Fuji Music is a musical genre that is popular among people from Western Nigeria and is crooned using a different kind of instruments. The distinctive aspect of this genre is the live performance it comes with. Just like music generally, Fuji music has influenced its listeners greatly. Often times, Fuji music is erroneously linked to the places in Asia, sometimes Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, or Fuji Island. Fuji music should not be mistaken for Juju music, a genre that originated from the cultural musical instrument called Agidigbo.
This report on Fuji music was done through a conversation with some elders within South-West, and consultation with the thought of a renowned Fuji musician, Wasiu Ayinde, it is agreed that the origin of Fuji can be traced to the Islamic culture of ‘Ajiwere’, during the period of Ramadan across South-West of Nigeria. It was said that during this period of Ramadan, youths move from house to house, singing and calling out names, in a bid to wake their Muslim colleagues up, to break their fast in the early morning and stay active. A man in his late 60s that I spoke with, recently recount how little he was when he began to hear this kind of music, according to him, it was a customary practice among the Yorubas.
According to a story from an older generation, Fuji music emanated from Apala music, another ancient cultural music among the Yorubas; but it was not popular until the duo, Kolawole Ayinla popularly called Kolington and Sikiru Ayinde Balogun, also known as Ayinde Barrister, became involved in the music.
Fuji music became popular when the two proponents of the music, Kolington, and Barrister, went head-to-head, along with other musicians, in a regular musical competition, then called ‘Were Musical Competition’ usually held at Evans Square, Ebute-Metta, Lagos Mainland. The music then took a dynamic shift and increased in popularity across the country, when the First President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikwe, handed the trophy to Kolington, as the winner for the 1964 competition. From that moment, history began to record the influence Fuji music, just like every other music, has on her listeners. Ayinde Barrister was from Mushin, in Lagos; while Kolington was from Oyingbo Ebute-Metta, supporters of both musician began a rift among themselves, as those of Barrister believed he was cheated of the trophy in 1964. Because of the fight between supporters of the duo and even amidst Ayinde Colington and Barrister, 1964 was the last year such completion took place.
Also, it was said that Ayinde Barrister after that 1964 event, joined the military, as it was that time, Nigeria went into Civil War. Being in the military exposed Barrister to more sophisticated musical instruments and resources, which he inculcated into the ‘Were’ music that we now know as Fuji music today. According to those familiar with events of that time, Ayinde Barrister was the first known person to have released a Record under the genre called Fuji. Barrister was said to have invited his friend, Kolington to come join him at the seat on the table, by asking him to join the military and release records too, which Kolington obliged.
Both Kolington and Ayinde Barrister reigned during their heydays with Fuji music, they trained so many young people who are now household names when we talk of Fuji music in the world. Ayinde Barrister is being credited for giving Fuji music the international recognition that she enjoys now. Many contemporary Fuji musicians regard him as the grandmaster. During his prime with Fuji music, one of those who trained under Barrister is the now legendary Wasiu Ayinde (Kwam1), who spent many years being under the tutelage and carrying Barrister’s instruments around, as he played in various occasions and events across the country.
On March 11, 2017, Wasiu Ayinde, has this to say about the origin of Fuji, on his Instagram page.
“The truth is I am not dragging any issue with anyone. What I do not agree with is the notion that “FUJI MUSIC” derived its name from Fuji Island or mountain. FUJI got its name from the words and sayings of our forefathers “Kini Fuji e or Olowo lon se Fuja” and so on.
“My late Mentor Late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister did well with all contributions he made to the development of music in general and not only Fuji Music. He is a blessing and he devoted his entire life to the development of Fuji, both at home and abroad. Truly, he is a force to be reckoned with and I acknowledge all his labour.”
“SAB is the man God Almighty used to turn things around for the good blessing we enjoy today. But this does not shut our mouth when no foundational name or clear cut identifying name is proclaimed on something I know and partake in.”
“FUJI stems from Ajiwere and Ajisari which dates back to ages long before many of us including my late mentor SAB. Many names have passed through this genre, some dead while some were still very much alive. If the same story was corroborated or asserted by many, including my mentor by singing “Were loo dii Fuji” we have many reasons to always feel joy as our foundation dates back to ages behind us.”
“Please endeavour to do research well enough and not just believe the word of one person or people on either side.”
“Research will help unravel many things we may have left undiscussed for many years.”
For what it is worth, Fuji music has taken another dynamic shift, as contemporary musicians of this genre, celebrities like Wasiu Alabi, popularly called Pasuma, Akorede Babatunde Okunola also known as, Saheed Osupa and many others, gave Fuji music some level of collaboration with its contemporary Hip-hop artist. As a number of these musicians have featured and have been featured in Hip-hop songs. Although, it is troubling to state that many of them adulterate the original Fuji music itself, with all kinds of studio sounds, as against using live instruments.
Fuji music continues to evolve every day, soon, we should expect to see rappers contributing to this genre of music, we already have Q-Dot ensuing that line already, mixing all kinds of a genre to release a Fuji like song.