The Barrister/Omowura Saga : Between The Rock And The Hard Place – By Gani Kayode Balogun

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This is purely an academic exercise, since the two enigmatic musicians had left this world, Ayinla Omowura for forty years, and Ayinde Barrister for ten.
* L-R: Omowura, Barrister *
But at a particular point in the musical topography of the Yoruba nation, these two Alpha Bulls were presumed to have locked horns.
Presumably, because Barry Wonder denied till the very end that such a scenario was the figment of fans imagination, while those close to Egunmogaji believed Barrister (then), was too junior musically for Ayinla to be at beef with, not to talk of engaging him in a heated rivalry.
Books, articles and documentaries, not to mention dedicated social media face offs are legion on the subject matter, so adding to that literature would be antithetical.
While still working around my schedule to accommodate as many Barrycentric events marking the 10th year remembrance of his transition as possible within the next few months on three continents, my friend, brother and fellow indigenous music aficionado, Dr. Festus Adedayo , lawyer, researcher, journalist and historian, hit me, and other aworosasas, with his pet theory.
Not only did he mention my name in his syndicated article, he also dared some of us to contradict his thesis.
And this I shall.
He asserted, with self conviction that without the death of Ayinla Omowura in 1980, Barrister would not have attained the heights he reached as a musician, performer and composer.
Please note that he is not saying Barrister would still not have attained greatness, but that he would not have become the Master of all he surveyed in the Yoruba music pantheon, especially from 1980 till he died in 2010.
While none has put that aspect of Barry’s relationship with Igijegede in such stark existential finality before, it is to Dr. Adedayo’s credit that he realized it himself that those who sow wind will reap whirlwind.
In the spirit of full disclosure, let me state that I am an ardent Ayinla Omowura fan, as well as that of Yusuf Olatunji, Lefty Salami, Haruna Ishola, Odolaye Aremu, Tatalo Àlàmú, Amusa Agboluaje , Orlando Owoh,Nosiru Ajunwo, Ligali Mukaiba, Óseni Ejire, and all the old masters of that era.
I am also a generic fan of Fuji music, irrespective of the musician, as well as the young urns who sing in Yoruba.
You know the usual suspects.
In the first place, Dr. Adedayo’s assertion is flawed on so many levels: thematically , in absolute relativity terms and in situational contextuality.
In the beginning, while there was about two stages of Ayinla s musical career, the Olalomi years and the Apala era, Barrister is one long unbroken musical odyssey.
From his Were and Ajisari days to his early Fuji experimentation and full musical career, Barry faced many adversaries, from Ojindo in Mushin to Ayinla Kollington.
But these were the direct in-your-face rivals, there were many that the battle is more subtle than open, especially when his ascendancy was becoming unstoppable.
But even then, Barry was a huge Ayinla’s fan. He was also an executive in Ayinla Omowura fans club in Mushin.
Because this article is not about whys and wherefores of their ‘feud’, we will skip that aspect to concentrate on where both artistes were when Ayinla Omowura died.
Like I stated earlier, Ayinla and Barry belonged to different generations, but their fame within the Yoruba Country was on the ascendancy almost at the same time.
Because of the introduction of the 18″ vinyl introduced in 1970/71, they, along with the recording artistes of that era, began releasing albums of that size roughly around the same time, jettisoning the Singles and Extended play format for the LP Cadre.
What this means was that while they both enjoyed relative fame and burgeoning fan base, they were on different musical trajectories. Barrister as the rising star, and Ayinla peaking around the same time.
So, if Ayinla alive did not dim Ayinde’s rise, why then would his death be a big factor?
Ayinde’s rise was not only a source of concern for Igijegede, but for all musicians reigning at that period.
I am sure that Dr Adedayo is aware that the last meeting of the Musicians Union in Ibadan attended by the irreplacable Yusuf Olatunji where he collapsed before he later died, was called solely to discuss that young man, Ayinde Barrister?
And guess who was pleading with other musicians to let him be? Bába Legba Yusuf Olatunji himself!
By the time the “beef” started in 78/79. Barry was already a household name, he had taken his craft abroad, including the UK!
So, where in that trajectory would Ayinla’s death play a major role?
Granted that some Artistes used Ayinla’s death as a stepping stone to gain popularity by attacking Barrister within the context of the “beef”, it still did not change the rolling stone career path of Agbajelola, who went on to demolish or diminish other genres whose major exponents are still alive, or recently died.
Whatever happened, or did not happen between Omo Wuramotu and Ọmọ Odee Sifau was just another obstacle that Barry surmounted.
It was certainly more popular and more mythical, than those other presumed “beefs” with Saka Olayigbade, Ojindo, Orlando Owoh, Kollington Ayinla, Bisi Ajala, Kamoru Ayansola, Gbenga Adeboye, his Original band boys(The Fuji Londoners), Juju as a genre, Apala and Sakara as stopping stones to achieve eternal greatness, but not bigger.
Even those with younger artistes, either as a group or individuals, the Osupa kingship drama, the fake mother story, the murder accusation, the World Bank story, the numerous death rumors, and others too numerous to mention, he was steadfast, either forcing others to renovate or perish musically.
Waidi Ayinla Omowura was destined to reign for ten years and live forever, Barrister was destined to create a musical genre that would subsume all others and outlive him.
Both rose to fulfill their destinies. Both are now ancestors, not because one died so that the other can shine, but that both men became what they were destined to become.
Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, the man who stared adversity in the face and conquered, and by that become an ancestor.
That was his destiny. That was his karma.
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