It was another trickery action reminiscent of old past when the duo of King Sunny Ade and Commander Ebenezer obey put the entire nation into collision course (in social terms of course).
Their arch rivalry which pitched their fans against each other then reached a crescendo as their idolizing fans crept for proven supremacy among the two legends trying to convince the world who was the best.
This time, its a rivalry brought out of a rediscovered life and the ghost of the past still chasing the die hard fans.
The current feud carry over had not been really intentional, but rather born out of the old passionate love for the duo from different musical ring corners as memories of their teeming fans appear to have been rekindled.
A current concert being organised in Lagos by my old friend and colleague on the then entertainment desk of Punch Newspapers, Azuka Jebose Molokwu had brought back the old rivalry feud in the mind of their fans.
As history is being made to bring together the two grandmasters of Nigeria social scene and leading iconic personalities on the nation’s music platform, King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey to perform in a landmark concert, opposition had mounted on the side of Commander Ebenezer Obey with his Church flocks detesting a supposed duet performance by the duo based on old rivalry on the pitch of music play.
American based Azuka, just like me, a product of Ladi Ayodeji’s entertainment reporting ‘college’ had sought the consent of the duo to pally in an extraordinary Nigeria’s 50th year anniversary concert involving the two legends.
But Commander Obey almost backed out of the show facing pressures from Church elders who thought he was heading towards a rekindled fight for supremacy with his old rivals,.
Obey had earlier had agreed with the organisers and even concurred on KSA’s behalf.
A source however had disclosed:”But elders of Commander Obey’s church Commander Obey saw the concert in a different light thinking it was being put together to rekindle fans old animosity and bring back the old rivalry”.
The concert which was supposed to have been held October 22 had been put off to resolve the misconceptions.
They thought people would perceive it as rekindling the perceived rivalry between them.
According to Commander Obey during a conference, the misconception was however resolved as Molokwu explained the whole concept again to convince him of the concert necessity as Nigeria celebrates 50 years of Independence the duo having played leading roles on the nation’s music scene.
Though, Commander Obey wasn’t ready to go against the wishes of the elders, the issue has was resolved by Obey’s son, Folarin, who took time to explain to the elders after he (Folarin) had been contacted by Azuka for divine intervention.
Folarin Obey eventually persuaded the Church elders into submission thereby opening the gate for Obey’s participation in the concert.
King Sunny Ade had consistently disclosed that the old rivalry was commercially driven claiming the two superstars marketers used the tactics to generate interest for their coming record albums.
KSA had disclosed to me in the early nineties just before an interview with BBC world service which I had organised that the rivalry claim was a farce as it was faked by marketers to create interest and force fans to patronize the two records, a reason he maintained during a radio programme in London sometimes ago and even recently as both iconic figures held a press conference regarding the coming event.
” We were caught in the act one day in Commander obey’s house as we both settled to our usual every night get together. Olabisi Ajala knocked on the door and as we heard his voice, both myself and Commander said, oh, we are in trouble. I attempted to escape through the window and was caught by Ajala who accused us playing tricks with the fan.
KSA quoted Ajala by saying: “Oh yes! I have got you today. So this is the way you do while all of us out there struggle to clear speculations. I have got your tricks”
A very excited Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey said at the recent Press conference that the concert which is keyed into the 50th Independence anniversary, couldn’t have come at a better time because God has helped them to contribute their quota to the nation.
Though he confessed he wouldn’t have ever imagined the two of them on the stage, he noted that “With God all things are possible. We are not enemies as people are thinking. We are brothers.”
* King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey thrill fans in evergreen show as Independence concert is slated for November 7
Juju music icons, Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade (KSA), have disclosed that they are game for the forthcoming ‘One Nite Stand’ featuring them with the same band on a stage for the first time ever.
The show, scheduled for the New Eko Expo Hall, Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos from 4pm on Sunday, November 7 is being packaged by GrandFaaji Concepts Limited.
Obey and Sunny spoke about the concert at a press conference held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, on Tuesday, October 19.
Welcoming reporters to the event, chief executive of GrandFaaji Concepts Limited, Azuka Jebose Molokwu, said the Juju legends were there “to imprint on our minds the essence of this concert.”
The show, he added, “is unlike any other in the history of Nigerian music.
Many may have thought that the so-called rivalry that existed between the two musicians would never have made this possible. But, as it is evident here: these are two brothers and friends. And, they are gearing up to show what two will do, when they are agreed.” The former entertainment journalist now based in the US noted that “It is also going to be an evening of soul-gratifying melodies.”
