KING SUNNY ADE - A Great Sage Sails On @ Age 75
NEWLY RELEASED BOOK
By ‘Tunji Ajayi
Diligence is the mother of great fortune. And that explains why the Holy Scripture says: “See’st thou a man diligent in his duties, he shall not stand before mere men but before Kings.” Yes. For those who believe in good luck, let them know that chances favor only the prepared mind. No luck ever comes by slumbering. True greatness is achieved by developing robust capacity for hard work and unpretentious honest living. Yes. The subject matter of this piece may not be perfect. After all, he is human. Nonetheless, for any man who wants to learn useful lessons in steadfastness, astuteness, dedication, doggedness to succeed, creativity, real hard work and perspicacity etc, let him learn from this enigmatic creation of God who has brought shimmering honour to Africa, and indeed the entire Black Race. Deo Volentim, my audience will read many hitherto unknown facts about his person in the newly published book by Amazon and on this page for some weeks to come. While writing on this trail blazing maestro in his memoir, Hooked to Music in 1996, I had averred that KSA is “. . . an astute believer in excellence who has consistently implanted a philosophy into the minds of an average youth: ‘be the best of whatever you are’” adding that “KSA never stops yearning to outdo each of his successive feats.”
Our today’s youth need to learn resilience from KSA. On this trait I recall an eloquent motivator Femi Emmanuel’s averment. According to him, “If you devalue yourself, no one will value you.” The erudite scholar went on: “You can succeed if no one believes in you. But you cannot succeed if you don’t believe in yourself” Then he admonished pointedly: “Don’t let your present negatively affect your future, because your future is greater than your past and the present.” Emmanuel then added a puncher: “The future you refuse to see will never come. Start moving in the direction of your expectation.” Why? He concluded in a laconic remark: “There is no failure for the man that fights on.” Yes. King Sunny Ade is a man with leonine courage!
But Sunny Ade was very ingenuous at youth, before becoming ingenious in adulthood. A man can be ingenuous but not ingenious. And he can be both. He was so naive and trusting that he suffered a fate that nearly truncated his musical career in his late 20’s after signing a recording contract with his revered boss and recording label owner. But he grew to become bold and ingenious to establish a musical ensemble with which he ruled the world of music for an upward of 54 years. KSA is still relevant in the entertainment world till today; thrilling the mighty and the lowly; the rulers and the ruled; the Kings and the Queens, the aristocrats and the proletariats, the bourgeoisie and the democrats etc. The sage who clocks 75 on September 22, 2021 is a stubbornly resilient and resourceful man of valour. I have followed his music since 1970. Though, I don’t have all his albums. No. And the only KSA album I don’t have in my library is perhaps the one in his mind yet to be released!
KSA’s knack for inventiveness is sweeping and unarguably unrivalled. Africa is truly blessed to have such a unique son. The Black race should be proud to chant “Jubilante Deo” in unison for having a great son who became the best of what he chose to be, thus causing amazement and awe-inspiring ovations worldwide; and indirectly debunking a fallacious opinion that “nothing great can come out of our Nazareth”. The likes of Professor Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Professor Okonjo Iweala, Segun Odegbami, Jay-Jay Okocha, John Mikel Obi, Anthony Joshua, et al, have also helped to debunk the negative opinions about Nigeria and indeed Africa by being the best in their respective chosen careers. Indeed Africa with her huge human capital resources can rule the world in a garb of pan-Africanism!
