King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal KWAM1, K1’s Biography, Profile & Life History
The fuji musician was born on March 3rd, 1957 in Agarawu area of Lagos Island.
His birth name is: Wasiu Ayinde Adewale Omogbolahan Anifowoshe.
His palatial mansion is fit enough for a king — and is he not a king afterall? His KWAM 1 name spills out into King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal I. And to complete the full regal touch to it all, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan (Oba of Lagos) installed him the Olu Omo of Lagos.
After several years of toil in the not too rosy Nigerian music industry, the Obaluaye of Fuji – that makes him the king of his genre of music (even though claims he is actually a crown prince of the likes of Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barister) – has assembled the fruits of his labour in a quite impressive pad in downtown Okota – Lagos. It is a quiet place. And he aptly calls it Castle of Peace.
But that is the farthest Wasiu can run from public glare. For even in this seemingly reclusive haven of peace, Wasiu remains the golden fish that has no hiding place. Finding his, supposedly hidden abode wasn’t strenous. Everybody in the vicinity, from adult to children seems to know Wasiu’s house.
Wasiu’s house is a beautifully composed white massive building. The fuji act is a piscean. And to tell you he is both proud and obsessed with his zodiac sign, Wasiu caused it to be boldly written on the right side of the building. There is also a twin-fish statue to rub home the Piscean message. Until one looks closely, though, the fish heads could look like snake heads.
Behind the gates, the “castle” ground is of a sweet luxuriant green lawned garden. Part of the foreground is also of concrete and marble.
Considering the rowdiness that characterises Wasiu’s gigs, you would never believe the unparalleled peace in which the Talazo Fuji exponent lives his off-stage life. You are even bamboozled that he at one stage considered leaving all this comfort to relocate to England.
A major attraction to Wasiu’s living are his animals — ranging from the most tame of dogs to the most poisnous snakes to vicious crocodiles. Yes! Crocodiles. The huge reptiles also share in the peace of the Castle of Peace. There are three of them. All with legendry appetite for flesh. But this day, like all well fed crocodiles, they look so peaceful in there characteristic lazy sleep. All three of squeeze themelves into a corner. They had just had thier belliesful of a meal of frogs. On other days, the meal could comprise of other domestic animals like goat meat and cow parts.
Where the snakes are, was a no go area. Thoughts of snakes alone have a way of giving you the creeps. And the rope-like members are not a particularly pleasing sight nor are they most beautiful creatures that came out of God’s creation room.
And Wasiu’s fearsome Alsatians? Thank God they were in chains. They only come out at night, to help man over the house and keep security. His pet dog, Sammie, is more friendly — which explains why it is the one that gets introduced to visitors.
Wasiu is very religious and maintains a little mosque on the grounds of the Castle of Peace. About the home, Wasiu says, “My house is called that (Castle of Peace) because, it is only in my own house that I can find peace all the time”.
And like he says, inside the castle its all quiet and peace. Inside, simplicity is the watch-word. As exotic as the items of the interior might be, the decor is essentially simple — an all granite marble cream floor, his leather sette, one side of the living room has a creamy leather set of chairs while the other has a black set; there is a part that seems to act as his office at home.
The only picture in the house is that of his mother, himself and with the Oba of Lagos, taken at his recent installation as Olu-Omo.
Clad in a cream Jalabia (lounging robe), Wasiu slipped his feet into a pair of white skin slippers and he was ready. Of course he is an alhaji, his silver and gold teeth glittered as he takes you on an excursion into his world, his life, his music, his women and all that to you about his life style and music.
He was born on the Lagos Island — though an indigene of Ogun state. His father is from Ijebu Ode while his mother is from Ilupeju in Ondo state. His was a polygamous home.
For Wasiu, growing up in Lagos Island was much fun then. He says so much has changed since then. “I remember that we didn’t usually lock our doors, even through the night and nothing would happen. It was the same in all the neighbourhood. We all lived like a family; we cared for other people’s property.
“At the school, almost all the children wanted to go to school, compared to what is happening now.
“A lot of people have lost their focus on Lagos Island compared to what it used to be then. It was much secure, unlike what we are seeing now.”
There are so many things happening that never took place on Lagos Island while he was still growing up there. It hurts the musician that things have turned around badly and the tales that come out of Lagos Island are not too goodany longer. He has quite a number of childhood friends that he grew up with. Most of them, he says, have grown up into respectable adults.
“My contemporaries are all educated and are doing. We all grew up together and we believed in one another.”
Wasiu has every reason to be grateful to God and will ever be appreciative of growing up on Lagos lsland. According to him, that is where he discovered his talent. That is also why, no matter how Lagos Island has drastically changed from what it used to be, he will never stop associating himself from that part of the state. He strongly believes it is a phase and that someday, God will bring it back to its old glory.
