Sunday, March 22, 2020 7:55 am
By Festus Adedayo
In a couple of months’ time, specifically on May 6, 2020, it will be 40 years since the death of that iconic Apala music genre singer, Ayinla Omowura. I have just completed a 500+ paged book on the late musician, killed in a publish brawl, which I entitled Ayinla Omowura: Life and Times of An Apala Legend. What is the plan of the people of Abeokuta, whose dialect, streets, ways of life and its people that mattered, Ayinla forced down the throats of Nigerians and the people of the West Coast, through his music, for the memorialization of this petrel? I volunteer the conclusion of the book for the people of this great Yoruba town to ponder on:
Forty years have passed under the bridge of the Ayinla Omowura phenomenon. Forty years of his death have not succeeded in obliterating his contributions to the musical narrative of Nigeria, especially in South West Nigeria. Arguably, his music attracts more love, adoration and veneration
s today than when he was alive. Unlike then when Ayinla was seen basically through the prism of his violent lifestyle and the frightening characters who surrounded him, many people have since seen beyond the aforementioned limitations of this Apala musician, is to his musical dexterity and talent. Ayinla was a lay scholar, a prophet and ombudsman sent to the world on a mission. His list of fans has quadrupled since he died, with many seeking to understand the basis of many of his songs. Many of the songs are also evergreen, in terms of their predictions, analyses and contemporary relevance to life situations.
While in office, ex-Governor of Ayinla’s home state of Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun, became the only governor of the state since he died, to remember Ayinla Omowura. The administration decided to give the Omowura house at Ile-Loja, Itoko a total facelift. The one-storey house was repainted, re-tiled and offered an image that befits the memory of a man who promoted Egba, Ogun State, their songs and culture to the rest of the world. Though the floors were now tiled with modern touch, with Ayinla’s presence preserved for anyone who visits the house to still perceive the musical scent of where the musical prodigy minted those evergreen songs that have become the envy of the world.
It is a shame that Egbaland which Ayinla forced down the throats of the rest of the world, has not deemed it fit to immortalize his memory. Perhaps, it still sees Omowura from the prism of a thug and violent character, which he was. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and many other musicians who have equally passed on, bore some of the objectionable vices of Omowura while alive. Yet, they are not only celebrated by their countries today, their memories are preserved for posterity. Why Egba people wouldn’t do this for Omowura, especially by establishing a foundation for him which will preserve his works and person, is still a wonder. Ogun State government, for instance, should have acquired his Ile-Loja home as a museum which generations to come would visit to feel the pulse of Omowura’s unusual musical verve.
Omowura’s family did well to preserve some of his memories. Inside the musician’s living room are his old gramophone, his reclining chair where he sat whenever he wanted to relax,
; his old television set and inside his bedroom is a 6 x 4 bed, his mattress and a few other household utensils that remind anyone who knew him of the earthly existence of Hadji Costly.
At the graveyard of Omowura, which also houses
d the resting place of his first two wives – Afusatu of the Ile Eleni clan and Tawakalitu Owonikoko – is placed a bronze bust of the 47-year old musician whose bubbling musical life ended in an unmitigated tragedy. It is a reminder that the Oluburo, a Songbird with an unusual brain for songs, voice and musicality, which Ayinla loudly proclaimed himself to be, not only had once lived in the house but