Saturday, 26 August 2017

And Here Comes the Winner of the Regal Flowers’ Bouquet!





This is usually not an easy task. I mean the task of choosing who picks a prize. This is more so when it is through a lucky dip. It could have been anyone! And as members of Onigegewura Family, we are all winners. I thank you for your understanding.

I also thank you all for finding time to read the King Sunny Ade’s story. I appreciate your very generous comments.  

So who is the Winner of the Onigegewura/Regal Flowers’ Bouquet????

And the winner is…ISI OKWUADI

Congratulations, Isi! Please send your phone number to onigegewurablog@gmail.com.

As mentioned in the introductory post, www.regalflowers.com.ng will deliver the complimentary bouquet worth N35,000 on your behalf to any person of your choice in Lagos.

On behalf of Team Onigegewura, I thank www.regalflowers.com.ng for this very thoughtful gift. Regal Flowers is Nigeria’s top online flower shop, based in Ikoyi, Lagos. They deliver fresh flowers and gifts across Lagos, Nigeria. You can view their products and order online or by phone: 070-1199-2888 and 070-1000-6665.

Thank you and have a fantastic weekend!

-Onigegewura

Friday, 25 August 2017

Eclipse of a Star: How Adegoke Adelabu Died by Onigegewura


https://onigegewura.blogspot.com.ng/

When next are you going to be in the city of Ibadan?

One of the places you must endeavour to visit in the historic town is Taj Mahal in Oke Oluokun. That’s the residence and final resting place of Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu, the Lion of the West.

Adelabu needs no introduction. He was the afternoon star that scared the elderly. He was the morning dew that drenched both friends and foes. More than fifty-nine years after his death, he refused to be forgotten. For those who are not familiar with Penkelemesi, please read Onigegewura’s You know Penkelemesi! But do you know Ebullition? to know more about this legendary personality. 

Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu died at his prime. He died when his sun was at its zenith. It was a death like no other. It was not the death of an individual. It was not the loss of a family. Adegoke Adelabu’s death was a national tragedy. Ibadan stood still. Lagos was stuned. Nigeria went into a state of shock.

How did Adelabu die? Was it an act of God? Was he killed by his political opponents? Was Adegoke a victim of political conspiracy? What was Adelabu’s business with his Lebanese friends? What actually happened on that fateful day in 1958?

If there was a politician who understood the psychology of his people, it was Adegoke Adelabu. He was a master in the art and science of political psychology. And like the consummate politician he was, he spoke the language of the people. He was a compound polyglot.  His Yoruba was flawless. His English was impeccable. Adelabu was not the one to mix Yoruba with English in the same sentence.

Though small in stature, he was intellectually a giant. With his brilliance, he dazzled and dwarfed his peers. According to Bola Ige, Adelabu was “a short man, but with boundless energy, he always seemed to be on the move, he went on foot from village to village. He dressed and appeared like a rustic villager. He never seemed to smile, not to talk of laugh. His Yoruba was devastating in pithiness and sarcasm. He knew how to leave every audience with a phrase that could not be forgotten.”

Coming from Chief Bola Ige, who himself was a wordsmith, that was an eloquent testimonial. If any evidence of Adelabu’s mastery of language is required, you need look no further than Penkelemesi and Ebullition. 

The final journey of the grassroots politician did not start in 1958 when he breathed his last. It actually started three years earlier in 1955 when Adelabu was appointed the Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services. The appointment was indeed a giant leap for Adelabu, who started life from a weaver’s shed.

His Lebanese friends, the Younan family, saw his appointment as a golden opportunity to market the Penkelemesi brand. It was decided that textile materials bearing Adelabu’s image and name be produced and sold. It was expected that the cloth would also serve a subtle campaign strategy for Adelabu who was aiming to become the premier of the West.

When the first shipment arrived, neither Adelabu nor the Younan family, expected what happened. They had expected sale to be slow and gradual. To their pleasant surprise, the Penkelemesi  fabric became an overnight bestseller. It became the social uniform, not only in Ibadan but throughout the Western Region. According to Iya Agba, textile merchants were using the cloth to sell other brands. You must buy another brand before aso penkelemesi could be sold to you.

It was no longer aso ebi. It became aso ilupeju – a global uniform.  It was used for weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, housewarming and every form of social  function. Tailors were praying daily for Adelabu. There was no tailor in Ibadan that did not get one or two yards to sew.

The Younan family did not wait for the stock to run out before the second shipment was ordered. It also recorded massive sale. This time around, Idumota traders and Onitsha merchants joined the bandwagon. The Lion of the West was the toast of the moment. He was not only a successful politician; he had also demonstrated that he was business savvy.

With the 1956 elections approaching, and with his rising political profile, Adelabu was sure of victory at the polls. He was a master strategist. As a populist leader, he gave people what they wanted. In areas of Ibadan where the indigenes were in the majority, Adelabu ensured that natives were the candidates of his party. In non-native areas, the Political Genius, fielded non-natives. It was a strategy that never failed him.

