One of Africa’s shining musical ambassadors, Dr. Adewale Ayuba, was our guest on our Radio Show broadcast live on Splash 105.5fm last Tuesday.
The show, anchored by Olayinka Agboola, saw the iconic fuji musician talk about several issues affecting Nigeria.
You are welcome to our Radio Show. On behalf of the management of Splash 105.5fm and Parrot Xtra Media Network, I thank you for creating time out of no time to be with us on the show. Please say hi to our people listening in…
Yes. I thank you too for having me on Parrot Xtra Hour on Radio. I salute all our people listening to me right now. It is going to be well with us in Jesus’ name.
Well, this one that Adewale Ayuba started by praying in Jesus’ name…. What religion do you practice today?
This is a personal belief…it like you are asking me about which club I support…but I will boldly say that I am a Christian.
Secondly, we all call you Dr. Ayuba. Can you talk about how you came about your Doctorate sir?
I have an Honorary Doctorate degree from Bradley University in Chicago. It was given to me at the University of Lagos.
Music and musicians in Nigeria have undergone different revolution and you have been in the music industry for almost 50 years, how have you managed to remain very relevant?
I should give the glory to God for that because that is what they call talent. I started singing when I was eight years old and everyone would wonder what an eight-year-old knows about singing. I knew I have a special spirit that directed me then because I used to attend every social gathering in Ikene-Remo to sing. I didn’t know the value of money and I was not looking for money. All I was doing was singing. That was how I started.
You recorded about five albums before “Bubble” that gave you your big break. Why do you think it took you that long before the album “Bubble” now “bubbled and you blew” (laughs)?
Let’s give all the glory to God. In this life one needs an adviser; God is number one who gives the talent, promotes man and connects one with destiny helpers. I met a helper who God sent to me. I did all the first five albums by my power and efforts. I had no knowledge of the importance of a producer and good engineering in a record studio. I was doing everything; rehearsing and producing the songs by myself. I noticed that despite producing five albums, students, especially the elites did not dance to my music including my mates in school. They were making jest of my music then saying, I sang for the elderly. Meanwhile I wasn’t privileged to go to music school because my parents did not allow me go into music initially. Therefore, the only music I could quickly grab was Fuji music which does not need equipment or going to training school before venturing into it. Then I wasn’t okay with the fact that my music was not appealing to the university or disco audience. I can say ‘Bubble’ is a project carried out when I met Mr. Laolu Akins, former staff of CBS Sony Music then. We talked and I told him my problem. In fact, I had decided not to produce any album anymore because of the discouragement I got from my friends. However, he encouraged me and analyzed where the problem was. He asked if I wanted to be known all over the world and I said yes, that I wanted my music to be played in the Disco Clubs. He then advised that I made my music 50% English because Nigeria is not for only Yoruba speaking alone. So, that was how ‘Bubble’ was produced and it made it to the limelight. He tutored me on how to work on my lyrics, beat and other things. From there everything bubbled to the glory of God.
Other albums like ‘Kolobakolaba, Ijo Fuji, Sibi mi and others followed in quick succession after the success of ‘Bubble’
How do you get inspired since you don’t smoke and drink like some of your colleagues?
One does not need to take any substance to gear oneself up or get inspired since the talent is from God. This is what most people don’t know. Talking about the scriptures, the best singer and dancer is David, the Psalmist. Mind you, Satan happened to be the first before the creation of the world. Satan had a melodious voice. This is why anyone who goes into music or entertainment industry must be extremely careful and stand with God alone to avoid being used by Satan or the devil. You need to hold on to God 10 per cent. Anyone who smokes, drinks or exhibits acts of disobedience is doing the devil’s will because God said we should be humble so that we can be exalted. When a musician allows stardom to control him or her, thinking he or she is better than his neighbour or colleague, it is surely the beginning of his or her downfall. One exhibits a certain character while on stage and when one comes down from the stage, the person should be him or herself. Be humble; listen to godly advice and being a musician shouldn’t affect one’s marriage. God opens a door of blessing for every couple. Once you do what God asks you to do and obey His commandment, He will open doors of blessings for you. Therefore, I thank God for my life.
Can you recollect your most embarrassing moment as a professional musician?
