By NBF News
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Obafemi with wife
Jide Obafemi, the ballad singer of Ayetoro-Gbede, Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi, is popularly known as elepoyinyin, a derogatory remark he had made on a drunkard who had danced shamelessly to his music.

Obafemi is disabled but this has not discouraged him from pursuing his dreams of a bright future: Instead of taking to begging as some in his condition do, he sticks to singing having discovered the talent as a teenager. This was even after he had tried other vocations without fulfillment. His songs in his native language are laden with messages, ethics, tradition, history and lore.

As he dishes out his music to entertain and to make a living, so he has mastered the art of survival and getting what he wants. The trick is what he applied in his marriage and it was a success. Ever after, the local ballad singer is happy with the wife who invented the potent blackmail.

Saturday Sun spotted this ballad in his town doing his beat in Ayetoro-Gbede. Not minding that the ballad has remained on the side of dignity to earn a living, the common discrimination challenged people suffer in the society still trail him. Obafemi narrated how his condition almost cost him the love of his life, Kehinde, one of the only triplets in the village. He said his wife's parents actually disowned her for marrying him.

'My wife's family never thought I could become anything given my condition and the career I chose. They opposed our union and gave us a hell of time.'

Reminiscing on the rough time he had at the beginning, he said: I took up singing as a career about seven years ago. I discovered the talent in primary school. Then I used to tell my classmates stories and in these stories I used songs as interlude. This made them to love me as they were always asking me to do it for them at leisure. I was also passionate about Indian films. I was charmed by their songs.

I had only primary education here in my village
Initially I used the local musical instruments such as akuba and omele. I also had years of apprenticeship under older singers. Our musical genre is called kokomo, it is a local genre popular in Kogi and some western parts of Nigeria. Later I diversified into hip-hop, fuji and others. I like to preach values of hard work, fairness, and other valued ethics of my people.

'My breakthrough came when a wealthy man in my town bought musical instruments worth almost N200,000 for me. His name is Olusola Akowoje, he was former aide of ex-vice-president, Atiku Abubakar. We met when he came to this village for a flag-off rally of our present governor in Kogi State. He was impressed with my performance and so he took interest in me.

I perform for all social events - burial, wedding and anniversaries. The first day I got a fee of N1,000 for a performance, I was simply excited. Then I was using local musical instruments. Now, I charge N40,000 for a performance. I also act comic roles apart from singing. And I would like to act in Nollywood.

I have not been able to put any album in the music market because I do not have the financial capacity yet. But surprisingly and embarrassingly, I have been hearing recorded version of my performances in local stores where cassettes and CDs are sold. I know how these people get these works. Whenever I perform for somebody they usually request for a recorded copy of the performance and I give this to them. Interestingly, some of them mass produce it and sell to the public.

My wife first fell in love with my music. We met at a social event where I performed. She came to congratulate me after the performance and then the interest grew and we became friends. Our friendship deepened and later we began talking about being together forever. That was when things began to go awry. Having agreed to marry me, we informed her parents but they turned deaf ears at us. They later warned her to quit the relationship because there could be nothing good in me. This was apparently because of my physical disability and the choice of career I made. Instead of becoming discouraged, Kehinde grew to love me the more. In fact, she suggested that I put her in the family way so as to compel her parents to support us. Seeing how desperate she was, I consented and once we did and they knew, They told her not to see them again. It was that bad.