I’VE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE FOUR TIMES – ARA
The call came in on Sunday November 4. It was late in the evening and a traffic-free day in otherwise crowded Lagos . Not the kind of day one had so much business to do; for Sunday, in Lagos , is usually a day to unwind, go to church, visit friends and family, and regret that Monday is just a few hours away.
But the caller had business to do- and it was obvious in her tone.
‘can I speak with Ayeni Adekunle please?’
‘speaking’. ‘This is Ara. Please I’ll call you back. I want to grant you an interview’ ‘oh, okay.
But where have you been?’
‘I’ll call you back, don’t worry’…
Aralola Olamuyiwa, the Atunda-bred performer talking drummer has been off the scene for a while now. And the stories surrounding her departure are numerous and diverse.
To some, she’s gotten married secretly, is pregnant, and has left town to avoid the media. To others, she has eloped, after a disagreement with Atunda, and is determined to be away for as long as possible, to make it impossible for the label, which has invested so much in her career, release her long-awaited debut album.
But the 33 year-old wonder-on-drums, who’s usually not open to the media, is tired of hearsays and speculations. And she appears to have been bottled up for so long, she can’t take it no more…
That’s what I discovered, after exchanging mails and having telephone conversations and extensive interviews with her for a few days…
The resulting interview is a must read… Excerpts…
So where have you been?
As I said, my mum just called me a few minutes ago, saying a friend called her attention to the fact that Atunda entertainment declared me missing. This is totally untrue. Here’s the story.
I think it’s high time you all know the deal with Atunda. I left the country 2 weeks ago for an event in France , and I am presently in Iceland . My contract with Atunda expired on the second of July this year. Atunda and I are yet to renew ‘bacause I don’t feel comfortable any more with them. I didn’t want to talk to the press like is always the case with us musicians and our managers when parting, the story is always not palatable, I just wanted to leave everything to God.
But people are saying you ran off just when your label was planning to release your album?
Mr.Wanle Akinbobye is quite aware of my travel. Please the whole world should ask him why he released my passport to me. He has always held onto my international passport and that of the band members. A few weeks ago I requested for mine at a meeting with him and Wale Oluwaleimu. At first he lied it was at the British High Commission, and I told him I will be the first guest at the Embassy the following morning. He refused to give it to me ‘because according to him, I was being too forceful in my demand. I reminded him that it is my property and as such he shouldn’t even be holding unto it in the first place. Later that night, around 11pm, he sent Wale Oluwaleimu to give me my passport.
He wanted to know why I wanted it and I told him I was travelling with my Fiance and he said he will get me the visa, all in a bid for me to not collect my passport. But I got it afterwards.
So I don’t know why he and Wale are telling people that I am missing.
Akinbobye has vowed to ruin my career claiming he made me therefore he can break me should I leave Atunda. My brother, this is not by force.
I know they have hidden agenda and I want the whole world to hold Akinboboye responsible should anything happen to me.
He has told me several times that he owns me dead or alive and that he knows my source(Orisun), he is fetish and very dangerous.
I didn’t run. Why? I didn’t commit any crime. They are the ones who should be running. I left the house they rented for me because I wanted to move on. As soon as I requested for my passport, that was when they started saying sweet things they started renovating and stopped almost as soon as they started, I lived in that house for weeks without curtains etc, When I got tired of asking and being called an ingrate I shut up.
This is serious… what is the origin of all these?
They wanted me to sign a new contract, Akinboboye said he wanted life and believe me that scared me, I told them I wanted a partnership, having registered my own company ‘Ara Entertainment Productions’. We agreed to that, all of a sudden things changed. We had recorded with Wole Oni and was waiting for the listening party and all that. Wale Oluwaleimu started acting like my boss, stopped calling to furnish me with details of my career, only for me to hear that Wale had organised a listening party and lied at the event that I was sick as an excuse for my absence. I was shocked. He started running things like he was there to punish me, forgetting this is my career. He was always saying he was doing me a favour by running round and I told him he was getting paid for his job. This is a guy that gets 10% of my fees even before I the artiste gets paid. He has an official car to go with it,anyway,Wale stopped being the manager and became the boss and enemy.
