By DAPO FALADE
His name is Femi Esho, a 75-year-old man for whom the preservation and promotion of African indigenous musical culture is a passion entrenched deeply in his veins. This zeal for indigenous music he has successfully passed on to his daughter, Bimbo Esho, the Managing Director of the Surulere Lagos-based Evergreen Musical Company Limited.
Imbued with youthful zeal and a greater love for music, the younger Esho has not been relenting in her efforts to ensure that residents and regular visitors to the ‘State of Aquatic Splendour’, or otherwise commonly referred to as the ‘Centre of Excellence’, are always treated to what the state is noted for namely, i
It was with the above mindset that Evergreen Musical Company Limited instituted a yearly event, tagged ‘Faaji Agba Eko’, with the sole aim of celebrating music and musicians who have, at one stage or the other, contributed immensely to the promotion of indigenous music, especially in Lagos State.
After what seemed like an indefinite postponement, occasioned by the series of measures put in place by the Lagos State government to check and control the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, Esho braced all odds and ensured that, not only is the 2020 edition of the event held, but also amid pomp and pageantry.
This year’s edition was held, on Sunday, by Evergreen Music, in partnership with the Association of Friends (UP ASSO), a social club based at Maryland, Ikorodu Road, Lagos and which has been known over the years for its socio and philanthropic activities within the state and beyond.
Speaking at the event, Bimbo Esho stated the obvious as she said the reason for Faaji Agba Eko is to relive the old musical culture. She acknowledged the fact that COVID-19 has really affected fun in the state. But she was quick to add that: “We must continue to preserve the indigenous musics as a means to preserving our identity.
“Any country or state without a root cannot have a future. Evergreen Music had made it a point of duty to preserve our culture. At a very tender age of 18, I came to understand that the musical identity of Lagos State has gone into extinction. But we must all make efforts to ensure the revival of our musical root.”
The Managing Director of Evergreen Music went on to mention all the grooves which, in the years of yore, made Lagos State to be a force to reckon with in the world of music and its trappings, but which are no longer in existence.
“There is a need to have musicians of old to continue to have relevance in the Lagos musical circle. The likes of Ebenezer Obey, KSA and others have been supportive. This is not a day for speech, but to honour the old musicians and their great works.”
Also speaking at the event on behalf of Alhaji Oluropo Owolabi, the president of UP ASSO, Otunba Bayo Babatunde (who is the General Secretary of the club), said the request by Bimbo to use the venue for the event made sense to him and other members because it was in line with the club’s view and direction.
“UP ASSO is a club that is about to relaunch and take over the space. It is noy just a social club but also has other facilities. We believe in the efforts of Mr Femi Esho, borne out of interest and sense of self-responsibility to preserve our music. UP ASSO will continue to support the effort,” he said.
The evening was spiced with scintillating musical tunes (mostly old highlife evergreens) by Harmony Blenders, a musical group led Jide Ogbola, and based at Ogunlana Drive, Off Itire Road, Surulere, Lagos.
The highpoint of the 2020 edition of Faaji Agba Eko was the presentation of a post-humous Lifetime Achievement Award to the late king of television comedy, Moses Adejumo Olaiya (Babasala) MON, for his contribution to the growth of theatre and comedy in the country. The award was received by the son of the late popular comedian, Boisala Adejumo.
Presenting the plaque, Otunba Babatunde, said the late comedian was a blessing to the Yoruba race and Nigeria as a whole. He added that it is to the honour of Babasala that he had a son, Boisala, representing him and carrying on the flag in world of comedy in particular and entertainment in general.
Veteran musician and Soko Music creator, Wonder Dayo Kujore, was also honoured and presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the growth and development of Juju Music. It will be recalled that Kujore stormed the Juju Music scene with his wonderful hits in the early 1990s.
A veteran in the world of Juju Music, Sound Millionaire, electrified the venue of the event with his dancing skills which were exactly in the mould of the King of World Beats, Sunny Ade.
Another popular Juju Music crooner, Wale Thompson of the Alele Friday fame, lived up to expectations of the gathering. Wale, the son of an equally renowned Juju Music exponent, Popular Jingo, maintained his old self as he treated the gathering to his popular tunes that catapulted him into a great musician. He mesmerised the audience with his dexterity on the guitar and kept them on their toes with his vibrating old Juju lyrics of yore.
Present at the event was Baba Femi Esho himself and other popular Lagos socialites, top media personalities and celebrities in the entertainment circle within the state,among others.
Those present included Mrs Adamma Oni, Deputy Director, Lagos State Ministry of Culture and Tourism; Mr Seye Kehinde, Publisher, City People Magazine; Chief Bolaji Adeniji, former chairman, Ikoyi Club; Mr Femi Ajenifuja, president, Lagos Civil Service Club; Mr Olanrewaju Onigegewura”, Barrister Olanrewaju Akinsola (Onigegewura), Special Adviser to Minister of Works, Mr Babatunde Fashola and Arc. Wunmi Agbaje, chairman, Yoruba Tennis Club.
Also present were Mr Tayo Akanle, General Manager, Lagos Traffic Radio; Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan; former Commissioner for Information, Lagos State; Mr Rotimi Ogunleye, former Commissioner for Urban Development, Lagos State; and Air Commodore Ademola Onitiju.
Others included General Olusegun Lartey; Arc Gbolahan Oki, General Manager, Lagos State Resilience; Mr Femi Ajenifuja, President Lagos State Civil Service Club; Yinka Davies; Kofo Wonder; Yinka Adagun, former GM Lagos Traffic Radio; Mr Lanre Arogundade; Mr Lanre Anjolaiya (Egbe Onifaaji); Oloye and Yeye Fanimokun; foremost broadcast journalist and former General Manager of Radio One (103.5FM), Anike-Ade Funke Treasure; and entertainment journalist, Biodun Kupoluyi, among others.