Recognised by a later generation
In 2013, Tuface Idibia, a music legend in his own right, remixed Olaiya’s Baby Jowo. It was a homage to another era but only underlined how things had changed.
A handful of highlife musicians are still scattered in the eastern and western parts of Nigeria but their tunes are now mostly heard at funerals. And when he is lowered into the ground, it may be more than flesh that is returning to dust. The highlife music he pioneered may just be buried along with him.
Fela comes to the city of Olaiya
Olaiya was a multi-linguist and sang in Twi, Igbo, Efik, Pidgin and Yoruba and his band would go on to serve as a training ground for musicians who would revolutionise music in Africa. Fela’s drummer, Tony Allen, was also among those who played with Olaiya. Other notable musicians that passed through his band were guitar wizard Victor Uwaifo, juju musician Dele Ojo and saxophonist Yinusa Akinnibosun.