I had my most embarrassing moment in America. There is a place called TRUMP. It is a mini hall or lounge where all journalists visit at night to drink and catch fun. I was in America with my full band for a summer tour and then decided to organize a show for the Whites. We were invited to come and play at this venue and when we got there, the sound Engineer at the venue asked for our keyboard, bass and tenor guitars so he could set them up. I told him we had none and he was furious; shouted at us asking that what kind of music we played without guitar and keyboard, and asked if we wanted to sing with our voices alone. I was so embarrassed but at the end of the day when we started our music, the Sound Engineer danced all through the night. He was so impressed and said “Wow! This is Fuji!” he kept taking our pictures until we left.
You always sing about your, mom, Alimat Sadia. What would you say was the best advice she gave you while growing up?
You asked the other time that why I don’t drink or smoke and I would say that it was like a contract I had with my mom that time. For me to be able to sing, I must follow her terms and conditions that were difficult for me. However, I was forced to do them but at the end of the day, I give Glory to God today. She made sure that I did not smoke, drink and marry more than one wife because my father married only one wife. She also taught me to always respect the elderly.
Most notable musicians are always caught in series of scandals. How come you have not once been reported to be associated with any scandal despite all the distractions and temptations?
It is only the grace of God. Many neglected the advice given to them by their mothers. It only takes the grace of God for one to heed to his or her mother’s advice. No one is perfect, so I give glory to God for that.
Some of our people believe that Nigerian entertainers are not doing enough to sensitize our leaders on some of the wrong decisions or policies they are implementing that are adversely affecting the masses. Do you think they are right?
Did the likes of late Hubert Ogunde, Haruna Ishola, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (may his soul rest in peace) and others not sing to advice the so-called politicians? I remember back then that the song I sang for late M.K.O. Abiola in the days of June 12 agitation – to release all the detainees led me escaping to America for three years to avoid arrest. They arrested and detained Late Dr. Orlando Owoh in prison while I was on the wanted list. We are doing our best but at the end of the day, we are always at the receiving end.
What role have you played recently in addressing the State of the nation?
It all has to do with the foundation. Politics begins from our homes, which later reflects outside. In Nigeria today, no one checks the background of anybody, especially the politicians. Once you have money – whether legitimately or not, no one cares about the source but they want you to bring your money and you are made the leader of the party. If, for instance, someone steals before he gets to a particular position, you do not expect such a person to stop stealing. People who have good sources of income should be allowed to vie for different offices and not those who have nothing at hand rather than lobbying with godfathers to get to political offices. It is so sad that we have placed our country into the hands of incompetent, jobless people who cannot account for what they have achieved in life. The worst thing they do is to work against anyone who has something to offer and make sure he or she does not get to the top. At the end of the day, we end up voting for people with questionable characters. We should stop this. People keep mentioning Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s name till date because of the remarkable achievements he recorded during his era. He performed exceptionally well while he was the regional Administrator of Western Nigeria. Why can’t we go back to that old regional system of administration if it is the best for us and work with our constitution? I believe with this, things will change.
Someone noted that all that is happening in the political space is a result of the fact that truth is missing or we don’t have truthful people. Do you agree?
There is no 100 per cent truth in America but nonetheless they hold dearly to their constitution and anyone who goes against the constitution will face the full wrath of the law. The judicial system in Nigeria is having a big problem in that sense that people bribe Judges and lawyers to deliver judgment in their favour. That is where the problem lies. May God have mercy on us.
What is your advice to our politicians?
What I will say is that our politicians should always bear in mind that Nigeria has always been the giant of Africa and we should not fold our arms and watch the country becoming an ordinary fly. Back then, Ghanaians were seen as less important in Nigeria but now they have moved beyond Nigerians. Late Hubert Ogunde once sang during his lifetime that Yorubas should think deeply. If we want Nigeria to be peaceful, we need to put things in order. Take for instance late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who left a great legacy behind which we all look up to today. I therefore implore all politicians to do well so that they may have a good legacy for people to talk about when they are no more. That is all I will say.
Kindly advise your fellow Nigerians concerning the coming elections
I will plead with you all to avoid selling your votes. Let us do well and play our part in making our country better. Many have left the country for greener pasture overseas and we all cannot leave this country because not everyone has the opportunity to travel abroad. Let us act well right from our homes by being faithful and truthful to one another as this will reflect in our society and it will eventually uplift governance.