He was confident of becoming the premier. His business partners were also confident. It was decided that in addition to the penkelemesi cloth already in the market, a special cloth should be ordered for his inauguration as the premier. The cloth was indeed special. It showed Adegoke Adelabu as the Premier holding the keys to the Western House of Assembly! It was going to be a hot cake.

To finance the project, Albert Younan obtained a loan from African Continental Bank. ACB was one of the big indigenous banks in Nigeria then. The bank became distressed in 1991 and was taken over by the Central Bank of Nigeria. It was later revived and was one of the banks that formed the present day Spring Bank. The bank even had a football club. I can see elderly people reading this nodding as they remember ACB FC of Lagos!

Adelabu had however not taken into consideration the political wizardry of Obafemi Awolowo. As fate would have it, it was Awolowo who became the Premier. Adelabu became the Leader of the Opposition. Of course you know that it is the Premier and not the Leader of the Opposition that would hold the key to the House of Assembly.

You want to know what happened to the cloth already ordered. You are not the only one. The management of ACB also wanted to know. More importantly, the bankers wanted to know how the Younans were going to repay the facility. Yet the cloth could not be sold as Adelabu did not become the premier.

Albert Younan found himself in a financial jeopardy. The bank was writing to him everyday demanding repayment of the loan. The cloth was in the warehouse, unsold. Adelabu was in the House, but not as the premier. This was not an ordinary matter.  Ohun ti o mu bale ile wo aso iyawo re lo si oja, oro ti kuro ni se ko si nkan. Mewa  nbe. Whatever made the husband to wear his wife’s dress to the market place has gone beyond 'I hope there's no problem'.

On March 24, 1958, Younan sent a desperate message to Penkelemesi. It was a plea for help. The bank was on his neck. He had been given a final deadline by the bank. Adelabu decided to assist his friend by following him to the head office of the bank in Lagos to plead for further credit. 

Adelabu woke up very early the following day. In addition to the meeting with ACB in Lagos, he also had some issues to discuss with Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. He decided to use the same stone to kill two birds. He had just finished his morning prayers when he was informed that Albert Younan was outside. He bade his family farewell and promised to be back before evening. 

The journey to Lagos was uneventful. The management of the Bank was happy to receive a politician with the stature of Adelabu. He was assured that his request would be considered. Younan was happy. Adelabu was happy. He went off to see Okotie-Eboh.  


It was on the return journey to Ibadan that the unthinkable happened. It was on a straight stretch of road between Ode-Remo and Iperu. Albert Younan was the one driving the ash-grey Peugeot saloon car. Adelabu was seated beside him. Two of  Adelabu’s aides were also in the car.

Without warning, the Peugeot collided head on with a light yellow Austin which was on its way to Lagos. The force of the collision was such that the Austin somersaulted and came to rest upside down facing back the way it had come. The Peugeot cracked under the impact. It burst into flames.

Ha! Ikunle Abiyamo o! Travellers who witnessed the accident rushed to the aid of the victims. They successfully extinguished the fire. Of the four passengers in the Peugeot car, only the driver, Albert Younan, was alive. Though he was injured, he was still breathing.

The driver of the  yellow Austin was unharmed. It was as if he was not the one who drove the car. His two passengers were however not as lucky. The two Britons in the car, who were representatives of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company, sustained slight injuries. All of them, the dead and the injured, were quickly rushed to Shagamu Hospital. It was at the hospital that it was discovered that Penkelemesi, the Lion of the West, was one of the dead.

It was late in the evening that the news reached Ibadan. It started as a rumour. No one believed it. It could not have been Adelabu. Penkelemesi was a survivor. He was a fighter. He would never allow death to take him. Even if he was involved in an accident, the Lone Star would be unscathed. Bi Sango ba n pa Araba, bi o n fa Iroko ya, bi ti igi nla ko. If Sango, the god of thunder strikes at Araba tree and dismantles Iroko tree, he must respect the baobab tree. Adelabu was baobab. He was beyond the reach of Sango.

It was not until the following morning when his death became the headline news that reality dawned on his teeming followers. Tragedy Strikes screamed the Defender newspaper. Adelabu Is Dead announced the Daily Times.

Anthony Enahoro, as the Leader of the Western House of Assembly, proposed an extraordinary adjournment as a tribute to the dead Leader of the Opposition. In his moving tribute, he said:

We did not agree with him or his methods, and he too, did not agree with us or our policies. Nevertheless, he was a tireless and doughty fighter who stood firmly by the things he cherished, and it may be that when the history of these times comes to be written, that is one attribute of Alhaji Adelabu which will be remembered better than any other.”

Chief Obafemi Awolowo saluted the man who had keenly desired to take his place as Premier of the West. According to him: “Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu was, in his lifetime, and ever since he entered into politics, a fighter first and last, with all the characteristics of a fighter. He was fearless, formidable, forthright, often caustic, and uncompromising.”

