A former inner caucus member of Tungba music originator, Yinka Aiyefele’s band, Akinlabi Seye Tolulope, hosted the Editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT last week in his Ibadan base where he now runs a Christian praise ministry. Popularly known as Osan, Seye took the opportunity of the brief meeting to share his journey into drumming and the eventual ‘arrest’ by God, including his days with the Aiyefele band which he maintains are memorable. Excerpt…
Please, share your connection with the drum.
My name is Akinlabi Tolulope Seye. I’m called Osan. I was born in Ibadan to the family of Prophet & Prophetess J.A Akinlabi. I inherited drumming from my maternal side. I developed the talent by going to school in Nigeria and abroad to become a professional. I became verse in talking drumming and music production.
What was your childhood dream?
I intended to become an engineer because my father is an electrical engineer before he was called to serve God. I had the belief that entertainment was my calling and I joined the entertainment at the early stage of my life.
Many believe that there is a spiritual tie to drumming, is that correct?
Music is a spirit; when you are playing it, you move to another realm. That is talking drum for you. Yes, there is a spiritual tie to it. The origin of drumming, Ayangalu itself is a deity. In those days, people worshipped Ayangalu; even these days, the Ayangalu day is celebrated in most Yoruba towns.
When did you join the Aiyefele team?
I did not join Aiyefele mid-way, we started the band together. Before I raised the Aiyefele band, I had played with different music bands.
Since you started together, can you share his style and character?
We started together in 1997. I left in 2014 (laughs). I have to be honest; I enjoyed working with a man like Aiyefele. My ‘oga’ is a hardworking man, a very intelligent man and deep thinker. And Aiyefele is very smart! He doesn’t take chances, and he is generous to a fault. He is also a teacher of men.
Did he enjoy pulling a surprise on you guys?
Yinka is unpredictable. He doesn’t pull surprises, he does things as his spirit directs him. And you can’t blackmail him into doing things, but he is a cheerful giver.
How did he pay his band members for performance; was it monthly or per show?
When I was with the band, we were paid per show. He paid us according to what we got from each show. He didn’t pay per month but he would not cheat us.
Describe his reaction when he realized that you were going to leave him.
Laughter… Well, he did not expect I was going to leave the band when I left. And that is because we were very close. You won’t believe that he called me ‘my son’. That is to show you how close we were. Yes we did have our differences; which is human anyway; but we loved each other so much. So, he was shocked when I had to leave. But I had to leave because I needed to listen to the voice of my creator. Who am I to disobey His authority?
What is happening to your professional career now that you run a gospel ministry?
Serving God does not disturb my professional job as a music producer. I only need to have much time for God than worldly things.
Were you among the band boys that abandoned Aiyefele during a work tour to America?
No, I didn’t follow the band to America. Truly, I was in America at the time of that incident but I went there on my own to buy stuffs for my company. Even when I was with the band, I never followed the band abroad for shows.
What is your current relationship with Aiyefele?
Yinka Aiyefele remains my boss for life. Forget the fact that we started the band together, I went through his tutelage and he did teach me in many ways how to be a man. You can never regret working with Aiyefele. I would still be ready to have working relationship with him anytime.
What is your advice for Nigerian political leaders?
The political leaders in Nigeria should serve with fear of God and passion for humanity. Galatian 6 .7 says ‘we cannot mock God, whatsoever we sow, we shall reap’. Let’s leave it at that.
When is Aiyefele’s dull moment?
His only dull moment is when he is sick. And you won’t even know if you are not very close to him.