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Popular Nollywood actor, Rotimi Popoola is dead

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Popoola, famously known as ‘Ilu Venture’ reportedly died yesterday at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State after a brief illness.

The actor’s death was confirmed by the Abeokuta chapter of Theatre Arts and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria, TAMPAN.

A statement on Thursday confirming his death, announced plans by the actor’s family to bury him immediately; according to his wishes.

The statement reads: “We are saddened to announce the untimely death of our beloved colleague Hon. Alfred Rotimi Popoola aka Ilu Venture. After brief sickness; yesterday 27th Feb., 2019.

“There will be a short memorial service at St Jude Cathedral, Church, Iberekodo, Abeokuta.

In order to give him last respect we planned to join the family at Lantoro Mortuary by 10am tomorrow from where we will move to the church.

“May his soul rest in peace! Ilu oooo digba ooo se,” the terse statement read.

Rotimi’s death is coming barely 24 days after the death of another colleague in the Yoruba arm of Nollywood, Funmilayo Ogunsola aka Ijewuru, died early February.

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Rise And  Rise  Of Abeni Agbon | By Tunde Busari

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Before I am wrongfully accused of bias, queuing behind female artistes, find time to watch Baba Wande film titled AGBABIAKA and see this woman known as Abeni Agbon at her best form of interpretation.

If you’re not impressed, go and watch ALABI ANIYAMETA. If you’re still not satisfied, three things should be given a serious thought. One, you’re lacking appreciative sensory organs or they are malfunctioning. So you don’t know difference between right and wrong. Two, you’re hater of the face of that woman. Three, you keep in your system incurable phobia for Yoruba films.

Despite known reasons to write Yoruba films off, there still are some pieces which you watch and pick few beneficial lessons and tips. And when an actor plays his or her character perfectly, I instantly enlist in the group of his or her fans until he or she proves otherwise due to complacency or abuse of stardom.

That is my connection with the outspoken woman who incidentally also comes from Osogbo like Iya Osogbo and yours sincerely. Perhaps you need to be an indigene to fully appreciate Abeni Agbon’s acting prowess, especially her diction which is the tongue of my people back home.

To restrict her is to cast Abeni Agbon as a Lagos woman. She may want to be professional by adhering strictly with what she has in her script. However, her delivery, with due respect, won’t sound 100%. That’s the power of our Osogbo tongue.

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Baba Wande earns his attraction to viewers by his accent and comportment which are natural comedy content. If Iya Osogbo is asked of another actress to be so named, it is doubtful that she won’t pick Abeni Agbon who is also versed in incantations when featured as a warrior or witch.

In AGBABIAKA, she is the wife, the only wife of Baba Wande, always his match whenever he engages in his usually embarrassing talk in the public. Her actions in all scenes are real and inspiring. Same she does in ALABI ANIYAMETA in which she is the first wife to Yinka Quadri, a wealthy man in his community. There are two other wives but all the three are never friends for 24 hours. They must fight and trouble the peace of the household.

I never come in contact with the film from which she derived her Abeni Agbon stage name. Notwithstanding, I know stage name doesn’t follow actor off locations. The actor must have done justice to the character.

I am confident that Mrs Toyin Oladiran has her traditonal role for keep in the age young female artistes don’t seem to appreciate use of rich Yoruba language. They prefer admixture of bad Yoruba with bad English to give them worst expressions, thereby endangering mass communication. In this circumstance, Abeni Agbon will always get invited to locations.

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She, however, needs to do adult classes to upgrade herself. Staring reality of her limitation in face, Lady Waka Queen Alhaja Salawa Abeni put aside her fame and became private class pupil. Today, she speaks acceptable English on live television.

If Abeni singer could do it successfully, you, Abeni Agbon can as well do even better. God bless the work of your talent.

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Did Ayinla Omowura kill Epo Akara’s band members in 1975? | By Festus Adedayo

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For 45 years now, a subsisting rumour has circulated in the Yoruba music world, gaining the currency of reality everyday. It is the allegation that a fatal accident in 1975 which involved Ibadan-based musician and Awurebe music crooner, Dauda Epo Akara and which killed two of his band boys – Dauda and Omoboade – had the hands of late Apala music maestro, Ayinla Omowura, in it.

