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Dauda Epo Akara: 15 Years After | By  Waheed Ganiyu

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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Entertainment

Classical Fuji After K1: The Likely Successors

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It is no gainsaying that the Nigerian Entertainment industry reign supreme and most of these celebrities are always identified as semi-god by their numerous fans and admirers. Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Adewale Omogbolahan Anifowose popularly known as K1 De Ultimate is a Nigerian Fuji musician who has paid his dues. K1 had earlier popularized a brand of the Fuji genre based on the work of his master and the Fuji creator, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister known as Talazo Fuji that appeals to all age groups, irrespective of tribe and background.

In 1984, the Ijebu-Ode Prince had his greatest musical success, with the album, titled, ‘Talazo 84’. He later step up his game, and by dint of hard work, K1 has successfully created and popularized his brand of Fuji music christened ‘Classical Fuji’. And, he has since recorded rhythmic success stories.

Wasiu Ayinde, who is believed to be the wealthiest and most influential Fuji artiste alive, has continued to show that he is indeed the ‘Fuji lord’. With his brand of Classical Fuji that appeals to the old and young generations, K1 blends easily with time and this has assisted him to build a huge fanatic Fan base and high leveled networks. While others are still struggling to secure a show, K1 is already occupied both home and abroad entertaining his fans. His rare commitment, dedication and consistency has earned him, among his contemporaries, the only artiste that is still visible on the big screen.

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No doubt, the Fuji lord, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall has made his way into the hearts of the people, especially artistes who dream to be like him. Very recently, he harvested the produce of his hard work as the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Atanda Adeyemi III installed him as the Mayegun of Yorubaland.

Meanwhile, the Fuji maestro, K1, 63 is aging and has more responsibility to shoulder following his installation as the Mayegun of Yorubaland which he specifically acknowledged during the installation ceremony. He promised to stand for the interest of the Yoruba nation and its unity.

Though, K1 is not tired, just like an old wine, he keeps getting better everyday, but the utmost joy and biggest hurdle is for the Fuji lord to see successors that would preserve his hard earned rebranded Fuji -Classical Fuji and, perhaps improve on it.

Interestingly, the number of Fuji artistes willing to succeed King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall is increasing by the day, however, three (3) major musicians are likely to take over the baton when the time is ripe. These K1 sing alike Fuji artistes are influenced by his music and have a strong affection for his style. They believed that their role model has created a good path for them to tread. These guys are the disciples spreading the gospel of Classical Fuji.

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The introduction of David Ojei, popularly known as David Ayinde and Ogidi Omo Arabambi into Fuji music over two decades had been interesting. He hails from Agbor in Delta state, while his mother is from Ibadan. He’s from a Christian background and grew up in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.

David Ayinde who shared the same tune and voice with the Fuji lord, is also blessed with the delivery that can easily be taken for King Wasiu Ayinde himself. Though, the Ibadan based Fuji star never worked under K1 but he maintains a father to son relationship with the classical Fuji creator, whom he prides as a role model and mentor.

His adopted brand of Fuji music conceptualized by K1 is really opening doors for him as he enjoys patronage from his godfather’s fans and classical Fuji enthusiasts, especially in abroad. David Ayinde is loyal to the famous ‘Arabambi clan’.

Also, an Ijebu Ode born Kolade Onanuga is one of the wave making Fuji artistes who sings like King Wasiu Ayinde. Being a native of Ijebu Ode in Ogun state, the birthplace of the Fuji lord and his direct adoption as K2; Kolade has enjoyed influence and support from his mentor’s fans which has earned him different shows both in Nigeria and abroad.

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He’s enjoying a worthwhile relationship with the Fuji idol; K1.

Another fantastic and experienced Classical Fuji artiste is Alhaji Ramoni Akanni. Akani is from Oke Elerin, Ogbomoso in Oyo state. His fans addressed him as RK1.

Adopting King Wasiu Ayinde’s brand of Fuji music has been paying off for RK1. He has recorded many successes through his entertainment career. Singing like the Fuji lord has also assisted him to travel around the world for musical shows, events and gained solid connections. He pays regular homage to K1.

Alhaji Ramoni Akanni’s music delivery is highly matured and well organized.

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Entertainment

Reggae classic ‘One Love’ re-issued to help children upended by COVID crisis

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The iconic Bob Marley song One Love is to be re-released with the blessing of the musician’s family to support children whose lives have been upended by COVID-19, the UN said on Thursday.

The fundraising initiative comes as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that an additional 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes in the next six months.

Almost all of them live in developing countries, where the coronavirus pandemic has placed additional strain on already fragile health systems and basic services.

Call for unity, then and now

Issued in 1977 by Bob Marley and the Wailers, with a call for unity and to tackle the suffering of children, a new version of the much-loved reggae anthem will go on sale on Friday 17 July.

It features members of the Marley family, world-renowned musicians, artists from conflict zones and children from vulnerable communities.

“Over 40 years ago, my father wrote One Love about unity, peace and universal love during a time when there was much trouble in the world”, said Cedella Marley. “Even in a time when we aren’t able to ‘get together’, his message remains true today: we can get through this global crisis if we come together through one love and one heart.”