It was a day no one who witnessed it would ever forget. Lanrewaju Adepoju, the redoubtable Yoruba poet, in a recent album, observed that Ibadan had never mourned anyone the way it mourned Adelabu. More than 75,000 mourners assembled to pay their final homage to the People’s Hero. According to an eyewitness account, the crowd was so dense that that it took three hours for the funeral procession of over fifty vehicles to move from Molete to Oke Oluokun where he was to be buried.

Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe presented a coffin to the family on behalf of his political party, the NCNC. It must have been a special coffin. I remember that one verbal abuse that was popular in the West when I was growing up was to describe someone as having ‘long head like Adelabu’s coffin’. Do you remember? Olori gboro bi posi Adelabu!

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Leader of NCNC, was not physically present at the funeral but he was represented by top notchers of the party. He later came to pay his last his respects to his very distinguished lieutenant. At the graveside, Azikiwe announced that NCNC would provide scholarships for all of Adelabu's 15 children. He also donated 100 pounds to the family.

Adelabu was not mourned by only the NCNC and the AG. On behalf of the Northern People Congress, Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa sent two top Ministers: Muhammadu Ribadu and Inuwa Wada to pay condolences and pray at the grave of a fellow Muslim.


Adegoke Adelabu was dead and buried. But the Lion of West did not die alone. His supporters took to the streets. They paraded through the city and stoned public buildings, including Mapo Hall and the courts at Oke Are. By evening of that day, three people had been killed in various parts of Ibadan.

It was speculated that Adelabu was shot by his political opponents. An editor of a newspaper claimed that he saw Adelabu’s body riddled with bullet holes and that the car he was travelling in was deliberately crashed to make it look like an accident. 

This claim was however without basis. Unknown to many at the time, Adelabu’s corpse did not arrive Ibadan until late in the morning of March 26 because a postmortem was being conducted to determine the cause of his death. The autopsy was witnessed by Chief Joseph M. Johnson, one of Adelabu’s friends.  Johnson was the first and the only non-indigene to serve as the Chairman of Ibadan Council.

Adelabu died on Tuesday. He was buried on Wednesday. By Friday, all hell broke lose. Reports of murders and violence began to come in by Friday evening. One account put the number of death at sixteen. Another account sighted by Onigegewura recorded eighteen riot deaths. All the victims were said to be members or supporters of the Action Group. By March 30, more than 300 people had been arrested. Many of them were taken to Ilesha and Abeokuta prisons since Ibadan prison was already full.

It was also speculated that Younan had crashed the car deliberately in order to commit suicide as a result of his financial challenges. This was however denied by Albert Younan who insisted that there was no special cloth printed for the 1956 election and therefore no financial loss. He claimed that he went with Adelabu to Lagos for unrelated business.

The family of Adegoke Adelabu did not appear to be convinced. The family filed a civil suit against Younan and Sons Limited and the Royal Exchange Assurance Company. Their claim was for the sum of one hundred thousand pounds for negligence of the two drivers which led to the death of their breadwinner. The trial judge was My Lord Justice Samuel Quashie-Idun, a Ghanaian. His Lordship later served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

In his judgment, Justice Quashie-Idun held that no case had been made against the insurance company. His Lordship however found Younan and Sons liable. The firm was ordered to pay 6,030 pounds as damages to Adelabu’s children and 350 pounds as costs.

Younan and Sons appealed the judgment. Their appeal was successful. The Federal Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court on the ground that the plaintiffs who sued as Administrators of the estate of Adegoke Adelabu had no capacity to bring the suit. 

At the time, the Federal Supreme Court was not the final Court of appeal for Nigeria. The apex court was the Privy Council in Britain. Adelabu’s family appealed to the Privy Council. The appeal was pending when the parties agreed to settle out of court. The firm of Younan and Sons agreed to pay the family of the Lion of the West the sum of 3,000 pounds.

On the political front, a bye-election was conducted to fill the seat hitherto occupied by Adelabu. Adeoye Adisa, a young lawyer who had returned to Ibadan two years earlier from his law studies in Britain emerged the winner of the bye-election.

Adegoke  Adelabu died more than 59 years ago. He died at a tender age. He was 43. He was however able to cram into his short life what many who lived up to a century could only dream of achieving. At the time of his death, he was holding three critical posts. He was the Leader of the Opposition in the Western House of Assembly. He was the Chairman of the NCNC Western Working Committee. He was also the chairman of the powerful NCNC-Mabolaje Grand Alliance.  Almost six decades after his last breath, his footprints are still indelible on the political landscape.

In recognition of his achievements as a nationalist, politician, orator and mass mobilizer, the government of Oyo State in 2016 listed his Oke-Oluokun residence as one of the tourist sites in Oyo State.

