By Tunde Odesola
Birth, breath and death; three seeds cohabiting in the same pod. Birth-breath-death: Sikiru Ayinde Balogun’s earthly journey in a winged chariot, driven by fate, fuelled by freewill.
Fatefully, Ayinde was born by a butcher father and a pepper-seller mother. Utterly, he had no say over the spermatic fluid that shot him into existence.
By freewill, Sikiru was a motor-boy, bus conductor, soldier and musician. He could’ve chosen to be a butcher like his father; or be the face behind his family’s ancestral masquerade, called Adakeja, or be a hoodlum in the Ayeye area of Ibadan, a city renowned for robust oratory and notorious free-for-all, ‘ija igboro laarun Ibadan.’
When death ransacked Fuji Chamber in Isolo, Lagos, but couldn’t find Ayinde, death mutated into a flight called fate and headed abroad, looking for Sikiru, whom it gripped by the jugular on St Mary’s Hospital bed in London.
Sikiru begged and sang melody to death, but death was deaf. He cried, but death was blood-thirsty, dragging Agbaje along into a dark, endless tunnel without looking back.
Ayinde is the puzzle called Fuji. His voice is the riddle of the yam flour displayed uncovered in the rain and wind, yet unaffected by both elements, but when the yam flour took a dive into hot water, it became amala, ready for gbegiri and ewedu.
If you ever heard the melody of the billowy octopus thumping a piano underwater, you’ll appreciate the mystery of Ayinde’s vocal cords resonating tunefully when singing, but the cords stammer when speaking.
It’s the scientific fate of the male octopus to die after fertilising the female’s eggs, just as the female octopus dies after giving birth. In the octopean world, live and let die is the mantra. Before Abinuwaye departed the mortal realm and embarked on the journey to Aljanah fridaus, however, he wrote his name in the sands of time with numerous great deeds.
Testifying to Barrister’s humanity, Galala king, Daddy Showkey, said, “Barrister gave me 250 bags of cement and 500 blocks to start the foundation for my first house in Ojodu in the 1990s. Today, I’ve a shrine in my house for Barrister. I put his picture there and pray to his spirit to guide me before I leave home everyday.”
He said, “Wasiu Alabi Pasuma’s wife had a baby boy one day before my wife had a baby girl. On Pasuma’s child christening, I visited his house and asked him why didn’t he invite Barrister to the occasion. Pasuma said Barrister was a busy man, who wouldn’t have time to come for the christening.
“There and then, I went to Barrister’s house. I went straight into Barrister’s bedroom and I told him about the christening of Pasuma’s child. I also told him my own wife had put to bed, too. Barrister gave me N250,000 and told me to give a higher amount of money to Pasuma. I won’t mention the amount he gave Pasuma because I don’t have his permission to say so.
“I returned to Pasuma’s house and gave him Barrister’s gift. I told him to give me from his own gift and Pasuma gave me N150,000 from Barrister’s gift. On the day of my first child’s naming, Barrister came at night with a cooling van. He also gave me another N250,000 when my wife had our second baby.”
Showkey went on to say that Barrister, in 1994, when he (Showkey) was a nobody, sang his praise on stage, and when he went on stage to ‘spray’ him, Barrister told him not to, and Barrister, instead, ‘sprayed’ him, and told his manager to give him all the money people ‘sprayed’ Barrister, while he (Showkey) was on stage, dancing. Showkey said the money was about N300,000.
Speaking at the inaugural Barry Day celebration organised by Ayinde Barrister Legacy Group, in February 2013, at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, a former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, said despite being very close to him, Barrister never came to seek contract from him when he was governor.
All the personalities, whom Barrister praised in his songs, including Alhaji Adisa Onifade, Chief Buhari Oloto, Alhaji Murhi Gbadeyanka, Alhaji Adisa Osiefa, Asiwaju Tunde Khamis Badmus, Chief Abiola Ogundokun, Chief Oyasola Oyadeji, said Ololade sang their praises free of charge.
Mayegun Musulumi of Iwo, Debo Badru, whose father taught young Sikiru the Holy Qoran, in Iwo, said Barrister did what he preached. He said, “I was the Personal Assistant to Governor Adetunji Adeleke in Osun between 1992 and 1993. Barrister was friends with Governor Adeleke since way back in the US. Whenever Barrister had a show in Osun or its environs, he would visit my house. I was very little to Barrister in everything, but he showed me love.
“When he visited one day, I told him that he should let us go and visit his friend, the governor. He agreed. When we got to the governor, they were happy to see each other. The governor pointedly asked him if he was interested in taking contract, but he said no.”
Juju music icon, YK Ajao, who said Barrister bought brand new musical set for him, said, “He treated me like a younger brother. He gave me money to build my house. I went to his wardrobe to take any kind of clothes I wanted, though his clothes were not my size. He would ensure I play before him so that the people who came to watch him would ‘spray’ me first. I would play for like only 30 minutes, but would make more money than musicians who played all night.”
Waka queen, Salawa Abeni, said while she was married to Kollington Ayinla, and lived under the same roof with Baba Alatika, she defied her husband by buying and listening to Barristers songs.
She said, “General Kollington would break the disc containing Barrister’s music, I would go and buy another one, he would break it, and I would buy another. From when I was a kid singer, Barrister had taken up the role of father in my life, Salawa said.
The anchor of Oludasile Fuji, a social media group formed in honour of Barrister, Otunba Tokunbo Okunola, said Barrister was clairvoyant. Okunola, whose group conducted interviews for Showkey, Badru, Salawa, and many friends of Barrister, said Barrister would’ve been richer than any African musician if not for his philanthropy.
For someone who has done so much to put an indigenous music on the global entertainment map, Olayimika deserves immortalisation from Nigerian governments at state and national levels.
But Ayinde-Ogun wasn’t an angel, after all. He was a hypocrite who turned the Holy Quran upside down to justify a shameless act, after stabbing his bosom friend, Adisa Pele, in the back by marrying Pele’s daughter, Olayinka, who was carried by Barrister during her christening.
Despite his self-professed subscription to the Omoluabi ethos, Barrister shockingly attempted to justify his ignoble act in his 1997 album, Prophecy, by citing unrelated Islamic event, saying his shameful act was similar to what obtained during the time of Prophet Muhammad (SWT).
Pele, the PRO, Ayinde Barrister and his Fuji Organisation, was in the same car with Barrister in 1976 when he had an accident.
Apart from intensive womanising, Barrister also allowed his philanthropy to affect the earnings of his band boys with his attitude of giving all the money generated at shows and parties out to people.
Also, Barrister, who prided himself as singing meaningful songs, temporarily abandoned his style of Fuji to sing lewd Fuji songs called Saje.
Talking about Barrister’s love for the young to grow, Badru recalled that Barrister once had to sing Obesere’s music when fans were leaving his stage. Badru said Barrister’s stage became enlivened after he sang one or two of Obesere’s songs before Barrister went back to his own songs.
This capitulation reflected the dimming of the sun and its journey homeward.
•Odesola writes from the United States of America and an e reach via: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook: @tunde odesola and Twitter: @tunde_odesola