The project also has the support of jewellery brand Pandora, which has pledged to match every dollar raised to purchase One Love, up to the value of $1 million.

A bid for greater equality

All proceeds will support Reimagine, UNICEF’s global campaign to prevent the COVID-19 emergency from becoming a lasting crisis for children.

“One Love speaks directly to one key truth about this pandemic: our best hope to defeat COVID-19 and to reimagine a more equal, less discriminatory world for children is through global solidarity and co-operation”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We are delighted that the Marley family along with Pandora have lent their generous support, creativity and love to help the most vulnerable children.”

In addition to the immediate health impact of COVID-19 on children and their families, UNICEF has warned that youngsters have been affected indirectly too, through school closures, food shortages, limited access to basic healthcare and disruptions to medical supply chains.

TikTok chiming in

The agency intends to use the money raised from One Love to respond to immediate needs, which include soap, facemasks, gloves, hygiene kits, protective equipment and lifesaving information for children and families.

Support for youngsters’ education, protection and healthcare systems will also be possible, UNICEF said in a statement, which noted that internet platform TikTok, will promote the song launch with a special event and public challenge for fans who want to get involved.

“We have a unique opportunity to chart a brighter future for the children and young people mostly likely to suffer its long-term consequences”, said Ms. Fore. “From ending violence, injustice and discrimination, to building fairer and more just societies, young people have made their message loud and clear. It is time for the rest of the world to hear it.”

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Marlians: An emerging clan of millennials

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No doubt, what occupied the minds of the youths nowadays is far more than development in Science and Technology but to grow in anti-social activities and violence. These days, listening to music is almost on everybody’s favourite list because it is somewhat a sort of remedy, a lift for the soul up, and a soothe the mind.

However, studies have revealed that music may potentially have the most negative effect on teens as a result of explicit lyrics, messages of these genres, accompanied by videos or graphics containing destructive themes. Presently, there is an emerging clan of Millennials in Nigeria popularly known as Marlians. The question from a sane mind is who are the Marlians?

Marlians are the fanatic followers and fans of a Nigerian singer and songwriter, Afeez Fashola professionally known as ‘Naira Marley’. Naira Marley is presently enjoying a huge fan base more than any other artist in Nigeria. Almost on a regular basis, he releases musical hits which evoke memories, images, emotions and feelings into the conscious minds of the millenials.

The youths are now influenced by his music and music videos. It was concluded that the majority of the youths, including teenagers, have a strong affection for his style of dressing, characteristics, speaking of Naira Marley. They have cultivated more habit of watching and listening to his music than any sensible musician in order to improve and master all his ways.

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Either consciously or unconsciously, many young boys and men, even girls (ladies) now, publicly identify and associate with the Marlians. This tribe – ‘Marlians’ are spreading not like wildfire but like the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, many prominent Pastors and Imams children, top politicians children and children of top civil servants, among others, are the followers of Naira Marley!

Investigations also unearthed that the Marlians, just like any other group, exhibit some predominant characteristics. The female Marlians don’t wear a bra, while the Male among them wear trouser to half of their buttocks and adhered strictly to ‘Zero belt’, that’s why they are called ‘No-belt gang.’

Naira Marley gave this rule in the lyrics of his song titled PUTA. He specifically mentioned that folks should believe in and follow the practices of “Zero belts, thousand trousers”.

Marlians consume drugs and alcohol excessively. Almost all his videos encouraged alcohol and India hemp, among other drugs. Naira Marley called himself ‘Igbolabi’ meaning he was born to smoke weed. Unfortunately, these young boys and girls, who pride him as their role model, also consume alcohol and drugs to express their loyalty to the Marlians group.

Since Naira Marley wears long dreads, most of his followers also keep dreads.

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The group labelled itself Zero Manners which was established in the lyrics of PUTA, where Naira Marley reiterated that ‘Marlians don’t have manners’. The interpretation of this is that they are meant to defy all manners taught initially and disobey constituted authorities.

Continuing, they have little regard or fear for anything or anyone as reechoed by their Idol, Naira Marley when ‘he forty’ as ‘O fo ti’; meaning that folks should not be afraid of anything whatsoever.

In a related development, the singer promotes get rich quick philosophy by glorifying internet fraud known as ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’. Most of his songs encouraged internet fraud. He believed money made from fraud should be spent on alcohol, drugs, and sex.

Another important rule of Marlians is, “Marlians don’t graduate, they drop-out”. This rule sounds controversial because Naira Marley who said “Big Booty Is Better Than Having A Masters Degree”, graduated with a distinction in business from Peckham Academy and also went ahead to study Business Law at Crossways College.

It is no gainsaying to submit that the influence of Naira Marley through his music and lifestyle in the world among Nigerian youths have become rooted in his behavioural pattern of its audience. The concern now is that his music has affected youths in the way of dressing, speaking and behaviour. He is now the major determinant of their ways of life. He has successfully contributed to a fall’ in the moral standard of our society.

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Parents are advised to watch over their wards and children, and also understand the characteristics so that they can proactively learn to engage them in meaningful ventures.

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