Reverend Idowu Animasahun, formerly known as Apola King, is one of the legends that ruled the music scene in the 70s. In this interview with MODUPE GEORGE, the Juju music icon now President of the World Hope Ministries, Badeku, who recently turned 80, speaks about life, his sojourn in music and his generally, among other issues. Excerpts:
You once ruled the music scene with your brand as the Apola King. How was life then?
It was great and interesting. I thank God for the privilege to be one of those that ruled and impacted the music industry. The memories are still fresh. This could not have been possible without my commitment and determination to be successful through music. Back then, it entailed a lot of hard work; I listened to all kinds of music. I read a lot of Yoruba books. Some of my lyrics were taken from poems, especially that of Abimbola Olabintan. I used to listen to old music. There were lots of old recordings in the 50s; they were breakables. I used to clean them with kerosene, and later put them on gramophone in the night. These are the works I listened to back then. I did a lot of terrible things to improve on my music and that was why my music always came out original. This is why no one could play my style of music since I left the scene.
At what point did you feel it was time for you to leave the stage?
I think I left at God’s appointed time. It may not have been my wish, but God eventually had His way. You know before you become a gospel minister, you have to firstly become a Christian. So, the turning point was when I became a Christian in 1981. I didn’t start my ministry until 1985. Though it was not easy like in any other field, especially in the aspect of funding. The challenge was much, despite the fact that I was privileged to have travelled wide outside the shores of the country as a musician. I thank God for my life, despite all I have been through and I am happy to return to my comfort zone. I became a Christian in 1981, but before then, I had an encounter with God. Someone told me about Jesus, but I was not interested. The person persisted until she ‘cajoled’ me to buy a Bible in 1981. Meanwhile, the last time I ever handled the Bible was in 1956. So, it was strange. Either consciously or unconsciously, I began to read and study the Bible. I was not only studying it, but I was jotting down some points. I dosed off while studying on a particular day and I saw two creatures fighting. One of them was black, tall, and huge, and the other looked angelic. This does not mean that the devil is black, but I discovered God was just relating with me in the way that I would understand. When I regained my consciousness, I noticed that I was sweating all over. I went to the person who ‘cajoled’ me into buying the Bible and narrated the experience. She was glad and gradually nurtured me as I grew in Christianity.
What was your experience having to quit music for missionary work?
The challenges were enormous. The first challenge was that people found it hard to believe that Idowu Animasahun had become a gospel minister. Some even said the turnaround was not ordinary. There were even insinuations that my relocation to Badeku was a decoy because of the crime I might have committed in the city. Some people also claimed that I came to brainwash the people of Badeku. But, I was not discouraged despite all the castigations I had to depend solely on God, and my family was able to survive through the support of my wife who was teaching at Saint Anne’s.
You turned 80 recently, how did that make you feel?
I want to thank God for the grace to still be relevant in the society and in God’s vineyard, even at 80. My greatest joy is that I can still walk around. It has been God all the way. I would have been forgotten if God had to judge me by the kind of life I lived in my youthful days I moved around with women and engaged in other social vices; yet, I still witnessed 80 in sound health. I have a lot of testimonies. I used to run a hotel night club called Apola Night Club. It was the most popular club in Ibadan in the 70s; people would come from Osogbo, Lagos, Ife and Abeokuta. Despite the fact that I was a musician, I was also into business, precisely fabrics business. I imported lace materials and gold trinkets. Also, I imported alcoholic drinks from Cotonou and then transported them to Gabon, and Central Africa by plane.
Comparing the two lifestyles, do you have any regret?
People often ask me this question, but the point is that there is no basis for comparison. When you work with God, the first thing you have is peace of mind. It is not only about money, because as a musician, I was living a competitive life, just like it is in any other business. However, when it comes to the ministry work, there is no competition; rather we are complementing one another for the propagation of the gospel. This is just an aspect. Another aspect is that you cannot compare a sinful life to the kind of life you live as a gospel minister. The only thing I could regret is that God didn’t call me earlier. Maybe, when I see Jesus, I would ask Him that question, then He would shed light on it.
If you flash back, what has life taught you?
Many lessons actually, but one important thing I would like to say is that God has the prerogative over everyone’s life. If He had allowed me to die before knowing Him, it would have been a different story, but He decided to be patient and gentle with me; God was gentle with me and He is always a gentle God. I also learnt that we shouldn’t despise anybody in life. George Bernard Shaw has a philosophy that: ‘Don’t despise anybody, because your house- boy today can become the prime minister of your country tomorrow.’ This is just like the story of Joseph. He was a house boy to Potiphar, went to prison, and later became the prime minister of Egypt. So, we shouldn’t despise anybody. You can be living a rough life today, but you could become anything tomorrow, God knows the future.
How would you advise younger musicians?
The younger generation musicians have a lot to do. It is painful today that many of them don’t do a lot of research. Many of them don’t have passion for hard work and music requires lots of hard work. Modern technology has simplified everything for today’s musicians. It wasn’t so in our days. You have to do a lot of hard work to make good music. When you listen to all my records, the guitar lines are not the same. All my records are unique, but these days, you discover that most music cannot stand the test of time, because of the contents. Take a look at the works of myself, Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade and the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, they are still relevant 45 years after. But the story is different today, you will hardly find a new record that will last more than three years. This is because they usually lack contents and quality.
Do you still have passion for music?
Yes, I sing gospel music. I have about eight albums, but the thing is that I don’t deal with marketers, because that is another problem for musicians. I sell my works myself.
What is your growing up like?
I was born in a village. Maybe that was why God returned me back to the village (laughs…). I was born in Egbinrin village, a suburb in Ota, Ogun State. I am a native of Abeokuta, though I have some Ibadan blood in me anyway, because my great grandfather was from Ibadan. But, we were born in Abeokuta. My father was born in Abeokuta. I used to go to the farm, but thank God I was very brilliant in school. Throughout my primary school days, I took second position once; I was always coming first. I attended St. James Anglican School, Ota, Ogun State. I went to the National College of Commerce for my secondary school education. That is another story. I was to attend Kings College, Lagos, but on the day of the interview, I couldn’t find my interview letter. So, I missed the interview. I almost committed suicide I took poison, but nothing happened to me eventually. The Kings College was my dream school then, but I missed it. I felt teribly bad. I didn’t attend any university; what we did even at the primary school level then was higher than what obtains in the universities of today.
There is no way I would talk about my life, without talking about my mother. I do not know how to describe her; she was a caring mother. My parents didn’t have the money for me to complete my secondary school education. My father was not bothered, but my mother gave her best for me to complete my education. She encouraged me to learn stenography and I did my Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in 1959 in Quickman shorthand.
My mother was very caring, hardworking and loving. My mother took me to Lagos in 1957. My mother would always say to me; “ojo ola e ma a dara” (your future will be great). I became a houseboy and I engaged in all manner of odd jobs, but the rest is history today.
Reverend Idowu Animasahun, formerly known as Apola King, is one of the legends that ruled the music scene in the 70s. In this interview with MODUPE GEORGE, the Juju music icon now President of the World Hope Ministries, Badeku, who recently turned 80, speaks about life, his sojourn in music and his generally, among other […]Read Full Story