The accident generated so much hoopla. Ayinla reportedly placed a spell on Epo Akara’s vehicle. The theory was that, having cursed a Dauda, Epo Akara’s powerful native drug neutralizer rebounded the curse off him, which then went to Dauda, his band member.

Taking the speculation a notch higher, it was said that a few weeks after the accident, Omowura went to Epo Akara’s Popo Yemoja home in Ibadan and on meeting his father, congratulated him for having effectively soaked his son in phials that deflected his incantations off his head.

In memorializing the accident where 14 of them travelled and had an accident at Alapako, outskirts of Ibadan, Epo Akara sang, Awa merinla, awa merinla r’ajo o…

In my book, Ayinla Omowura: Life and Times of an Apala Legend which will be on sale from May 6, 2020, I sought to take the wind off the sail of this allegation. Sule Epo, one of Epo Akara’s band boys, whose stage name was Oyinmiyinmi, in an interview, described this as mere rumour and indeed, baseless.

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He described the duo of Ayinla and Epo Akara as bosom friends and attributed the unfounded allegation to the handiwork of their foes. He said that Ayinla never cursed Epo Akara or the vehicle the band was travelling in and that the accident was caused by a huge fog which affected the visibility of the driver.

Another person interviewed was Sakaniyawu Ishola, one of Epo Akara’s band members. He joined the band in 1973. He was with Epo till his death. Sakaniyawu was in the ill-fated vehicle and he confirmed that the band boys were dead drunk on the journey. He said that on the said day, the Epo band had gone for a marriage ceremony which took place in Ilupeju, Lagos. The band met Omowura singing at the event as he was engaged to sing for the afternoon. According to Sakaniyawu, the Epo band got there at around 3pm.

“As we got there and our musical instruments were being brought down by the parker boys, Epo Akara went and met Ayinla Omowura where he was playing on the bandstand and the two brothers embraced and greeted each other. When we also began our own play, Ayinla came to the stage to salute Epo Akara. They both greeted each other again. That was what I saw,” Sakaniyawu said.

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Asked how true the claim was that on that day, many of the people who had gathered to watch the gigs of the duo left Ayinla and flocked to Dauda’s stage, Sakaniyawu said it was true. He attributed this to the fact that many of those who were there had never heard the voice of Dauda before. Another source attributed it to the fact that many of those who gathered at the function were Ibadan sons and daughters who saw in Epo Akara, a gravitation towards home.

Could a line of a song by Ayinla, to wit, “won ba wa laba won fe sako, ori ere ni moto won mi a jabo – they met us in the village and are gallivanting; your vehicle would have an accident!” be the link of Omowura to the accident? Ayinla sang that song in 1973.

It couldn’t have been directed at Epo Akara because the accident under reference happened in 1975.

Epo Akara, great musician and one of the best from Ibadan, literally died unsung. His house beside Guru Maharaj Ji’s den is uncompleted. The state government never did anything to memorialize him.

Ayinla’s lot is different. Ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State changed the face of Omowura’s home in Itoko, probably an acknowledgment of how he put Egbaland and Ogun State on the map of world musical history.

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Omowura’s children I interviewed for my book were full of profuse praises for this past government in Ogun. Will Governor Seyi Makinde do same for Epo Akara?

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Secrets of  Ayinde Barrister | By Tunde Busari

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I was rounding off in newsroom last night when a brother with whom I share feelings for songs of Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, sent me a Sakara song, which sounds like that by Yusuf Olatunji but which is not Olatunji’s.

We analysed the song during which I brought in Barrister to his amazement anyway. He would always want such discussion with me perhaps based on his acknowledgement of my cult-like attention for Barrister’s voice, lyrics, percussion and style. I established a strong connection between Barrister and the audio he sent and by extension Sakara genre.

My little understanding of evolution of Barrister and fuji music rates Sakara as the soul upon which fuji leaned after Barrister had moved his music away from Ajisari, the genre of which he debuted in 1966 under African Song label owned by the late Alhaji Bolarinwa Abioro, the Yewa man who also produced the then Sunny Ade and His Golden Spot Band..

