Passion, fashion in holy wedlock at Ayinde Barrister Festival

Chief Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister Fans Club, the Ayinde Barrister Legacy Club, Barry Wonder Fans Club, Barry Wonder De Legend Fans Club, Barry Black Votary Club, Mr Fuji Fans Club, Barry Lives On Fans Club, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister Global Club, USA, Oludasile Fuji, Barry4 Ever Group, Mr Fuji Fans Club Worldwide, Fuji Originator and Barrister Fans Club.

These are individual social groups that have committed their time, energy and resources to the immortalisation of the late fuji music creator, Dr Sikiru Ayinde Balogun popularly known as Barrister.

Thirteen years after Barrister had passed away in London, these groups have continued to wax stronger in their self-imposed task of preserving the legacies which Barrister built and left behind on December 16, 2010.

In 2020, the groups all converged in private meeting and reached a consensus to jointly stage a grand event befitting the extra large frame of Barrister among indigenous musicians in Nigeria.

After rigorous deliberations spanning months, then came the birth of what they named the Barrister Festival (BarryFest) to hold every two years at agreed venues.

Then also emerged a committee headed by Alhaji Olaide Olawumi deputised by Alhaja Monsura Lawal, while Agba Akin Ademola Adesingbin became head of the secretariat.

The maiden edition of the biennial BarryFest successfully held in Barrister Fuji Chamber, Isolo, Lagos and Ibadan in 2022. The carnival attracted eminent personalities across different sectors of the economy.

Sooner after the first edition, machinery was put in place to ensure an improved edition in 2024. That dream was realised between February 9 and 10 2024 when members of fans groups returned to Ibadan, Barrister hometown and showed him love.

The Ilaji Hotels and Resorts, Akanran, Ibadan, that hosted the first edition, also had the same privilege that stretched its accommodation facilities due to the increased number of participants.

All resplendent in a multi-colour Ankara fabric sewn in different styles in vogue, the assemblage of the fans was an allure to behold and an emerging trend in posthumous celebration of any indigenous musician in Nigerian history.

Day One of the BarryFest 2024 witnessed Jumat service which was observed at the Mufutau Olanihun Mosque, where prayers were collectively offered to Barrister.

That over, members moved in convoy to a spot on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway where Barrister Cenotaph was unveiled by his two friends, Otunba Adisa Osiefa and Chief Kola Oyadeji amidst excitement.

The visibly fulfilled members thereafter headed to the awaiting exquisite Ilaji Hotel where Gala Night had been scheduled.

Anchored strictly by a US-based Alhaja Sade Idowu, the gathering held at a football arena, had all joyous fans groups eating drinking and dancing to different tracks of Barrister’s music supplied by a DJ.

An ubiquitous female member, known as Aya Barry, used the Gala Night as opportunity to show appreciation to some members to whom she presented with customised souvenirs.

Idowu said, “To God almighty, we give all the glory, honour, and adoration for making the 2nd edition of Barryfest a huge success.

“My special thanks and gratitude to all our stakeholders who supported the events morally, financially, and otherwise.

“And to all the amazing fans of late Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Balogun all over the world, especially those who flew from abroad to grace this edition, I thank you. May the good Lord spare our lives to witness and enjoy many of Barryfest. Till February 2026, I say so long.”

The memorable Gala Night lasted till early hours of Saturday, day of the grand finale, first featuring a lecture delivered by Vice-Chancellor of the Ojaja University, Eyenkorin, Kwara State, Professor Jeleel Ojuade who described Barrister as a global citizen.

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Ojuade, in unmistakable tone, also declared that Barrister had risen to a global citizen status as a result of his unrelenting efforts that grew fuji genre, which according to the scholar, Barrister invented, into a product which is now recognised, accepted and analysed by academics across the Atlantic.

The Vice-chancellor acknowledged Barrister’s role in the genre and commended his ingenuity and doggedness to weather the storm of older genres and gave fuji a distinct face.

“It is true that Barrister was born by Ibadan father and Lagosian mother, but I want to say that he is a global citizen for the reason we are all gathered here today. He discovered his talent early, used it and developed it to become a genre which is acceptable to different faiths, colour and classes,” he said.

