The KSA Memoir: My bitter wars with Ebenezer Obey

KSA and Obey in Live Stage Performance

Ebenezer Obey is a good brother.  He is my colleague though he is now a church
Minister.  But I will still address him
as Commander
Ebenezer
Obey in my own fold.  I
will also address him as Evangelist Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi.  We came into the limelight at the same time
which I believe has never happened in the history of entertainment in Nigeria –
two juju musicians rising up at the same time, loved by people at the same
time.  The so-called rivalry was not
between him and me, it was between our fans.

I
want to start from my own angle.  I have
had intelligent and cool-headed bandleaders as my bosses.  And up till now, they are still cool-headed
like Moses
Olaiya
, Idowu Owoeye and Sunday Ariyo.  I see them as role models.  I may have been rascally as a young boy but I
try to be disciplined and cool-headed.  I
respect people just as I want people to respect me. So when we started, I was
with African
Songs
headed by Chief Bolarinwa Abioro and Ebenezer
Obey
was with Decca distributed by Sanuolu
Records
.  African Songs was
distributed by TYC.  So it was more or
less like competition in the market place by the two companies.  I did not like the fact that our fans – Ebenezer
Obey’s
and mine – were always fighting over us. I was the one that used
to go to Obey.  He came to my
house occasionally but I went to see him in his house regularly, because he was
a little older than me.  As my mother
told me, if a person is older than you by one day, show him respect otherwise
your juniors would not respect you also. 
As time went by, I discovered that people were attributing what I did
not say to me. The same thing was happening to Obey.  The impression this created was that myself
and Obey
were rivals.


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KSA & Obey meets severally in the 1980s 
How Obey & I
began our war in Ibadan…
It
was a show in Ibadan that sparked off
the so called rivalry between Obey and I.  The show held at Ibadan Tennis Club.  We
played together. He played his turn. 
When it was my turn to play, the whole place was filled with people
dancing.  And the next thing I heard the
following day, was that it was Chief Lekan Salami (a director in
African Songs, my label), that told everybody not to dance to Obey!

KSA and his best star friend, Commander Ebenezer Obey (MFR)
Obey attends KSA’s daughter’s wedding as the mutual respect continues without havoc 
I
went to Obey’s house in Papa Ajao.  We discussed. 
Like me, he was not happy the way the whole thing was going.  That was the day, Olabisi Ajala
aka Ajala travel who was passing by
and saw my car and came to meet us through the back entrance.  He said, “Eh,
you people, this is
how you are
fooling us.  The news will come out
today”.
  And truly, the news came out
in the Evening Times.
“After this, we had a
meeting where we decided that if he was invited to any function to play, I
should stay away and he was to do the same once he knew I was to perform in a
particular place.  Before this, we had to
call the elders to intervene when the clashes between our fans was getting out
of hand”

Obey attends KSA’s daughter’s wedding as the mutual respect continues without havoc 
The Miliki King & The Ariya King

There
were series of arguments everywhere: Husbands fighting wives, wives fighting
husbands; friends fighting one another over their loyalty either to Ebenezer
Obey
or to me.  This escalated
when we had our nightclubs on the same street in Ebute MettaEbenezer
Obey’s Miliki
Spot and my Q Club.  Though I was there first before Obey
came, it was to encourage our fans to see us as one.  I mean you can finish from one show and move
to the other.  But they turned it to
another thing.  The fans would come to my
show to make trouble, they would also go to Obey’s show to cause problem.
Again, I went to Obey’s house. I said:  “egbon, I think we have to change our
dates”,
He said, “I think so”.  Before then we both played on
Wednesdays.  We had to throw a coin based
on which he changed his date to Thursdays.  Honestly, as a good brother he changed his
date right there without first telling his band members or patrons.  After that we tried to manage the situation
so as not to clash, as there was no reason for that.

KSA; Mum told him to respect Ebenezer Obey
KSA; Fond of rumored war between himself and Ebenezer Obey
But
the fans were difficult to control. 
There was a day we played in Lagos
Island
.  I had come in from a tour
and did not know he was also playing there. 
By the time I came he had already set up.  When I came down from my car, I nearly ran
back from the crowd.  I managed to go and
greet him before mounting my stage.  So
he was playing on one side and me on the other side.  The crowd was restless.  I kept praying to God not to allow anything
to happen.

KSA; The Juju Music  Renovator 
KSA & Obey meets severally in the 1980s 
After
this, we had a meeting where we decided that if he was invited to any function
to play, I should stay away and he was to do the same once he knew I was to
perform in a particular place.  Before
this, we had to call the elders to intervene when the clashes between our fans
was getting out of hand.  The meeting had
in attendance Alhaji Haruna Ishola, I.K. Dairo, Adeolu
Akinsanya
and Prince Adeoshun.  After that we went to the studio.  He sang for me and I sang for him…
The Miliki King, Commander Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi (MFR)
KSA & Obey; Friendship made for Music from Heaven

How I met & fell
in love with Obey…

My
friendship with Obey dates back to my early years in music.  I got to know him through Fatai
Rolling Dollars
.  He played then
at Dandy
Hotel
in Idi-Oro, Lagos.  I was with Moses Olaiya but lived in
Idi-Oro.  After closing we would come to Boundary where he was a member under Fatai
Rolling Dollars
.  There was one
day, he came to me to ask me how to tune the guitar and I did. Again talking
about musical style, I was the first juju musician who not only admired Tunde Nightingale’s style but went on to
play like him.  We called his style,
Owambe
but he had a tiny voice which no musician could imitate. It was
the music that Lagosians liked to
dance to.  And I wanted people to dance
to my music in the same way.  At the
time, most juju musicians played like I.K. Dairo.  I changed to Nightingale’s style while Obey
changed to that of Idowu Animashaun or juju highlife.

KSA; The Juju Music  Renovator 
KSA….The Enigma
And
just to prove how close myself and Obey still are, when recently he did
his children’s wedding ceremony, I was there and we wore the same dress.  When he celebrated his birthday we wore the
same dress also and I played for him.  He
also came to grace my daughter’s wedding in year 2005.
(Excerpts
from the book; KSA: My Life, My Music by
King Sunny Ade. Read ‘How I built my first house in Lagos’
tomorrow on this blog
)

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