25 May 2013

Nigeria: Pioneers of Fuji/Afro Juju Music

Photo: Vanguard
Alhaji Abass Akande.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Nigerian music lovers witnessed a generation of great Yoruba Fuji and Afro Juju music particularly linked to the western part of Nigeria. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM brings to fore some forgotten faces in the renaissance boosting music industry

Back then the clubs were not popular as with current crop of music massively enjoying heavy club patronage.Their were no DJ mix that you would not find Sir Shina Peters "Afro Juju," Abas Akande Obesere, Wasiu Ayinde Mashal, Sikiru Ayinde Barister. Adewale Ayuba. Then came Kollington whose dancers hop and throw their neck in the process. Then came the 'fuji garbage' were the hands moves imbecilically from right to left with so much seriousness on the part of the dancers.

It was a generation of great afro juju-fuji musicians represented by the great men earlier mentioned even though some of them like Shina Peters are still trying to compete with the present crop of musicians.


When inviting these crop of musician to perform in any event, they usually charge more than the contemporary Nigeria musicians because of the preference people attach to their songs.

According to Semiu Babalola, he said when one is inviting King Sunny Ade today, except he want to do it for free, "he charges between 5-10million. While Kwam 1 as he is popularly called charges something similar to that of Sunny."

It was also gathered from findings that the least a fuji artiste charges ranges from 2-3million naira.

During the erstwhile Benson and Hedges touring concert which has now gone into oblivion, you will always find one great fuji or Juju musician doing their stuff with an all together different aura, which is capable of capturing the attention of even those who do not understand the language as they all dance to the tempo of the beat and follow the dance style.

Some of the great fuji/Afro Juju Musicians that rocked the past

Sir Shina Peters:

A Nigerian Jùjú musician. Whose real name is Oluwashina Akanbi Peters was born 30 May 1958 in Ogun State, where he began his career while playing the guitar with General Prince Adekunle, later forming his own group with Juju Maestro Segun Adewale. Shina Peters, after releasing many albums with Segun Adewale through the 1980s, went on to form his own band "Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars".

Their first album release Ace (Afro-Juju Series 1) in 1989 went double platinum and was the career breakthrough which catapulted Sir Shina Peters back into limelight. "Ace" was a musical fusion between Juju and Afro beat; a rhythmic collaboration which pierced Ethnic, Cultural and language barriers in Nigeria. The second album release Shinamania (Afro-Juju Series 2) went on to further prove that Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars were on the verge to change and revolutionise the Juju Music scene in Africa.

Sir Shina Peters is still regarded as the creator of a well-respected music genre (Afro Juju) that exists in its own class till this day. He currently has 16 album releases to his credit. Sir Shina Peters also called "SSP" has received numerous awards and recognition for his unparalleled prowess in the art of Writing, Composition, Choreography and Musical Ability.

Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars have become a household name in the World Music genre and have sold millions of albums worldwide and has taken his music to the shores of South Africa, Europe, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and United States.

Abass Akande Obesere:

Also known as Omo Rapala, is a native of Ibadan, the largest city in Nigeria. A popular Fuji musician, Obesere forced his way into the limelight through his "radical" songs, which openly touch on issues that are considered taboo in the conservative Yoruba community.

Following the paths of other successful musicians such as Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Obesere also has taken his own brand of Fuji music all over the world. He was initially signed with Sony Music but moved onto other labels after payment disputes. He is currently signed with Bayowa Records and Music, a Nigerian record label.

Sikiru Ayinde Barrister:

Having listened to all his records from the first to the last, this was the following facts as recorded by late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (SAB) himself. Forget any hearsay or rumours,

SAB created Fuji, but still referred to himself as Ajisari/Ajiwere until 1973/74. The name Fuji emerged for the first time in his album titled Alayinde Nki yin, released around 1974.

The first person SAB serenades in his record is one Madam Mulikatu Abeje Adeyemi; he also mentioned two of his children: Kubura and Rasaki. He mentioned his mother, Alhaja Odee Sifawu, for the first time in his volume 6 album released in 1975.

He drew inspiration from the likes of Olatunji Yusuf, Lefty Salami, S Aka, Haruna Ishola among others. He conceded seniority to the likes of Ajadi Ganiu, Jolly lawa, Saka Olaigbade, Baba Raliatu, Kawu Aminu, Ayinde Muniru Mayegun, aka General captain.

He served in the military between 1968 and 1976. Alhaji Muniru Gbadamosi was SAB's benefactor who later worked for him as his chairman managing director of his organisation. Ayinla Yekini Agbaje who was also an Ajisari was SAB's half brother; also Nosiru Ajagbe another half brother played Igba, in his group. Fuji Londoners last work with SAB was Oke Agba in 1980. He put together another group same year releasing the Aiye album the same year.

SAB remained the only Fuji artiste to be given the national honour till date.

Adewale Ayuba:

Do you remember the chorus ' only Mr Johnson...Adewale Ayuba...another Mr Johnson, is a counterfeit!' Adewale Ayuba, with stage name Ayuba was born on May 6, 1966 in lkenne Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria. He grew up as a child singer. By the age of eight, he had started singing at local Musical competitions and fiestas in lkenne Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria.

He is a distinct Fuji music artiste with a brand of Fuji that appeals to both the elite and lowly far beyond Nigerian shore. Unlike other Fuji artiste, he has many enviable academic degrees. A Diploma from Ogun State Polytechnic, an Advance Diploma from The University of Lagos and Associate degree from the Queensborough Community College in New York aside other Degrees with a Ph.D.

He is the first and only Fuji artiste so far to have had a taste of Kora Awards when he won two Kora Awards in 2005 with his collaboration with Germany-based Nigerian artiste, Ade Bantu. He likes reading and studying and has numerous artistes like Fela, KSA, I. K. Dairo, Ebenezer Obey, Ayinde Barrister, Kollington Ayinla, Haruna Ishola, Orlando Owoh and on the foreign scene, Bob Marley and Celine Dion as role models. He is a force to reckon with.

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