King Adewale Ayuba, the Bonsue Fuji exponent, talks about his career, marriage, substance use by entertainers and other related issues
Adewale Ayuba Saliu is a musician, whose name and career is synonymous with the modern revolution that Fuji, a traditional Yoruba music genre, has witnessed in the last three decades.
Popularly known as Bonsue-fuji King, the Ikenne, Ogun State-born musician has witnessed the ups and downs in his career, which started professional in 1983, just as he was about starting a National diploma Course in architecture at the Ogun State Polytechnic (now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic).
Speaking on Wazobia FM on Spotlight, Ayuba credited the big boost to his career with his signing on to Sony Music, after he had released five studio albums without much acceptance from the younger audience.
The musician explained that when he started singing professionally at age 17 years after making the decision to quit school, he was just happy singing as a professional musician. But he said after producing his first five albums, he found out that the younger generation, including his closer friends were not dancing or listening to his music. So he took a decision not to release any new studio album.
But then the biggest positive turn happened in 1990 when Sony Music took the decision to sign him on. Ace producer, Laolu ‘Akins’ Akintobi was assigned to produce him.
Ayuba said prior to coming to Sony he never knew there was a need for a producer in the making of musical album
“I never knew who a producer was or his work until I met Laolu Akins at Sony Music. He worked to change my music. After God, it was Mr Laolu Akins that made me who I am today, musically. And then Sony Music,” he said.
Ayuba’s first album for Sony Music was an eye opener for him. He said Akins advised him to raise the tempo of his music to make it more dancehall and to compose lyrics with more English words and sentences. The result was the hit, Bonsue released in 1991.
Bonsue changed the direction of Ayuba career as it brought him acceptance from the younger audience and pushing Fuji music into prominence in Nigeria as the album topped music charts that year and won for Ayuba multiple awards at the Nigerian Music Awards (NMA), including the Artiste of the Year, the Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Fuji Album of the Year Awards.
With the success of Bubble, Ayuba hit the pinnacle of his career in Nigeria. The follow-up album, Mr Johnson play for me, was also a hit success and earned Ayuba the sobriquet, Mr Johnson.
“Before Bonsue, I never performance on any Nigerian campus. After its release, the acceptances started coming and I started performing on Nigerian campuses. From University of Ibadan to Ogun Poly to University of Calabar, I started playing on campuses and gat acceptances from my friends and the younger audience,” Ayuba said.
Going down memory lane, the musician said he started singing at events and parties at age 7 years just for fun at local events and competitions at Ikenne. He continued even while at Remo Secondary School. However, in his quest to exhibit his natural talent, he frequently got into trouble with his strict parents, who felt music was a distraction and there is no meaningful career for him as a musician.
“Initially there was no support from my parents. I was the last child of the family and my parents could not understand why I just wanted to sing every time. My mother one day called me and asked me to close my eyes. She then asked me what I saw, when I said nothing, she told me I would be blind if I am not educated. Finally, after appeals from people, we had to make a deal, which was I concentrate on my education weekdays and can sing weekends. From them on, I started going to school without missing a day. I was happy going to school, because I knew it was my freedom to play music,” he said.
The agreement with his parents to do music also include leaving a clean life. No smoking, no drinking and he must be monogamous in marriage. Even though his parents are Muslims, his father never was strict about these values.
And Ayuba has been faithful to these values making him a unique Fuji musician. He has been married to Azukaego Kwentoh, the Nigerian from Onitsha-Oke, Anambra State whom he met while studying at Queens Borough Community College, since 1989.
He explained that it was a little battle convincing his wife and people surrounding her of his intention basically because he was a musician.
“The stereotype was that musicians are flirts and unserious people. It was a little challenge convincing her family. But glory of God we have been together since,” he said.
The musician said his latest single, Koloba Kolaba, was based on his personal experience and marriage. He explained that he saw a young man in the streets of Lagos having a heated quarrel with an old man. He had to park and intervened and he later learnt that the young man was seeking to marry a lady but was turned publicly by father.
Ayuba said this incident reminded him of his personal experience when he wanted to get married to his wife.
“The song is intended to change the wrong impression of most parents who believe that male musicians are irresponsible, drunkards, flirts and so do not want their daughters to marry them,” he explained.
Ayuba stressed that any artiste do not need to drink or use any substance to perform as the natural talent is enough to push him or her through. He debunked the belief that substances and alcohol are needed to overcome shyness.
“Your natural talent will push you over shyness as you face the crowd. You don’t need substances or alcohol to do good music. Once you start drinking you become a drunkard and start losing focus. Substances get you hooked. Your talent is from God, so you don’t need any other things to enhance,” he said.
The Bonsue King said women find it more difficult to make impact in Fuji music because it is not easy for them for manage bands needed to play music while they might sometimes be subjected to sexual harassment before they might get assistance from the male folk.