By Oloye Lekan Alabi
Ever before the British colonised what is called Nigeria today, the God-fearing, brave,independent, civilised,cultured,liberal,hardworking and funloving Yoruba of the Western Region and Lagos Colony,operated,and still operate,the global maxim that, “REST IS SWEET AFTER LABOUR”.That is,the Yoruba are deep in creativity,work hard with integrity,lead in fashion,style and relax with highclass parties,among other remarkable human endeavours.
In a style that appears to be going out of fashion,Yoruba elites of yore,particularly we,Ibadans,Egbas,Ijebus and Lagosians,would,at the zenith of bygone ” from night till dawn” open air parties,go in front of music bands(Sakara,Apala,Juju,who used to perform seated)and jovially announce,” Mo pa ilu yi pelu five shillings”.And the band would stop playing,on the pasting of the sum announced by the playstopper,on the forehead of the bandleader.Naturally,the previous high tempo of the party would be deflated.Silence would,thereafter, follow.
Then,another elite in the party would march to the front of the band and also jovially counter the playstopper with a higher sum and also announce,”I reopen the play by the band with,for example,one pound.”The crowd would applaud the partyopener with loud cheers.Play and merrymaking would resume.The “taaka”(display of financial superiority,which bands prayed for anyway)would continue,until someone’s offer to reopen play appeared matchless,in rounds of fun and camaraderie,and the show would go on till dawn came.
Newspaper vendors shouts of ” Buy Sunday Times,buy Sunday Sketch” etc,would signal the end of parties,and time for all to go home.
Such was the typical safe social nightlife when Nigeria was run on merit,integrity,law and order,with liberty and abundance.Public safety was relatively high.Many partygoers returned home either in safe and well-maintained public buses,taxi cabs or on foot.A few people owned cars.There was nothing called commercial tricycles (Keke Napep/Marwa)not to talk of motorcyles (Okada). Nigerians deserve a return to the golden era of decent living vide hardwork,commesurate pay/allowances and great,clean funtime.
Now,to my above-quoted experience at the 1971 University of Ibadan’s highclass annual “HAVANA NIGHT”.As if you didn’t know,”HAVANA NIGHT”,since the 1960s,was organised annually at summer time,by the elite all-male(gentlemen) undergraduates/members of the SIGMA CLUB of UI.It attracted the best music bands of different genres in Nigeria and Africa.
Anyone in the 1960s to the early 1980s who did not attend HAVANA NIGHT,was considered an “Omo Oko”(Unenlightened)
You have got to believe this.In 1971,I was 21 years old and two of the bands who played at that year’s”HAVANA NIGHT”,serenaded me on my landmark birthday,that night!How come?
Anyone living who attended the 1971 HAVANA NIGHT would recall two young fellas who re-opened,as it were, Yusufu Olatunji ‘Baba l’Egba’s Sakara Band,when the band wanted to go on break.The two fellas were my humble self and my late bosom friend,Omolaja Soaga,whose father Yekini Ayinla Akitoye Soaga,was serenaded in Baba l’Egba’s Volume 1 LP .We both reminded ‘Baba l’Egba’ that he and his band played at our naming ceremonies,at different dates and places,Ibadan and Abeokuta.On hearing that,pronto,the band,allocated the foyer of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office,quickly regrouped and serenaded Omolaja and I,the Aremo(eldest male child)ofAbdulRahim Oladosu Alabi,alias “RIGHT TIME”,his younger friend in Ibadan.
When we got to Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and his Inter-Reformers Band’s stand,in the forecourt of the Trenchad Hall,Obey remembered the Ibadan Boy,and that’s me,who,at the Oyenugas party in 1970,at Isale-Igangan,Lagos Island,had wowed him,his band and the audience with my dexterious dance steps .He serenaded me.