He is a superstar worth his weight in gold. King Wasiu Ayinde, KI the ultimate is the undisputed voice of Fuji. Since 1984 when he released the monstrous hit Tala ’84, he has continued to release mega hits that made him the darling of millions of fans.
But he has been in the news lately different from the music he is known for. Last year, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi honoured him with the prestigious title of Maiyegun of Yorubaland. The first person to be so honoured.
Surprisingly, that honour brought some snide remarks from some quarters. The most vicious being the accusation that he was romantically linked with one of the Oloris of the King.
In this interview with MAYOR AKINPELU, KI discussed his reactions to this rumour and reasons for the ill-feelings towards the title. Excerpts…
Your title as Maiyegun of Yorubaland has attracted a lot of jealous talks, what’s your reaction to that?
For many reasons, it is understandable for my title of Maiyegun of Yorubaland to have attracted jealousy and controversy. The reason being that such a title has never been conferred on anyone as far as Yorubaland is concerned. That is why it is tagged first Maiyegun of Yorubaland. When you are talking about leadership hierarchy in Yorubaland, the Alaafin of Oyo is very significant and his influence is very strong. The office of Alaafin is regarded as paramount in Yoruba communities. The Yoruba edict gives credence to the Alaafin leadership as the only one saddled with the responsibility of bestowing such honour on any personality. Any other person doing that is not doing the right thing. Having said that, a lot of people were surprised that such a treasured title was given to a man least expected, Wasiu. The beauty of this, however, is that Wasiu had been on the line for 11 years before the title was bestowed on him. It was supposed to happen in 2009 but was postponed to have the coronation at a later date. In between, I fell sick and went for operation. After the operation, I sought enough time to recuperate. It got to a point that political activities got in the way. That’s why it got this long before it happened. Alaafin later called to say that this honour has been given to you, not to any other person. He said I must make myself available to take it. So, it is normal to see such a situation attracting controversy.
If Alaafin can give you such a huge title, how did you react when some people tried to create controversy between you and the household of Alaafin?
Firstly, it is terrible for anyone to attempt to rubbish such a high office as the Alaafin. Yoruba has a saying that ‘eniti ko mo oba ni o n fi oba sere’ (it is a neophyte that challenges the powers of a king). Many don’t really know the weight of the office of Alaafin. Many are equating the office of Alaafin with other obas’, perhaps, because communities these days parade different kinds of obas due to coronets created for self-governance. Alaafin is not just an oba, according to history. So, for anybody to want to create that kind of controversy sounds so disrespectful and ungodly. What would have caused it that someone like me would have anything to do with such thing? I wouldn’t even do it to any other person let alone to such a highly referred Alaafin who just honoured me. Of all the women in the world, I would now say it is Alaafin’s woman that catches my fancy. It is so wrong to ever come up with such an allegation in the first place. Those behind the ugly rumour, perhaps, don’t know what is called karma. What you do unto others will be done to you. They might think they have had their way by spreading such rumour but the aftermath is waiting for them. They have invited a curse on themselves already.
During that controversy, did you get in touch with Alaafin?
Yes, I did. I and baba (Alaafin) always talked and we laughed over it. Alaafin knows such a thing can never happen from me. While I was to become the Maiyegun, I swore allegiance to carry the banner of the honour of Yoruba race all my life. Such an honour is not just given by words of mouth; there are rites that one needs to perform. I was in seclusion for 45 days where all the rites were administered on me. So, someone like me can never wage war against the Alaafin. It is part of the oath. I cannot chart a path other than that of the Alaafin. One must do everything in unison with the Alaafin day in day out. Such a thing can never happen and will never happen.
As Maiyegun of Yorubaland, what are the plans you have based on the office?
As Maiyegun, I have to play the role of a peacemaker for the Yoruba race. It involves a lot of planning.
Apart from music, you are into several other businesses. The latest one is ranching. How did you develop interest in ranching and what other businesses are you involved with?
I’m into several businesses like you have said. As a musician, as you’re growing older, you realize that the crowd behind you is getting bigger. So, you must have something to fall back on in case you need to have a rest. That is why I started few years back some good businesses. I have a lot of responsibilities which I believe there should be a way to deal with them. My businesses create employments, run themselves and also create dividends for me. I do bakery and dredging. The ranching has been my dream for about four years. I had a place where I kept different kinds of animals. What propelled me to go fully into ranching is to create a circus. Many people see cow and certain type of animals as creations you cannot get close to. They probably don’t know that the same way you live with dog in the house you can also live with a cow and it will relate with you and obey you. That is what has crossed my mind over the years and I decided to put it into practice.
