On February 18, 2005, the Awurebe exponent, Alhaji Dauda Akanmu Kolawole fondly called ‘Epo Akara’ breathed his last at the age of 62. His exit marked the end of musi-cultural era, the era of a generation of musicians whose roots are deep in the urban social fabric and heritage of the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria.
Like Fuji, Awurebe genre evolved from ‘were’, which was a means of entertaining the muslim faithful in the holy month of Ramadan. His band name was formerly, ‘Dauda Epo Akara and His Ajisari Group, an indicative of the fact that he was playing ‘were’. He reportedly rebranded the group and adopted Awurebe group after returning from pilgrimage to Mecca in 1974.
Some of Epo Akara’s contemporaries in the early days of his music career were: Gani Kuti, Lawuyi Oke Eleta, Sakariyawu Ladoye(who later switched to drumming), Isiaka Ogidan, and Tunde Ayefele. Gani Kuti began his ‘were’ exploit at Boundary Area of Ajegunle, Lagos, before relocating to Ibadan. However, Epo Akara pioneered the brand, Awurebe and others followed suit. Unlike Fuji that it’s creator remains a subject of debate and controversy, Awurebe’s lordship has always been attributed to Epo Akara without dissention. Even the acclaimed Fuji progenitor, Late Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister had at different times consistently traced Awurebe origin to Dauda Akanmu. For instance, in Barrister’s LP, ‘E sinmi Rascality’, released in 1982, while appreciating the leadership of each genre of Nigerian music, he sang:’olorun naa lo s’ola Awurebe fun Dauda mi Akanmu o…abata ta kete bi eni o b’odo tan, isi gaju’. Also, in ‘Fertilizer'(1985), Barrister confirmed Epo Akara’s authority: ‘Dauda Akanmu o, Epo Akara ni’lu Ibadan lo l’awurebe o’.
Epo Akara’s style was rooted in a blend of folksy traditional art and philosophy. Awurebe is the fusion of Apala, Sakara, Woro and even Dadakuada from Kwara state. It is the perfect blend of these various musical cultures that have given the genre a uniquely definitive identity.
Epo Akara’s music was not only about praise-singing, but also to comment on issues of national significance. He deployed his prowess to promote or condemn government policies and programmes. When the then Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed created additional seven(7) states on February 3, 1976, the Awurebe icon waxed an album, ‘Ipinle Tuntun'(Vol.7) to commend the military regime. ‘Ipinle ti e fun wa o ma dun mo wa o e. Ibadan pelu Oyo o, omo iya sa ni wa’. ‘we are delighted with the newly- created states, Ibadan and Oyo have become one’.
Alhaji Epo Akara’s love for Ibadan was unquantifiable. He lived there throughout his life; even when other notable musicians believed that their trade could only thrive in Lagos. He never hid his love for the largest city in West Africa. In ‘Ori mi dara’ (vol.6), he praised Ibadan as the base of the wealthy and the noble. ‘ilu Olowo Ibadan, ilu oloye ti wa ni, ori mi dara ni’badan na bi mi o e’. Also in another album, ‘Is Gaju’, he sang: ‘eeyan t’ori e ba ti daru o, lo le f’omo ‘badan sere o’. In all his LPs, he always celebrated the ascension of successive Olubadan to the throne.
One of the arch-rivals of Dauda Epo Akara was another Ibadan- based Awurebe star, Yisau Osupa Anabi. It was alleged that when Epo Akara travelled to Abidjan, Cote D’Ivore for a musical engagement in the late 70s, Osupa Anabi hurriedly released an album, alleging that Epo Akara had been arrested and jailed for drug trafficking. The record, according to a reliable source recorded high volume of sales to the extent that Epo Akara fans became jittery and devastated.
