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The war of Davido and Wizkid

By Festus Adedayo

On X last week, I lent my voice to an obvious turf war between two great Yoruba songsters, Davido and Wizkid. It was a typical Atatalo assuming his sole ownership of the spatial control of the Ibadan musical space while the Agboluajes, Epo Akaras deconstructed his peremptory self-awarded ownership.

The two great exports to the world of music had taken to their handles to trade mutual tackles. Their spat reminded me of Alamu Atatalo, again. In one of his eponymous songs with which he self-delineated the boundaries of stardom, Tatalo handed the Ibadan musical scene to himself alone. Thereafter, his musical rivals showed him that life was a war. Tatalo was suddenly incriminated in a murder rap which remarkably shot his musical star downhill. He was said to have fought off a murder frame-up for over a decade and fought stridently to clear his name. In the process, Atatalo lost a chunk of his name and properties. By the 1970s when he bounced back, other musicians like Amuda Oojere, Ayanyemi Atokowagbowonle and Agboluaje had leapt into prominence.

In Kaluku l’Olohun gb’aye re fun, (God has endowed everyone with their turfs) while matter-of-factly proclaiming that he alone was king of all musicians in Ibadanland, Tatalo appropriated Egbaland musical stardom to Sakara music lord, Yusuff Olatunji while apportioning Ijebu-Igbo, both towns in today’s Ogun State, to Haruna Ishola, an Apala prodigy. He sang this in Yoruba thus: “Kaluku l’Olohun gb’aye re fun ko mon niro ninu… Atatalo lo n’Ibadan, Yusuffu l’o ni’lu Egba, Ijebu Igbo t’Aruna ni o…” Atatalo died on March 8, 1985 during an illness.

When Wizkid reportedly attacked Davido for his lack of originality simply because he engages songwriters, I begged to defer. Davido’s musical greatness is not in any way muted by his usage of songwriters. Apart from the fact that the greatest musicians in the world make use of songwriters, I cited Ayinla Omowura, unarguably the most original Yoruba musician of post-colonial Nigeria, who not only made use of songwriters he called composers, but publicly serenaded them as Ojogbon – professors. In one of his songs acknowledging their compositional ingenuity, Omowura sang that “I, Anigilaje, no matter how long I sing, I always remember the professors who couch the songs for us: Alabi Adeeyo (alias Atenisemesi) and Razaki Tuntun. I enjoy you for the uplifting musical lyrics you curate. So also is Bahiru Igbore who is one of them. Brilliance and depth are what you deploy to carve out the songs which Omowura sings that get him global acclaim.” In my biography of Ayinla, I submitted that he also used songwriters like Bolodeoku Joda and even Ayinla Agbejapa Oba, his spiritual advisor who was once a musician in Ghana. While songs flavored with incantations must have come from Atenisemesi, the ones that had to do with culture were the exclusive preserve of Bolodeoku.

In spats with each other, Wizkid and Davido act true to type of their predecessors. Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey; Haruna Ishola and Kasumu Adio; Bob Marley and Peter Tosh; Yusuff Olatunji and S. Aka Baba Wahidi. Both should however realize that their contributions to the course of mankind are the most enduring legacy. Not their fights.

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