I hope the next time you are in the city of Ibadan, you will find time to visit the Taj Mahal.

May the soul of Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu continue to rest in peace.

I thank you for your time.

Onigegewura©
History Does Not Forget.

The right of Olanrewaju Onigegewura© to be identified as the author of stories published on this blog has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright laws. I encourage my beloved readers to always identify Olanrewaju Onigegewura© the Amateur Historian, as the author of these stories when they ‘Forward As Received’.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Magnate versus The Musician - The Story of the Epic Battle Between King Sunny Ade and Chief Bolarinwa Abioro


KSA and Chief Yakubu Bolarinwa Abioro in London in 1971 before things fell apart

https://onigegewura.blogspot.com.ng/ 


By now you must have become familiar with Anti Wura, Buroda Alani’s third wife. If you are new to this blog, please read Ayinla Omowura story to know more about her. She was my ‘social media’ whilst growing up. She was the one who told me how Ayinla Omowura died. It was from her that I heard how Ayinde Bakare disappeared in strange circumstances. It was Anti Wura who told me about the battle between Yusuf Olatunji and Sanusi Aka.

But the story Anti Wura really enjoyed telling us was how King Sunny Ade was at a time in his career ‘banned’ from playing music.

What was however strange was that at every retelling, Anti Wura always managed to add one or two new facts. The first time she told me the story, she said KSA was banned for five years. A week later, Anti Wura was certain that it was 10 years. A month later, she swore with all the 301 gods in Ile-Ife that the court banned Sunny for 40 years. By 1984, my uncle’s wife was categorical that Sunny Ade was banned for life!

Today, Onigegewura brings to you the true story of the epic battle between King Sunny Ade and Chief Bolarinwa Abioro. Unlike Anti Wura, Onigegewura will tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

It was in 1974 that the news broke. Chief Bolarinwa Abioro, the Balogun of Ipokia, the Chairman of African Songs Limited, had taken his star musician to court! Everyone who knew KSA knew Abioro. Everyone who knew Abioro knew Sunday Adeniyi. Sunny was the son. Abioro was the father. What could have gone wrong between father and son?

KSA was the second artiste to be signed on to the stable of African Songs Limited. Ayinde Bakare was the first. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister was the third. Like most creative people, young Sunny Ade was more concern about his passion and less concern about the business aspect of music. His passion was to play music and to excel as a musician.

It was enough that Abioro – one of the biggest men in the music industry at the time – was ready to promote him. They brought documents for Sunny and his band boys to sign. They called it a contract. It could have been called any other name for all that KSA cared. Won ni ko wa je saara, o ni ojo ti wonu ju. Se ata ni won ni ko mu wa ni, abi iyo. You are invited to a free feast, you are complaining about the short notice, are they asking you to bring salt or pepper? Sunny Ade and his boys didn't hesitate. It is doubtful if any of them read what the contract said. The most important thing was that they were going to become recording artistes. Sunny signed. His band boys signed. Everybody was happy.
KSA, Abioro and other artistes of ASL

The contract was for 5 years. However before its expiration, KSA had become a household name. His album, Challenge Cup, sold in excess of 500,000 copies. It was certain that King Sunny Ade was going to dominate the music scene for a very long time to come. African Songs Ltd knew a good product when it saw one. The management of the company didn’t wait for the first contract to expire before they brought a new contract.

The new agreement was carefully worded. KSA and his band boys agreed to perform and record exclusively for ASL for a period of five years. ASL had full copyrights to all compositions and recordings of Sunny Ade. ASL was entitled to the sole right of production, reproduction,  and use of King Sunny Ade’s performance throughout the world.

That was not all. During the period of the agreement, KSA was prohibited from rendering any performance whatsoever to himself, any company or group of persons. The contract also stipulated that ASL had the option to renew the agreement at its expiration for a further term of  two years or for any longer period. Sunny Ade had no such right.

That was not all. On the sale of every album which price was then fixed at N6.00, KSA and his boys were entitled to a princely sum of 20 kobo. Yes, you read that right. African Songs would go home with the remaining N5. 80 kobo. Onigegewura's mathematics has never been good.  He is just an amateur historian. You can do the sum yourself.

Still basking in the euphoria of his growing fame, Sunny gratefully signed again. His band boys signed. 20 kobo was still something. Orogun iya re da sokoto fun o, o ni ko bale, melo ni iya to bi o da fun o? You are complaining that the trousers made for you by your step-mother was not long enough, where is the one your own mother made for you?

They were expecting their 20 kobo royalty on every album. Well, when the time came for actual payment, it was then discovered that mathematically and arithmetically, it was not supposed to be 20 kobo. They had not factored the cost of publicity and promotion! And since it was the artiste that was being promoted, he must be the one to bear the cost! After the addition and subtraction, Sunny was given 15 kobo per album.

