Lagos — Engineer Dapo Fasanya a.k.a. Bengo II, General Manager of Baba Ara's Band, spoke with Entertainment Cafe on Baba Ara's last days on earth and other related issues to his death. Excerpts.
Engineer Dapo Fasanya, when did Baba Ara die?
It was on Tuesday last week at about 6:10 as a result of heart failure at an hospital in Ojota.
Was he sick before then?
Not really, but he was undergoing a sort of bed rest because we had planned to travel out of the country last Thursday. We were scheduled to play in London on 5 September for harvest anniversary of Edward Parish of Celestial Church of Christ, London. In fact, all plans had been on but he was a bit down and we suggested he took a bed rest.
What really caused the tiredness?
He had been so busy since last year. When we travelled to Europe, we had lots of shows, parties and early this year he travelled to Jerusalem and on his return we had his house warming and we had been having shows here and there and you know as human beings, we all need to rest.
But we gathered that he had been in and out of hospital for some time?
That is not true because anybody that knew Baba Ara, will testify that he was an agile man on stage and he had lots of stagecraft. He is a complete artiste. In fact, we call him workaholic because he loved going to shows, but normally age tell on people but at the beginning of this year, I observed some tiredness about him and I told him to see his doctor and rest well.
Did he have any terminal illness?
No. He was an ulcer patient and I don't think that can cause a sudden death.
As an ulcer patient did he eat well?
I think the ulcer came as a result of his busy schedule because sometimes, he did not have the time to eat, but the last time we were in Europe, he sought medical attention from an expert and it was sorted out. And on return to the country when he did not have the time to eat he always took milk or egg.
What did the doctor diagnose as having killed him?
Well, I was at his bed side when he gave up the ghost, it was heart failure, but at about 4 p.m. he had an attack and stopped breathing, the doctor revived him. He woke up and was laughing at me and said: "Why are you afraid. You are not a man. You don't shout when such a thing is about to happen." But I told him, Oga, you know we have a lot of programmes. Because we had agreement with an international promoter for a year's tour of US for four years and I had signed everything. So, I told him not to play pranks. He answered: 'Dapo cool down, it shall be well. Take heart'.
He even told me he would be okay and that by Thursday we should be in London.
For all you know I was with him on Monday and we rehearsed his next album together on the hospital bed.
Which hospital was that?
Lammy Clinic, Ojota, Lagos.
When was he admitted at the hospital?
Two weeks ago.
But he must have been seriously sick to have been admitted in an hospital?
Not really. You know whenever we have a very busy schedule, I always advised that he saw his doctor and that he should take a bed rest. For all you know, Baba Ara had two lines.
He was fond of answering many calls.
Is there anything spiritual about his death?
No, it was natural. You know in Nigeria and all over the world when an artiste or footballer dies suddenly, people always attached so many things to the death. But I believe we are all human beings and can die anytime. Nobody can die without God's knowledge.
As Celestial Church member, was there any message to the effect?
You know Baba Ara himself once said it that if anybody wants to die, no prophet or pastor will see it. And that is what happened. It is only the person who can see it provided he is a man of God. For somebody that is close to Baba Ara, he said somethings that ordinarily if you are not really intelligent you can not decode. He told me three days before his death that, Dapo in three days time you will see that something will happen. I asked what, he told me I will be okay. The last show we had he was just talking about death, advising people on death. May be he knew he had a short time to live.
On his hospital bed you told me he slipped off and came around later so what happened there and then.
He was just laughing and told me to be a man. I begged him not to do anything funny. But he insisted that I should calm down.
What happened afterwards?
I did not read any meaning to it, and after two hours he gave up.
Was he battling before he died?
Not really, he was initially gasping for breath. And the doctor tried to bring him back again and that was the end.
I did not believe he had died. I thought he will come back to life until we took his body to the mortuary the next day. In fact, when he was to be taken into the morgue I was still thinking he will come back. I went back to the mortuary on Thursday and was able to see the corpse. I said to myself 'so this man is gone'. Then I believed he was truly dead.
How was his last hour like?
Well, on Tuesday morning he asked for pepper soup and it was taken to him, he ate, and we chatted for some time. In fact he blamed me for not doing enough that if I had done enough, the band would have travelled on Tuesday night. I told him that he should not worry that I will do my job better next time, not knowing that he was telling me he will be travelling to the world beyond that night.
What about the controversy between him and the Shepherd of his parish?
We have a parish which he attended in Lagos, apart from the Shagamu parish. So there was no controversy. Let me put one record straight because a lot of people have been insinuating that he was killed at the parish. Nobody could have killed Baba Ara. We always sing about that at the Shagamu parish. In fact, when the Shepherd learnt that he had died, he almost ran mad.
When did you meet Baba Ara?
We met in 1991 and ever since we have been together.
Because of his talent (you know he could play a lot of musical instruments), we became close.