HOW I COPE WITH FEMALE FANS- PASUMA WONDER
If you take time to ask, apostles of the hip hop culture would happily tell you that the past few years have been particularly kind to the radical culture and its half a dozen elements. Ask, and they’ll be quick to tell you that rap patronage is at an all-time high, that gone are the days when labels told wannabes to sound like Daniel Wilson or Dayo Kujore. These days, almost no label wants to touch you if you can’t sing what they perceive hip hop. While these ‘heads’ may be right to a great extent, what they fail to realise, is that, Fuji, a distant cousin of rap, though fully home grown, is witnessing as much boom. Like rap, Fuji thrives on impeccable rhythm and poetry, with an unflinching street credibility, and a times, thuggish image. The genre is a predominantly Yoruba art form which emanated from early morning Islamic chants, popularly called were (sung to alert Moslems to early morning prayers, especially during fasting periods). Initially propagated by bonafide Lagos islanders including Sikiru Abiba, Ajadi Ganiyu, Ayinde Muniru Mayegun a.k.a. “General Captain,” Ajadi Bashiru, Sikiru Onishemo, Kawu Aminu, Jibowu Barrister (under whom Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister performed), Ayinde Fatayi, Jolly Lawal, Saka Olayigbade, Ayinla Yekinni and Bashiru Abinuwaye, the genre was officially christened Fuji, by Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, in the early ’70s after he visited the Mount Fuji in Japan.
Over three decades later, two young men, who were nowhere to be found when the seed of Fuji was being sown, met to discuss what has become one of the few potentially exportable music of Nigerian origin. One, a charming, athletic six-footer, is one of the fastest growing Fuji singers alive. The other, well, a nosy reporter who is yet to master the art of minding his own business.
The call came in from his manager about a few minutes before noon. ‘I’ve arranged the interview with Pasuma. He’ll be waiting for you by 2pm’. So, an hour and a half later, after breaking enough traffic rules to earn a life sentence; all along, committing the history of Fuji (and the history of Pasuma) to memory; wondering all along, whether the interview would be in Yoruba, or pidgin English(how many Fuji stars can pass a grammar test, anyway?) and remembering, disappointedly, that the 37 year-old husky-voiced performer may not even be at home, anyway, the driver pulls up in front of his Omole (Ikeja Lagos) residence. Wasiu Alabi Pasuma has called Omole home, since leaving his childhood neighbourhood mushin (a notorious Lagos ghetto known to have produced majority of the present-day Fuji stars). The rented flat houses him and a few of his personal staff, including one of his brothers. His green Lincoln navigator which replaced his Mercedes Benz coupe is parked just outside his flat – a sign that the singer is at home. Several knocks after, and an absolute zero response, it appears the flat is totally deserted. Celebrities. They never keep appointments, not even when it’s in their own house. Well, you can erase that. Because, this afternoon. Pasuma is at home. Only, obviously preparing for the night’s work, he’s taking a nap.
‘paso is sleeping, I’m sorry you can’t see him’, said the aide that eventually opened the door. And it’s always a thin line between life and death. For, the boss woke up just in time to confirm our appointment, and usher us right into his living room. There’s no light this Friday afternoon. The entire city of Lagos has been in perpetual darkness for several months now and this afternoon, paso and his folks have either run out of fuel, or are just not interested in generating domestic electricity in exchange for carbon monoxide and deafening noise. So the flat is hot and dark, leaving the air conditioner, large TV screen and home theatre in a coma of sorts…But their owner appears to be untouched by the apparent failure of the Nigerian state. Afterall, he’s making music and it’s paying dividends. ‘It’s a better year for my organisation. We’re moving to the next level, and I thank god for that’ he says, in a mixture of Yoruba and English. For someone whose spoken English was catastrophic only a few years ago, Pasuma has improved tremendously, and he is quite confident with his pronunciations too. ‘I enrolled to study English language in Lagos state university, at least to help me communicate more in this profession. I haven’t had time to follow it up though, but it is top on my priority, he explains. If he indeed succeeds with the English language, it’ll be one of the many ways he has successfully emulated K 1 Ultimate, the revolutionary Fuji performer who has, in two decades, gone from semi literate to a self-trained master of English grammar, flaunting a vocabulary that’ll leave many English scholars in awe. ‘I went into fuji cos of kwam 1. that’s why I always tell everyone he’s my mentor. He did talazo 84 and I loved the album… So I said to myself, if he can do it, I’ll toe the path… I see him as my mentor… my idol… and since I started in 1985, I’ve not had cause to regret’.
When K 1 (then Wasiu ayinde Barrister) made his first major hit in 1984, Wasiu Alabi was just a final year student of Nigeria model high school, Idi Oro, Mushin; getting ready to leave high school, with uncertainties hovering above his future like a rain-bearing cloud. For an average kid in such circumstances, the future was bleak. Life on the streets was inevitable. By default, many turned to street urchins, bus conductors, drug peddlers, or even armed robbers. And despite finding Fuji an escape, many still thought Pasuma was a singer by day and robber by night. Especially with incessant reports of robbery anytime he was on the bandstand. ‘I can never regret that experience. We had to go thru that. They have to say something about you if you’re moving up… We just had to be prayerful… my focus was to be somebody… I told my back up not to mind anyone…because of the said rumour, police came to my house to invite me and I explained myself… they did their investigation and left me to go back home’.
