Jáígbadé: The Retirement of the Last Man Standing, By Abubakar Imam

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Jáígbadé: The Retirement of the Last Man Standing, By Abubakar Imam

 

Eni tó bá le bínú
Ení kó má sisé mó
Isé tó fogún odún se
Ìséjú kan àbò ni ó ko dà sí kànga
Olúhun só wa pèlú inú bíbí

Whosoever is temperamental
should stop working because he
would destroy all he has worked for
in a moment of insanity.
May God grant us victory over hot temperdness.
—-Jáígbadé Àlàó

One of the many phenomena that are universal is music. It is an essential and consistent element of human culture. There is absolutely no society that does not have its form of music through which entertainment, inspiration and relaxation are provided. Hence, the incontrovertible conclusion of the late Àpàlà maestro, Alhaji Hárúnà Ìshòlá, MON(1919-1983), who was popularly known as Bàbá Gàní Àgbà, when he sang that “Ará Mákàh n jó. Ará Mákàh n lu ìlù. Ìlù Ò ba èsìn jé. Ijó ò le ba èsìn jé. E má bà wá ní èsìn jé” meaning “The people of Makkah dance as they enjoy entertainment. Drumming and dancing do not vitiate faith. No one should,therefore, equates drumming and dancing with disbelief”

Ïlorin is not an exception. It has some musical genres that are peculiar to it. They are hardly played and enjoyed by any other people apart from the people of Ilorin Emirate and their neighbours. Once you hear the music you are sure that you are in the midst of the people of the southernmost Emirate.

These music genres include Wákà, Bàálù, Senwele, Pankèkè and Dadakúwàdá. We also have our own brand of Àpàlà, which is peculiar to Alhaji Àjàdí Ilorin. I must confess that I was a fan of the late heavily built musical hero. Waka music in Ilorin, as popularised by AbdulRahman Pakata(d. 1933),Dodo Agbarere(d. 1978) and Ibrahim Alabi Labaika(1920-2005),among others, is spiritually rooted and inclined while other forms of music mentioned above are unapologetically secular. Of the secular musics, dadakuwada appears to be the most enduring and popular genre among the real indigenous people of Ilorin Emirate. Its popularity is rooted in the efforts of some of our senior compatriots who were performing artistes that dedicated their times and energies to its performance over the years.

One person who has created a niche for himself in the dadakuwada music empire and whose name must occupy a commanding position in the annals of the genre is Alhaji Jaigbade Alao, who recently surprised not a few people with the announcement of his retirement from music when he visited the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji(Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari,CFR, to intimate him of his intention.

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Before then, I never thought that any musician would willingly decide to retire from the trade. I was of the erroneous conviction that music is a lifelong career. This is because some performing musicians who gave the idea of retirement a trial eventually returned to the stage.

Although, I have heard the debatable opinion from some Muslim scholars that “it would be easier for a Carmel to pass through the hole of a needle than for a professional musician to attain eternal felicity”, the retirement of a musician does not just happen. Most of them do music to their graves because they would not do without the peculiar lifestyles they have developed and embraced as musicians. Talk of the fame, money and women that their trade easily get attracted.

Alhaji Jáígbadé’s decision is, therefore, as phenomenal as his music and career. Yours sincerely who had the privilege of interacting with him a few years back felt compelled to bring his appraisal of the career of the first Oba Olórin (Head of Musicians) of Ilorin to the reading pleasure of our people.

Alhaji Muhammad Àmínù Kúrángà, who is popularly known as Jáígbadé Àlàó, is a prolific musician, erudite composer, meticulous hunter, tireless farmer and outstanding community leader. Although his birth was not documented, it can be reasonably conjecture that he has been around for a century or thereabout. He was born in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

This illustrious social engineer hails from Bàbá Òyó Compound in the Òkè -Anífowóse segment of the popular Pàkátà area of Ilorin. His father was Mallam Kuranga, who was a farmer, while his mother was Madam Salamatu. His maternal home is Maleke Compound, Jagun Quarters, Okelele area, Ilorin,which is also the ancestral home of the popular Islamic preacher,Imam AbdulRazaq Aduagba.

Alhaji Jaigbade is among the many statesmen of Ilorin origin and of his age who did not have the privilege of western education. His experience as a young boy was even more peculiar. He was not privileged to receive Quranic learning in the course of his childhood unlike most of his contemporaries.

