Sunday 6 December 2015

From The Archive(s): "My father Ayinde Bakare Was The Originator Of Juju Music" Sina Ayinde Bakare

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On October 1, 1972, Ayinde Bakare, the original king of Juju, had an afternoon engagement in Lagos and a night engagement in Ijebu Ode. On account of that, he sent some members of his Meranda Band ahead to Ijebu Ode in the hope of joining them later in the day. He led the remaining members of the band to play at a wedding party at Isalegangan Street, Lagos. He disappeared when the band was on recess and was later declared missing. After a fruitless search, the police decided to check on a body found in the Lagos lagoon shore near Bonny Camp on October 5, 1972. It was Ayinde Bakare’s.

The body was mistaken for that of a vagrant and was buried as such. It was an embarrassment to the police, the Lagos City Council which registered deaths, his family, his numerous friends and fans who were fond of him and his music. Meanwhile, his eldest son, Shina, then aged 29, had arrived from Mubi, now in present-day Adamawa State where he was the leader of a pop group. Shina’s mother, Alhaja Amudatu Lemomu sent him a telegram informing him of the death of his father. Shina was there when his father’s corpse was exhumed at Atan Cemetry, Yaba.
Shina recalled with grief: “I was there with a few friends, members of my father’s Meranda Band, and some of his other relatives. He was buried naked on top of 41 other bodies. I was the first to see his leg. Then I shouted ‘yes’ this is my father’s leg. I became dazed at that stage. I then realized my good old man was dead for ever. The condition of his body made me suspicious that he did not die a natural death.” 
The police immediately ordered an autopsy to be carried out on Bakare’s body. In addition, a coroner’s inquest into the circumstances leading to his death was also set in motion. The coroner, Mrs. Grace Akinboboye, began the inquest on Monday, April 30th, 1973. The first witness was Dr. Olaseni Akinlade, the consultant pathologist that performed the autopsy. He said he found bruises all over the body. He also found a tattoo that read “A. S. Bakare” (Ajikobi Saibu) on the deceased’s right hand. In his opinion, Bakare’s death was due to drowning.
One of his wives, Risikatu Dabiri, was also a witness. She told the coroner that she suspected two members of her husband’s band to be responsible for his death. Before his death, she added, there was a quarrel between Bakare and the two men over a sum of 60 Naira. She alleged that while her husband was missing, the band continued to play at parties. 
Ayinde Bakare was the first musician to use the electric guitar in Juju music, and in 1956, he became the first Juju musician to visit the United Kingdom with a band. Tunde King was the first Juju musician to go to the United Kingdom, but he did not go with his band. The Meranda Band was well received by African residents in London in 1956, playing at what was then called “Abilabi Club” in the Soho District of West End. To a certain degree, Ayinde Bakare contributed to the international acceptance of Juju as a popular music genre. It is puzzling to note that in spite of the bruises on his body and the allegation by the coroner that three witnesses knew more than they said, the police failed to fish out the killer(s) of Ayinde Bakare. Forty years after his murder, the unanswered question is: Who killed Ayinde Bakare?

Sina Ayinde Bakare, son of the legendary Juju master Ayinde Bakare paid tribute to his later father who was cruelly murdered at the height of his fame.

My father Ayinde Bakare was the originator of Juju music, especially in Lagos in those days. They were the original creators of Juju music, not this ‘Owambe’ Juju music. They called their own music traditional, classical Juju music which was in the form of highlife. His own father was from Ajikobi compound in Ilorin. My dad was from a royal family and on account of that he was forbidden from playing music because musicians were seen as beggars and praise-singers. He father who was a trumpeter in the military brought him to Lagos. I was born in Lafiaji Oke Suna. So, I happened to know my dad as a musician. My dad had six children. I am the first. 

Dad started his musical career with Tunde King. It was the same Tunde King who brought up the late Ambrose Campbell. My father’s mentor was Tunde King. They were playing a form of afro-Cuban Juju music. The music of that era was influenced by the Second World War. My father went to the warfront along with Tunde King, Nightingale and Ambrose Campbell. Most of them fought in the Second World War. It was there they were taught how to play guitar. They came back with a kind of Brazilian flavoured music. 

The white men gave it the name Juju music but we called it ‘faaji’ music in those days. I was young when my dad was reigning as a star. It was his stardom that enticed me to learn how to play guitar. By then I knew Victor Uwaifo who was then a student as St. Gregory College. He was in Form Four and was living in our area. It was from him I saw a guitar book. I ordered for it from England and taught myself to play guitar. Every weekend I used to clean my father’s guitar in preparation for their going to play. That was my job: to clean the guitar with coconut oil. It was during the cleaning that I started learning how to play the guitar, using the guitar manual I ordered from England.

Mike Enahoro, fine guitarist
In those days Mike Enahoro the newscaster was a fine guitarist. I learnt from him and other good guitarists of those days. I was watching professional musicians like Victor Uwaifo, Mike Enahoro, Alaba Pedro and many others and learning from them. At night when my father was sleeping, I would pick the guitar and be striking it and my father would wake up to ask: who is playing the guitar? From there he showed me a few tricks on how to play guitar. It came to a point where I mastered the guitar and even started teaching my father how to play progression chords. I was so good that one journalist Victor Dorgu did a story on me entitled, Like Father Like Son.

