Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, the Fuji music super-lord and pioneer social activist may have departed to the world beyond but the memory of the fashion icon, who lived an eventful and complete life will linger on forever in the minds of millions of his fans and admirers across the world.
An embodiment of humility, talents, charity, Godliness and even positive fatherhood, he lived an exemplary life; in glitters and abundance with many of his numerous fans ready to provide sources for the abundance- just because they idolise him.
He remained to the causes of God till end and was a major source of consolation to many who were very close to him.
He was an uncelebrated Imam, with verses from Quran always close to his heart and lips.
He played important roles in the life of many that he promoted through his music, acting as hosts in House warmings, naming cremonies, launchings and birthday celebrations.
He was known to render prayers in strong Islamic recitations with occasional imputed songs.
Barrister was so loved that many of his numerous fans were so obsessed with their love for him that they saw nothing wrong or negative about him, even if such negativity was mentioned or highlighted in the press to enhance his music career.
Alas! The music colossus, Mr Fuji once exhibited his dark side as a sensitive and very touchy artist.
This writer remembers a bitter experience with Ayinde fans far back at the peak of his music career in 1988.
It was just after Barrister released his Fuji Garbage number, and like wild fire, the record was gaining popularity and selling like hot cakes.
The recorded number actually featured for the first (or second time) the use of Western instrumentation, especially keyboard and other western made up back up inputs.
In a review of the record in one of Nigeria’s soft sell Magazines, Climax, I had mentioned critically that the potency and originality of Fuji music was about being thrown off board since what distinguished Fuji from Juju and other music was its complete African contents.
The story went further to warn that Barrister might be doing disservice to Fuji by killing the authentic African music through introduction of Western Instrumentations.
It was also jokingly expressed that Barry mistakenly titled the record Fuji Garbage while attempting to introduce Fuji version of Cabbage dance, which was then in vogue, adding it might have to do with grammatical misspelling on the label or maybe misinterpretation, which might not convey the real intention and message to his teeming fans then. Barry was furious at the criticism which was done on good intentions.
The piece, which was only made up as a review of the record stirred the hornets nest across the nation with reactions coming from all over the country lambasting this writer for daring to criticise Ayinde Barrister.
Most letters came from University students across Nigeria who threatened with ‘missile’ of attacks that if they saw me they would fight me.
A very close friend had hinted me that Commander Ayinde did not take the criticism lightly as he was furious on reading the story which also was interpreted verbatim by a Yoruba Magazine which saw the story as making valid point about Fuji music.
Originally, the story was meant to protect Barrister’s music identity since Juju, highlife and other Nigerian music already had their reliance on Western Instrumentation.
The Fuji music genius in reaction to the story turned the criticism to an advantage by waxing out another record about four months later.
Fuji Garbage series 2 came out and surprisingly turned out to be one of the best selling records even with more perfection of the introduction of keyboard. Barry demonstrated his ingenuity as a man who can turn disadvantages to advantages as a super genius.
Barry was a complete gentleman, adored by millions of his fans across the globe. He played his own politics at least musically.
Just like King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey played on fans on record labels as if they were arch enemies but meeting to dine together at various locations in Lagos, especially visiting each other homes late at nights, Mr Fuji and his living arch rival, Kollington Ayinla were having a swell of time in the late eighties wining and dining together at various locations in Lagos as fans fought over their supremacy and who was the real most popular and most original.
Their real umpire and mediator and so called mediator, Samson Ogunlade (deceased) was a testimony of the cordiality that reigned between the two superstars, who portrayed on records to their fans trading words as if they were real enemies.
Samson was a member of Barrister and Kollington inner caucus playing along with them in their music politics.
While fans were fighting over claims to superiority of the two, the prides of African and Nigeria Music scenes were having either dinner or lunch in Bongos Hotel in Iyana Ipaja Lagos, which belonged to Samson Ogunlade.
Ogunlade and Kollington remained inseparable friends up to the formers demise many years ago.
Samson Ogunlade was a congaist with versatile Juju maestro Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and a foundation member of Obey’s International Spots Band.
“It is all business politics common among the top music shots in Nigeria to create nostalgia and anxiety about the coming waxed records”, a music promoter had told me when asked about why animosity ruled the life of Nigeria’s local artists.
Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister died at Saint Mary’s Hospital in London on Thursday December 16, 2010.
And, after weeks of delays and suspense, his corpse was finally flown into the country aboard Air France at on the night of Thursday December 30, 2010. He was buried immediately.
Expectedly, Barrister’s remains was received by a huge crowd of fans including his colleagues among whom is his old pal, Kollington Ayinla, Obesere, Wasiu Kwam 1, Saheed Osupa, Pasuma amongst others at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport; and was committed to mother-earth at his Isolo home later that night. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
By Fatai Ogunribido, EMNnews.com