In a piece I wrote on this sage barely two years ago entitled KING SUNNY ADE @ 73: His Genre of Music & the African Entertainment Arts (The Cable News, September 25, 2019) I had posited: “Rated one of the 100 greatest Guitarists in the world, The Master Guitarist dominates the Guitar world completely; even to the awe and amazement of its manufacturers; making the ubiquitous string instrument do his bidding to provide any desired tune of his choice; from the rumbling sound of the tidal waves to the endless prattling of a loquacious parrot, and from the hee-hawing of a donkey to the endless barking of a rabid dog. Sunny is adept at creating with his lead Guitar the stridulating voice of a cricket or the snarling tone of an enraged tiger. Should you be in doubt of this assertion, check the archives and re-listen to his masterpiece album AS1-L: Vol. 7 – “A F’àì Bá won Jà” (1973), or the epic and epoch-making release AS 15-L “Sunny Ti De” (1973), or AS26-L: “Synchro System.” Or his recondite, cognomen-laden LPAS 8020 Vol. 6 – “Ògún II” (1972) KSA, the effervescent King of World Beats evidently rules the world of music!” Yes. I talk with facts and not in abstract.
KSA the Sage is a busy bee that has no sorrow. For 25 years, this writer had been around him re-studying his personal traits, traveling up and down; flipping through foreign media reports from his library; holding meetings etc, all for the purpose of this 600-page memoir now published by Amazon, renowned worldwide only for excellence. Twenty-five years! Yes! 600 pages? You heard me right! I explained why it took so long in the prologue entitled “Hypnosis”. KSA is unique. No dullness with him. Hence the sizzling story and colourful images largely provided by KSA himself will hold you spell bound! (See attestation below). The author is driven by passion and unfettered love for his sterling traits and uncommon talents. Not money. No. KSA knows. Yes. He has admitted my love for him many times; even in writing. I don’t speak in abstract. If it is money, permit me to think that 25 years is far too long for a writer to be on a single literary work on a single individual. Indeed, the likes of our mentors and great men like Professor Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehinmi, Chinua Achebe, Tai Solarin, Jay-Jay Okocha, Segun Odegbami, etc. were never driven by pecuniary interests but passion. Whatever noble things our today youths have passion and love for, let them pursue with vigor and determination because there is no achievement for a man who looks behind.
In “KSA: King whose Kingdom is the Dancing Stage:” (The Nation, September 27, 2019) I wrote interalia without any equivocation: “Being with KSA for a moment can be an enchanting and exhilarating experience! His uncommon affability, geniality and charm once made a five hour hang-out with him in one posh corner of Lagos, Nigeria seem like only a five minute rendezvous with this writer. His personality and warmth dissipate boredom and repel lassitude. Where does he get these strange skills and ideas that have kept him on the world entertainment stage for over five decades from? Sunny looked askance, ruminating and perhaps struggling to know where from. In the end, a deep sigh. And then he quipped: “All wisdom comes from God.” And why are virtually all his over 240 albums so deep with witticism and laden with proverbs and philosophy? A long pause again and a laconic retort: “Wisdom is learnt at the feet of the elders.” I dedicate this book to KSA, and millions of his fans across the globe and children yet unborn to know later that a legend was once born into the African entertainment firmament who ruled the music world for decades with esoteric feats and uncommon zeal. May God continue to bless the King of World Beats.
THE INTERVAL! What could make a writer painstakingly toil and write sleeplessly on an artiste from 1996 to 2021? 25 years! How could a writer write a 600-page book on a single individual? Why was the template nominated for the coveted ARSC Award in USA? Please read the serial and excerpts from this book every Saturday of the week in this column. Meanwhile, I start the first serial below:
KING SUNNY ADE THE LEGEND! –
Cultural Values & Philosophies Behind a Genre of African Music
Wisdom is learnt at the feet of the elders. Yes. The reliability of the aphorism came to the fore to my benefit in repackaging this book entitled King Sunny Ade The Legend! - Cultural Values and Philosophies Behind a Genre of African Music. From nothing, nothing emerges, because something cannot come from nothing. Every good house starts from a solid foundation. The foundation for this book had been laid since 1997 when I was inspired to commence writing on this enigmatic King Sunny Ade in the earlier edition which was published as a template in 2009 by Outskirts Press, Denver, Colorado, USA. Shortly after completion of that edition, I ran into one of the greatest books written by a revered writer and a mentor, Timothy White. Thus, I became more curious to edify the 2009 edition, regardless of its having been nominated for a coveted award for excellence in the USA.