My father was one of the best musicians of those days. He had a very good voice and had good lyrics. He never abused women in those days. Instead he praised women in his songs. He prayed for them to have happy marriages blessed with children. His style of guitar was different. It sounded like samba because they were taught by those old soldiers. They started with banjo guitar, then to palm wine guitar. That was why their music was unique. 

I remember my father as a very, soft humble and friendly man. Any time I wanted to prostrate to greet him, he would ask me to stand up and shake his hands, saying, “you don’t need to prostrate, I am not God.” He calls me by whistling my name.

Who killed Ayinde Bakare?
On October 1, 1972, he lost his life. There was a publication in Drum magazine of those days which asked: “Who killed Ayinde Bakare?” The question can never be answered. He had an afternoon engagement in Lagos and a night engagement in Ijebu Ode. On account of that, he sent the band to go and wait for him in Ijebu Ode. I was somewhere in Mubi playing with my band when I got a telegram from my mum saying my father was missing. His body was discovered four days later on October 4, 1972 at the back of Bonny Camp in Victoria Island. The same thing happened to Israel Njemeze, one of the popular Eastern musicians of those days. He was murdered at Railway Line, Ojuelegba in Lagos. A lot of things were happening by then. It is still happening in Lagos. I don’t want to go into the details of my father’s death but I know that African Songs and Phillips Record were dragging him to come back. It happened to Bob Marley, it happened to Peter Tosh and most of these stars. 

I am a Catholic. My late father was a Catholic. His Catholic name was George. My Catholic name is Joseph. My mother was from Epe. She too was a nice ‘waka’ singer. 
My dad was a jolly man, always in the midst of women. He enjoyed rocking life. His inspiration came from good life. That’s what they call ‘faaji’ music. Most of his composition came through live shows at parties. After every performance, he would sit down to remember the songs and put them on record. Dad recorded over 150 singles. If we had been keeping archives, I am not supposed to be suffering in this country. I am supposed to be living on those money. 
My father’s name is Saibu Ajikobi. He is from a royal family. In those days, music was seen as something for vagabonds. But when Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade came, they proved that music is not for dropouts, that it’s something they have to take really serious.

Hey Jude
I was the one that brought the tune ‘Eni ri nka he’ to Chief Ebenezer Obey. The song was originally done by Ambrose Campbell. I gave it to Ebenezer Obey and he gave me 20 pounds. He is still alive today. When my father went to England and brought back that record as a single, I gave it to Obey. ‘Eni ri nka he’ is Paul McCarthy’s Hey Jude. Ambrose Campbell turned Hey Jude into ‘Eni ri nka he.’ Then the other side is ‘Obla di, Obla da.’ 

So when my father brought this record, I started singing it with my band and Ebenezer Obey came to Zaria in 1968 and heard me perform the song. And he loved that song. Any time I played it, he loved it. Then when my band came to Lagos to record for EMI, Obey told me to meet him at Olonode Crystal Garden. He had a Saturday night out there and I opened with that number. I played it more than five times. I didn’t know he was going to record it. Obey is my friend. He knows what I am talking about. He gave me 20 pounds. And I just gave him that number: ‘Eni ri nka he...’

Obey did not give credit to Ambrose Campbell for that song. In those days, nobody gave credit. It was Fela Ransome-Kuti who fought for credit in those days when he came. In those days, composers were not getting credit. I know the people who compose for Victor Olaiya, Roy Chicago and so on but you don’t hear that names. When Fela came, he gave credit on his albums to all the members of his band. And it is the same Fela who made our royalty to be much higher. Because my father was earning 2 kobo on an album. I was earning 4 kobo. I remember confronting the late Abioro who owned TYC Records. I asked him why he should be paying my father 2 kobo? It was then that he increased my father’s money.

Sunny Ade
My father’s music was mentor music to the likes of Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey. They started with it. Sunny Ade used to rehearse with my father’s musical instruments at Victoria Bar and Western Coliseum, Apongbon. Sunny Ade is a showman. If you are hearing 10 guitars on Sunny Ade’s music, it is not Sunny Ade alone playing that guitar. People think it’s him but it’s the guitarists behind him playing. He would dance and do everything. When it comes to guitar, I am a guitarist. Sunny is a showman. I cannot play their type of guitar because they mistune their guitar. They mistune the No.2 string. I am not trying to spoil anybody. 

But let me say Sunny brought some gimmicks into guitar playing. It is ordinary twanging of guitar. But when you talk of guitar, you are talking about melody, chord progression. If you listen to my record, you would know what I am talking about. As a musician, I have paid my dues. My present CD is influenced by different types of sounds. And that I think is music. Most of our guitarists cannot play alone but I can entertain alone with my acoustic. You would think it’s two, three people playing. The acoustic guitar gives you the natural flavour. And it is not all musicians that can play acoustic. Some of them are used to electric guitar. I don’t use platron. I prefer playing with my natural fingers. You can’t compare Juju music to Ghana music. Our Juju music has no sequence. We sing flat, just anyhow. In Ghana, they concentrate more on melody. Here we concentrate more on percussion, on rhythm, so we don’t have flavour. Nigerian music has lost flavour. My guitar heroes are Jimi Hendricks, George Benson, Eric Gale, Johnny Lee Hooker. Those are my mentors. Those are the people I have been listening to.

Credit: "Drum," July, 1974

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