By Yinka Odunmakin
SPENT time with Dede Mabiaku on May 12, at Othellos on Victoria Island as he added another year and it was a great night to remember as he wowed his friends and fans with heavy percussions from original African sound.
I fell in love with Dede 31 years ago when we invited the late Afro King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. I had gone to Fela’s brother (Beko) who was managing the legend as the students Union PRO alongside ex-Ife and former NANS President Lanre Arogundade to remind Fela of his promise to perform at Ife during the solidarity visit to him after he was released from prison.
Fela agreed and we paid the fee he charged us-N9,000! That should get you half -a-bag of Lake Rice in Nigeria of today. We had to arrange for a bus to take Fela and his band to Ife as part of the bargain.
Unfortunately, the bus driver asked for more money on getting to Ife and our Financial Secretary instead of negotiating asked him to go if he could not be faithful to agreement. We ran around to get smaller buses but Fela refused and said we must get the bus that brought them or he would not perform. We begged and begged he would not yield. Dr. Folabo Ajayi (Fela’s cousin who was teaching at Ife) followed us to beg before Fela changed his mind at 1a.m. The crowd at amphitheater was already agitated.
When Fela eventually arrived, it was Dede who opened the show with his ecstatic, dramatic and electrifying performance of Fela’s “Palaver”.The crowd simply went wild.
“When people do birthday dem dey perform for them but na me wan perform for una tonite”, Dede declared to the quality audience that included Richard Mofe-Damijo, Clement Mudiaga Enajemo (Mudi Africa) and lots of big boys as he stepped on stage to do what he knows best at Othellos.
His stagecraft was still very superb as it was 31years ago when I became his fan. He yabbed like Fela, sang his songs and his original compositions to the delight of all. At a time when music has become all sound and no meaningful lyrics in our country, folks like Dede remind us of our great yesterday.
I noticed the inscription on his heavy African drum which says “Fela lives”. Abami lives indeed and Dede dey! Many more years my brother!