In the beginning
The mother-tongue rolls out from a baby’s lips one phoneme after the other, and as the child bellows ‘mama’ or ‘baba’, he or she automatically joins billions of earth people, bound on a terrestrial journey that has no pause buttons....just start and stop. Yes, we may fast forward or flash backwards, but life keeps moving, and so do we, all intricately regulated by the unwritten terms and conditions of life.
In the midst of what appears to be a purposeless interplay of plots, passions and ambitions, we’re occasionally blessed by periodic reminders that give us reason to, not just keep walking, but for each to “walk his Walk” in alliance with his worldview, which in turn, tunes his hopes and aspirations to the realities on ground.
YinkaAkanbi’sAjo, #AlbumOfSongs, is one of such occasional and pleasant punctuations to the complex puzzles of daily life. This deeply introspective album, featuring celebrated voices in the persons of Yinka Davies, BunmiSanyaand Jungleman Jeff, reminds us that proverbs, idioms and sayings-of-our-elders are not, after all, just a cultural artifact to distinguish one race from the other; rather they are the quintessential replacement for what every man could do with in this world, a User Manual!
In ten beautifully crafted songs, reminiscent of the lyrical and instructive songs of AyinlaOmowura, Ebenezer Obey, and the Geledefestivals of Abeokuta in Ogun state, YinkaAkanbi invites us to embrace his worldview, and hopefully find meaning in a world that may simultaneously appear pointless and purposeful.
From “Femi” a romantically pulsating duet with Yinka Davies, B’oyalemo, Omosalewa and “Ajo” the star track in the album, the album is replete with melodious lyrics stewed in words of wisdom, served on a palatable dish of Yoruba traditional instruments. It is more than safe to say that both the initiated elders and the millenia inductees, would find a beat to fall for in #AjoAlbumOfSongs
“Airijinalairabukeokere, ibi a bade laa ma riran de”
Roughly translated, though devoid of its inbuilt dramatic imagery, the above saying, one of the many that take the front seat in this well-rendered album, means :
“If we don’t travel far enough, we are likely to believe certain phenomena are down right fantasy” We’ll leave a few more below but without the accompanying translations, as home work for our inductee millennials:
“B’oyal’emo, aiye o ma pin sibikan”
“Ojuedalopesi, akololo a pe baba”
The Journey So Far
Yinka, as he is fondly called, owes most of his lyrical philosophy to his background. Born to Akanbi Snr, who hailed from Owu in Ogun state, and a mother from Ibarapa, whom Yinka proudly says was a food seller, Yinka lived most of his life in Abeokuta city. His father’s journey was not any different from civil servants in the colonial era, except for the added historical detail that the elder Akanbi served at the battle front during the Congo war. he was also a guitarist. But don’t for a second imagine Yinka therefore found his musical muse smooth sailing. He had to accommodate endless strokes of the cane for stealing away from home to watch the Gelede festival amongst other musical and cultural festivals. Each time he came home, he took his punishment with non-melodic equanimity
According to YinkaAkanbi, “Although we took it for granted in those days, we were growing up in a very culturally active society; specifically in Ibara Abeokuta, where the likes of Baba Alawiye (J.F.Odunjo) thrived.” Cultural ceremonies like the Igbunuku masquerade, travelling drummer ensembles with bembe, bata and other indigenous percussion instruments, further tuned Yinka’s talents in an arty direction. “I remember the “Efe” festivals that took place every three years; they parodied societal events and celebrated positive trends in society. The festival was like the conscience of the community, a kind of informal but powerful avenue for societal reformation through an artistic regenerative process. Individuals who had become notorious for some vice or the other were exposed at the musical festival. I was therefore initiated into Arts As A Reformative Tool from a very early period in life".
The first climax of his musical thrusts, was forming of the band 'The Wheel Spanner Orchestra’, while he was at OAU, Obafemi Awolowo University (Formerly known as University of Ife). Their first stage show was at performance by Wole Soyinka. Yinka's journey is the story of a troubled traveler, with a strong disciplined background. “I don't write words, I write thoughts” This is not strange for a proud son of the Yoruba soil, who was immeasurably weaned on proverbs.
Buttressing this point, he went on: “Without setting forth to be philosophic, it all tumbles out effortlessly, because words themselves are rooted in the recreation of the human mind, and contradiction leads to recreation.”
Before this writer left his Ikeja Pisces Audio Visual Studios, he was regaled by some of Yinka's adopted sayings: WHEN YOU'RE TRAVELING, YOU DON'T TAKE THE ROAD ALONG WITH YOU. THAT YOU WERE NOT BORN IN A PLACE DOES NOT MEAN YOU DON'T COME FROM THERE YinkaAkanbi is eternally grateful to his collaborators on this musical journey; Jungleman Jeff, Bunmi Sanya and Yinka Davies, and he sums it all up in one beautiful Yoruba saying: Agbajowo La fin s’oya
Asked whom his mentors were in his early days, YinkaAkanbi almost literally stands at attention as he reels out the hallowed names of his first five favourites: To the cursory onlooker, YinkaAkanbi's musical mentors may appear as strange bedfellows, but perhaps the diversity in their background has contributed to the latitude of his creative approach, to not just his music, but his art and craft as an actor, writer, director and film producer. Although he insists the names were not reeled out in any order, the smile that escorted the name AyinlaOmowura, betrayed his ultimate preference. His father, Elder Akanbi, no doubt planted the musical seed in his son, but other musical heroes including the late MichaelJackson and Bob Marley, and the evergreen Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade had their say!
A Souvenir of Stars
Come and take indelible memories with you as #AJO Album Launch will play host to most of the names and faces that have made landmark statements on the Nigerian Arts & Entertainment industry.
Confirmed attendees at the event slated for this Sunday include TaiwoAjayiLycett, Joke Silva, Tunde kelani, Femi Sowolu, JahmanAnikulapo, and others, too many to mention here. To them, the album launch is not just the launch of an album, but an opportunity to embrace and endorse a familiar worldview. Indeed, Ajo’s premise and fundamental message that #EveryStepIsAjourney is one every man born of a woman, every star, celebrated or inebriated, can easily plug into.
The Adire-d Carpet
It’s no news that every grand event is ushered in by a red carpet that features quick vox-pops and general welcome of guests and special guests. Well, there’s a spin to this red carpet which starts by 4pm. Can you guess already?
Well, we’re not telling! Come and see for yourself 🙂
What Is Your Own Story/ KiniAjo Re?
Our elders say if you take a closer look at the human head, it looks like a question. Is this because life itself is a perennial question? While you ponder that, we leave you with this question,
WILL YOU BE
AT THE ALBUM LAUNCH ON SUNDAY,
FREEDOM PARK: 5pm (Adire-d Carpet 4pm)