KSA was not Chike Obi, the mathematician. But he knew that 20 kobo and 15 kobo were not the same thing. Compared with his contemporaries in the music industry, KSA realized that he was holding the short end of the stick. His colleague, Baba Commander, Chief Ebenezer Obey was earning as high as 70 kobo per album. Others were earning between 35 kobo and 60 kobo.
KSA, Queen Oladunni Decency and Baba Commander

That was when Sunny decided to ask Chief Abioro for a raise of the royalty payment. The chairman listened patiently to KSA and his colleagues. He was nodding as they canvassed one reason after another why a raise was in order. When they finished, Chief Abioro flipped open a file he had on his table. He brought out a bundle of documents. Even from where he was seated across the table, Sunny saw that it was a copy of the contract he signed. “An agreement is an agreement. It is a binding contract!” The chief informed them. “This is what you signed. This is what you are entitled to! No more, No less.” He returned the documents to the file. Case dismissed.

But Sunny was not done. “Chief, this is not about contract. You are our father. Our request is for adequate compensation! Let’s leave the contract aside.” Chief Abioro looked at the young star the way a parent looks at a child asking for another candy. “Leave the contract aside? We should leave the contract aside?” The chairman asked incredulously. “You know, it would be nice to leave the contract aside. But you know what? That would be illegal!”

Haba! Illegality ke! It was then that someone brought up the idea of requesting some of his friends to plead their case. Sunny agreed. After all, Eni ti o mo oju Ogun, ni pa obi ni 're. It is the person who is conversant with Ogun, the god of iron, that is usually given the duty to administer its rites. They went to meet Prince Okunade Sijuwade who would later become the Ooni of Ife. They also met with Chief Afolabi Joseph. Even Chief Ebenezer Obey was also requested to intervene as well as Chief Nurudeen Alowonle. (You will soon read about the epic battle between Nurudeen Alowonle and Haruna Ishola on this blog.)

The eminent persons appeared in the court of the Balogun of Ipokia as ‘amici curiae’ on behalf of the musicians. Amici curiae are lawyers invited by the judge(s) to assist in filling briefs that may be helpful to the court in deciding a case. Our eminent persons argued their case like experienced advocates. They cited relevant sections of the unwritten Yoruba constitution. They cited Yoruba proverbs. They made reference to the story of Oduduwa. The presiding chairman listened to their submissions and summarily dismissed the case. Contract is contract!

Chief did not only dismiss the request for a raise. He opened another file on his table and brought out a new set of documents. Your guess is right! A new five-year contract! By now, Sunny Ade had learnt enough law. He had become a professional mathematician. He had obtained his Master of Business Administration from practical experience. He knew the implication of putting pen to paper. He applied for an adjournment.

The King of African Beats found himself in a quandary. His new songs were ready but Chief had threatened not to release any new album until he signed the new contract. And KSA was not ready to sign any new contract until the issue of royalty was resolved.

KSA remembered his grandmother’s proverb. Ti abiku ba gbon ogbon ati ku ni igba erun, iya abiku a gbon ogbon ati sin oku e si etido. If an abiku decided to die during the dry season when he knew that the ground would be hard to dig, his parents would also decide to bury him by the riverside where the ground would not be hard to dig.

Sunny Ade decided to release his record with another company. His plan was to use the album to bargain for a better deal with African Songs. Instead of the measly 20 kobo, he was confident that the chairman would be ready to pay him at least N1.00 per copy. The album was recorded in Nigeria but taken to London for mixing. What Sunny Ade did not know was that Chief Abioro was a master at the game. Before Sunny could get a copy of his own album, Chief Abioro was already in possession of the new record.

Baba Ibeji was composing fresh materials at home when the court bailiffs arrived. They served him with an order of interim injunction! The court order was as comprehensive as it was broad. Sunny Ade was prohibited from sale, distribution, marketing, dealing, etc. etc. of the record. He read the order again. Even without being a lawyer, he knew the implication of the document he was holding. 

With palpable emotion, his mind went back to how he came to Lagos from Abeokuta with only one shilling and eighteen pence! He remembered his years with Baba Sala. He recalled how he got stranded with Baba Sala’s travelling theatre in Jebba and Kano. How he did not see his mother for two years whilst he suffered to make it as a musician. He recalled how his first album sold only 13 copies. Now when he was at the threshold of success, this court order! With grim determination, he knew he couldn’t afford to quit.
KSA and his mentor, Baba Moses Olaiya

He remembered his first day at Oshodi when he missed his way trying to locate Moses Olaiya’s house and how he was directed instead to Dr. Victor Olaiya at Tinubu. He recalled how he knelt down in the dust of Oshodi to pray. Immediately he knew what he must do. Sunny went down on his knees and with an emotional voice, he prayed and prayed.

It was not the Sunday Adeniyi that knelt down to pray that stood up. He had become empowered. He had become emboldened. That same evening, he established his own label.

Sunny Alade Records was born!