Creative writers the world over are never contented, even with the best rated of their writings. They are the most querulous men I have ever come across. Until a writer's literary work is finally published and perhaps gets to the shelves, he is never satisfied with it, and quite often will continue to amend, write and rewrite. Inflamed with passion to make his writing better, a writer is inclined to edit and re-edit his literary works. As he includes more information, his often copious flow of thoughts, ideas or new facts are also included. Thus, he writes and rewrites his own work again and again. Creative writers, and indeed most artists, especially in the liberal arts; including musicians naturally enjoy working hard to achieve perfection in their works.
Timothy White authored one of the greatest books ever written on an artiste, entitled Catch a Fire which was first published in 1983. Using the first edition as a foundation, his revised and repackaged Catch a Fire in 1989 with additional information on the life of reggae maestro Bob Marley arguably ended up being the "best available document on his life and work,” according to Marc Leepson in the USA Today. I have therefore benefitted from the immense wisdom of Timothy White who used the first edition of Catch a Fire as a veritable foundation to build the expanded and enlarged version of his work on Bob Marley. This reviewed edition of the book King Sunny Ade The Legend! is an amplified version of the 2009 template edition which, though not formally released, still earned nomination for the 2010 Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Awards for excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in the USA. The template has served as a useful foundation on which this literary work is built with more information on the juju music legend, and more colorful images from the maestro himself.
Millions of foreign fans have enjoyed the scintillating and sinuous beats of this wonderful artiste for many decades. The deep messages he is passing across in Yoruba language, though may not be clearly understood by them; they are as wonderfully interesting as the percolating beats with which the deep philosophical messages are enveloped. With many of the lyrics explained in English for the benefit of his teeming audience, reading this work will reveal clearly the depth of his lyrics, as well as the mystiques and philosophies behind his genre of music.
But here is a caveat: In his book, Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief, Bolaji Idowu, renowned professor of religious studies made a confession thus: "To translate Yoruba verses and sayings into English and yet preserve their exact meaning is not an easy task. However, I have tried to meet the difficulty by being rather literal and keeping very close to the original in my translation." In similar vein, while translating the Yoruba musical lyrics into English, I have done exactly what the learned professor did, viz, "being literal and keeping very close to the original meaning in my translation." And just like the erudite scholar believes that "truth shines by its own light", I do hope that this work will speak for itself. Since a knife does not carve its own handle, I am thus relieved of doing the uncharitable act of pouring eulogy on my own writing.
‘Tunji Ajayi, Lagos, 2021
Attestations on Back Cover
“King Sunny Ade The Legend” provides the reader with a comprehensive account of the life and experiences of a musical titan. Epic and sweeping in nature, the work reveals much of Mr. Ade’s unique background and the enormous influences in his life. The author relates many unknown facts and stories regarding his life and how his music impacted others. . . . Relying upon a myriad of sources, Mr. Ajayi presents a well rounded biography which could resonate strongly with those who share his appreciation for this most talented individual. Composed in a captivating narrative, the work flows at a brisk tempo, which should maintain the reader’s interest throughout. . . .”
“Conversational in tone and significant content, the work could very well be regarded a valuable resource for those seeking to learn more about this major musical talent. Tunji Ajayi’s highly descriptive primarily style of writing combined with a keen sense of detail could further enhance the appeal of this work.” (Kristen Burns, Dorrance Publishers, Pittsburgh, USA)
“I learnt quite a bit from my review of KSA The Legend! I really enjoyed your approach in presenting your material and outlook on the subject. You have a nice way with words and your writing has a nice flow to it. The book is nicely put together and filled with information I am sure that people will find fascinating.” (Lisa Colello Conner, Outskirts Press, Colorado, USA)
Until next week when we meet again on this column, Verbum Satis Sapienti.
Amazon Official link for the book:
*Tunji Ajayi, a creative writer, author, biographer and audiovisual documentary producer writes from LC-Studio Communications, Nigeria (+2348033203115, +2348162124412)