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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

Healing is here As Sean Dampte’s timely hit ‘Adura’ debuts

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Previous months have been devastating throughout the world. Thankfully, the world may have just been saved by a Nigerian ‘prayer’.

Plagued by what appears to be a precursor to the apocalypse, the earth may have just found longlasting respite as Nigerian singer, Sean Dampte, signed to Savage Music Limited, offers a melodious prayer in this new tune titled ‘Adura’, which is currently going viral just as wildfire.

According to the sensational act, ‘Adura’, a language spoken among the Yoruba in the Western part of Nigeria, which means Prayer, projects a feel-good, groovy swirl of Afrobeat and Pop, served on a genius instrumental with elements of reggae, more reason why a lot of people couldn’t do without the tune.

Echoing its way through the fans’ senses, this prayer for life, money and happiness by hitmaker, Sean Dampte reminds one of the need to stand firm in our hearts as our bodies pay obeisance to the rhythm of ‘Adura’.

A part of the lyrics resonates upliftment and hope. “Adura gbemisoke.. loke loke..” suggests a lifting up from the depths of worry, and a projection into the light.

Speaking further, the Awoodah General, as he is fondly called, expressed that the song came at the right time to rescue the world.

More so, listening to the tune, one would find oneself smiling ever so often as the lyrics of the Awoodah General resonates through the listener’s spirit.

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Another replay is one of many feelings this song elicits as you approach the final seconds of the awesome number. The track Audra is available on all digital platforms! Have a listen and join in the ‘Adura’ that the world needs desperately right now.

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The Dr Of Theatre | By Tunde Busari

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Efunsetan, Iya Alakara, Ayoni, Ijewuru, Aina, Jinadu, Ewejoko. These are stage names. And these stage names have one name in common. The name is Isola Ogunsola!

Isola Ogunsola, the Ogun State-born was a theatre art practitioner whose own stage name is Dr I-Show Pepper. He died on December 28, 1992. That is approximately 28 years ago.

Disappointingly, a little is talked about him, despise his verifiable contributions to the growth of make-believe industry in Nigeria. He was one of old generation of artistes who laboured hard and planted the seed, fruit of which is being harvested today.

One tragedy of regular exchanges of punches by the living artistes over associations and factions, is distraction to which they are subjected in initiating enduring schemes which would outlive their generation.

One of the legacies they ought to struggle to build, instead of trading of words, is to institute a programme which will make remembrance of their late colleagues a permanent feature in their industry.

Yes, I-Show Pepper is gone and resting forever, who knows who goes next from this morning? While I’m wishing the living long life and prosperous career, I must, however, not deny them the truth that death is sacrosanct, a debt we all owe our creator. Therefore, it’s not a matter of prayers or curse, we are all returning to dust, only that no one knows the exact hour the cock would crow.

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I-Show Pepper’s family too is equally culpable for not blowing the trumpet left behind by their father who made indelible marks as a fine thespian gifted with skills which made theatre much fascinating to many. When he sang, he did with passion and finesse; when he danced, he danced effortlessly with alluring steps and flexibility.

No wonder majority of actors belong to the ‘elite’ class of polygamists. No sane person should blame them for this because they are helpless and can’t afford to run away from that reality. All a actor requires is just a casual wink to one whose heart is already in vibration, in fasting and vigil mode for such opportunity to have the admirable character doing those stunning displays on stage. The rest will be history.

I-Show Pepper had and left wives behind, sadly, two of them-Iya Alakara and lately Ijewuru-have joined him in terrestrial realm. May husband and wives rest peacefully. Olusola domo ayo, ere o, la n fomo ayo o seee.

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Entertainment

Majek Fashek: Nigerian reggae lord dies aged 57  in New York 

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Nigerian reggae lord, Majekodunmi Ifakiisheeke popularly known as Majek Fashek, who helped bring African music through his reggae, rock genres to world audiences with hits like Prisoner of Conscience, which included the multiple award-winning single “Send Down the Rain” has died in New York.

The legend, aged 57,   was born March 7, 1963  in Benin City to an Edo Old Bendel State mother and a Ijesha father and died June 2, 2020.

It was reliably gathered that the singer songwriter and guitarist died after battling with cancer for almost a year.

Fashek’s manager, Uzoma Day Omenka who confirmed the sad news on the singer’s Instagram page on Tuesday morning disclosed that he died 11.45 pm June 1, 2020, Nigerian time.

According to him, the ‘Rainmaker’ died in New York,  where he was  receiving treatment and not  in London. The manager added  that the doctors advised he should be moved close to his family, which informed his being moved to New York where his wife and children live.

Uzoma informed that the singer,  Majek was separated from his family for 10 years until last year September when he reunited with them on the advice of his doctors.

“We moved him from London to New York last September on the advice of the doctors that he should stay close to the family. Majek reunited with his family last year after 10 years of separation. He died in their company, ” he added.

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 Fashek worked with various artists worldwide including Tracy ChapmanJimmy CliffMichael JacksonSnoop Dogg, and Beyoncé.

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