It’s nine years since one of Nigerian’s foremost musical icons, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, popularly known as Alhaji Agba, passed away.
The singer and composer died at age 62 at St. Mary’s Hospital, London on December 16, 2010, after a protracted illness.
In a carnival-like funeral, Alhaji Agba was buried in the sitting room of his Fuji Chambers home, Isolo, Lagos, on Thursday, December 30, in accordance with Muslim rites. Among famous musicians who graced his burial ceremony included Ayinla Kollington, Ebenezer Obey, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal (K1), Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, Obesere, Saheed Osupa, Salawa Abeni, Wasiu Ayinde, Segun Adewale and Dele Abiodun and others.
How is he celebrated?
Unlike other hip hop and reggae artistes who usually reminisce the good old days of their lost heroes with memorial concerts, seminars, statues or in having their house turned to museum like the case of Fela Kuti, unfortunately, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister who happened to be one of the pioneers of the Fuji music genre could not get any such memorial. Some fans feel the fuji icon is less celebrated as each year passes.
On the ninth anniversary of his death, recently, only a few of his music protégés celebrated him with condolence messages. One of the rave-making Fuji acts, Sulaimon Alao Malaika, via his Instagram handle, uploaded an old picture of himself with the late music icon.
“Aare Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Agbaje Balogun, it’s nine years you left us, you deserve nothing but prayers, may almighty Allah grant you al-janat fridaus, continue to Rest In Peace BARUSATI,” he captioned.
Another Fuji artiste, Saheed Osupa, posted: “The ninth year remembrance of an ICON. On this date (16th) of December, 2010…We lost a genius in the world of music, Late (Dr) Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (SAB) (The MFR). Though you are gone, your music and legacy is still very much alive. May the Almighty God continue to grant the late music legend ALJANAT FRIDAUS.”
On December 7, while performing at the 60th birthday party of veteran actor, Taiwo Ogogo, K1 De Ultimate who received tutelage from late Fuji icon, had eulogised his master. Some few musicians and fans also took to internet to pray for the decease.
With this gesture, many Fuji music enthusiasts felt Barrister deserve more than internet messages.
“Has Sikiru Ayinde Barrister becoming a forgotten hero?” @olusogaFM tweet.
Another fan, Fatai Ajegbe said, “It’s not just about posting condolence messages on internet. We fans, family and fuji artistes needs to come together and establish a foundation for Alhaji Agba. This will surely keep his legacy rolling.”
Recently, a foundation was named after the late Sakara/Apala maestro, Yusuf Olatunji, tagged, ‘Yusuf Ajao Foundation (YAO Foundation), aimed to retain his music legacy and also serve as blueprint for other Sakara upcoming artistes.
“Although my dad is dead, but his work lives. And in order to keep his legacy rolling, that is why we established this foundation,” said Yusuf Ajao Olatunji who is the son of the late singer.
He continued: “We cannot continue to throw away our culture, sense of reasoning for foreign language and culture. We need to go back to the basics which is traditional music. You will agree with me that, many so called Hip Hop music we have around today have no meaning or direct message to inspire the people anymore. They have, in no small measure, contributed to societal ills and moral decadence among our youths nowadays.”
However, in 2016, K1 had revealed that he realised that Barrister’s children were bent on having a regular shindig as against an intellectual seminar to immortalise his former boss.
“I am a true musical son of the late Barrister,” he had said in the report.
“I served him truly. When he died, I had my plans to immortalise his name so that every other Fuji musician can benefit and learn from him. My plan was to establish a foundation for their father so that people would benefit from it. I wanted us to organise seminars and do something different from Aso Ebi. I wanted us to showcase Barrister as a founding father of Fuji music.”
Controversies after his death
Few years after his death, a lot of debates and arguments arose as regards the actual initiator of Fuji music. According to K1, the genre had been in existence before the late Barrister modernised it. K1 in one of his song claimed that his late master drew inspirations from the likes of Olatunji Yusuf, Lefty Salami, Haruna Ishola, Epo Akara and others to create the modern style of Fuji music.
Some circle of Fuji musicians include Saheed Osupa and Abbas Akande Obesere have different opinion arguing that every Fuji singers owe their artistry to Alhaji Agba.
Also, a socialite, Sunday Igboho, recently cautioned an Islamic cleric who made a statement about the late musician. At the launch of the Islamic singer’s album, Ere Asalatu, Igboho took the microphone immediately after the cleric left the stage to cautioned: ‘Clerics should always preach peace to people, not hate,” he said.
“Barrister is late, Alfa should not have mention his name in controversial way. Let’s always respect the dead.”
Igboho further said that it is only God who can judge human being. Musicians and actors are like prophet who used their songs to enlighten and entertain people.
His life and music career
Ayinde Barrister was born to the family of Salawu Balogun of Ibadan in present day Oyo State. His father was a butcher while his mother was a trader. He had his early education at Muslim Mission School and the Model School, Mushin, Lagos. He later studied typing and other commercial related classes at Yaba Polytechnic.
He worked as a typist for Nigerian Breweries and was later enlisted as a clerk in the Nigerian Army during the Nigeria Civil War. Though, he started playing music at a young age as an Ajiwere singer during the period of Ramadan, he professionally started his music career when he formed a full-fledged band of 34 percussionists and vocalists called ‘Supreme Fuji Commanders’ after he left the army.
During his lifetime, he had over 100 albums including Bisimilahi in 1977 and Ile Aiye Dun Pupo/Love In Tokyo in 1976 and had performed many big shows around the world.