According to a surviving member of Epo Akara’s band, Pa Sakariyawu Ishola: ‘ Osupa Anabi released the album barely three days after our arrival at Abidjan. And our boss, being a talented musician and master of his trade did a rejoinder through his album ‘Abidjan Special’ to dispel the unfounded rumour’. Osupa Anabi had sung:’ijekuje ti e n je, imu ki mu ti e n mu o…ta lo ran yin lona ibe un’. Meanwhile Epo Akara in Abidjan Special replied: ‘ko ri fun o bi ero re si mi o e…awa o r’ewon ni’lu Abidjan o. Baba n gbo o, be n bu wa leyin ba o gbo,baba n gbo’. He also promoted the abundance of Ankara fabric in Abidjan, ‘ankara yebeyebe o wa l’abdijan’.
Dauda Epo Akara played the role of a peacemaker in the highly celebrated Barrister-Kollington feud in the early 80s. While the rift was tough and resulting to the Fuji musicians splitting into two factions of the warring Fuji gladiators, the Awurebe maestro dropped ‘Ija o pe’ in 1982 where he mentioned and appealed to the feuding musicians to seathe their swords. ‘Ibo la kii ‘yan de o, ta o fi máa ba ‘ra wa ja, Kolawole, ija o pe e’. The rift between Barrister and Kollington was subsequently settled with the intervention of the then Deputy Governor of Lagos state, Alhaji Rafiu Jafojo.
One sad moment that remained indelible in his lifetime was the loss of two of his band members, Omoboade and Dauda in an auto crash at Alapako Area of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in 1975. The tragic occurrence occurred when Epo Akara band was returning from a musical outing in Lagos. According to one of his wives: ‘Alhaji didn’t like anyone playing or singing the lyrics of ‘Ijamba Moto’ in his presence as he would start crying’. It was gathered that Alhaji Dauda Epo Akara recorded the tribute track of ‘Ijamba Moto’ LP thrice, as he could not hold his tears in the two previous recording sessions.
In a chat with one of the Awurebe king protégé, Sule Epo Akara, whose stage name is ‘Oyinmiyinmi’, he referred to his late boss as a talented musician with humane personality. ‘Ha! Oga mi Akanmu Baba Tawa, Akanmu omo ta piti, iya e gbe e. Olorin ti o see f’owo ro seyin ni. He gladly encouraged me to establish my own band. ‘Alagbe ma je n tan o, o ti to da duro’. Sule Epo had fourteen albums to his name.
Benson Idonije, a prominent music critic said: ‘Epo Akara released over 80 albums and was also on the road performing at prestigious engagements. But it is sad that a musician of his stature did not enjoy international recognition and exposure’. Honestly, what the Awurebe maestro left behind doesn’t commensurate with his fame and works. He has just an uncompleted single-storey building along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. This writer believes that Oyo State Government under the leadership of our amiable governor, His Excellency, Engineer Seyi Makinde could out of his usual magnanimity, post-humously honour this Oyo state music ambassador by renovating his house. For example, the immediate past administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state, renovated the Itoko residence of late Apala legend, Ayinla Omowura, as his effigy has been erected on his grave.
But why has it been difficult for the children of these music icons to step in to their fathers’ shoes? For instance, Musiliu Haruna Ishola resurrected Apala with ‘resurrection’ in 1991 and after his hit album ‘soyoyo’, in 2002, his popularity has dwindled. Ayinla Omowura’s younger brother, Dauda Anigilaje and his son, Akeem fell by the way side before their deaths in 2005 and 2016 respectively. Perhaps, Omowura’s shoe was too big for them. The grandson of the sakara legend, Yusuf Olatunji, Abideen Ajasa Olatunji is trying his best in Abeokuta to keep Baba Legba’s legacy alive.
It is apparent that every individual has his or her endowment.
Mrs Baliqees Jejelola Aduke, an executive member of Epo Akara Fans Club affirmed that four of Dauda Epo Akara’s children are singing Awurebe: ‘yes, four of Alhaji’s children are singing. They are Alhaja Tawa, Ramoni, Sarafa and Suliyat’. Asked which of them possesses the trait of Epo Akara’s musical dexterity: ‘they are all superb with good voices and the shoulder-shrugging dance style of their father’, she replied.
Born in Ibadan in 1943, Dauda Akanmu Epo Akara started as an ‘Ajiwere’ (Ramadan early call) singer. He was discovered and signed up by Omo Aje Records under the astute management of the current Olubadan of Ibadanland, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1.
