The KSA Memoir: My bitter wars with Ebenezer Obey

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KSA and Obey in Live Stage Performance

Ebenezer Obey is a good brother.  He is my colleague though he is now a church Minister.  But I will still address him as Commander Ebenezer Obey in my own fold.  I will also address him as Evangelist Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi.  We came into the limelight at the same time which I believe has never happened in the history of entertainment in Nigeria – two juju musicians rising up at the same time, loved by people at the same time.  The so-called rivalry was not between him and me, it was between our fans.
I want to start from my own angle.  I have had intelligent and cool-headed bandleaders as my bosses.  And up till now, they are still cool-headed like Moses Olaiya, Idowu Owoeye and Sunday Ariyo.  I see them as role models.  I may have been rascally as a young boy but I try to be disciplined and cool-headed.  I respect people just as I want people to respect me. So when we started, I was with African Songs headed by Chief Bolarinwa Abioro and Ebenezer Obey was with Decca distributed by Sanuolu Records.  African Songs was distributed by TYC.  So it was more or less like competition in the market place by the two companies.  I did not like the fact that our fans – Ebenezer Obey’s and mine – were always fighting over us. I was the one that used to go to Obey.  He came to my house occasionally but I went to see him in his house regularly, because he was a little older than me.  As my mother told me, if a person is older than you by one day, show him respect otherwise your juniors would not respect you also.  As time went by, I discovered that people were attributing what I did not say to me. The same thing was happening to Obey.  The impression this created was that myself and Obey were rivals.

KSA & Obey meets severally in the 1980s 
How Obey & I began our war in Ibadan…
It was a show in Ibadan that sparked off the so called rivalry between Obey and I.  The show held at Ibadan Tennis Club.  We played together. He played his turn.  When it was my turn to play, the whole place was filled with people dancing.  And the next thing I heard the following day, was that it was Chief Lekan Salami (a director in African Songs, my label), that told everybody not to dance to Obey!
KSA and his best star friend, Commander Ebenezer Obey (MFR)
Obey attends KSA's daughter's wedding as the mutual respect continues without havoc 
I went to Obey’s house in Papa Ajao.  We discussed.  Like me, he was not happy the way the whole thing was going.  That was the day, Olabisi Ajala aka Ajala travel who was passing by and saw my car and came to meet us through the back entrance.  He said, “Eh, you people, this is how you are fooling us.  The news will come out today”.  And truly, the news came out in the Evening Times.
“After this, we had a meeting where we decided that if he was invited to any function to play, I should stay away and he was to do the same once he knew I was to perform in a particular place.  Before this, we had to call the elders to intervene when the clashes between our fans was getting out of hand”
Obey attends KSA's daughter's wedding as the mutual respect continues without havoc 
The Miliki King & The Ariya King
There were series of arguments everywhere: Husbands fighting wives, wives fighting husbands; friends fighting one another over their loyalty either to Ebenezer Obey or to me.  This escalated when we had our nightclubs on the same street in Ebute MettaEbenezer Obey’s Miliki Spot and my Q Club.  Though I was there first before Obey came, it was to encourage our fans to see us as one.  I mean you can finish from one show and move to the other.  But they turned it to another thing.  The fans would come to my show to make trouble, they would also go to Obey’s show to cause problem. Again, I went to Obey’s house. I said:  “egbon, I think we have to change our dates”, He said, “I think so”.  Before then we both played on Wednesdays.  We had to throw a coin based on which he changed his date to Thursdays.  Honestly, as a good brother he changed his date right there without first telling his band members or patrons.  After that we tried to manage the situation so as not to clash, as there was no reason for that.
KSA; Mum told him to respect Ebenezer Obey
KSA; Fond of rumored war between himself and Ebenezer Obey
But the fans were difficult to control.  There was a day we played in Lagos Island.  I had come in from a tour and did not know he was also playing there.  By the time I came he had already set up.  When I came down from my car, I nearly ran back from the crowd.  I managed to go and greet him before mounting my stage.  So he was playing on one side and me on the other side.  The crowd was restless.  I kept praying to God not to allow anything to happen.
KSA; The Juju Music  Renovator 
KSA & Obey meets severally in the 1980s 
After this, we had a meeting where we decided that if he was invited to any function to play, I should stay away and he was to do the same once he knew I was to perform in a particular place.  Before this, we had to call the elders to intervene when the clashes between our fans was getting out of hand.  The meeting had in attendance Alhaji Haruna Ishola, I.K. Dairo, Adeolu Akinsanya and Prince Adeoshun.  After that we went to the studio.  He sang for me and I sang for him…
The Miliki King, Commander Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi (MFR)
KSA & Obey; Friendship made for Music from Heaven
How I met & fell in love with Obey…
My friendship with Obey dates back to my early years in music.  I got to know him through Fatai Rolling Dollars.  He played then at Dandy Hotel in Idi-Oro, Lagos.  I was with Moses Olaiya but lived in Idi-Oro.  After closing we would come to Boundary where he was a member under Fatai Rolling Dollars.  There was one day, he came to me to ask me how to tune the guitar and I did. Again talking about musical style, I was the first juju musician who not only admired Tunde Nightingale’s style but went on to play like him.  We called his style, Owambe but he had a tiny voice which no musician could imitate. It was the music that Lagosians liked to dance to.  And I wanted people to dance to my music in the same way.  At the time, most juju musicians played like I.K. Dairo.  I changed to Nightingale’s style while Obey changed to that of Idowu Animashaun or juju highlife.
KSA; The Juju Music  Renovator 
KSA....The Enigma
And just to prove how close myself and Obey still are, when recently he did his children’s wedding ceremony, I was there and we wore the same dress.  When he celebrated his birthday we wore the same dress also and I played for him.  He also came to grace my daughter’s wedding in year 2005.

(Excerpts from the book; KSA: My Life, My Music by King Sunny Ade. Read ‘How I built my first house in Lagos’ tomorrow on this blog)

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