OH GOD DON’T LET THIS PAIN GET ME; AYEFELE SPEAKS ON THE PAINS OF BEING ON A WHEEL CHAIR
Eleven years ago, he was a broadcaster plying his trade with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, (FRCN). But a motor accident that left him paralysed from the waist down, was soon to change his destiny.
Yinka Ayefele the Ekiti State born artist felt like the end had come when he was confined to a cheelchair. Unknown to him, God has other plans in store for him.
As he trudged through life, hopelessness and feeling rejected by the society, a chance recording of a musical album in a back street studio in Ibadan, was all God needed to lift the juju-gospel crooner to the top.
Undaunted by the nerve racking pains that goes with his being in the wheel chair, Yinka has continued to share love, give hope to the hopeless and win souls for God through his music.
In this interview with Showtime Celebrity's EBUN BABALOLA Yinka tells his story, the pains, the agony and the success of his musical sojourn. Read on:
Can you recall what led to the incident?
Life has been so good to me with the help of God and the assistance of several well meaning individuals. Although, it's not easy, with God I have been able to cope with the situation. Initially, I didn't know I was going to become a musician, like I used to say, I was a broadcaster at FRCN before the accident.
After the accident, I recorded my first album purposely to raise some funds, but that album became an instant hit.
I give glory to the Almighty God that Yinka Ayefele is accepted everywhere today. How did the accident happen? That I cannot precisely say, but I think I can only remember the car somersaulting for about five times before ending up in a deep pit.
I never had a flat tyre, no break failure or anything to say was the problem, that is why I cannot say what really happened. Only God knows what happened but I thank Him that I survived the accident.
How many people were involved in the accident?
I was the only one in the car and I was going to Abeokuta for a radio programme. It was along Ibadan/Abeokuta road, a place called Orile Ilogun that it happened. And that day was December 3rd, 1997.
In your debut album you accused late Kolawole Olawuyi as the brain behind the accident. What kind of relationship existed between the two of you before he sent you on the mission?
Like, I used to say, it is a forgone issue and I wouldn't want to talk about it.
In the past, there were stories that you had problem with him?
I didn't have any problem with Kola Olawuyi. And like I told you earlier, I don't want to talk about it because it's a forgone issue. Besides we had settled everything long before he passed on.
Tell us more about Kolawole Olawuyi when he was alive?
To the best of my knowledge, he was a very versatile presenter/broadcaster and a pace setter. When he was alive, he stood out among his contemporaries, he was hardworking and focused especially in his field. I met him at the FRCN.
He groomed me in the production of musical jingles and I produced all the musical tunes he used for his programme.
A week before his demise, he called and told me, 'I'm now a pastor and it's good that you give your own life too to God and probably become a pastor. Stop all these women that you used to run after, as we used to joke.'
Eventually, I discovered that it was the last minute message that God sent to me through him. I was unable to see him before he died but I felt his pains when he was at the hospital and I don't know why.
You were not actually working with him?
Not directly, I was trying to follow him and see how he does his job.
And how true is the story that your wife abandoned you with the children after the accident?
That is one of the stories, they cooked up for Ayefele. I don't know where they got their stories from. If I had any child before the accident, it is a normal thing. But I want to say that I never had any child before my marriage and that is the fact.
So, how did you meet your wife?
I met my wife at her cousin's place and incidentally this same cousin of hers was my colleague at the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Ibadan. I used to produce jingles for her then. Her name is Laitan Odeyemi.
She married you after or before the accident?
I proposed to her three weeks before the accident.
And she accepted your proposal after the accident?
Yes, and she's my wife till date, till tomorrow and for ever.
Has it ever occurred to you that, she might be cheating on you?
I trust my wife. She can't cheat on me. She never cheated on me in the past and I don't think that she can cheat on me now. And as long as I'm performing my role as husband at home, I see no reason why she should cheat on me.
Are there any issue yet?
It's a taboo in Yoruba land for a man to count his children so I don't discuss my family on the pages of the newspaper.
Do you ever come across any of your workers, cheating on you?
Nobody is perfect. I can't say they are cheating on me as much as I can't say they are not. Cheating as in stealing my money or what? How would they cheat me, they can't cheat me, there is no way they can cheat on me because we are all working together. I don't take their money, they don't take my money, I don't take their wives, they don't take my wife. I don't see anybody cheating anybody here.
How did you become a full blown musician?
Although I was a member of the Church Choir and I play several key musical instruments, it was not my intention to be a musician. When I first got to Radio Nigeria, Kola Olawuyi was among those that discovered my talent in music.
In good time, I became a producer of musical jingles. But after spending nine months on the hospital bed, my friend, Kola Olootu advised that instead of wasting away in the hospital, I should put some songs together.
The plan was for me to launch the album and use some of the proceeds to go abroad for further treatment. I titled that album, “Bitter Experience”. When it was released it's success marked the turning point in my life.
On the heel of the success of that album were others like, “Sweet Experience”, “Something Else” and “Divine Intervention”. These albums went on to establish my covenant with God as they were all successful too.
You have peculiar titles for your albums. Why?
