Thursday, October 19, 2006


Elders dance for Fela's men


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Baba Ani, Leader of Fela's Egypt 80 Band

Two prominent members of the Egypt 80 band, led by the late Afrobeat king- Fela Anikulapo-Kuti were honoured recently in Lagos. It was at the monthly elders forum jointly organised by the Committee for RelevantArt (CORA) and O'Jez Entertainment, located at Surulere, Lagos.

The two Afrobeat legends; Lekan Animashaun (a.k.a BabaAni), and Duro Ikujenyo, were honoured at the 60th edition of the Great Highlife Party, otherwise knownas Elders Forum. Interestingly, the duo were Fela Anikulapo Kuti' s side-men. Animashaun, now 70, was Egypt 80's band leader while Ikujenyo, was the keyboardist. Friends and admirers honoured both men as they beamed with smiles. And perhaps more significantly, the duo's birthday feast coincided with Nigeria'sIndependence Day Anniversary in addition to marking the fifth anniversary of O'Jez Entertainment. Anchored by veteran broadcaster, Benson Idonije, the party drew a large number of elder artistes, thereby making a major statement on the flourishing highlife scene.

In his remarks, CORA's Secretary General, Toyin Akinosho recounted how Baba Ani was snatched away from Pa Chris Ajilo's Kubanos Band by the late Abami Eda."He was recruited in the 60s, 1964 precisely into theEgypt 80 Band and he was one of the frontline members of Movement of the People (MOP), a political party founded by Fela during the Second Republic" However, the claim that Baba Ani was snatched from ChrisAjilo band was however faulted when Ajilo himself mounted the stage. He told the all-attentive audiencethat there was a particular journey, which Animashaun was supposed to go with the group but could not make it. His words "he (Baba Ani) was then working with the Lagos Town Council. Of course, he could not go on tour with us. That was why we had to let him go. He was not snatched by the late Fela Anikulapo. He has always been a very close friend. Now, I am very proud of him because when he left Kubanos, the next band he joined in 1965 was Fela's band. "Duro Ikujenyo who is presently the leader of Age ofAquarius was lauded for his managerial acumen. He was said to have produced some of Fela's songs and that of Fatai Rolling Dollars. Fela's Unknown Soldier andFatai's Won Kere si Number wa particularly were two popular songs credited to the keyboardist.

Akinosho noted further, "I know that there are some other people here who know so much about the two, adding, however, that their scholarly position was deliberate and it was to create a platform for collaboration withO'Jez.Also, Seyi Solagbade, highlife singer and leader of Blackface said Ikujenyo was a legend whose efforts cannot be pushed aside. He said:" He (Ikujenyo) has been there for so long doing things that are creative. He is a veteran of a kind. I think these are the kinds of legends Nigerians should celebrate."

On the highlife party, Solagbade said that the initiative has come of age and should begin to attract corporate sponsorship. "CORA has been there for almost20 years now. It has been a self sponsored programme but big companies should now show interest in things like these rather than fund programmes that will pollute the minds of the youths."

Shortly before guests took to the floor, Elder Steve Rhodes, Fatai Rolling Dollars and Chief Femi Asekun inducted the celebrants into the Elders Forum. Soon after, Chris Ajilo relived the Eko o gba gbere oldies while Baba Ani performed Oni Dodo Oni Moinmoin.

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