After waiting to find out who the marketer for my work would be, I called Wale and I was shocked at his response. He said none of the marketers are willing to buy my work because they don’t know who Ara is. My brother at this point I knew I had to do something.
I called Akinboboye and he said he was going to sell my CD in the banks. I said fine but how? He said he intended to give the banks like 30 to 50 copies per week and I told him if he did that ,it’s easy target for the pirates. All the pirate needs do is enter the bank, buy a copy and the work is a total loss to me and them. But he said he was still going to do just that. I said okay, here’s what I think you should do: I gave him tips I got from Tosin Martins, you can confirm from him. Till I left the country no reply.
We were meant to launch my album, I asked them what we were doing for sponsors, they said they are not launching to make money, no sponsors, that I should just come and perform, to the crowd, I said it’s unheard of, and I asked Wale if they had my interest at heart at all. At this point i was devastated. We should think of making money. Well my brother that’s it.
I was not allowed to get gifts or anything from anybody. I was made to return a car gift. I even wanted to buy a land, Akinboboye said no it wasn’t part of my contract. All the money I made flew away on unserious things. My father gave me a very special gift he said I mustn’t collect it. Money gifts where not allowed. He said the gifts should go to Atunda and not me ‘he created me and if not for him who would know me. I told him I had been singing from a tender age, I was in afrobeat and he didn’t pick me from the streets. I was in school, he decieved me into getting a transfer and my transcript which I took on the promise that I would school in Lagos only for him to turn around and say no more school, by this time, he had separated me from even my family saying they could be evil and probably want me dead. He was my only confidant and he was in charge. My family couldn’t visit. I was helpless in his hands, things changed when Dada Anita came and started talking to me. She lived in my room for months because Akinboboye invited her from America and wanted her to leave in a house without any form of furniture or curtains etc, anyway hers is another story….we both started praying together and having vigils and I’m happy God took control. I attempted suicide about four times my bother, only God kept me. The only time I was happy was when I was on stage. I would have left, but I had failed my father by leaving school already, so I was determined to get to the end of my contract, as a woman of integrity, I wanted to be able to say, I tried my best.
There was nobody that worked with him that wasn’t my enemy ‘because he would tell me things about them and them about me, his technique is divide and rule- you can ask all the band members that have worked with me and even all his workers who have left and the ones still there.
Now he says I can’t use the name Ara, for heaven’s sake it’s my God-given name and it’s on my birth certificate, my grandmother in the village calls me that…
Ayeni, I have a lot to say. If anything happens to me, Akinboboye should be held responsible, he told me he will ruin my career should I leave. The moment I started a serious relationship, he termed me as being unserious, that I should get married at age 40yrs and have my children, that his wife had her baby in her 40’s, he sent Wale to me one morning to negotiate with me, that if I leave my fiancee, they will do all they are supposed to do. He called me up in the morning around 7am one day wanting to know if I am pregnant. He sent Wale to also persuade me to go to the hospital for a pregnancy test, my fiancee was so angry, because he was in the room listening and Wale didn’t know. My brother, that night around 2am, I had a spiritual attack. If I had been 9 months pregnant, I would have lost the pregnacy, I suddenly had this deadly pain around my waist and stomach, hands folded and couldn’t walk, mouth twisted, I was rushed to an hospital, they have the details, they did all kinds of tests and the doctors said they didn’t know what happened. I could go on…
It was also reported that you were planning a big marriage, that you even went to the registry already?
I have very a serious relationship, we are yet to even do our introduction… you all will be invited when I decide to get married. But my fiancé is here with me, this is his base…
So we can believe it’s now all over between you and Atunda?
Let me say clearly now, for everyone to know, that Atunda, Mr.Akinboboye and Wale are no longer my managers. My contract with them expired on the 2nd of July, I am now being managed by Ara entertainment productions. Whoever gives them money or pays them for my services does so at his or her own risk..
Thank you and God bless.