Alhaji Agba of fuji, Barrister, bows out
By Gbenga Adeniji and Adeshina Oyetayo
Friday, 17 Dec 2010
Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister
When the news filtered out on Thursday that Fuji icon, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister had died, many people dismissed it as another rumour. The reason is that the rumours of his death had spread a number of times in the past only for his fans to heave a sigh of relief when they were discovered to be what they were - mere rumours.
In August this year, it was also reported that he had passed on, thus sending shivers down the spines of the nation?s entertainment industry and his fans spread all over. But the tension created by the rumour was later eased when it was confirmed that the musician popularly called Alhaji Agba, was hale and hearty. The surgeries he underwent in Germany and India were successful, after all.
But as much as his numerous fans would wish that the news of his death would turn out to be another ruse, it was confirmed that the Fuji Garbage creator did bow to death on Thursday morning at the St. Mary?s Hospital, Paddington, London.
The death of the consummate Fuji musician who had been in the intensive care unit of the hospital since November has finally laid to rest the rumours that had dogged his health for the past two years. The undisputed King of Fuji was aged 62.
While a younger brother of the deceased musician, Mr. Gani Balogun, confirmed his death, another source close to the family told The Punch that Barrister was flown back to London early November when his health relapsed. ?We had to take him back to London last month because his health was not improving.
?You know he had been in and out of Nigeria after his last operation in August. He was first in Germany to convalesce, but we had to bring him back home when his health was not improving. He died in London yesterday. Barrister is dead. He has gone to rest. The pain was too much for him,? the source said tearfully. As at press time, the family was yet to decide on how and when to bring the deceased back home.
Before his death, the highflying ?Fuji Moderniser? had become less active in the music scene as he gave attention to his heart ailment, which had been a source of concern to his family members, friends and fans.
At that time, Alhaji Agba could no longer perform energetically and for long hours as he used to. In fact, on many occasions, he was consigned to sitting while performing and sometimes shunned performance engagements. Since then, the widely travelled and talented musician had been at the mercy of surgeons at home and abroad, from Europe to Asia and America, in search of lasting solutions to his ailment. By the time he died, Barrister, who was robustly rotund, had shrunk considerably, becoming a shadow of his old self.
Until his emergence on the music scene, Fuji music was at its crudest form; still known as Were, a song employed to rouse Muslim faithful during the Ramadan. The late musician whose songs offered deep reflections about life was famed as revolutionising the Fuji music genre, taking it away from the pre-dawn song of Muslims, and planting it firmly in the mainstream with a followership that cuts across all strata of the society. He also propagated the gospel of Fuji round the world before his health started deteriorating, leading to his death.
Besides, he was one of the country?s finest singers and composers whose music opened new vistas for cultural discourse on the global scene.
Mr. Fuji, Alhaji Agba, Ayinde Barrister and Barry wonder as many fondly call him, was one of the outstanding originators of the Fuji genre; a rich blend of dance music fusing Apala and conventional Yoruba songs. He also started singing the Fuji at age 10.
His chart-bursting albums include Fuji Garbage,Family Planning, Fuji Dimensional, A Juwe Juwe, Ijo Olomo, Barry at 40(Omo o e pe dagba), Disney World trip Special and Odowo Agba among others which smoothened the texture of the fuji genre.
Reacting to the news of his death, President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Admiral Dele Abiodun, speaking through the association?s Secretary-General, Mr. Idowu Blessing, said the death of Barrister was a great loss to PMAN?s leadership. He said that he would be missed a lot by the association because he sang pure fuji music laced with philosophical messages.
?His death has created a big vacuum which will take time to be filled considering his brand of Fuji which was devoid of western instruments,? he said.
Celebrated Juju musician turned evangelist, Ebenezer Fabiyi (Obey), described Barrister?s death as sad. He explained that after his (Barrister) operation in India, he met him and they spoke about the success of the operation. He added that he told him that he would be going to Germany for an operation on his leg.
?When he was in Germany, I spoke with him and I learnt that the operation was successful. Our expectation is that he would come home hale and hearty. We were very close and this news saddens me. But as a man of God, I know that we came to this world one by one and we will leave one by one. He was one of the gifted musicians and his contributions to Fuji music cannot be forgotten. He has played his part well and both the entertainment industry and Nigeria as a whole will not forget him.?
Another reigning but younger fuji artiste, Wasiu Alabi, a.k. a Pasuma Wonder, described his death as a big blow on the Nigeria music industry. ?I don?t really know how to react to his death. It is a big blow on the music industry. He was a very important figure on the music scene. He is very important to us. Alhaji Agba was Mr. Fuji to everybody. It is a big loss to us. We will continue from where he stopped. It is a big loss. I commiserate with his family. May God grant him eternal rest,? an obviously grieving Pasuma told our correspondent on the telephone.
Abeokuta-based fuji musician, Alhaji Shefiu Alao, popularly called JJC Omo Oko, said the news of the death of the versatile artiste came as a shock to him. He stated that it was something that was never expected considering the fact that his health was improving considerably.
He said, ?He was a mentor and adviser. My colleagues and I have a great deal to learn from his life and legacy. I am short of words. He was very principled and straightforward. All we had wanted to do after he recovered was to organise ourselves and hold a welcome dance party in his honour like we did for Ayinde Wasiu when he survived the rumoured arrest abroad. I am really sad and pray God to watch all that he left behind. Indeed, his life was inspiring.?