Omowura born anew


Festus Adedayo (An upcoming book on the life and times of popular music Icon,late Ayinla Omowura)

In the last one year or so, this writer had been researching into the life and times of Egba-born Yoruba Apala music maestro, Waidi Ayinla Yusuf, also known as Omowura, the son of Yesufu Gbogbolowo, a.k.a Anigilaje and Wuramotu; the grandson of Morenike Asabi. The research took me and my crew, Waheed Ganiyu and Idris Oderinde to the nooks and crannies of Abeokuta, Lagos and some other cities and towns in Yorubaland. We were looking for every tissue of information about this bohemian musician. Our major barrier was digging into the life of a man who died about 40 years ago, with the manifest gaps in such exercise. We dug out pleasant and unpleasant stories about the tragic life of this enfant terrible musician, speaking with two of his surviving wives, his driver, children, friends (like eighty-something years old Akingbulugbe Okunola, retired Assistant Commissioner of Police who was working in Abeokuta during this time, who told us about his friendship with Omowura, the Apala lord’s marriage to a police officer who later gave birth to a child for him), his foes and so many other people.

We also delved into Omowura’s constant scuffle with Ajape Ojubanire who he constantly jabbed as atohunrinwa – migrant; Egun-born but Mushin-based Fatayi Ayilara who he sang denouncing thus: “oga ere, ta lo gb’ero pe ki o bo’ra, ko mo’yi to kan mo ni’le odu, aro won re’so ko tun dudu mo – band leader, who advised you to bleach your skin?; Fatayi Olowonyo of the E le’wure wo’le fame and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, among others. Ayinla’s children were wonderful and threw his Ile-Loja, Itoko home open to us, showing us his bed, mattress, chairs, radiogram, television set that they still kept intact.

We spoke with two of his surviving band members, Sikiru Oyewole and Alhaji Adewole Alao, his lead drummer; Seriki Amodemaja’s son; Ayinla Agbejapa Oba’s children; Bolodeoku’s children; Fatayi Bayewumi’s son, Ayinla’s fellow Apala musician, Y.K. Ajao of Abeokuta and so many others. We dug into what transpired on that day, May 6, 1980 at Agoka, in the beer parlour of Risikatu Adekola; how Omowura, upon being stabbed, vomited and how Bayewumi’s lawyer, Chief Sotayo, claimed that this was indicative of the fact that he probably died from high blood pressure attack. Mrs. Olopade, State Prosecution Counsel, rebutted this claim with evidence from Dr. Akin Majekodunmi, who conducted the autopsy on Ayinla, that the “comminuted depressed fracture about 2 inches x 11/4 ins. in the left temporal region which was associated with a large intercranial haemorrage and contusion of the brain” which Ayinla suffered after being hit with a beer mug on the head could not be as a result of a fall. Justice Kolawole eventually sentenced Bayewumi to death by hanging on September 30, 1980.

We encountered Omowura’s prophecy a few months before his death to Bayewumi, saying, in Egba dialect, “Emi re Jeshu, iwo re Judashi, Bayewumi, iwo re ma pa mi! – I am Jesus, you’re Judas; Bayewumi, you will cause my death!” The book, a 7-chapter work, of about 130,000 words, has been concluded and it details Ayinla’s youthful years, his music, rise, death, family and what obtained after his death.

A few days ago, celebrated cinematographer, Tunde Kelani and our crew met in his Abeokuta Olomoore Estate home, in continuation of the Omowura project. He was in Ibadan where he interviewed us for more than one hour on Ayinla Omowura.

One very helpful link in this study was a man called Sikiru Oyewole. He still continues with the Omowura band and has released two albums, one entitled, Sisi Ile Iwe (Vol 1) and another that he released recently, entitled Apala d’otun. When you hear Oyewole sing, he is surely a reincarnation of Ayinla Omowura. As we prepare to storm the world with this book project in May this year, in celebration of the evergreen musical gnome (Anjonu elere) called Ayinla, let us reconnect with Omowura by listening to Oyewole, with Adewole Oniluola masterfully drumming, even as Ayinla pada d’omo tuntun (Ayinla reincarnates as a newborn).

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