He didn’t bother to sit down again. He remembered the threat of Chief Abioro to bring him down at all cost. He needed a lawyer who knew his law and who would be prepared to fight his cause against the Magnate. He went off in search of Gani Fawehinmi.

Gani collected the court papers and looked at the claims. He looked at his client. He looked again at the claims. Chief Abioro was not leaving anything to chance. He knew what he wanted from the court. His lawyer had read the agreement between African Songs Limited and Sunday Adeniyi.

Chief Abioro wanted only four things from the court: a declaration that the agreement between ASL and Sunday Adeniyi and his boys was still subsisting; an injunction restraining Sunny Ade from distributing or selling the record; an account of all sales of the record; and N1 million for breach of contract.

I hope you are not sneering at the N1 million as being ‘chicken change’. Remember this was in 1974. The price of a brand new Volkswagen Beetle car was about N500 at that time. N1 million in 1974 was a princely sum!

On the day of the trial, the court was filled to capacity. Gani Fawehinmi was armed with every conceivable legal authority. The law books he brought to the court were more than enough to open a library. There were books on Contract. There were books on Human Rights. There were volumes on Intellectual Property. Gani even brought some books on Slave Trade.

The first application Gani brought before the court was for an order to compel African Songs to produce its statement of account over the preceding three years. The court granted the order. It was discovered that the company was making almost N900,000 every year from the sale of Sunny Ade Records. It was also discovered that the total sum that KSA received was N62,000 in the almost ten years he was with the company. How can you be asking me what is 900,000 divided by 62,000? I have told you that I’m not a mathematician. Please don’t ask me about percentages or fractions.
KSA playing for Chief Idowu Shofola, SAN at Ikenne

Gani did not forget to raise the issue of how 20kobo became 15 kobo. He also cross-examined Chief Abioro at length on the onerous terms contained in the contract. Gani put it to the chief that the contract was in restraint of trade and that it was therefore null and void as it amounted to colonization of  King Sunny Ade, a free citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a citizen of the Commonwealth!

My Lord Justice L. J. Dosunmu listened patiently to the parties. His Lordship also asked the witnesses some probing cases.  The court thereafter adjourned the matter to February 14, 1975 for judgment.  It did not even occur to the King of African Beats that the day was St. Valentine’s Day. His only preoccupation was to find out the direction in which the pendulum of justice was going to swing.
The Prince of Music

On February 14, people started arriving at the court as early as 7am. The court officials had hectic time controlling the mammoth crowd that had come to court to witness the historic decision.  

In His Lordship’s judgment, Justice Dosunmu held that although some of the terms of the contract were stringent, that was not a ground for holding the contract invalid. In effect, the contract between ASL and KSA was therefore valid. As the court pronounced on the validity of the contract, Sunny looked at his lawyer. Gani signaled to him to be calm, the court had only resolved one issue out of four.

With regard to the second claim, the court held that since the records in question had been distributed all over Nigeria, there was no way the court could order them to be recalled. The court therefore refused to restrain Sunny Ade and his marketer, M. Ola Kazim from distributing the album. A tiny smile crossed Sunny’s face.

The King of Music
You recall that Chief Abioro was asking for N1,000,000 as damages for breach of contract. The court ruled that for recording with another company during the subsistence of the contract, Sunny Ade was liable. He was asked to pay N300! Yes, Three Hundred Naira! From N1,000,000 to N300! Sunny smiled for the first time.

The court having found that the contract was still subsisting, KSA was ordered not to release another album pending the expiration of the contract with Chief Abioro’s company, which was due in six months. Six months! What am I going to be eating? Sunny thought. Apparently, this was the only part of the judgment that Anti Wura, Buroda Alani's third wife must have heard, and heard wrongly too!

As if reading Sunny Ade’s mind, Justice Dosunmu said he realized that Sunny Ade would need to eat and feed his family in the six months that the contract had to run. His Lordship therefore held that the injunction was limited to only recording of albums and that Sunny Ade was free to do live performances for fees. His Lordship said that this was  in order to avoid a situation where the King of Music would starve or be compelled to go back to Chief Abioro.

The Judge had hardly risen before King Sunny Ade jumped up to hug his counsel. He was free! He gave Gani a bear hug. He had learnt his lesson. Creativity and Business must go hand in hand. Years later, the King of Music recalled: “The lesson I learnt from the episode is that if an artiste is churning out hit records, he needs to keep an eye on the business side of things. If not, he would be in a mess.”

I thank you for your time.

Onigegewura©
Historian Is Not a Judge, History Is.


Image credits: King Sunny Ade and Chief Idowu Shofola, SAN

The right of Olanrewaju Onigegewura© to be identified as the author of stories published on this blog has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright laws. I encourage my beloved readers to always identify Olanrewaju Onigegewura© the Amateur Historian, as the author of these stories when they ‘Forward As Received’.

A Bouquet For You!