Ojuade’s paper highlighted Barrister’s identity, revolution of Fuji music
Barrister’s themes, Fuji modernization, Fuji internationalization, Barrister’s styles, his crusades, his propagation and his fashion.

He went down memory lane and refreshed his audience with sketches of Barrister’s adventure in the military and warfront during the 30-month old Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970.

Aside his acknowledgement of Barrister as a fuji pioneer, he also explored his break into stardom and his over 70 studio albums, which later earned him wider recognition and awards of honour at home and in the diaspora.

The event also featured live performances by invited musicians. Story of the 2024 edition will be incomplete without a mention of those dedicated fuji musicians.

One after the other, Fuji Merenge King, Alhaji Rasheed Ayinde, Alhaji Azeez Besco, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinla Karachi, Barrytide, Barry Jesus, BarryReborn and Semo Winter mounted the stage and performed to the admiration of the large audience.

Besco calmly put up a semblance of Barrister’s art during his performance by pointing out Barrister’s 1995 track in which he alerted on the danger ahead the nation.

Merenge left a lasting impression when he was called upon to round off the performances.

He dug into Barrister’s old tracks, a display which lifted Barrister fans from their seats to the dance floor. It was a nostalgic moment for the fans who showered words of appreciation on Merenge.

A prominent member of the BarryFest, Engineer Banji Eleshinla, was touched and gave kudos to the musicians, saying Besco made better use of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister Band members in what seemed like Barrister was back to life.

“Alhaji Rashidi Ayinde Merenge took people’s back to memory lane of SAB oldies music. Mr Semo Winter from London sadly lost his father that very Saturday. But because of the love he has for Barrister, he also did justice to Barrister voice on stage,” Eleshinla remarked.

Barrister’s organisation band members, led by their captain, Alhaji Yekini Ayanwale (Aderoju), provided a backup percussion to all the musicians on parade.

There was also presentation of awards to members and friends of Barrister fans groups, including a utility Omoba Idiat Olawusi and a <span;>Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Barrister Mutalubi Adebayo Ojo who also described Barrister as a superstar both in life and in death.

The former Oyo State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice exclaimed that he had never seen a late Nigerian musician as more blessed with dedicated fans as Barrister.

Ojo said the success recorded at the BarryFest between February 9 and February 10, 2024 had reconfirmed Barrister’s superstar status in life and 13 years after his death.

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“To say the least is to say it was a glorious outing which has now reinforced Barrister superstar position not only in fuji genre he created but also among other indigenous genres in Nigeria. He is a numero uno, the first among all of them, by all standard,” he stated.

Ojo also pointed out that the turnout, the arrangement and the large presence of what he called. quality personalities from US, UK and other places in honour of the man many of them never met, showed Barrister is special.

“I am saying it with every sense of responsibility that he is a special one. How many musicians alive can gather such quality audience together? Again, that should tell us that Barrister is still much alive and there is no doubting the fact that he will continue to live in the hearts of his thousands of fans across the world,” he stated.

The glamorous grand finale also witnessed the much talked about premier of “Mr Fuji Barry Wonder”, a documentary produced by a US-based Professor Saheed Aderinto who thrilled the large audience with exclusive memorable images of Barrister, his band members, family and fans.

The Ibadan-born Aderinto revealed that he had commenced shootings of the documentary in 2021 at different locations in Nigeria and his US base where he is a lecturer.

He said the documentary was not made for commercial purpose but posterity to preserve the role Barrister played in carving out an unknown genre among Nigerian indigenous brands of music.

The scholar also affirmed that the documentary was produced with a view to telling critical knowledge that is close to the heart of the people who use the medium of documentary filmmaking.

“To preserve the legacies of Barrister through the medium of a film. To place Fuji at the center of global knowledge production. To increase the global attention on Fuji. To take the name of Fuji and Barrister into academic domains where they don’t exist for now,” he submitted.

Founder of the Oludasile Fuji, Otunba Muili Okunola, who had earlier on February 8, 2024 hosted a close circle of Oludasile Gold Members (OGM) at the Oxygen Orbis Hotel, Moniya, Ibadan, expressed his fulfilment at the turnout of the BarryFest.

“What else should we ask for with what everyone saw at the event? We have shown that Barrister fans worldwide can organise our shows without any hindrance.

