While dissecting the campaigns of Napoleon, a renowned philosopher of war, Carl van Clausewitz wrote: “We do claim that direct annihilation of the enemy’s forces must always be the dominant consideration… once a major victory is achieved there must be no talk of rest, of breathing space…but only of the pursuit, going for the enemy again, seizing his capital, attacking his reserves and anything else that might give his country aid and comfort.”
The summary of Clausewitz postulation is that enemy must be fought totally and crushed in totality. That must have been the mindset of the late, Apala maestro, Alhaji Ayinla Omowura towards Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister when Omowura was hit by realization that he needed to fight Barrister and kill what he dubbed fuji music at infancy. How?
It is an unwritten ethics that two warring musicians must restrict themselves to the use of innuendo and metaphor to get at each other and satisfy their respective promoters and fans. But Omowura shattered the law and fired a direct salvo at Barrister to unmask any veil from the target of his hot lead. In his elpee released in 1979, the overly confident Omowura sang:
Ki o ma se je n gbo o
Pe mo ji e lorin lo
Ko je je bee
Oro apara niii
Omowura’s non-conformist choice was deliberate to splash a mud onto the face of Barrister’s identity and reduce him to a weeping boy in the community of music lovers. On the strength of the school of Clausewitz, Omowura needed to be pardoned because he had measured the astronomic rise of Barrister and felt the danger it could and indeed would constitute to his own rising fame.
He had seen the then 30-year-old Barrister leading his full band to a musical tour in the UK in 1978. He had heard about his exploits in that tour, at least the one which Barrister narrated in his ‘London Special’, a vynl, released on his return to Nigeria. He had observed how social and political elites were outdoing one another to have Barrister performed at their functions before and after the general elections which ushered in the Second Republic on October 1, 1979 and returned the soldiers to the barracks after 13 uninterrupted years in power.
Most importantly, Omowura had remembered the effect which his voluntary engaging Barrister for naming ceremony for his baby in 1974 had on his fans base. According to Dr Festus Adedayo in his famous book titled AYINLA OMOWURA: LIFE AND TIMES OF AN APALA LEGEND published in 2020, a copy of which he autographed for me on May 1, 2020, Barrister’s acceptance was noticeably on ascendancy as early as 1974.
On page 127, he wrote: “The relationship between Omowura and Barrister was really very close until 1974 when the former invited him to sing at the naming ceremony of one of the children given birth to by one of his wives, which held in Mushin. By then, it was gathered that Barrister had climbed up in musical reckoning as well as such, when Omowura invited him to come and sing for his guests at the naming ceremony, which he gladly accepted, there was no way that Barrister’s fast growing acceptance in the musical world wouldn’t be at cross-purposes with Omowura’s who saw himself as the numero uno among Yoruba musicians…It was gathered that at this time in 1974, Barrister had got to challenge the favoured and highly reckoned musical top class like Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade at the duo’s musical dens in Yaba, Lagos State.”
If the same author could turn round seven months later and write: “If Omowura had not died, there would never have been the Barrister who supervised over the traditional Yoruba African music stratosphere of the 80s to 2010 like a wild wind,” then I should show understanding that every mortal can slip at one time or the other.
But with the content of a chapter in Adedayo’s book as referenced above, Omowura could obviously not have obstructed Barrister’s total invasion of the indigenous musical space because Barrister had already depleted Omowura’s fans at Omowura’s party due to his classy performance which magnetised Omowura’s fans on dance floor. What later became Alhaji Chief Sikiru Ayinde Fans Club paradoxically started from the balkanization of Omowura fans in Mushin, a situation which set the tone for the envy and fight which Omowura fought to the finish in May 6, 1980.
Islam, Christianity and African Traditional Religion recognise the paramountcy of a supreme being and influence of destiny in man’s journey on the surface of the earth. Every believer in God, therefore, should and must recognize that whatever he will or won’t become in life is inscribed on the sheet of his or her destiny.
Yes, Omowura’s prodigious body of lyrical compositions is incontrovertible. They are even more evident in the ongoing Tunde Kelani publicised production in Abeokuta. Yet, Omowura did not create, neither did he write Barrister’s destiny. So, Dr Adedayo’s claim, ko je je be oro apara niiiiii