Friday, September 17, 2021

On this day (December 13th) 41 years ago, he was undecided whether or not to attend the highly advertised meeting of the Association of Nigeria Musicians scheduled for the next day – December 14, 1978 – in Ibadan. It was a meeting of the association in which he was Chairman.

He sought the opinions of the two closest people to him: his first wife, Sabitiyu Abake; and his first son, Tajudeen Alabi. Mother and child differed. While mother preferred that her husband stayed away from the Ibadan meeting, the son urged his father to attend. Both had their arguments in support of their positions. At the end, the iconic musician pitched tent with his son.

The next day (Thursday, December 14, 1978) he left for the historic meeting. He was addressing his colleagues, among which was the defence of the then rising music star, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, whom the older musicians accused of pomposity, when he collapsed in his chair.

His rescuers rushed him to the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, but he repeatedly told them to take him to his white physician in Abeokuta. By the time they arrived the hospital in the evening, he could neither open his eyes nor speak; yet tears freely rolled down his cheeks.

For 24 hours, he struggled with Death. At some point during the middle of the night, he made an attempt to escape from his tormentor (Death) by trying to get off his bed. He was settled back by his physician. By the evening of December 15, 1978, the Sakara legend, Yusufu Olatunji (Baba Legba), succumbed to the fangs of Death and bade the World goodbye. It was a Friday.

He’s been away for 41 years but still bestrides our music landscape like a colossus that he truly was. He lives on in his evergreen works.

Won sope mo ku, ariwo gba ile
Okiki kan de Ibadan pelu Lagosi

T’Ijebu o lounka
Olatunji o tii ku, iro lo n pamo baba

Nise lo n peleke si x2
Iwun t’Olohun fun enia
Aiye ile!
Iwun t’Olohun fun enia
O yato si t’awa eda
Nise lo n peleke si….

May the soul of Ajao omo Ojurongbe continue to rest in peace.

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