Notable areas like Agarawo,was where Wasiu actually grew and began his musical sojorn. “A lot of successful people have come out from Agarawo,” he says, adding, “Everything about my musical trip started from there. l enjoyed tremenduous support from my area, and then there’s nothing that you will do without the support or the assistance of everybody in your neighbourhood. There’s no way you can be successful without the people of the area not having a hand in it, because you need the people to recognise what you are doing. I had the support of the lsland people which made quite easy for me.”
They had an association then that discovered the talented youths who wanted to go into music. Lagos Island was full of life and Lagos, being the seat of power then, people all over the world came to Lagos and visited Lagos Island. At the same time cultural ideas were respected and exchanged, like the Eyo masquerade festival of which he is a member.
One would have expected Wasiu to live in highbrow areas like Lekki or Ikoyi and the like — he can afford it. But he has stuck to Okota.
He acquired the land 16 years ago. He confesses that he has come to be associated with the area and is enjoying a lot of support and patronage from the people around. “You’ll be surprised that from FESTAC town, if you seek the direction of how to get to my my place, they will tell you how many streets you will pass before you get to my house. Almost everybody knows where I live,” Wasiu rationalises.
His music over the years has won a him a lot of fans, not only in the Yoruba communities, but from across other tribes as well. He has been able tocreate a rhythm that seems to jell even without the lyrics. The origin of his music, he says, is rooted in lslam. It is the kind of music used from the onset to wake the muslims during the fasting period, especially the early morning prayer during the month of Ramadan. “This is where my kind of music started from.” The music is called Were fuji; fuji means faaji, (enjoyment).
Everybody has a preference for the kind of music they like; as a musician, Wasiu likes his own kind of music. He also loves to drown himself in jazz and classical music. He believes this has also rubbed off positively on his kind of music.
Gradually as he grew musically, Wasiu decided that fuji music needed to expand beyond its original Yoruba setting. “Fuji music needs to make a push into every part of the world, not just only in the Yoruba or muslim part in the country. Right from Nigeria, we must first of all reach out to the Igbos, the Hausas and every minority tribe, before reaching the western world. I thank God today we are getting there.”
To date, he has to his credit 57 long playing albums and some other international releases. When asked which was his favourite album, his response to that was, “It takes a very hard job to get all these albums come to reality. It is like you are asking a man who has a lot of children, which of all his children is his favourite child. I must be frank with you, there is none of them that is not lovely. Don’t be surprised that my next album you will listen to might even supercede the ones you’ve been listening to. That’s just the life of arts.”
Forty-four-year old Wasiu attended Jamatu lslamiya Standard School. In 1967, he took the common entrance and says if he hadn’t become a fuji star, he would probably have studied Law.
He has a lot of children, his oldest child is over 20 years. He would not specify how many children he’s got. How many kids do you have? He will rather reply this way: “l am blessed with children. lslam does not allow counting of children. Children are children as long as you are sure you fathered them and you are responsible for them.” He might not be as educated as can be, but as far as he is concerned, he is educated and can throw light on any global issue in the world, his lifestyle revolves round any educational indulgences. He strongly believes that the best education anybody can arquire is most often through self-education and life’s experiences. That is why King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall is always sticking out his ears to listen to people argue and discuss, thereby polishing his understanding and way of life.
Another habit he has cultivated over the years is reading. He derives a great pleasure in reading because it helps to widen his horizon, he says. When he is not busy he reads a lot. As a workaholic, he has created out of time to relax and ruminate about what is happening around the world. “I work very hard and that is why I take a lot time now to rest, and also to know what is happening around the world. I make sure I get information from any sources like the newspapers, T.V., and the radio. I also love to read novels and books from any part of the world as long as it is written in English, that really keeps me going.”
And you can almost guess what is life philosophy is if you’ve sat with him for as much as 10 minutes. “Simplicity is the key to life, take life as it is because you cannot change what is destined to happen to you, you can’t reverse the hand of the clock,” he says.
His childhood memories are numeruous but one has stuck to his mind eversince. Every time, he is deep in thoughts, his inner man runs back to his days on Lagos Island when he was begining his journey in music’s largely uncharted path.
At first when Wasiu began, he didn’t have a good voice; some of the elders then in a way didn’t help matter, his voice disgusted them that they had to pass a message to Wasiu, asking him to save them another bout of his horrible singing. But he kept at it. With time, he had to work on his voice.
A great admirer of King Sunny Ade, Wasiu is presently married to Fatiah who, he insists, he met on his own and chatted up. He is particularly delighted that she has shown a lot of understanding of the nature and harzards of the job he does.