In November 1971, when the death of Wale Glorious was announced, sadness enveloped Akure, a major town in the former Western Region. Fifty years after the death of the juju maestro, who was 29 years old at the time, Babatope Okeowo reports that none of the promises made to his family by different groups and individuals were fulfilled.
Ayetutu is one of the streets in Akure, the Ondo State capital that has not benefited from government’s intervention in terms of road construction since the state was created in 1976. The major reason is that the road leads nowhere as landowners have erected buildings and churches along the road that was supposed to link to the popular Oyemekun road, the heart of the State capital.
Along the abandoned road lies the burial ground of a late juju maestro, Wale Glorious, who died 50 years ago. Seeing a grave along the road without any building attached to it is not common in Akure. Before the advent of public, private and church cemeteries, it was customary to bury people in front of their houses.
However, the burial ground of Wale Glorious is not attached to any building neither is there anything to show the contribution of the juju maestro to the life of the people of Akure kingdom. It is as if the man who sang the National Anthem for Akure, ‘Awa L’Akure Oloyemekun’ is left to his fate even in death. His land at Ayetutu Street in Akure has been reduced to a half plot by land grabbers. But his music, Awa L’Akure Oloyemekun, has become the anthem of Akure Kingdom.
The music recorded several years ago is still reverberating and tells a lot about the capital of Ondo State. Apart from the Akure anthem, other titles of the talented musician are: ‘Tete Dawa lohun lasiko’, ‘Mori Mariwo loke’, ‘Omolagbede’, ‘Wa bami gbe’, ‘Nirole Saturday’, ‘logba logba’, ‘Eku aye’, ‘Mope lode’, ‘Oreke Lewa’. Others are; ‘Olajapenegun’, ‘Akokojade sile Aiye’, ‘Pese Fun wa baba’, ‘Ayawa Ode’ and ‘Elegbe mi Aiye le’.
In his lifetime, Wale Glorious and his Aiyesoro Spot Band used music to promote Akure unity and promoted the town similar to how football brings Nigerians together. Irrespective of your political, social or tribal sentiments, Nigerians are always united when it comes to international football competition.
Those who rated Nigerians among the happiest people in the world should listen to the sonorous voice of Late Wale Glorious. His ‘e rora mi a gbe’se’, ‘je koko Iyawo wole’, is an invitation for wedding guests to accord respect to newlywed couples on their day by standing up just as people stand up as a mark of respect to Governors and the President when they arrive at public functions. Another masterpiece by the juju maestro was the album he made to immortalize late Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, former Governor of Western Region, who was murdered during the 1966 coup in Ibadan. Wale Glorious used the music to propagate the bravery and principles of the Yoruba people in the face of adversity.
In the 1960s, when Wale Glorious started his music, it was evident that he aimed to reshape juju music. He was ahead of his contemporaries in the music industry in terms of style, composition and sense of instrumentation. His ability to use Akure dialect to sing effortlessly made his music unique till date.
The talent of Wale Glorious must have made the juju icon, late I.K. Dairo describe him as the “heir apparent” of juju music. In fact, Wale Glorious was a talented instrumentalist, whose delivery of musical composition was legendary. In his short time on earth, his talent reverberated throughout Nigeria. Wale Glorious and his Aiyesoro Spots Band came out with some masterpieces that still impact music in Ondo State, Nigeria and the world.
He was like the Biblical Moses, who saw the promised land from a distance but just did not get there, before he was snatched away by death. Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey, who made a name and fortune out of juju music, were his contemporaries. The man, whose music is being played whenever Akure people are gathered for traditional or social functions, has no single monument, statue, cenotaph or any-thing to honor him by his own people. His grave depicts the abandonment he suffered even in death.
The elites he used his music to promote when he was alive could not help him. The Akure community he used his music to promote did not reckon with him even in death. His children and wives were abandoned and left to carry their cross while many who had promised to cater for the family are nowhere to be seen.
One of his children, Kenny Wale Glorious, who was nine months in the womb when the legendary musician died, disclosed that the family and children left behind and suffered as promises made by friends and associates remain unfulfilled up till now. His words: “It has been a sweet and bitter experience for us children and wives. He died at the age of 29 and since nobody planned for his death, the family really suffered.”
Kenny was bitter because those friends and associates, who promised to uplift the family and children could not even wait for him to decompose before turning their back on the family. Kenny, who is also a musician, said: “Sweet that I am the last born and the only one now into music like my father. It is bitter because nobody came to our aid after his death. Many promises made were unfulfilled, friends abandoned us and musical instruments he left behind were taken over by those he trusted.” Kenny continues, “He left five children and three wives behind and we really suffered, but all survived. Bitter because I know if he was alive now, he could have used his influence to get me musical instruments to boost my music career. Bitter too that his two plots of land have been reduced to just a half plot by his neighbors.”
Bola Olawale James, who was four years old when her father died in lamented that Akure people abandoned them when it mattered most. She said that friends and associates of Wale Glorious promised heaven and earth when he died but that until today, none of those promises have been fulfilled.
First Published on The New Telegraph