wound.
Q: Relationship with Kollinton Ayinla?
A: Kollington Ayinla is my childhood friend. We grew up as friends and we love each other. We are good friends and colleagues singing the same type of music.
Q: How did you settle the rift between you?
A: As elderly people I felt it was necessary to settle the rift between us. I came back from the UnitedS tates paid him a visit and made him realize we were not getting younger and that it was necessary to set a good example for the younger ones coming behind us. And it is not until we abuse each other through music that we make money. I talked to him as a brother and a friend and he agreed.
Q: How many albums do you have to your credit?
A: I have 127 albums my credit. I have 115 released on Lati Alagbada Records.
Q: Can we say age has slowed you down as a professional artiste?
A: For instance I have left anything like anger or hot temper. I prefer to avoid you than make me angry.
Q: What is your view on money, women and fame?
A: Let me say basically that money is very essential for every human being. Money is the best thing that can happen to any human being. We use money to get everything we want in life. At the same time it is the source of all evil. If not care is not taken money has a bad spirit that will make any young woman or man to misbehave. For women God himself loves women. There is a portion in the Holy Quran (quotes the Holy Quoran) that God himself desired to choose Aisha, Fatimoh and others as prophets among the women. Women are also as essential as money. Without a wife and money no man is responsible. As for fame it is principally the work of God.
There is no school to earn fame or stardom. And it is the only avenue through which anyone can be known. Though famous artistes in Nigeria are not so appreciated like we have abroad but with time we will get there one day. Fame is something to be appreciated especially by celebrities. It is only those God has chosen that will become famous.
Q: Can you tell us how many wives and kids you have?
A: It has been my principle not to disclose that. My religion (Islam) permits me to have 4 wives as a committed muslim but it does not stipulate how many child I can have. Basically I love to keep the number of children away from the public. I am blessed with wives and children.
Q: Even when you got to limelight and brought fuji music to the fore there were controversies. Why do we have controversy in fuji music?
A: I would not agree that fuji music has always been trailed with controversy. What we had then were different Were groups who contended among themselves. We can say there were rivalries among the various groups who sang Were music during the Musilim Holy month of Ramadan. We had different groups like Saka Layigbade, Baba Ralia, my brothers Bashiru Abinuwaye, Maboyoje (my father's first son), Jolly Lawa and Aremu's groups. What we had then were situation whereby a group will try to outshine the other. That was just rivalry.
Q: How did you come about the name Barrister?
A: When I was very young, I acted and thought like an elderly person. Wherever I was and two other kids engaged themselves in any form of fight I always served as a witness, judge or mediator. Then if there was any need to have a witness I would be called upon because I would not lie or support anyone. I was referred to as 'Barrister Lawyer'. Though everyone taught I would become a lawyer but as God would have it I became a musician and so I adopted the name Barrister when I started singing. I did not know I would be this successful.
Q: How successful are you?
A: Glory be to God. My success today can be ascribed to the Almighty God. Fuji music I know will exist forever. Lots of artistes are coming up and it is a kind of music with a simple style. Personally I thank God. I am not rich neither am I poor. I can conveniently eat three square meals a day and take proper care of my wards.
Q: What would you consider your greatest achievement and regret?
A: My greatest achievement is what I laid my hands on and is now been accepted by all and sundry. You would agree with me that the mention of Fuji music without the name of Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister is not complete. That is enough legacy for me. As for regrets I have no cause to regret. Life itself is full of good and evil. Today I give glory to God.
Q: Nowadays we have the issue of leadership tussle in fuji music. What is your view on this?
A: It is not possible as human beings not to deal with the issue of leadership or politics in a gathering of people. If we are all united there never have been Christians or Muslims. There is rivalry everywhere. The young men that are in contention are doing that because they are young and active men. With time no one will teach them when to be united and put a stop to all the rivalry.
K1 did something that will remain his legacy that his putting together a body known as Fuji Musicians Association of Nigeria (FUMAN). Wasiu (K1) is my son. He was with me for 15 years. I thank God today he is my pride. If he offends me today and runs away if he does not come back to apologise to me I will look for him to tell him he has offended me. I have taken him as my first son He is the Olori Ebi (head of the family).
So anything I want to do he must be there. Wasiu took after me, though as human being we have our differences but I will always tell him the right thing to do. I scold him if it is necessary. For instance no one will ever call Michael Jackson James Brown and vice versa. Even if any of the fuji artiste is wealthier than I am which I don't think so they are not older than me. I know I am one way or the other trying to step aside because of my health but it does not mean I am quitting music entirely.
I have done my best to settle the rift in the fuji music industry. Even if kollington's mother did not die my aim was to make peace in the fuji music industry. which I did and that is why I refused to join issues with him or release any album for the past 2 years. If I released any album there would not be any way it will affect Wasiu and Kollington. But I will ask myself what will I gain from it? I will be the one to lose.
Q: Did you postrate for Kollington?
A: No. I will never do that.
Q: Do you intend to record any album?
A: Yes. I am already working on an album to be released before May 28th, 2007. I already have two sides already recorded. I will produce two other sides. It will be a 2-in-1 album which will released on the same date.
Q: How did you come about the name Fuji which coined how did you come about it?
A: Before the advent of fuji we had Sakara , Juju, Apala and the Were music. On the Lagos Island we had a Were group called Baba Ralia group he sang a unique Were style of music. He called it Fuji Lawa. An acrnonym for Faaji Lawa. When I decided to name my style of Music I named it Fuji Music after the Japanese mountain which means Mountain of Love. I travelled to Japan to see the mountain where couples visit for honeymoon. Since music is the food then let us continue to play it.
BY TAIWO OBATUSIN FOR WWW.NIGERIAFILMS.COM