Waheed Ganiyu, Journalist and Media Consultant writes from Ibadan, Oyo state
Why I did the track ‘Adura’ —Sean Dampte
Afropop singer, Sean Dampte, who recently dropped a single entitled: ‘Adura’, which is increasingly gaining a lot of airplay in and outside the country, in this interview by MegaIcon, talks about his music career and why he recorded the track ‘Adura’. Excerpts:
- What got you into music in the first place?
I have been in music so long that I cannot say particularly why I am into music other than it gives me joy and fulfilment to be part of the culture. I guess I can confidently say it must be the love for music itself.
- The brand Sean Dampte is gathering great momentum in the music scenes, especially in the UK and Nigeria. How do you feel about that?
I am humbled to say the least but in all honesty there is still much work to be done. I am grateful to my team, friends, family, Awoodahites and everyone that is part of this journey.
How did you start and push the brand to this applauding level?
Like I said earlier, I am humbled to see how far we have come. The most important thing for me and for everyone for that matter is the resilience that you possess. I started by believing in myself and ability and over time, loads of people started to see I would not be going anywhere and began to take the brand Sean Dampte serious. It’s been a long journey, but we are thankful.
- How would you describe the music that you typically create?
I like to call what I do Afro-Calypso but ultimately it is part and parcel of the AfroPop vibe with loads of other cultures present.
How does your work comment on current happenings in the social and political circles?
Yea it’s been and still a trying time overall and I cannot shy away from the happenings. With that said, that is one of my reasons for the single ‘Adura’ just to point out that only prayer can uplift us. And we must always continue to pray.
Your manager is white, while you are black. How do you feel given the recent uproar about racism against the black race?
Personally, I understand where and how the current uproar affects the psyches, however it is never about white versus black but rather about us, from a black background, being treated equally and respected.
I support the #BlackLivesMatter movement wholeheartedly and willingly believe in what we trying to achieve.
- Where and when do you get inspired to write your lyrics, inside the plane or while talking a walk?
Inspiration for me comes standard and I am actually grateful for my team. It happens anywhere and when that happens, you can bet am on to my team. We working always to get the best our to everyone. My key producers Joey Benks, JayOcean and Jomane have been fantastic. Sometimes 1 AM, 2 AM we are still up working across continents. Hahahaha
Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
I do sing in the shower but it’s never the same song. Although I have been singing Adura for the last couple of days and I am sure you know why. Very uplifting I find it.
- Most people believe nowadays artistes don’t undergo much stress to blow unlike the days when there was no internet or social media when musicians had to go from one town to another to perform. But now it seems easy as many music talents have blown via social media?
It is really difficult to comment on that but one cannot undervalue the effect of social media and technology as a whole. The truth is that the challenge is still there and more importantly it has opened up the opportunities for more talents to be able to showcase themselves and direct their musical career.
Where have you performed? Which artiste have you performed with?
I have performed at a host of events to say the least – But in the last two years I have been on stage with Wizkid at the YCee concert, Falz the Bahd Guy, Davido all in the United Kingdom, Kizz Daniel in Amsterdam to mention a few.
- Which is your favourite song to perform from your songs?
In truth, I enjoy performing to all of my songs at every opportunity I get. Considering I enjoy listening to good music. However, if it were to happen that I was put on the spot and had to perform one, I would most probably choose Marcelina – it’s a very different vibe that gives.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
There are loads of great artistes and musicians out there to say the least and that follows that I probably would admire a lot of them. But k
- What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Hahahahahaha! Seriously …… that alone is enough to get one into more trouble wouldn’t you agree! Awoodahites are always right! Let’s just say that is it.
°What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Wow! I personally find every advice useful at all times. But what my dad always told me growing up was that talent in anything is never enough to excel – so you must work harder, pray harder and dream bigger!
- If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
That in itself would be a monumental task for one person to take upon him or herself. Hahahahaha, I would only want more to be done to protect the artistes and their investors really. No one likes their work to be infringed upon and no one likes to be cheated. So yea, protect all stakeholder rights as much as humanly possible.