Barrister realized so early the limited scope of Ajisari which was and still is music exclusively made by and for Islamic faithful during the month of Ramadan only. In order to expand his fan base beyond mosques, he reverted to his love for SAka, a top Sakara crooner in the class of Yusuf Olatunji (Aka and Olatunji incidentally passed away months apart in1978). He was quoted as being a lover of Aka since he was a teenager, housing Aka’s songs in his memory few days after release of those songs to market.

His first live performance at a house warming held in Bariga, Lagos in the first quarter of the 70s saw Barrister playing Sakara to the consternation of older guests who could not believe a young man in early 20s could be so profound in a genre dominated by older generation of musicians.

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Barrister sang: “Won lalayinde ti kere ju o
Won ni ko le sere Sakara yi”

He sang the above excerpt to clear the air on doubt in the guests who attended the party only to witness a fumbling Barrister. However, he caught them unawares. In fact, he took them aback. The success recorded at that show opened door of live performances to him and his small band in a journey of no return. The band never returned to the starting point. Barrister put on his pant and set to swim in the same water with his mentor, SAka, Olatunji and other big fishes of Sakara.

But because he knew it won’t be easy, he slept and woke up with his drawing board, religiously researching, especially into Juju genre which was on its way to submerge Sakara, Apala and other genres, having effectively pushed the hitherto famous High-life to the rear at social parties. Gifted with brilliance and magnetic ear for details, Barrister found it convenient to adapt guitar arrangement of juju and turn it to fuji percussion, making juju fans to feel juju flavor in fuji. In other words, he stole capacity from juju to build fuji music.

This principle informed his unprecedented definition of fuji music in his elpee titled FUJI RAGGAE II in 1979. He asks: “Who can tell me the meaning of fuji sound?” His back-up vocalists reply pointedly that a man who decides to show off his proficiency in English Language before his unlettered in-law must prepare to translate the language for their comprehension.

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“Fuji sound is combination of music, consisting Sakara, Apala, Juju, Afro, Gudugudu, Aro, possibly High-life,” he responds. With that subjective definition, Barrister formally created a distinctive musical brand emerging the pace-setter and compass which would show direction to which that genre goes in indigenous music industry and beyond.

One may be tempted to argue that his definition was a fraud and permission to steal from other brands of music for his own survival. The argument can, however, be punctured looking into origin of some of those sounds from which Barrister tapped. Sakara, for instance, combined Hausa goje with rounded drums, which I learnt are not of Yoruba too, blended with Yoruba folklore. Juju too is fusion of High-life with Yoruba traditional songs. So, Barrister was in order, hence his successful drive of fuji music, always recording first among hundreds of fuji musicians till death took him away December 2010.

Essentially, Barrister was not complacent despite global recognition he had earned. He kept researching with a view to ensuring a permanent place for fuji through wining more fans of others genres. Were he alive, he would have studied the youthful Hip-Hop and picked important elements of the genre without losing fuji identity.

Also, to pay tribute to a late musician in studio, he would lay his song on a popular track of the recipient and render it perfectly and inspiringly. He did this to Yusuf Olatunji (FUJI RAGGAE II, 1979), Ayinla Omowura (AYE, 1980), Bobby Benson (NIGERIA,1983), Haruna Isola (MILITARY, 1984) I.K. Dairo (INFERNO, 1996) and attracted patronage of fans of those musicians.

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On a final note, when you are hardworking, focused and innovative, top seat is assured for you. But in a society as ours, where arithmetical law is freely raped in broad daylight, tons of luck are required to reach destination.

Barrister was hardworking, focused, innovative and lucky to have come at a right time when another person had not come up with definition of fuji sound. Unfortunately, he died young. But that was his wish, his consistent wish to share attributes with Prophet Muhammed. Is he not sharing it, in terms of immortality with his elpees still selling and songs daily on air home and abroad?

Good morning, and happy birthday to Deji Badru, our very big boy. Happy birthday too to Idris Okusajo. Congratulations!

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