|King Sunny Ade|
“It was a sultry July afternoon beside the seductive beach of Eko Holiday Resort, Akodo, near Epe in Lagos State. After residing in the resort for about three days, the sea and its balmy winds lost their appeal to me. So did the whole facility which has the quietness of a monastery. All I was interested in was the promised arrival of one the most famous Nigerians ever – King Sunny Ade, the world acclaimed prime Minister of juju music. He was due to arrive on the same day, but did not until two days later.
|A sharer of joyful noise|
At a point I wondered if he was no longer keen on telling his story. If that was the case, I thought, he should say so and free me from watching coconuts fall and crabs running on the beaches like excited children. At about 2p.m on that Thursday, I was informed by the receptionist, via the intercom, that King Sunny Ade alias KSA had arrived to narrate the story of his life. Even through the intercom, the deference with which the receptionist mentioned his name was almost tangible. It could not have been otherwise. After all, he does not run into royalty – musical or otherwise every day.
“Even when recalling his successes, there was no attempt to embellish his triumphs. The only time the voice betrayed emotions was when he had to tell me about his women. He sounded pained and offered to talk about his marriages when his children have matured enough to handle their father’s revelations about their mothers”
|An immaculate celebrity|
I strolled into the reception to meet the man, who was a couple of months away from his 60th birthday, looking trim. Quick handshakes preceded a most predictable and unoriginal question: ‘How do you manage to look this trim at this age?’
He explained that his parents were sparsely framed people. He added that his appetite, right from time, is not exactly elephantine. His responses were too much unlike a superstar’s. Perhaps he does not consider himself one. He arrived the resort with a sparse bag, three phones and a CD player (can he breathe without music?). He did not have a platoon of aides complete with barbers, hairdressers, manicurists and the other accoutrements of stardom.
It took some time for the resort handlers to get him booked into a room, but he was not throwing tantrums or telling them how bell boys freaked out at Waldorf Astoria or some fancy hotel when he stepped in. I concluded that the man neither realizes that he is a national treasure nor conscious of his own achievements. He did not seem to care; stardom does not seem to make any demands on him. Accompanied by a colleague, we moved into his room to listen to the story of his life. But before the tapes could roll, he lapsed into a long apology for keeping us waiting and offered to pay whatever penalties we prescribed.
A bottle of beer each, we demanded. The bartender came with two bottles each (a supreme example of double portion). With the bottle tops peeled off, the story of one of Africa’s greatest entertainers began, stretching back to its earliest memories.
He responded to questions without having to raise the voice that has graced over 111 albums. Even when recalling his successes, there was no attempt to embellish his triumphs. The only time the voice betrayed emotions was when he had to tell me about his women. He sounded pained and offered to talk about his marriages when his children have matured enough to handle their father’s revelations about their mothers. Charitable? He seems so, even to those who tried to destroy his career.
|The King Among Political Leaders|
|The King among World Leaders|
|The King as the Enigma|
|The King dines with Political Heavyweights|
|The King in his element|
|The King in the Beginning|
|The King of Music and the Kings of Royal Kingdoms|
|The King of World Beat|
|The King's day of humble beginning|
|Two rare leaders; KSA & OBJ|