Dear Members of the Onigegewura Family,        

I am very happy to inform you that we have received a very thoughtful gift on your behalf. Yes, it is your gift. Your own gift!

In the spirit of our New Nigeria Project, Regal Flowers, Nigeria’s top online flower shop, is offering a complimentary flower bouquet worth N35,000 (Thirty-five Thousand Naira) to one of our readers!

You are saying “Whaoh!” That’s exactly how I exclaimed when I was informed. On your behalf, we hereby express our heartfelt appreciation to Regal Flowers for this gift.

So what do you have to do to claim this gift? It is very simple. Our next historical story will be published on Friday, August 18, 2017. Onigegewura will pick the winner from the list of readers who comment on the story. The winner will be announced next week. Regal Flowers will deliver the bouquet on the winner’s behalf to any person of their choice in Lagos.

As you are aware, Regal Flowers  ( www.Regalflowers.com.ng ) is  Nigeria's top online flower shop, based in Ikoyi, Lagos. They deliver fresh flowers and gifts across Lagos, Nigeria. You can view their products and order online: www.Regalflowers.com.ng/delivery-information/  or by phone, 07011992888, 07010006665. When you make your order, please inform them that you are a member of Onigegewura Family. Special treatments await you!

Onigegewura is your Project. It is our Project. We will continue to encourage industry, creativity, entrepreneurship, merit and patriotism.

I am certain that we can change the Nigerian narrative for better, with each of us doing the little we can.

Let’s do it.

Have a great day at work!

Onigegewura
  

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

How we fought apartheid in Nigeria – Alfred Rewane


On my way to Federal High Court, Lagos recently, my route passed through Awolowo Road. One of the historic structures on the street is Military Hospital. It is to your right if you are coming from Onikan driving towards Falomo. I saw Nigerians trooping in and out of the hospital. And I remember that if not for the struggles of some Nigerian youths, the hospital could have remained a forbidden territory to Nigerians, at least until independence.

When we talk of apartheid today, it is common to discuss the practice of racial discrimination with reference to only South Africa. This is not entirely accurate. There was a time in this country of ours when Nigerians were prohibited from accessing certain public facilities.

Yes, you read that right. Some hospitals funded by the government were reserved for only Europeans. Some clubs did not admit Nigerian members. Some hotels were not open to people who were not white in colour. Onigegewura had already told you that Pa Tony Enahoro was the first Nigerian to be admitted as a member of the Ikoyi Club.

How was this practice stopped? Who were the young Nigerians who spearheaded the struggle?

Today, Onigegewura brings you the first hand historic account of how the practice was forced to stop. The following account is in Pa Alfred Rewane’s words. And by a very strange historical coincidence, the road named after Pa Alfred Rewane is not far from the Military Hospital.

History Does Not Forget

-Onigegewura

APARTHEID AT BRISTOL HOTEL, LAGOS

In 1948, Mr. Ivor Cummings, a distinguished African-Caribbean national and a top official of the Colonial Office in London was scheduled to pay an official visit to Nigeria.  Naturally, his first port of call was Lagos, then our capital. Accommodation was reserved for him at the Bristol Hotel, Martin Street, Lagos, then owned and managed by expatriates.

Apparently, the hotel authorities thought, from the name Cummings, that he was a white Anglo-Saxon. But they were shocked when he presented himself at the reception to find that he was black. He was refused a room at the hotel on that ground.

One witness to the incident was a Warri-based Sierra Leonean legal luminary called T. E. Nelson-Williams. He deeply resented the action of the hotel management but was helpless in the circumstances.

It was a hot and humid afternoon and Nelson-Williams left for the Grand Hotel (now defunct), on Broad Street by Odunlami Street, Lagos, to rendezvous with friends for an afternoon drink. There, he met Frank Olugbake, the trade unionist, and others and narrated to them the Bristol Hotel incident.

They later trooped to the Island Club where they met me and my friends, also having a drink and cooling off in the gentle breeze from the lagoon. The Onikan Stadium was not walled round then. Nelson-Williams told us what had happened, and we were dumb-founded, angry, outraged, furious and bitter.

One of my friends at the Island Club was Oladipo Odunsi, a distinguished and enterprising Lagos lawyer. He stood up and exclaimed, “Our Nigeria of 1948, we cannot have this, let’s go and die.” I jumped up and shouted: “Die? No! Let’s go and teach them a harsh lesson.”
Pa Alfred Rewane


The atmosphere of the club was now charged, and under Odunsi’s leadership, the late Milton Macaulay, the late Akiniran Olunloyo, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin, the late Garnet Williams and others and I marched through the Onikan Stadium, to the Marina.

Our elder friends, the late JK Randle and the late Bolaji Finnih, wanted to join us but we asked them to go and get hold of two lawyers, the late Oladipo Moore and the late Alaba Akerele, and our other colleagues to go to Tinubu Police Station (now defunct) on Customs Street, which is now part of the land on which the Central Bank of Nigeria headquarters is located (then), to wait for us because we were sure that we would be arrested and brought there if we carried out our plan “to die or teach them a lesson.”

