Tuesday, 21 June 2016

How MKO became a Musician & Newspaper Editor


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The GDA & The Author
Moshood flourished in the firewood business for several years. He was able to carter for his family and many others outside his family. But reasons beyond his control, such as rising opposition from local villagers in and around Oba, forced him to give up the business. What had seemed odd to him back in those days was the unwillingness of the local inhabitants of Oba to get involved in the firewood business and their reluctance, at the same time, to allow outsiders to participate in the business. Did they not know that their village stood to gain nothing from that scenario?
That was not the only reason that he left the business. The cost of hiring trucks rose astronomically and wiped away a large part of the profit. At first Moshood did not just give up. He remained resilient and used half of the money he had saved from the business, which was 135 pounds at that time, to buy a second-hand truck. He thought his problem was solved till the engine of the truck knocked after a few trips.

That was the end of the firewood business. It took Moshood a while before he got involved in a new venture. This was deliberate. His criteria for the right venture had evolved by then. It was no longer only about profitability; it now included immunity from external factors beyond his control, such as hostile locals. By then he had become a teenager and had enrolled in a secondary school named Baptist Boys High School. Finding a niche was his main priority but it was not easy. One day he discovered exactly what he wanted to do.

The GDA in a hearty chat with the Author
He rushed to his parents and found them seated in the living room. He greeted them and made an announcement. “I want to form an orchestra that will play at social functions. I will name it Kashy Mambo Orchestra”
His father, who had become much older and weaker, still had his wits. “Is it the engine of your truck that knocked or your brain? How can you think of becoming a musician?”
His mother, who was surprisingly amused by the idea, intervened. “Don’t be so harsh on him. Hear him out, at least”
Salawu grumbled. “Okay, go ahead!” He sounded hesitant. “But don’t get carried away because I don’t like the idea at all”
Moshood was nervous. He knew that his interest in the orchestra would fizzle away without his father’s approval. He also knew that he could pressure his father to accept the idea but he wanted him to be convinced willingly. “I know it seems strange that I am moving from firewood to an orchestra. The reason is that I need a project in which I will have full control” He sat beside his parents.
“If there is anything that people never get tired of spending money on its parties. That means that my orchestra, which is going to be the one in town, will be in a position to set the terms that are most profitable for it to operate”

“I know, but my aim is not to be a trader. It has never been. I want to finish school with the best grades. From there I will go to a good university and graduate.Soon afterward I will work in a big company and rise to the top. This music is just a means to make all of these plans more feasible”

MKO & Dad, Chief  Salawu Adenekan
His father interrupted him. “One in town; what fanciful words” He continued in a more serious tone. “There are too many bands already. Some of them are headed by professional singers who have built solid reputations over the years. How will you ever compete?”
Moshood had not expected such a tough question. “You are right, sir. This business is not an empty terrain” He was stammering. “But these bands don’t have a personal touch. Do you know that their members wear the same uniforms to different events? It doesn’t even matter to them if they are going to play at a wedding or a funera1. They wear the same colors. That, to me, is insensitive” Encouraged by his father’s positive facial reaction, he continued.”Kashy Mambo Orchestra will be different because I know that my customers deserve better. I can afford to sew different sets of uniform for members of my band and buy all the necessary musical equipment with the last part of my savings from the firewood business”
His father looked stunned. “You seem to have thought this all thing out. I am really impressed. But are you sure that band members wear the same outfit to all events? That is hard to believe but if it is true ... “
Moshood interrupted him excitedly. “It was a shock to me as well. That is one of the areas I plan to exploit. But all of this will never happen without your permission. Your support has always been a key ... I mean the key”.
His father seemed perplexed. “I would have preferred for you to remain in commodities. It is good to have a focus. After all, experience is the best teacher and that has been your field for a few years now”
Moshood sat on the floor. “I know, but my aim is not to be a trader. It has never been. I want to finish school with the best grades. From there I will go to a good university and graduate.
Soon afterward I will work in a big company and rise to the top. This music is just a means to make all of these plans more feasible” He stopped briefly to look at his mother as well before adding, “That is when I will take excellent care of both of you”

MKO; The Star Child
His words were music to his father’s ears. What his son had said was his exact wish for him. He wanted to visit him one day in his office in a big company like the ones he saw in Lagos from time to time. He nodded his head, which was the green light for Moshood to actualize his plans.
The following day was a very busy one. Moshood began his search for band members. It lasted two weeks. Once his team was in place, he went shopping with them for instruments. On the way, he declared, “Since you are the ones who will play them, you have to help me choose them.”
On that same day they bought a talking drum, bells, a set of drums, and a local instrument called an agidigbo. The next day they visited a popular tailor where he spent almost all the money he had remaining to buy his band members different sets of uniforms with different colors. He chose bright colors like yellow, white, and light blue for festive events like marriages. Darker colors such as black, brown, and gray he picked for funerals.
Kashy Mambo Orchestra was a success from the start. In less than two months, the band was playing at a minimum of three functions weekly. Moshood had made sure that stringent rules, which applied equally to everyone, were in place at the beginning. As the founder of the band, he allocated, with the consent of the other members, a third of the band’s income to himself. He was solely responsible for equipment procurement and repairs. The remainder of the earnings was distributed equally among all other members at the end of each event, in accordance with an agreement that they all signed when the band was formed.

But unlike the days of the firewood business when Salawu played the dominant advisory role regarding the decisions that Moshood took, his mother was now in the forefront. She was the one who motivated him and solved disputes in the band. She won the confidence of Moshood’s colleagues by never being partial to her son. Within a short time, she became known as “the mother of the orchestra”. The orchestra gradually became more of a family than a band. It acquired its own vehicle and played in events in other towns.

The Book that Cleared Bashorun MKO Abiola of all political blemishes
…And MKO becomes Editor…
Moshood maintained his good grades, to everyone’s surprise, and even became the editor of the school magazine named The Trumpeter. He also found time to participate briefly in politics after he joined the youth wing of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons.
Moshood eventually left the band after secondary school. He had secured a job in Barclays Bank in a bigger city named Ibadan, and had made up his mind to relocate. He planned to work and save while he waited for a scholarship that would enable him to further his education abroad. After his departure, the orchestra was renamed Jazzy Mambo Orchestra.
(Excerpts from the book, The President Who Never Ruled by Jamiu Abiola; get copies in any book shop across the world or write Jamiu Abiola through jamiulinguist@yahoo.com. Read How MKO lost mum on first work day @ Barclays Bank in our next post on this blog)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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