JAIGBADE ALAO: A Garland of Music and- A Tribute

JAIGBADE ALAO, Garland of Music, Tribute, dead, 120 years
Late Jaigbade Alao

JAIGBADE ALAO: A Garland of Music and – A Tribute

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 temperedness.

—-Jáígbadé Àlàó

Jaibade Alao, the leader and last of the Ilorin song birds of Dadakuada genre exponents from Ilorin Emirate is gone. He died in the early hours of today (Monday, March 20, 2023). His remains had been committed to mother earth. He has gone the way of all mortals never to be seen again but to remembered by loved ones.

The life and music of Jaigbade were not controversial. Yet, they stretched for, arguably, a century with lots of achievements in positive life style with little or no serious blemish to his eternal credit.

Like the universal characteristics of music, Jaigbade’s network of fans and admirers is universal. His songs remain evergreen.

Though he would be celebrated in different ways by scholars, performers, clerics and other categories of sympathisers and mourners, yours sincerely, whose progenitors were landlords to the departed music icon at the ancient Pakata market some decades back, chose to pay Jaigbade tribute in his own way. In celebration of the life and times of this legendary musician, this author decided to recap and edit the article he published on him last year in order to refresh the memories of the fans, admirers and compatriots of the late Dadakuwada exponent.

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 Mákkàh n jó. Ará Makkah 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, equate drumming and dancing with disbelief”.

Ilorin is not an exception. It has some musical genres that are peculiar to it. They are played and enjoyed by the people of Ilorin Emirate and have been embraced by their neighbours in Yoruba lands. 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 music, 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 carved 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 last year 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. That perhaps, was in preparation for the journey to the worlds beyond. Inna lilahi Wa inna Ilehi rajiuna. From Allah we come, to Him we shall return ( Q2 vs 156).

Before that unexpected but well deserved announcement of retirement, 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. Till his death today, Alhaji Jaigbade Alao never looked back to the allure of the stage for which he had reveled for decades at home and abroad.

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 gets attracted.

Alhaji Jáígbadé’s decision was, 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 late first Oba Olórin (Head of Musicians) of Ilorin to the reading pleasure of our people.

Alhaji Muhammad Àmínù Kúrángà, who was 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 conjectured that he lived for a century or thereabout. He was born in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

This illustrious social engineer hailed 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 was Maleke Compound, Jagun Quarters, Okelele area, Ilorin, which is also the ancestral home of the popular Islamic preacher, Imam AbdulRazaq Aduagba.

Alhaji Jaigbade was 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 year 2022 when he retired from music performance.

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 was, 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 had no fewer than 47 musical albums to his credit. He also featured in innumerable open air performances.

Alhaji Jaigbade’s professional success could also be appreciated in the fact that he was 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 Chief Judge of Kwara State and 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. who jaigbade coined a larger than life eulogy of been the “half of a whole Igbaja Community”. (Oladimeji, idameji Igbaja)

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 targeted at injuring their careers 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 departed King of Ilorin Music and chroniclers of events in Ilorin did not forget.

This outstanding son of Ilorin was 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 also left the field of music for two of his children, Ajarat Asabi Jaigbade and Muhammad Jamiu Jaigbade, who have taken after him.

Alhaji Jaigbade did very well in his music career and for Ilorin, as its cultural Ambassador. His music remains neat, philosophical and distanced from profanity common with 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 was 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 was fortunate as 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. He rested well before the final rest.

One was tempted to be skeptical that Jaigbade would not be able to sustain his decision to retire giving the experience by quite a number of famous legends like Jaigbade, who had been occasionally brought out of retirement for special performances. He, however stuck to his conviction and decision.

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. He bided bye to the Emir and the people of Ilorin before the final exit today. May his soul rest in peace.

This piece must not be concluded without sharing 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 was, in addition to divine blessings, rooted in the fact that he did not drink, smoke and womanise. He added that if men could abstain from the three, the possibility of been free from illness would be high. I hope you got him right and well, particularly the last line of his advice. Adeiu, Baba Rasaki!

Imam is the national secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU).


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