At the Onikan Stadium point on Marina, we assembled all sorts of people known compendiously as Boma Boys, who collected their clubs and sticks and horse whips (koboko) and followed us without hesitation, although they did not know our plan or where we were headed to.


We then launched an assault on Bristol Hotel. By the time we finished, the reception, bar and restaurant were sacked and the white men in the hotel premises and its vicinity had a sorry tale to tell. The whole place was wrecked and left in a shambles.

Meanwhile, some police officers arrived on the scene but, surprisingly, did not arrest any of us. The job completed, we trooped back to the Island Club, to a rousing reception and warm congratulatory embrace from members.

But the then chairman of the club, late Mr. Omololu, was deeply concerned about our action, realizing that the then British Governor of Nigeria, Sir Arthur Richards, was himself the grand patron of the club. Mr. Omololu was sure that sooner or later we would be rounded up. We had only a pyrrhic victory and the inaction on the part of the colonial government was no more than the calm before the storm. However, we waited all day but there were no arrests.

Meanwhile, Mr. Omololu contacted our patron, the late Sir Adeyemo Alakija, to intervene with the authorities to preempt our arrest. Subsequently, Sir Adeyemo made an appointment to meet with Sir Arthur in his capacity as grand patron of our club and it was suggested that we who led and participated in the sacking of Bristol Hotel should accompany him. We reluctantly agreed.

A day or so before we were to meet with Sir Arthur, the Governor made a statement to the nation in which he referred publicly for the first time to the Bristol Hotel incident. His Excellency declared that some seventy years previously, there might have been justification for whites and blacks to live apart, for the reason, if none other, that there were some diseases to which whites were immune but which killed blacks, and vice versa.

But for well over seventy years there had existed a medical department in Nigeria maintained at public expenses to find a solution to the problem and if no solution was found, then there was left only one of two choices, that is either to continue to live apart and abolish the medical department or to live together and continue to maintain the department.

Sir Arthur then declared: “I have chosen the latter. With effect from today, there will be no more European hospital, club or reservation in Nigeria.”

Thus, racial discrimination or apartheid was abolished in Nigeria. The European hospital in Lagos (now Military Hospital) and European Club at Ikoyi were renamed Creek Hospital and Ikoyi Club respectively. The European hospital at Warri serving the then Central Provinces of Ondo, Benin and Warri, was changed to Maple Annex. The European hospital at Ibadan was changed to Jericho Nursing Home. Areas otherwise known as European Reservation were renamed Government Reserve Area (GRA). And so on throughout the country. There was general jubilation throughout the country.


Led by Sir Adeyemo and Mr. Omololu, we later went to meet with Sir Arthur at Government House, Marina. Naturally, we expected a hostile reception, but we were widely mistaken. Sir Arthur, undoubtedly tempered by age and maturity and experience, welcomed us warmly, smiled broadly and, turning to Sir Adeyemo, said jokingly something in words like these:

Sir Adeyemo, I did not make my statement because of your young rascals, who took the law into their hands, but deliberately to preempt an imminent danger. This is the first time that violence has been introduced into the public life of Nigeria, and once it started, it may never recede. I have seen it happen in many countries where I served, in India, Burma and the Caribbean. My statement, therefore, was to prevent violence spreading.”

Apparently, Sir Adeyemo expected us to apologise to Sir Arthur but we never did. The Governor then turned to Sir Adeyemo and asked: “Will you and your friends like to have a drink with me?” Sir Adeyemo thanked the Governor for the invitation but expressed regret that we had no time and had to go.

On our way back to the Island Club, travelling in two cars, all of us somehow began to develop a guilty conscience about what we did at the Bristol Hotel. This was because Sir Arthur, who had the security agencies and the full force of British imperial might behind him, chose to completely disarm us with his charm and unprecedented diplomacy.

At the club, Odunsi was the first to speak. He addressed me and asked me how we could be sure that, in fact, all the white men we attacked at Bristol Hotel supported racial discrimination and the treatment meted to Ivor Cummings? Was it not possible that many of our victims would have disapproved of the treatment? How could we be sure that many of them were not innocent persons who did not even know what happened to Ivor?

We felt thoroughly ashamed that in prosecuting a worthy cause, we might inadvertently have wronged innocent people. We were all convinced that if a similar act of discrimination was re-enacted, we would never yield to violent reaction as we did at Bristol Hotel.

Sir Arthur had taught us, as youths, an enduring lesson – to be responsible and give peace and reason a chance.


I hope next time you are on Alfred Rewane Road and Awolowo Road in Ikoyi, you will remember this story and its inherent lessons.

May the soul of Pa Alfred Rewane continue to rest in peace.

Onigegewura©

 Image Credits: NNP and PM News.