By Prisca Sam-Duru
As the #EndSARS protesters matched forward in Owerri, Imo State, they chanted one of the songs of our own writer, composer, culture producer, and promoter, Benson Omowafola Tomoloju’s ‘Ajakumo’.
The song was all that an Ilaje indigene, who was in the state to attend a meeting, needed to get past them. To his surprise, it worked like magic. Out of excitement, he rushed to the Ilaje Development Summit Group (IDSG) platform to share his testimony:
“I told the boys at Owerri, Imo State, protesting and blaring ‘Ajakumo’, that that’s one of my brother’s songs. They created a partway for me to escape the horrendous traffic caused by road blockages. A good name is better than riches we were told, and character matters.”
That was how ‘Ajakumo’, one of the 100 songs of Ben Tomoloju, popularly known as Ben T, turned into a lifesaver.
‘Ajakumo’ and the rest of the songs were launched virtually on August 29, 2020, by the Producers/Promoters of Concrete Communications, while the first live unveiling took place at Freedom Park, October 18, 2020.
The live unveiling of the 100 songs as part of activities marking the 10th year anniversary of Nigeria’s entertainment hub, Freedom Park, which began on 30th September 2020. There have also been thrilling and inspiring activities such as lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and performances, to mark the occasion which ends on October 30, 2020.
The composer, singer, dramatist, theatre director, and culture communicator performed live, some of his 100 Songs alongside some notable culture promoters at the event.
The collection of 100 songs by the multi-talented, multi-skilled artiste, “Is about humanity, about fellow human beings growing spiritually, intellectually and materially”, Tomoloju, who was a broadcaster, former Arts Editor and Deputy Editor of The Guardian newspaper, noted.
“They are a hundred in number. But the hundred are just a fraction between a quarter and a third of my entire repertoire of original compositions. It is a bumper harvest of music with a cross-over appeal”, he disclosed.
Some of the songs were extracted from Tomoloju’s popular plays including Jankariwo, ‘Mujemuje’, ‘Askari’, ‘Iphigenia Finds Aiyelala’, ‘Amona’, and ‘This Proverb’, which was recently published by the US-based Omni Publishers, and now available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.
The songs have been dedicated to members of the Kakaaki Arts Kult, the art producing fraternity, which Ben Tomoloju founded on June 8, 1980, while he was an English and English Literature teacher at the Saka Tinubu Secondary School, Agege, Lagos.
Describing the songs as a collector’s item, the Producer, Ropo Ewenla said, “100 songs of Ben Tomoloju mines more than 40 years of creative exploration to bring you a variety of songs in a variety of genres. It is, to say the least, a collector’s item. This is not just art. This is history and we hope that in times to come, we would be able to get the necessary support to do a lot more for Nigerian artists and art”.
“You will certainly find your choice of genre in this compilation that I choose to call a reference in Literature. Where else can you find a package of 100 songs in one, which will also come with the lyrics and the inspiration behind each song? This is a collectors’ item. A product I am proud to be associated with. You’ve got to have access to it”, Somoore Badejo CEO of Concrete Studios said.