This sociological cum spiritual disadvantage was informed by the fact that he was not brought up within the Ilorin metropolis. Alhaji Jaigbade, as a brilliant and determined man later studied the Holy Quran under the watchful eyes of Shaykh Mahmud Ibadi-Ori(d. 2010),an uncle to Shaykh Dahood Abdulmajeed Alfanla(b. 1953). His Qur’anic teacher was trained by Shaykh Usman Baba Pakata (d. 2002) who was also a student and disciple of Shaykh Yusuf Kofoworola Agbaji (d. 1979), the illustrious founder and progenitor of the ubiquitous Monkodoro lineage of Islamic intellectual group. Alhaji Jaigbade was also exposed to some fundamental knowledge of Islam when he had already become an household name in Ilorin Emirate and other parts of Yoruba speaking parts of Nigeria by his Qur’anic teacher.

As a brilliant young chap who had always shown potentials for musical compositions, Alhaji Jaigbade joined the musical band of the only professional Master he had, Akano Oloru. It was under the said Akano, who was from Oloru in the present-day Moro Local Government Area of Ilorin Emirate of Kwara State, that he trained and got his musical skills sharpened. The band was then operating around Gambari Vllage on Ogbomoso-Oyo Road in the present-day Oyo State.

Alhaji Jaigbade completed his musical apprenticeship about eight decades ago. It was thereafter that he set up his Dadakuwada Music Group, which he successfully managed and led until his recent retirement.

Through the efforts of Alhaji Jaigbade and those of his contemporaries in the field such as Alhaji Isiaka Agbeyangi, the brand of their Music has come to be identified as the most enduring form of the traditional music associated with the people of Ilorin.

This great music genius, as it was not unusual among Nigerian musicians, faced rigorous rivalry from his contemporaries. He and his colleagues did everything to outsmart one another. His contemporaries, as he recalled during the course of the interview he had with this author on January 15,2021, included Olanrewaju Balode, Aremu Osa, Ajibaye Alore and Omo-Pupa of Ikokoro axis of Oke-Aluko area, Ilorin.

Since he was to become great in life, Alhaji Jaigbade faced stiffer contest in his professional squabbles with colleagues, most especially, Alhaji Odolaye Aremu (d. 1997) and Alhaji Aremu Osee(d. 2005) who fiercely and vehemently contested the leadership of the genre with him. The trio had bitter contests in their struggles towards the domination of the Dadakuwada Music World, some of which were witnessed by my contemporaries, especially between 1970s and 1980s.

This veteran musician is, however, fortunate that he is blessed with long life. The longevity of his career and life has undoubtedly assisted him in outliving his rivals as he remains the last man standing in the world of Dadakuwada music.

Apart from the high quality of the distinguished musicians who trained under Alhaji Jaigbade in the course of his several decades career such as Alhaji Omo-Kekere Amao of Okelele(d.1988), Alhaji Iyanda Ena of Oke-Aluko, Alhaji Raheem Abiowa from Abayawo and Baba Eyin Oke of Akodudu, the leadership of Alhaji Jaigbade in the temple of Ilorin traditional music was incontrovertibly settled with his appointment and turbanning as the Oba Olorin (Head of Musicians) of Ilorin by the 9th and penultimate Emir of Ilorin,Alhaji (Dr.) Sulu Gambari, CFR. The announcement of the conferment was made in 1990 and he was turbaned in 1991 at a very colourful ceremony, which was graced by his admirers and colleagues including the famous Ogbomoso-born Ijala singer, Ogundare Foyanmu(d. 2012), who entertained guests at Jaigbade’s home after the turbaning.

This distinguished son of Ilorin Emirate has no fewer than 47 musical albums to his credit. He also featured in innumerable open air performances.

Alhaji Jaigbade’s professional success can also be appreciated in the fact that he is the only Musician of his genre who not only played all over Nigeria but also had the privilege of taking his brand beyond the shores of the country. He took his music to the United States of America in 2008. His band also went on musical tour of Brazil in 2011. Both tours were arranged by the award-winning Vice-Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof. AbdulRasheed Na’Allah (b. 1962), who also served as the pioneer Chief Executive of the Kwara State University, Malete,between 2009 and 2019.

The numerous contributions of Alhaji Jaigbade through his soul inspiring, culturally stimulating and morally rejuvenating songs, which deepened morality and patriotism did not go unrewarded. In appreciation of his services, the Kwara State Government honoured him with an anniversary award as part of the activities marking the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the “State of Harmony” in 2017. He was also conferred with an honourary doctorate degree by the authorities of the Kwara State University, Malete, in 2018.