“Special thanks to OGM Modinat Adewale (US); OGM Mudrakat Gold (UK); OGM Ganiyu Subair (US); OGM Ismail Adegbola (Cameroon); OGM Muyideen Lawal (UK); OGM Ayantokun Ganiyu (Lagos); OGM Ismail Adesingbin (UK); OGM Banji Elesinla (Ilorin); OGM Monsurat Lawal (US); OGM Adunola Adesuyi (US) and OGM Rasaq Mosuf (Lagos),” he said.

Other dignitaries at the BarryFest also included Barrister Media Consultant, Elder Dayo Odeyemi and his wife, Chief Mrs Odeyemi, Barrister’s widow, Mrs Yemisi Balogun, a UK-based music Promoter, Alhaji Ademola Otolowo, Barrister’s son, Honourable Samsoondeen Balogun.

The accountant said, “BarryFest 2024 was a very successful event, the organizing committee did a great job. I believe the spirit of Mr Fuji must be in a joyous mood as Allah answered is prayers.”

Chairman of the BarryFest, Alhaji Olaide Olawumi expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the event and thanked all invited guests and all groups of fans that organised the BarryFest.

“We pray to God to continue to repose the soul of Alhaji Barrister,” Olawumi prayed heartily.

Vice-chairman, Alhaja Lawal, who flew into the country from her US base on Friday, also thanked all the guests and members for what she called their steadfastness towards achieving another successful BarryFest.

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“We thank God, above all, for His grace over all of us that we didn’t record any bad incidents during and after the ceremony,” she said with a smile.

Secretary, Adesingbin said the commitee had come of age and ready to take the BarryFest to a higher pedestal as a result of the experience of the two editions.

“All the challenges we had in the editions have established us as a force to reckon with. We can do whatever we set our minds to do. Our oneness is evolving and I am happy for this confidence. We can do our things independently and without thinking or waiting for external body,” he sounded.

Secretary of the Ayinde Barrister Legacy Club, Mr Ajisafe Omotayo opined that BarryFest was a heartfelt tribute to Barrister, uniting fans and admirers in a joyous celebration of his enduring legacy.

The Kwara State-based remarked, “From soul-stirring musical performances that paid homage to his unparalleled talent to heartfelt reminiscences shared among attendees, the event captured the essence of Barrister’s influence on the genre and beyond.

“As we bid farewell to this year’s festivities, let us carry forward Barrister’s spirit of passion, resilience, and unity, ensuring that his legacy continues to inspire generations to come.”

Former President of Barry Wonder Lives On Fans Club, Alhaji Sunny Sobowale said it is pertinent to say Barrister’s good deeds lives on after him. With the level of attendance of fans from all over Nigeria and the world shows Barrister may have died physically but his works and legacy Iives on forever.”

He commended the Barryfest planners for a job well done.

“My commendation also goes to the event decorator for a superb job,” he said.

President of Barry Wonder De Legend, Mr Omotosho Olumakinde was equally amazed by the turnout of fans across the world.

The lecturer challenged all to positively touch the life of people and the society as a whole.

He said, “The tempo and the continuous relevance of Barrister should be enough to put and encourage us all to take the path of dignity in all our facet of life.”

President of Barry Wonder Votary Fans, Asiwaju Omotoso submitted that the second BarryFest has further deepened the love and the spirit behind the event.

He, however, noted few challenges but said there is no perfection in humanity.

His view was shared by a member of the planning committee, Alhaji Lukman Badru, who though expressed delight by the outcome of the festival, observed few low points.

“But all glory to Almighty Allah for the ground we were able to covered effectively after these two editions. I believe we are going to work on lapses observed,” he assured.

A member of the BarryFest Advisory Board, Alhaji Rasak Moruf also pointed out few inadequacies, especially in the accommodation need of members but offered suggestions.

“A friend complained bitterly that she had to manage in a dingy, mosquitoes infested room outside Ilaji Resort.

“The organizers fell short of expectation in this instance and it is hoped such shall be addressed in future events,” he hinted.

Moruf recommended that as the third edition is knocking the door, the planners should look beyond Ilaji 2024.

“I will suggest that they give another city the opportunity to host the showpiece. Ibadan should not monopolize the thrills of the biennial event,” he offered.

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