The KSA Memoir: Funny things I did on my first trip to America + Untold story of my International honors

KSA…’My immitation of American language was bad enough and it flopped’
“It was like going to the moon.  ‘What were we going to tell the people when
we returned? Well, let us go and come back’, we reasoned.  Everybody had been going to America
but this was our first time.  In those
days, before you go out, people will be sending you off. 

Everybody was doing send-off party for
me.  My fans in Ibadan would give me send off-party; in Lagos, send-off party; in Ondo,
send off party.  I said, “enough, let us
go and retun”.  And when we returned, it
was now welcome parties everywhere!  When
we were about to leave, we thought ‘well, we’ve been to Germany and England;
in America,
we would do so and so.  We also though we
would be able to bring in all our equipments. 
We started from Washington, DC.  We played there for Nigerians with the equipment they brought.  We were not used to it but we managed.  By the second week, I asked them where I
could get equipments.  When I entered the
store, I couldn’t come out until five hours later!  I was simly captivated by the rows and rows
of musical instruments of different shapes and make stretching as far as the
eye could see.  I wanted to buy every
single one of them and take to Nigeria.

KSA….A Greatness foretold
Our
American Kabu-Kabu formular…
The American tour
made possible by the Nigerian Cultural Exchange saw us
playing in New York, Philadelphia and Maryland.  The shows were
well received but our stay had its comic side. 
On arrival, we put on this American accent—ye men, we gonna see ya,
shit, etc. which we thought would impress the people there.  It only made them to laught at us because we
could not even say these things well. 
Some Nigerians we met had to advice us to speak naturally.  For me, I went too far.  I used to dress like a Cowboy in the manner of John
Wayne
. Even up till 1984/85, I would wear a native dress with a cowboy shoe
to match!  You can imagine how I looked
in America.
But we met so many people who had been expecting my kind of
music and they enjoyed it very much. There were older people like Pa
Olatunji
, Dr. Oladapo and Dr. Oyewo among others who advised
us on what to do in our subsequent tour of America.  In all, we spent three months on that first
visit, the usual time for musicians on cultural exchange sponsorship..

“There
was also  the time the City of Atlanta
sent for me to receive the key to the city. 
And that day was called “King
Sunny Ade
Day”.  It was wonderful. This was signed by Andrew Young himself.  And there I was photographed with him and
other state officials”. 

KSA….Created a reactionary mood to culture shock in USA
The band has since been to America several
times.  During one of these tours, we
played in 20 cities across America,
doing 27 shows in all.  It also featured Chief
Osita Osadebe
.  The reviews in
the press were same.  “Kind
Sunny Ade and Osita Osadebe Tear the roof Down”.
  The last show, which I called. “Palmwine Night”, was reported by the
press as, “The best show of King Sunny
Ade”.
  We played in the Old Theatre which could only take 5000
people.  There I changed the whole
concept of my show and was able to explain what juju music is all about and why we called the night, “Palmwine Night”.  At the end of the show, they did not want to
leave and were asking for more.
KSA….The Story changed in USA
Music
has taken me far and wide…
My music has taken me to almost every country in the
world.  I have played in Vancouver,
Canada;
and in toronto, I played alongside Peter Tosh,
James
Brown
and the Police.  In this
instance, while other people played, they threw cans at them but when I mounted
the stage, even though they did not understand my language, they danced
enthusiastically to my music.  France,
Switzerland,
Holland,
West
Germany,
Sweden,
Belgium,
Finland,
Italy
are just few of the countries that I have toured.  But Japan was something else.  The concert which took place at the national
Statidum in Tokyo had more than 250,000
people in attendnance.  And it was beamed
live to over 100 million Japanese.
My
Awards…
I began receiving awards in recognition of my music from home
long before the international awards came. 
Different schools and organsiations gave me awards in Nigeria as well as
some state governments.  But in 1971, I
started getting awards abroad.  That was
when I went to London on a performing
tour to promote my album.  I got awards
from the organizers of the tour and from companies and recording
companies.  When I came back home, we
went to America.  Again, awards came from individual companies
but none from the government yet.
KSA with global personalities
The
story of my ‘OTUNBA’…
From 1978, I started getting awards from different parts of
the world like the Golden Mecury of Africa  award among others.  In the 80s, I began to receive keys to cities, awards from different
organisations, traditional institutions, churches, student organisations and
schools.  In the 90s, I started getting
honourary doctorate degrees  from
universities.  I refused to accept these
from abroad until Lagos State University gave me its honourary doctorate.  I did not accept the doctorate degree from
home first.  I am the first popular
musician to be given a honourary doctorate in Nigeria.  The others are
artists.  I have awards and certificates
from different towns in Nigeria as
well as chieftancy titles.  But, I’m a
prince by birth and so cannot be called a chief.  Sometimes Oba Sijuade would say, “you are a prince, why are they giving you
chieftancy titles?”
  My own Otunba
is not a title.  I am from a royal family.
KSA…Conquered the world with Music
King
Sunny Ade Day…
I do not believe there are small or big awards.  Each award has its significance.  Before an award is given to anyone, a number
of criteria must have been taken into account. I appreciate any award given to
me.  Sometimes it is as small as a pin
which I pin to my suit.  While on tour of
Europe, I was once called to receive
an award by the State Department in Washington
DC
along with Onyeka Onwenu.  They paid
for everythng: return ticket to Washington:
my hotel accommodation and other expenses. 
There was also  the time the City of Atlanta sent for me to receive
the key to the city.  And that day was
called “King Sunny Ade Day”.  It was wonderful. This was signed by Andrew
Young
himself (America’s elder statesman and black emancipation leader).  And there I was photographed with him and
other state officials.  At another time,
the Mayor
of Berkerly
called me to his office to receive the key of the
city.  The same thing happened in Chicago,
Providence
and Miami and many cities.
KSA…on World tour of Canada & America 
Me
& Awards…
When you receive one award you would be wondering what was
happening.  When it became two, you now
know you are on the platform with the whole world watching you.  With a third one, you would say, “this is a challenge.  I will continue to do my best”.  If you receive the fourth one, then you say, “there must be something I’ve been doing
that people appreciate”.
  When more
awards come your way, you now say, “yes,
by the grace of God, I think I’m getting somewhere
”.  This is the way I look at things especially
awards given to me.  You can imagine the Queen
of England
shaking my hand; other presidents across the world shaking
my hand.  If you consider that, it is not
by accident.  When the Queen came to Nigeria in 1956, I ran about 10 miles with the Boys’ Brigade
holding the Commonwelath Torch.  I could
only wave at her.  She didn’t know who I
was.
KSA…on World tour of Canada & America
But in 2004, I was given an invitation to come and welcome Her Royal Majesty, the Queen of England, in the Nigeria
Ambassador’s Residence in Abuja, Nigeria.  When I stepped into the place, I met heads of
state, both serving and past.  I saw
first class traditional rulers.  The
queen went round shaking the hands of everyone present.  When it came to my turn, I just mumbled
something as she shook my hand.  It was
an honour.  I was proud when our
president, Olusegun Obasanjo came to me and said, “Ah, Sunny, I will see you later”. 
It was an honour.
KSA….The Band Leader
(Excerpts
from the book; KSA: My Life, My Music by
King Sunny Ade. Read ‘Mysterious things people do to musicians on
stage’
tomorrow on this blog
)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here