I think most of them are as a result of inspiration from God. The title “Bitter Experience” has to do with my ordeal, “Sweet Experience” was the sweetness that followed the success of “Bitter Experience”. In short, each title comes with its meaning and I pray before each album is titled.
How long does it take you to do a record?
You see, I strive for the best and that's why I release an album once in a year.
And your genre of music?
I play gospel Tungba. .
Your dancers are quite good...?
Well, I don't know anything about that, I have a producer that works on that. All I do is produce my music and I leave the rest to the producer of the video.
What is your performance fees like?
Well, it depends on where you want my services. I have a standard and so if you are inviting Yinka Ayefele, you shouldn't expect him to come with just two speakers.
I won't say precisely that this is how much it costs to invite Ayefele, but if you want a very good and quality music, it might take substantial amount to get Yinka Ayefele.
I have people who are working with me because I'm not working alone. I have about twenty-five people on stage every time I'm on stage while others work in different capacities. In all I have fifty-six people on my pay roll who have to be paid salaries.
What is it like being confined to a wheel chair?
Well, nobody would like to be on the wheel chair for any reason. My inability to move my lower limbs makes living very tough, but with my fate in God, I believe that the wheel chair will become a story one day.
Could it be the wheel chair that God used to make you famous?
Well, I don't know anything about that. God is the only source of my inspiration and he knows best. I don't have any other thing apart from Him and Him only. So I don't think I'm famous because of the wheel chair. I think God just looked upon me and favoured me.
Is there medical hope that you could one day get out of the wheel chair?
Medically, Doctors say there are two options. One , It's either I allow them operate on my spine which could cause another damage or leave the injury to heal naturally.
How long did doctors say it would take to heal up?
Spinal cord injury takes a long time to heal. But with proper physiotherapy, and lots of exercise, one could walk again. For now I've been able to move around with crutches.
So you believe that you will still walk again?
Definitely, I have started using crutches like I told you, so with time, strength will come back to my legs, and the nerves will pick up.
Now lets talk about Ayefele and the ladies...?
Even if you are not a musician, there is no way, you wouldn't attract a lady especially, if you are hardworking. Like I used to say, I have a lots of female fans, I appreciate and I am very polite with them, but I respect my integrity such that I don't mess around with ladies.
Imagine that you are not doing it and people are saying you are doing it, what of when eventually you are really doing it, what will they say about you.
There are lots of stories that people cooked up about Ayefele that are mostly not true. All I know is that I have a lots of female fans, I appreciate them. If they come to me, I make sure that I relate with them politely but not to the extent of messing up with them.
Are you saying that you have not for a time be caught in tight corner with any lady?
There has been a lots and lots of such. Indirectly, I will tell you no, but I will be polite enough with you, there have been lots of experiences like that.
But I used to overcome such advances. l can tell such lady, we can be friends but not necessarily going to bed together. I will even thank the person for appreciating me but I will make her know that the relationship might not work.
What, if the lady wants you because of your fame?
Yes, we will always be friends. Anybody can come to me because I am famous, no problem about that, so far, such person will not rape or force me to bed. We will not have anything together rather than being closed to each other and relate with each other normally.
When would you consider a turning point?
I must confess, the day I had the accident marked the turning point in my life. I never thought I'd end up becoming famous. I thought the end had come when the accident happened, but God spared my life for a purpose.
After the accident, I experienced a total turn around. I started out as a broadcaster but today I'm a musician.
Any award in the kitty since you started off as a professional musician?
I was honoured recently with a Doctorate degree in music from far away Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And very soon, I will travel out of the country on a three-month musical tour of the United States of America. I'm billed to perform in 25 states.
How many albums do you have to your credit?
I've eleven albums and they are all doing well in the market. But I can't say precisely which is my favorite as I consider all good.
Why is Ibadan your choice of abode?
I don't know why people believe that musicians may not make it elsewhere except Lagos. I want to prove them wrong. Elemure Ogunyemi is based in his hometown and he succeeded. Many artistes relocate to Lagos because they believe it's the perfect shore for music. I believe that if you know what you are doing, you can stay anywhere and make it.
Do you still drive?
In the past, I used to. In recent time, because of the stress, I have a driver who drives.
How do you relax?
I like seeing people around me so that I won't have time to think about my pains. I have this persistent pain on my spinal cord every minute of the day. So I love being in the midst of people. The interaction occupies my mind, so that I will not have time to think of my pains.
I'm in my early 40's and I hail from Ipoti-Ekiti, Ekiti State. My parents are still alive and I'm happily married and living with my family in Ibadan. I'm the first child of my parents. I had my primary and secondary education in my home town.
I later proceeded to Ondo State College of Arts and Science but I couldn't finish because of financial constraint so I came to Ibadan in search of job and in 1989, I joined the FRCN Ibadan, I also had my training in broadcasting at the FRCN training school.
Do you see yourself as famous in your career in music?
I'm not yet famous yet. I pray to be famous like Michael Jackson.
Do you wish any of your children should follow your steps?
It depends on them. They have their own way of life and thinking. I'm not doing exactly what my father did and so it's not compulsory for them to take after me