Recently, you also planned to do real estate in Ijebu-Ode. Why the interest in real estate?
I have been in real estate for a long time. I have been doing it behind the scene. It is coming out because I shifted my focus to Ijebu. We have seen how big investors were doing it. We are enjoying the benefit of being closer to Lagos because Lagos State is getting filled up every day. Abroad, people drive for two or two and half hours to work. Ijebu-Ode to Lagos through Epe is 45 minutes’ drive. From Ijebu-Ode to Lagos through the expressway is also 45 minutes. Ijebu Ode to Abeokuta to Ota is about one hour drive. Ijebu-Ode to Ibadan is 30 minutes’ drive. Nothing stops anybody working in Ibadan from having a good home in Ijebu-Ode. Instead of wasting money to build a house in Lagos or Ibadan, you can have your family in your home in Ijebu-Ode and keep going to work and retire home in 30 minutes. If there is no major problem on the expressway, someone who works in Lekki will get to his home in Ijebu-Ode before the one who lives at Egbeda in Lagos. So, it is something like that I wanted to create. I wanted to create a better home. Instead of staying back in Lagos and move to Ijebu when I get to retirement age, I decided to go to Ijebu now. That is what I’m doing now.
Let’s get to your music. The last single you released has gone viral. Was it recorded at home because we learnt you did it during the lockdown?
As a matter of fact, it is a full album. With the album, I tried to create a new direction. And it worked. It is a compilation of my past works. I only added that particular new track into it. That track was a feel from the mind. You can’t tell which of your songs would make a hit. Glory be to God, it turned out a success. You hardly can find an artiste of my age lucky to make such a hit. The album was done in my home in Ijebu-Ode. I can make my music from anywhere. I can do it elsewhere. The equipment used for recording these days are mobile that can be taken anywhere to record. You can even record in your car. I did most of the recordings when I was lodged at Oriental Hotel, Lekki, Lagos. I did some when I was at Raddison Hotel in Ikeja and I did a particular one when I was at my home in Ijebu-Ode.
Music is a big business in Nigeria now. What’s your impression about that?
It’s a good development. Every home wants to hear music now and every family wants to produce a music superstar. That means we have something to engage our young ones and take them off the streets. It means we have something to make them a success. We have something to encourage them. That is the stage we are now. That is how it worked for them in America before it turned to what they have now. There, you will find one-album artiste who makes so much money on that one album and it’s enough to sustain him. Our young people are now fully engaged with something that keeps them away from danger and vices. We have a lot of them doing very well.
Let’s talk about your relationship with late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. Recently, there was a meeting at Chief Ebenezer Obey’s house between you and members of Barrister’s family. What was the background that led to that meeting?
Barrister raised me. Barrister trained me and did very well. Unfortunately, to some extent, some people still feel since he’s not Barrister’s biological child, let’s identify with only Barrister’s biological children. But the fact is that Barrister raised and trained me. I have my biological parents. But Barrister raised me and I gained useful lessons from him. That is why I’m able to follow his footsteps and do things the way he would want them done. He had high hopes in me and believed so much in me. I believed in him too and dedicated all my life to him and doing his biddings. We were so close. Even now that he is no more, I remain the closest person to him. Barrister taught me the rudiments of entertainment and music that keep me going strong till date. But along the line, secret agents came in and created division in the Barrister family. They did it for no reason other than to prove a point. Fortunately, I remain loyal to Barrister even in death. That is now history. Barrister’s family is back as one. Before he passed, he recognized and introduced me to his family as ‘olori ebi’ (family head). That is how he had always addressed me. He would tell the younger ones and say ‘go and meet your second father’. He trusted me and I lived up to it before he died even up till now. We give glory to God. Nothing changes still. We are back on track and things are moving at the normal pace.
A superstar like you naturally gets attracted to women. You have a lot of women in your life. But your wife seems to be special to you. Two years ago, you took her to the registry. What makes her different from other women that have kids for you?
She is different because she believes in me. She trusts me. She is unconcerned about any other thing than the love we share. She respects my family, including my children from other women. She is bothered about my wellbeing and always wants to see that I’m fine. And she doesn’t lend her ears to side talks. That is why our relationship has been smooth. There is no reason for us to disagree on anything that is not about what keeps the family together. Such a woman would naturally command respect and last long in the home.
As a Muslim you are entitled to marry four wives. Why did you decide to take her to registry?
