I never realized it’s 40 years ago i was driving to Lantoro, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, to buy Ofada rice from Alhaja Oyalowo. I was still eating rice from that Buka, till Alhaja transited a few months ago. She was in her 90s.
There was no GSM then. Someone flagged me down and said OMOWURA just died. I spurned around and drove at top speed to General hospital, Ijaiye. The whole hospital up to the gate was full of hordes of people, youths, market women, socialites. All wailing and rushing to the ICU.
I pushed my way to the front and behold Egunmogaji was lying in a pool of blood on his head, stone dead on the gurney.
Memories of him, in the two years that we’ve been friends and business partners flooded to me. I wept.
At age 21, i constructed and operated the No 1 discotheque/club in the whole of Western Region now six states. DUDU CLUB was the center of fun in Yorubaland. I’m talking of 1975. For three days in a week, people would travel from Lagos, Ibadan, Oshogbo, Ijebu etc to come to DUDU CLUB (Whedah House) for mad fun. I was running the club, at the same time schooling at the University of Ibadan. Many who read this post will attest to their experiences in DUDU. It was a place ahead of its time.
One day, a very tall, like 6.5ft, man came to meet me in the club. He introduced himself as Baiyewu, the manager of AYINLA OMOWURA. He brought a message from OMOWURA that they would like to be playing in my Club at least a day in the week.
I was not into their music. But AYINLA was a folk hero, so I accepted and gave them Wednesdays for their show.
I didn’t want to mess with the traditional friday – Sunday disco time.
It was an irony of fate that AYINLA died in the hands of the same Bayewu, who smashed a glass jug on his head during an argument. It was unplanned. Just a moment of anger in broad daylight as they were playing AYO game in front of their office. He eventually received a death sentence and was hanged in Ibara prison.
Meanwhile, AYINLA in DUDU was a bomb. It was new seeing him on concert stage, rather than the usuals parties and Owambes, where he created his stardom. It was always filled, spilling into the street.
Our partnership made a lot of money in those days. AYINLA never cared about the books. He would play all night and just head home exhausted. His manger would stay back and do the accounts. It was percentage sharing.
We developed a casual friendship. Sometimes I would go to his office in Itoko to hang out with them.
He would insist on driving me back home, in his gold color Mercedes 200, while he smoked Ganja openly in broad daylight, even stopping to acknowledge cheers from fans, including police officers, while the smoke was swirling around his car. The police would still salute him. By the time I would come down in front of my house, I’d be seeing double.
Here I was 40 years ago crying silently beside his corpse around 1pm.
I knew that day I was witnessing the end of an era. I knew the world lost a song that day.
EGUNMOGAJI , our loss is the gain of the heavens!