- If you could go open a show for any artiste, who would it be?
Hahahahaha, I have been on stage with most Nigerian Artistes and all so maybe for me now, having to open up for Drake in this moment would do it.
- You once said in an interview that you almost killed yourself due to depression. How did you get over it?
It was a dark place to be in. And it’s not somewhere I like to visit. But one generally needs to keep on focusing on the good things and love for family. It is important to keep in contact with close family and friends and speak out. That works for me and hopeful it helps others do who struggle with it.
What is one message you would give to your fans?
I mean all my Awoodahites know how we do now! We plenty like stars! Life Money Happiness crew. We keep on keeping on. I love my Awoodahites and they love me too!
What’s next for you?
Yea it’s been an interesting year to say the least and following all the great reviews we have had for my hit single ‘Adura’ – I think it’s time I let people into my world and so will be dropping my Sophomore EP on August 21 titled “Awoodah Rising: Man Like Sean Dampte”
Make sure you look out for it!
‘COVID-19 is real’, says Peter Okoye after tested positive
Nigerian pop-star, Peter Okoye has disclosed that he and his family tested positive for COVID-19.
Peter Okoye, in a live session on his verified Instagram page on Saturday said, “It took me a lot of courage to say this.
“For weeks, I was in prison in my own house. I was sick. I was COVID-19 positive. It took me a lot of courage to say this. I caught the virus.
“I used to think this whole virus thing was a joke and I took it for granted.”
Speaking further, Okoye also revealed that his daughter and wife were later tested positive, including his cook and one of his nannies.
The former P-square group member further informed that he and his family have now tested negative after treatment.
“If you think this whole virus is fake or you don’t have anyone that you know, I am telling you now that it is real,” Okoye said.
Why I’m yet to remarry, 20 years after my husband’s demise – Asewo to re mecca
Far famed Nollywood actress, Yeye Toyin Adegbola, popularly addressed as ‘Ajoke Ashewo to re Mecca’ by her numerous fans has attributed the need to prioritize children as her reason for refusing to get married again since her husband’s demise, over 20 years ago.
Ajoke Ashewo to re Mecca’ also stressed the need for mothers to establish closer relationships with their children, particularly the girl child, without shying away from adequate sex education.
She recommended castration as the appropriate punishment for rapists in Nigeria.
The veteran actress, who featured on Parrot Xtra Hour aired on Space Fm, Ibadan on Tuesday admonished parents to always encourage and support their children in their desired career choices.
When asked about her stage name, the actress laughed, explaining that she got it from a role she acted in a movie.
“There was a time I went to buy some things at Dugbe Market in Ibadan and a particular woman started shouting ‘Ashewo’, you know, it was so embarrassing. I found it offensive initially but I just had to get used to it eventually. Besides, this is what I’m getting paid for”.
She attributed her seeming absence in movies in recent times to growth, explaining that she now carefully selects roles before accepting to feature in movies.
While speaking on other means of livelihood, the actress disclosed her involvement in politics at a time, noting that the Osun state Governor at the time, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had invited her to serve the people, because of her many social responsiblity roles even as an actress.
On upcoming projects, she assured her fans of exciting projects as soon as the pandemic is over, one of which would capture her most embarrassing moment, when she was detained at Iyagunku, Ibadan police station for about nine days, after the police alleged that her vehicle was used to assassinate somebody.
She advised upcoming actors to be willing to undergo intense training, adding that there is no shortcut to long lasting success.
Yeye Toyin Adegbola also took time to speak about her role so far in getting Nigerians to be aware of the deadly nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I have several short productions that I uploaded to sensitize Nigerians on COVID-19. Nobody paid me to do it. Nigerian governments at all levels, as far as I am concerned has not approached any actor or actress to officially have input in the battle to stop the spread of the pandemic”, the actress said.
She later went ahead to pay glowing tributes to Pa Tubosun Odunsi and Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello) for the roles they played in her life and for contributing to her success as a professional actress.
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