Oloye ’Lekan Alabi, D. Litt (h.c)
Agba Akin Olubadan of Ibadanland
Juju music maestro and king of World Beats, Dr. Sunday Adeniyi Ishola Adegeye, MFR, popularly known and called “KSA” was 70 years old on Thursday, 22nd September, this year. The talented musician and stage ace, was celebrated in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
Whereas the actual birthday (22nd September, 2016) was, as expected, celebrated in Ondo town, Ondo State, KSA’s hometown and state, pre and post-event celebrations in form of concerts, lectures, dinners, parties etc were held in his honour in the United States of America, United Kingdom, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Ibadan, Oyo State, Lagos.
As I write this tribute, more KSA’s 70th birthday celebrations are pending within and outside Nigeria between now and December, this year.
KSA continues to receive honour and admiration at home and abroad because of his immense talent as a musician, guitarist and dancer, but moreso due to his business acumen, humility, good cheer and integrity.
I have known and been close to KSA since my years as the entertainment editor of the now-defunct Sunday Sketch, Ibadan in the 1970s. The world’s latest septuagenarian, among his other values, cherishes friendship.
We held the Ibadan-end of the global celebration of the three-time Grammy Award nominee at the Jogor Centre, Oke-Ado, Ibadan on Sunday, 2nd October, this year. The concert titled “KSA The Legend at 70” wherein 15 artistes of different genres of music entertained, attracted the royal presence of Kabiyesi the Olubadan of Ibadanland, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogunguniso 1, and his Oloris, Dr. Yemi Farounbi, a former Ambassador of Nigeria to the Philippines and also a former General Manager of the former NTV Ibadan, Africa’s first television station, now called NTA Ibadan Network Centre, the President of the Gospel Musicians Association of Nigeria (GOMAN) Evangelist Funmi Aragbaye, the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland and former Special Adviser to former President Sheu Shagari, High Chief (Dr) Femi Olaiya among others.
The good fortune of telling the world who King Sunny Ade, the celebrant is, fell on my shoulder at the Ibadan celebration.
Following is the re-cap of my presentation of the above title at the celebration:
“ Three years before KSA’s crowning as the King of music, I, in 1974, as the entertainment page editor of the Sunday Sketch, had conducted a public opinion survey on the social scene in Nigeria. In my review on Sunday, December 29, 1974 published on page 7 of the Sunday Sketch of the said date the people’s verdict was that the then Sunny Ade was “the best dressed musician and his band, the African Beats, the largest crowd puller.” I shall come to this very shortly, but let me quickly attempt the assignment given to me – that of telling the whole world the KSA I know.”
Born on 22nd September, 1946 in Ondo to the late Pa Samuel Adeniyi Adegeye and the late Mama Mariam (nee Adesida of Akure). Both parents were from royal families in Ondo & Akure respectively. At birth, KSA was christened Sunday Isola Adeniyi Adegeye.
KSA was the last of 11 children of which only the last three survived. Mama Mariam Adegeye had KSA when she was 50. His birth was predicted by a prophet who told his mother that she would bear a son whose fame would put Ondo, his hometown on the world map for good. But the prediction came with ONE condition – it would only be fulfilled if KSA’s parents raised him outside Ondo. In addition , the prophet said mysterious things would happen to the child of destiny every five years until he turned 45. If he survived these mysterious occurrences, said the prophet, his parents should stop worrying about his safety. Thank God, KSA passed the 45 years mark 25 years ago!.
KSA’s parents took no chances and moved to Osogbo. He started primary school education in 1954 at the African (Church) Primary School where he spent four years before moving to Methodist Primary School, also in Osogbo for two reasons – One, many of his friends at the African Primary School had moved to Methodist. Two, the young Sunny had become fascinated with Catholic priests and wanted to become one. The Methodist School was opposite St Benedict’s School owned by the Catholics.
The youngman wanted to be close to Catholics as much as possible. He wanted to attend St. Benedicts, but was not given admission.
By the time Sunny completed primary school education, he had fallen in love with music and had taught himself to play drums. He was admitted into St. Charles Grammar School, Osogbo in 1960. According to him, the admission seemed to be the beginning of some great educational attainment. Hear him: “But, indeed it was the end. After one term, I lost interest, because I had been exposed to the sweet music of Sunday Ariyo (a bandleader) who happened to be our neighbour”.
“To cut a long story short, Sunny dropped out of school, was arrested by music and early in 1963, he had got an offer from a band in Osogbo led by Idowu Owoeye, to go on a playing tour of Abeokuta. Even though Owoeye’s band had not been invited to play at the coronation of the late Alake, Oba Adesina Gbadebo, there was a chance to make money because the trip coincided with Oba Gbadebo’s coronation. The hope was dashed!
“The band got stranded in Abeokuta. After two weeks of frustration, hunger and desperation, Sunny, who had lied at home that he was going on school excursion to Lagos decided to face his destiny by running to Lagos to join, Brother Ayo, who had earlier abandoned the Owoeye band in Abeokuta to join Moses Olaiya ( the famous Baba Sala) in Lagos.
“After scaling many hurdles, luck smiled on him and he finally joined Brother Ayo and eventually the Moses Olaiya band in Idi Oro, Lagos from where he received the blessing of his boss, Moses Olaiya to form his own band, the former Green Spot band. The rest is history.
“In capturing my relationship with the King of World Beats, KSA, let me state that it started in the late 1960s, when he released the chart – bursting single play titled “1966 Challenge Cup”. In 1963, my late father bought me my first transistor radio set. It became my inseparable companion and an outlet to local and world affairs, especially music. Those were the years of Nigeria’s most- listened-to radio station, the defunct Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service (WNBS) and its sister station, the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) – Africa’s first television station, opened in 1959. The station was star-studded with giants like Yinka Johnson, Tunji Marquis, Kunle Olasope, Toun Adeyemi, Yomi Onabolu, Anike Agbaje-Williams, Julie Cker, Victor Adeniyi, Adebayo Faleti, George Jobartech, Bola Alo, Bola Barber (now Mrs Ogunlade).
“As a proud member of the “King of Boys Circle” led by our irresistible impessario, the late Chief Afolabi Majekodunmi alias “ King of Boys” ., in the late 1960s, one was a regular attendee of WNTV’s highbrow programme “Come, let’s dance” featuring top bands including Sunny Ade’s Green Spot Band which Later became the African Beats and compered by the late screen goddess-turned-lawyer, Auntie Toun Adeyemi. May her soul rest in peace. I came in contact with KSA then known as Sunny Ade and others like Obey, Okonta, Animashaun, Olorode, Suberu Oni, etc. By 1974, when I had become the entertainment page editor of the defunct Sunday Sketch and writer of the weekly column, “It’s What’s Happening”, my relationship with Obey & KSA notched up.
“The KSA I know possesses some virtues which I now proceed to highlight. He is godly, philosophical, humble, loyal, creative, generous, humorous, disciplined, a teetotaler and non-smoker, natty and wealthy.
In summary, this is the KSA I know. Kabiyesi the Olubadan of Ibadanland, the Oloris, High Chiefs, invited guests, it is my great pleasure to congratulate KSA on his 70th birthday, as I wish him many more seasons of wellness, joy, creativity and contentment. Thank you
***Text of the paper, “The KSA I know” presented by Oloye ‘Lekan Alabi in Ibadan, Oyo State at the concert to honour KSA on his 70 birthday on Sunday, 2nd October, 2016.