Alhaji Jaigbade had many admirers and patrons. He was patronised by quite a number of Ilorin elite, many of whom he composed popular songs in their honour. They include a former National President of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Justice Saka Yusuf, OFR(d. 2018); a pioneer Permanent Secretary in Kwara State, Alhaji Yakubu Amori Gobir,who he described as “Oremi Amori Onila Gobiri”(My good friend,Amori, who has his face beautified with the Gobir tribal marks); a second republic Honourable Commissioner in Kwara State, Alhaji Sani Adebayo Lawal (1933-2011) and Alhaji Muhammad Raji Babatunde Alanamu, as well as a second republic Minister of the Federal Republic, Alhaji Akanbi Mahmud Oniyangi (1930-2006); and, of course, the late Sardaurna of Ilorin and international business tycoon, Alhaji Umaru Aminu Saro (d.2021). The list also include a civil war hero, Brigadier-General Godwin Alabi Isama,whose mother was an indigene of Ilorin. He also had huge patronage from other people outside Ilorin such as Alhaji Sanni Maloko, the Oloffa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Muhammadu Gbadamosi;the late Alhaji Usman Adisa Odun-Ade,who served as the Oba of Odun-Ade community in the Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State; and Alhaji Sule Akande of the famous Onward Fisheries; and, of course, the founder of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Alhaji AbdulRaheem Oladimeji, OFR.

One episode that this doyen of music would not forget in a hurry occurred in 1991 when the authorities of the then Ilorin Local Government under the chairmanship of Alhaji Shuaib Oba Adebayo enacted a bye-law which outlawed night party within Ilorin metropolis. The agitation for the law was led by the Council of Islamic Scholars ably presided-over by the founder of the Ansarul Islam Society of Nigeria who later became the pioneer Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammad Kamaldeen Al-Adabiyy,MFR, OFR,(1905-2005), along side the pioneer Grand Kadi of Kwara State who later became Marafa and Sarkin Malamai of Ilorin, Honourable Justice Abdulkadir Orire,CON(1934-2021) and the then Chairman of Ilorin Muslim Community, Alhaji Muhammadu Nassamu of Oke-Aluko.The legislation was backed by the then Emir of Ilorin and the father of the incumbent Emir, Alhaji Sulu Gambari,CFR,(1914-1992), who even made a life broadcast on the network of Radio Kwara, Ilorin, to that effect. The musicians would not obey the law as they believed that it was meant to injure their career and economy. Many of them, including the subject of this piece, violated the law and they were consequently arrested and detained by the Police. The period was quite tensed in the social scene of Ilorin of that era. The matter was eventually resolved. It was an episode that the retiring King of Ilorin Music and chroniclers of events in Ilorin would not forget.

This outstanding son of Ilorin is married and blessed with many children such as Alhaji Issa, Alhaji AbdulRasaq as well as my senior at Barakat Community Secondary School,Ilorin; Aminat Jaigbade. He is also leaving the field of music for two of his children, Ajarat Asabi Jaigbade and Muhammad Jamiu Jaigbade, who have taken after him.

Alhaji Jaigbade has done very well in his Music career and for Ilorin, as its cultural Ambassador. His music is neat, philosophical and distanced from profanity common to most contemporary musicians who are doing more havoc than good to humanity. No one would listen to the music of Alhaji Jaigbade without gaining wisdom.

More remarkably outstanding about his personality is that Alhaji Jaigbade, despite been a witness to all the political upheavals in Ilorin and been the toast of most people,was never embroiled in political controversies. He was a friend to all without becoming partisan. He is fortunate that he lived long enough to consider and embrace retirement not as a result of illness or physical weakness but out of conviction, which is rare among his past and contemporary colleagues.

As has been experienced by quite a number of famous legends like Jaigbade, who had been occasionally brought out of retirement for special performances, time will tell if Jaigbade will also not be tempted or urged to follow in this line. In fact, after informing the Emir of his decision to retire, His Royal Highness directed the musician to sing some tracks to his delight. While rendering a few popular lines in praise of the Emir and his progenitors, Jaigbade’s voice did not betray any tiredness or frailties.

This piece must not be concluded without sharing a relatively incredible information Alhaji Jaigbade shared with me. In response to a question, he explained that he believed that his relatively sound health at his age is, in addition to divine blessings, rooted in the fact that he does not drink, smoke and womanise. He added that if men can abstain from the three, the possibility of been free from illness is high.

I wish Baba Jaigbade many more years of peaceful and positive sojourn on the surface of the earth as I pray that he continues to reap the fruits of his labour far beyond his expectations.

Imam is National Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.

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