Fuji music in Nigeria: new documentary shines light on a popular African culture

Nigerian singer Síkírù Àyìndé Barrister (1948-2010) pioneered fújì, a Yorùbá style of in style dance music. In February 2024, historian Saheed Aderinto’s documentary on the musician’s life and instances premiered. The Dialog Africa’s Wale Fatade requested Aderinto about the movie and the music it brings to our consideration.

What’s fújì music?

Fújì fuses Islamic philosophy and wordsmithing with Yoruba poetry and meaning-making to create sound, idioms and leisure habits. It does this throughout social lessons, from the rich within the corridors of political energy to the poor on the fringe. Its messages, politics, efficiency kinds, house and class replicate a variety of realities.

Nevertheless, fújì didn’t start as a secular and business sound. Its musical ancestor, wéré, was a seasonal Islamic efficiency throughout Ramadan. Wéré’s origin dates to the nineteenth century or earlier when Islam established agency roots among the many Yoruba. The Yoruba are one of many quite a few ethnic teams in Nigeria.

From the early Seventies, Ayinde Barrister started to broaden the area of wéré’s efficiency. He turned it into an all-year-round business secular music drawing from established secular kinds. By the mid-Seventies, fújì emerged as a definite style by means of his pioneering efforts. He mixed quite a few parts of present music, similar to sakara, apala, juju and Afrobeat, to create a hybrid sound that additionally borrowed from Yoruba aesthetics of reward singing.

By the mid-Eighties, fújì was a staple within the Nigerian soundscape. Because the twentieth century eclipsed, it was one of the crucial dominant in style music kinds throughout the African diaspora.

At present, fújì displays all the traditional parts of world leisure music. Its beat-making, computer-based manufacturing know-how, new digital and digital circulations, and eclectic performativity all align with comparable world kinds similar to Afrobeats. And fújì is just not resistant to frequent criticisms of in style music: sexualising girls, portraying unrealistic notions of socio-economic mobility, and selling obnoxious beliefs of self-making.

Learn extra: 100 years of pop music in Nigeria: what formed 4 eras

How does it reside on in Nigeria immediately?

At present, fújì is essentially the most dominant of the Yoruba musical traditions. Numerous skilled singers self-identify as fújì artists and carry out the style in its identifiable kind. It has overtaken all different Yoruba kinds and even influenced up to date Afrobeats. For instance, Afrobeats artist Olamide’s music Omo Anifowose is deeply influenced by K1 de Final’s music of the identical identify.

From huge events in African diaspora communities in Europe and North America to obscure occasions within the interior metropolis of Ibadan, fújì is a central musical kind.

Musicians vary from the sophistication of Kollington Ayinla, K1 de Final and Sefiu Alao Adekunle (Baba Oko), amongst others, to aspiring artists like Muta Jero of Bodija in Ibadan. Fújì attracts followers and practitioners not solely due to its versatile enjoying kinds, but additionally as a result of the sound, message and efficiency join with individuals’s on a regular basis realities.

Fújì is how individuals keep in mind their household tales.

The worldwide viewers of the documentary can simply join with points that cross cultures, such because the non secular origins of the music, the grass-to-grace tales of superstars, love, gender and erotic ardour. Equally, trials, triumphs and tribulations, forgiveness and reconciliation, public politics and protest artwork, creativity, world travels, fandom and stardom, self-making and identification development, illness, demise and immortality. It’s fújì’s transculturality, which doesn’t lose sight of particular historic and cultural contexts, that fascinates me.

Why did you select the story of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister?

He pioneered the style. It’s logical for the primary episode of The Fuji Documentary to give attention to him. He dominated and outlined fújì sound and efficiency. Even his politics was essentially the most refined. This modified from preaching towards dangerous democratic management in 1983, to supporting the army incursion into Nigerian politics in 1984, to protesting towards army dictatorship within the Nineteen Nineties, and extolling democratic ideas within the first decade of the twenty first century.

His albums similar to Nigeria (1983); Navy (1984); Present Affairs (1989); The Reality (1994); Precaution (1995); Adieu MKO Abiola (1998); and Democracy (1999) mix all the weather of political theorisations that we discover in a number of the greatest works on African politics.

Not like different musicians who principally commented on public politics, Ayinde Barrister turned fújì right into a political ideology. He did this by creatively tapping into indigenous views on politics to talk to the twentieth century disaster of political management in Nigeria.

The Fuji Documentary, First Episode: Mr Fuji: Barry Surprise.

What would you like viewers to take from the documentary?

Fújì is greater than sound. It’s a lifestyle for tens of millions of Yoruba individuals. It’s how they see the world round them.

The primary episode preserves the legacies of Barrister by means of the medium of a movie. It connects the general public with university-level analysis or permits educational analysis to serve public curiosity. It creates information in new methods and shapes how individuals keep in mind the previous. The Fújì Documentary takes the identify of fújì into educational domains the place it didn’t exist till now.

To shoot the documentary in public libraries, cultural centres, galleries, artwork theatres, museums and amenities on college campuses, I wrote formal letters and lobbied to persuade folks that the story is a collective story that everybody ought to personal. Permitting individuals to personal a story doesn’t essentially imply they’re accustomed to the narrative — it’s connecting that narrative to what they’re accustomed to.

Once I have a look at the array of individuals concerned on this first episode, I come to understand that what makes a historical past public historical past is not only telling a narrative that the general public can relate to in an accessible method, but additionally getting the general public to be a part of the creation and to personal the method.

And the general public on this sense is not only one public, however a number of publics who don’t essentially share the identical views about something. Bringing these a number of publics collectively to create a single public for the documentary is an endless course of.

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