President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Dele Abiodun, thanked organisers of the concert for coming up with the idea. Abiodun, who recalled the duo’s efforts to popularise Juju music, reiterated that nobody would have believed the two role models would ever perform together. “Thank you sirs, we are very proud of you and will continue to be proud of you,” he ended.
We are brothers
Obey expressed happiness at the opportunity to talk about the show. Baba Commander, as some of his fans call him, said Abiodun and others saw him and KSA as role models because God made it so.
“What happened is not coincidental; God brought us together to come into the music scene. We both prayed to be successful musicians and God answered,” Obey said of their musical beginnings.
The duo, he added, have their strengths but “God brought us to release messages to the world, to calm people. Both of us were there and became a source of encouragement to each other.”
Continuing on their early years, Obey said it was a rarity in the history of Nigerian music for two icons to reign together but that they did until he became a minister of God nearly 20 years ago.
But he almost backed out of the show. Though he had agreed with the organisers and even concurred on KSA’s behalf, elders of his church saw the concert in a different light.
They thought people would perceive it as rekindling the perceived rivalry between them.
Obey said Molokwu explained the whole concept again but he wasn’t ready to go against the wishes of the elders. Molokwu eventually contacted Obey’s son, Folarin, who persuaded the elders.
Obey said the concert which is keyed into the 50th Independence anniversary, couldn’t have come at a better time because God has helped them to contribute their quota to the nation. Though he confessed he wouldn’t have ever imagined the two of them on the stage, he noted that “With God all things are possible. We are not enemies as people are thinking. We are brothers.”
Who is fooling who?
Also dispelling notions of a rivalry, KSA said even at the height of the so-called enmity, he used to visit Obey in his house for discussions. “We have cause to thank God because we are blessed. I am lucky to have him as a brother who understood, understands and continues to understand,” KSA said before narrating an incident involving the late celebrity journalist, Olabisi Ajala.
He disclosed that Ajala happened on him and Obey in his house and demanded that they open the door.
They had agreed to do so when Ajala’s next comment stopped them. Ajala said, “You guys are sitting together and we are fighting for you. You better open the door now or you will find your story in the Evening Times today.”
The journalist was true to his word as he wrote a story titled ‘Who is fooling who?’ that same evening. Ajala, he disclosed, always knew whenever Obey came to his house and was always lying in wait for them.
KSA reiterated that there was never any rivalry between them even when people assumed so. He recalled why they had to change the day of their gigs when they both had their joints on Olonade Street, Yaba, Lagos.
KSA said there was no problem when they started playing on Wednesdays until they started having crowd trouble at their respective joints.
He disclosed that they amicably resolved the problem by tossing a coin with Obey settling for Thursdays, even though his fans didn’t like it.
That was not the only measure they devised to manage their feuding fans; KSA said they both agreed and instructed their managers not to book them for the same event.
“Both of us are working together to make this project what you think it will be. Nigeria is 50 and this is the first time ever that the two of us are meeting on the stage. We intentionally agreed not to meet together on the stage but I want to assure you, we are going to have a good show, a remarkable show.
It will be even difficult for you to allow anybody stand in front of you while you are watching the stage,” KSA promised.
Veteran producer, Laolu Akins, who is also involved the show, highlighted its uniqueness. He said though it has never been attempted before, the organisers will do “everything possible to ensure people have a wonderful time.” Apart from Akins, the renowned Eddie Lawani is involved as the stage manager while US-based broadcaster, Olusesan Ekisola, will anchor the show. All female singing group, Nefeetiti and singer, Stella Monye, will also perform as part of the bill. “It is a rare privilege to be playing with these two giants. The opportunity just fell on my laps and I will be the help to these two giants,” Monye said at the briefing.
Commenting on the show, photographer and NEXT columnist, Tam Fiofori described Obey and KSA as role models and trail blazers. He disclosed that Obey bought beetle cars for all his band members and succeeded in raising their social status at a time musicians were disparaged, while KSA was equally benevolent and innovative.
Tickets for the show which comes at N10, 000, N25, 000 and N100, 000 are already on sale at various points across Lagos, emcee, Taiwo Obe, informed the gathering.
Responding to whether they will produce an album together after the show, KSA said it is under consideration but that they will discuss further with the organisers in that regard.
Asked to disclose the strengths of each other, Obey described KSA as a master guitarist and excellent showman; KSA said it is Obey’s melodious voice and perseverance on stage. The duo gave an insight to what to expect at the concert when they sang ‘Ara mi e se pelepele’ by Obey and KSA’s ‘Aimasiko’. “E fi yen le (leave that), e don dey sweet una. Wait for the concert,” KSA said as photographers jostled to capture the scene and reporters sang along.