For celebrated singer and clergyman, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi, attaining the age of 64 is a major achievement. But the Juju maestro marked his birthday on a low key last month. Nevertheless, it was an eventful day graced by relations and loved ones at his Ikeja residence.
Obey hosted guests to a silent bash and many fellow clergymen were in attendance to testify to the goodness of God in his life. The popular singer, who was better known in music circles as Baba Miliki, also explained how God called him for evangelism despite being a successful musician. He recalled his early days, noting that his parents never wanted him to take a career in music, until he was able to convince his mother that he would not become wayward as a Juju singer.
My name is Evangelist (Dr.) Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi. I am a man who has received favour from God. I had practised music for over 30 years before the Lord called me to work for him. I thank God for this privilege because I struggled so much with Him for 11 years before finally heeding the call.
Today, I am 14 years old in the ministry and I thank God for what he has done in my life. I was born on April 3rd, 1942 to the family of Pa Nathaniel Olasewo Fabiyi and Abigael Oyindamola Fabiyi. My father hailed from Keesi, Abeokuta and my mother from Owu. I had my elementary education in Abeokuta after which I proceeded to Modern School and later secondary school.
I draw my inspiration from God. As a young child, my mother being a devout Christian used to take me along to the church and I loved to play the musical instruments. I was always found around instrumentalists, and this made my mother felt I was a rascal. But the whole thing changed when a man of God prayed for me and prophesied that I would become a great instrumentalist and musician.
Shortly afterwards the prophecy started manifesting. I later became a member of the choir both in the church and school. I was made choir leader and everything seemed to have been worked out for me by divine means.
I became a local champion among other singers in my community. I joined several clubs and was able to distinguish myself in all the clubs that I belong. But I came into the limelight through the music club, particularly as a member of Ifelodun Marble Orchestra.
As the youngest member of the group I was often neglected until the older members discovered my talents and made me their bandleader. They used to hail me then, saying "Obey it's your show".
Ifelodun Orchestra was my first musical band. It was founded in 1955 as Royal Marble Orchestra. I joined the band as a student and became popular. Later, I started releasing records according to the prophecy, and everything I touched from then on became gold.
My mum actually wanted me to be a lawyer or a medical doctor. She was afraid that if I became a musician, I would be morally bankrupt. Later, I reasoned with her and promised that as a musician, I would make her proud.
She agreed and after some time, she trusted me. She monitored my movements and got convinced that I was sincere. She then started praying for my progress.
My first album E wa wo ohun oju mi ri (see what my eyes has seen) was released in 1963. It was an instant success. It was a commentary on the ordeals I had gone through in life. My music is philosophical and the album was well received in the market. By the grace of God, I have released more than 200 cassettes.
Many years ago when I was still in active music, I travelled abroad and while in London for a show, my instruments suddenly went aflame. At that time, I took my band to London and some parts of Italy. I bought instruments in Italy and sold them after use. But on getting to London, the instruments caught fire and got burnt. There were rumours back home that I was trying to smuggle Indian hemp with the instruments. They claimed that when policemen in London sighted me afar, I became afraid and deliberately set my instruments on fire as an excuse to escape arrest.
However, my colleagues knew I didn't travel with my instruments and that I never smuggled Indian hemp. The police in London even confirmed the truth of the matter. The police in London don't collect bribe, otherwise they could have arrested me if I was guilty.
I lost all my musical instruments to the inferno. The Press in London reported the news with photographs of the fire incident. The coverage itself made my enemies envious and twisted the story in the Nigerian media (Lagos Weekend) at that time. This prompted my song; Irinse lo jona Obey o jo na (thank God, only the instruments got burnt I'm alive afterall). On another occasion in London, while I was subjected to a compulsory bed rest in the hospital for some weeks, people again claimed I swallowed heroin. That was when I released another album entitled, Baabu lukudi.