Musicians as historians, By Folorunso Fatai Adisa

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A good musician may double as a good historian. Like Ayinla’s “National Census” 1973 and the 1974 Challenge Cup Final (now known as the FA cup) between Mighty Jets and Enugu Rangers remain a masterclass and documentation of history, I first learned about the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970, from one of Haruna Ishola’s numerous tracks.

Interestingly, two names out of those soldiers whose names were mentioned in that track caught my interest the most. The names? They are Hassan Usman Katsina and Major Malumfashi. I think I like the rhythmic pattern that constitutes the names alongside the cadential style with which Haruna Ishola rendered it…

As a matter of fact, on that cold night when I was on a bus from Zaria to Katsina for my NYSC camp activities, immediately the driver noted he was going to pass through Malumfashi, the aforesaid track was on replay in my memory. And the names of those places, in the North, I had read on the pages of books on civil war flashed through my memory.

It was after so many years, in secondary school, that I got the gist of that song- that it briefly lauds the 3rd Marine Commandos, the principal actors in the Civil War. He even mentioned the names of the administrators of each state/region and their places of origin such as Brigd. Babafemi Ogundipe (Ago Iwoye), Gov Adebayo (Ekiti), Brigd. Mobolaji Johnson, Ogunmudia, David Bamgboye, Gov Abba Kyari…

Maj. Gen. Yakubu Gowon. Bridg. Benjamin Adekunle (Ogbomosho ni won ti bi e), Maj. Gen Hassan Usman Katsina, Olusegun Obasanjo (Abeokuta), Colonel Akinrinmade, Colonel Ayo Ariyo, Colonel Abisoye, Colonel Duyile, Col Mohammed Shuwa, Col. Haruna, Major Sanni Bello, Capt Sunday Ogunrinde, Capt. Sabo Sokoto, Major Malumfashi, Col. Segun Obasanjo.

I would later learn the titles of the Kings in Yoruba Land from Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey Such as Deji of Akure, Osemawe of Ondo, Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Ataoja of Osogbo, etc. and Yusuf Olatunji taught me the names of the Kings that reigned as the Oba of Lagos from Ashipa, Akinsemoyin, Eletu Kekere, Ologun Kutere, Kosoko, Eshugbayi to Oba Oyekan and so on.

Above all, those legendary musicians were master musicians and inimitable historians. “Edutaining” Music! Seeti awon Professor Saheedi niwon

-Fatai Adisa, a culture and music enthusiast writes from Abeokuta

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