Quran does not force a man to marry four wives; it only says you should marry according to your capability. It says if you are capable of caring for two women and you would be fair between them, marry two women. If it’s three you can have and do justice among them, marry three. The truth is that it is not easy for one man to be fair among four wives. So, if it is only one you can marry and manage very well, marry only one. If you marry four women and three of them are not being attended, then you are not following the path that asks of you to be fair among them. I am fine with her. The reason I took her to the registry was to reassure her that I am still very faithful to our relationship. I told her I would love her without condition. I told her I would treat her the same way I treat myself. She’s happy and I’m happy. I have not had issues of women for many years, I have been enjoying peace of the mind and it is because I have a perfect woman as wife. I have had my fair share of women issues. That is why I kept changing relationships then. Now, the peace is permanent by God’s grace.
You enjoy cooking. When did your love for cooking start?
I have been cooking since I was a teenager. Cooking is the easiest thing for me to do. Anytime my mother went to work, I would be at home with my younger ones and cared for them. I would rather go to the market and buy stuff to cook than buying cooked food on the street. Most of the times, I would ask my wife to sit and I would cook for everyone and they would enjoy it. Also, because of my kind of job, whenever I go for show and come back home late, she is already sleeping. I would feel she is tired and has to go to her business the next morning. So, I don’t see a reason I should wake her up at 2am to prepare me food. I love my food fresh. I don’t eat stale food that must have been preserved for two or three hours. So, for those reasons, I prepare my food. And this is one of the factors that save a marriage. Anytime I feel like having something, I just go to the kitchen. I would tell her I’m going into the kitchen to make something for myself. And she joins me when she feels like. When I am done, I would take it to her to have a taste. That is how we live our lives. If food does not cause problem between man and wife, it saves 65% of troubles in the marriage.
Since you waxed Tala ’84 album, you’ve been consistent. Only very few artistes in Nigeria have that kind of grace to remain relevant for so long. What’s the secret?
The secret is that, I have no other thing I’m doing. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well. My dream was to be like Barrister, Obey, KSA and Fela. Those are the ones I was looking ahead to be like. If you want to be like those ones, then you must be able to do it the way they did it. I see Barrister as the headship of the genre of music that I choose. I saw King Sunny Ade doing very well as a musician in my country, Nigeria. He took his music to every part of the world; I wanted to be like him. I saw Chief Ebenezer Obey too in that light; I want to be like him. I saw Fela too with white people in and out of the country. I wanted to be like him. They are people that propelled me to hold tightly to my dream to be a leader.
When you’re not playing music, what are things you enjoy doing?
Because I dedicate most of my time to playing music, I take a rest when I’m not on the stage singing. After that, I use my spare time to check on my businesses to make sure that things are being done rightly. But I do rest most of the time.
You are much involved with politics. When did your interest for politics start?
My love for politics started since I was young. I once worked at many forums. I once worked in the office of Chief Ebenezer Babatope. I used to be his office boy when he was the director of organization for the UPN. I have always been progressive-minded. Things keep changing until the present. Politics is part of me. To be a politician, I must learn to live among two, three or four people and make sure I have total control of their mind. That is politics. But I’m not interested in playing active politics. I have never sought for elective office. I use my involvement to bridge the gap between government and the people. And it’s working. I tell the leadership what they need to do to appease the masses and win the attention of people they are leading. And they listen. That is the only reason I’m in politics not to seek office.
Probably, musicians don’t retire. But what do you want to be remembered for?
I’m still kicking. What I want to always be remembered for is my contributions to the growth of the music industry, playing good music. I want to be remembered for using my knowledge of music to educate people. People listen to my music and reason with me.
It is not usual for artistes to recollect most of their old tracks. You seem to have the talent to remember songs you have done a long time ago…
The secret is, one does not say because yesterday is gone, it is only today that is important. One should always go back to yesterday to compare it with what he has today in order for you to have a better tomorrow. If you are doing that, you will be soaring and people would accept you.
Out of all your songs, which ones would you look back and say they mean so much to you than the others?
All my songs mean so much to me. When I started, we were judged via competitions on so many areas. If it was on current affairs, your song must score a high mark on current affairs to be accepted into the hall of fame that you are current with happenings around. If it was about social justice, you must be able to talk well about the society growth and entertainment. Things like that we were judged upon when I started. You must be trained to talk about what is happening in all aspects of human affairs. You must be able to inform and enlighten people about things they might not have the opportunity to know are going on. So, it’s been part of me. It has been part of what built me to where I am today.
What would you say to your fans worldwide?
I want to say thank you to them. Without them, I won’t be where I am today. I appreciate their loyalty and acceptance of me. There are even people that are not among my registered fans but are die-hard supporters of my music. They all make me who I am. I appreciate them all.