Then he quickly adds, sitting up and adjusting his faded jeans pants: ‘but that;s not why I left mushin. After you become successful, you have to leave the ghetto. Because of your fans, they have to be able to reach you in a highbrow area…its better to move out from there… not that you forget that place cos that’s your root….i still have an apartment in mushin … my mom is in papa ajao… I still have an office in mushin…i can never forget mushin. That’s my root’.
Unfortunately, he will not build his first house in the neighbourhood where he first found fame and fortune. ‘I’m almost through with building my house. I’m just trying to build a home for me and my family. To show people I appreciate what they’ve done for me since.. it’s a very tasteful property. Something you’ll see and say no wonder it took so long… I want people to see it and say its beautiful… it’s in river view estate, Ikeja…’
Fuji stars, especially K 1 ultimate, Abass Obesere, and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister own palatial houses around the country, and in different parts of the world. Pasuma wonder remains one of the few fuji stars yet to own their own homes. And now that he says he’l be moving into his own home with his family, we’re left with no choice but to ask, ‘what exactly’ he means by family? That’s because, despite having several children from different woman, the fuji star is yet to be married. Pictures of his children 9most of whom are based in the US adorn the wall of his living room, but the only woman on display is his mother, whom he talks fondly about. ‘Its very clear to everyone that I love my mom… she single-handedly brought me up.. she separated from my father when I was very young… not too long ago my mom and father and I reconciled… we started seeing each other again… they just invited me… I knew him before but we were not on talking terms… he apologised and we started life afresh. It’s okay, even though I didn’t miss him at all. My mom gave me all the support and happiness I needed, I didn’t even remember him. I was a happy kid… it was later she called me and told me what happened…I’m the only child between them both…but my pop has his own family now… And talking of family, I have children and I don’t hide them. I’m still single but I’m not searching. I am very proud of my kids. That’s why you see I always praise-sing them in my songs. As long as they continue to do well in school. As long as they continue to make me proud, I’ve promised to always give them the best. But about marriage, it’s not something you rush into. It’s not that I’ve given up on marriage, I can’t give up on marriage… it’s very important…But it’s not something you rush into… it’s a lifetime project… maybe when I finish building my house, I’ll do the house warming and marriage together…’
Who will you be getting married to?
That’s personal best known to me and my god for now…But God knows I want a God-fearing woman…a caring wife that can take care of the house, mingle well with friends and family and is well educated’.
Is it likely he’ll be marrying one of his female fans?
I’ve had fans who have ended up becoming my close, true friends…I’ve found very good ones. But I’ve had Radical fans too. I try to manage… some will call you on the phone and say all sorts… you just have to good with them.. by doing this you know how to put them where you want to keep them… you just try s much as possible to avoid trouble…One wrote her number on a paper and gave it to me… I thought it was her complimentary card. But when I opened it, she wrote ‘if you don’t call me, I’ll die o’… Of course I didn’t call her…I don’t know maybe she’s still alive now…you have to be careful’.
Reports say he has over half a dozen children, from different women, and that he is considering walking down the aisle with one of his baby-mothers. But he vehemently refuses to comment on this, maintaining he’d rather stay out of controversies, and let time tell. He wouldn’t even comment on the lyrical war between veteran fuji stars kollington ayinla and Ayinde Barrister over the true story of fuji creation. His message his clear: Pasuma may have a thug image, street credibility and an out-going persona, but controversies are his phobia…he wouldn’t touch such issues with the longest pole in the world. How then, does he manage to be friends with bith K 1 and obesere when both acts are constantly on each other’s case? ‘Because I do not backbite.. I wont see abass (obesere) and tell him what I discussed with K 1. And I won’t see K1 and tell him what Abass told me. Abass is my friend, K 1 is my brother.. Thank god they’ve settled now’.
The ‘warring’ artistes were reconciled during the last Islamic pilgrimage in Mecca though pundits say it’s only a matter of time before Obesere begins to call K 1 unprintable names again). Meanwhile, Pasuma and Sule Alao Malaika, have finally settled their feud too, after mutual friends waded into the matter. ‘ I don’t want to fight anyone, . I am a peace Mker. I don’t like fighting… our work requires peace and patience…’ he says. And, looking round the picture gallery on his glittering wall, seeing him in warm embrace with older musicians from KSA to ayinde Barrister, K 1 ultimate, and Kollington Ayinla, it’s easy to see that this ‘thug’, with an indelible scar on his neck, and a voice most ‘area boys’ would give anything to have, is just a cheerful soull that wishes no one evil. Well, except something tells us we shouldn’t digest his words hook, line and sinker