Thursday, 30 March 2017

Why I went back to music after 17 years in the vineyard—Ebenezer Obey + How he became Professor Emeritus

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Professor Emeritus and Juju Music Legend, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi (MFR)

In this concluding part of our extra-ordinary encounter with legendary musician and Juju music icon, Professor Emeritus, Evangelist Ebenezer Olasupo Remilekun Obey Fabiyi (MFR) who will be turning 75 on Monday, April 3, 2017, the elder statesman took us through the story of his sudden return to the stage couple of years back after spending a straight 17 years in the vineyard of the Lord running his church, Decross International Ministries. He told us the role of late American Preacher, Dr. Myles Munroe in his path back to the stage and why fans have kept him busy since he returned despite his charges.  
 Evangelist OBEY for the first time told Asabeafrika the story of how he became a Professor Emeritus of Music and visiting Professor to Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State—South West Nigeria.  
The Egba born music icon who has released uncountable  albums in the last 50 years of practice equally told us for the first time how he reacted to the desire of his last son, TOLU OBEY on his ambition to follow after dad’s foot step.
Enjoy the excerpts on your Africa’s number Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika.

For 17 years you were off the entertainment scene and you went straight into the vineyard. A lot of your fans were angry with you and felt you only left them in the loop. At what time did you decided to return. What prompted your return to the stage?
The GDA meets Professor Ebenezer Obey (MFR)
Well, when it comes to the call of God, the experience differs. But you cannot resist God’s calling. Even Jonah  (Biblical Jonah) who resisted, God had another way to re-arrest him and make him to oblige his calling. He found himself in the belly of a fish and that same fish vomited him in the place where God assigned him to work. He found himself in that dilemma while resisting God. So, you can’t resist God’s calling. With me, yes, for eleven to twelve years, I struggled with the Lord. I didn’t want to go into the vineyard. Yes, I love God and like you said earlier that some people said that I had already been evangelizing with my music before God called me.
Yes, that is actually what some of your fans said?
Professor Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi (MFR)
But God has a different plan for me and when He calls you, you cannot say no. At the beginning I struggled with Him. But finally I said, ‘Lord, here I am send me’ and thank God that even though I left behind all the good things of life, God never disappointed me. I am a serious minded person, whatever I set my heart to do, I do it without  beating about the bush. So, I was in the ministry for 17 good years. I was doing that and I thank God for His grace. But when the time came, God allowed me to have the freedom to do what I am doing now.
Professor Emeritus Obey to Asabeafrika...'A lot of my fans got mad with me for dumping music for 17 years and facing gospel work'
Despite the fact that when I went into the ministry, a lot of people were annoyed that ‘Ha, why did you do that? Ha, you disappointed us, Obey ti ba faaji je’. I had a lot of criticism, ‘Ha, man yi ba faaji je fun wa, haa, etc’. That anger was there. But as time goes on, moreso when God gave me the wisdom of ‘Special Appearance’ their perception changed. I was doing the Special Appearance and it became a new vehicle for the entire ministry. God used late Dr. Myles Munroe, because I have not yielded to the pressure for 17 years. When we had this program in London and there was a concert segment of the church program.
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'Myles Munroe encouraged me to use Music as a vehicle of evangelism'
And I performed and he (Myles Munroe) saw how people were reacting to my performance, he took the microphone from me and he said ‘Pastor Obey, Pastor Obey, can I be frank to you? Can I tell you something?’ I said ‘Yes’ and he said to me ‘This is a vehicle that you can use for God. You can continue your evangelical duty but you can use this one as a vehicle’. He said “Look at me, I travel all over the world. Nations of the world and government  invite me to talk, to teach about leadership”. He said his leadership program has turned Nations who follow his teachings and ideas to success. That they have succeeded because of his programs and initiatives. And he said everything that he was doing, it is God who anointed it. He said it was directly from the Bible he put those things together.
Professor Emeritus Obey to Asabeafrika...'I am specially for 'Special Appearance' nothing more
But when he is releasing his leadership teachings, he is not presenting it as a preacher but he present it as a presentation. He said to me ‘this is what you need’. And even after the program, he called me and said ‘that is what God want me to tell you’. And I got that message and prayed over it and I said ‘yes, God is behind this’. I accepted to do it and when I started it,
The Prof's famous album, Inter-Reformers
I was charging people heavily and people were paying. And I will take part of the money for my band and take the other part to the ministry. And it became part of the tenth making edit which Paul was giving to the ministry in the Bible. Then, another thing that will show you that the hand of God is in what we are doing. I have left the (Entertainment) industry for 17 years and immediately I returned, people started coming. It is quite overwhelming.
Professor Ebenezer Obey arriving for the encounter
You mean the patronage is overwhelming after 17 years sabbatical?
Yes, People started coming. They could have said ‘oh, we have forgotten Obey and let’s move on’. But no, that wasn’t the case. Thank God for God. And thank God that my return did not take me out of the ministry. It only complemented me and complemented the ministry. Because I use music as a vehicle to preach. When people see me, the next thing they want to think about is ‘Sing for us’. I sing for you and tell you about JESUS. I preach to you so that the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will touch you and draw those who are in the kingdom of darkness and bring them back into the kingdom of light. Glory be to God for all what God has done through me for the glorification of His name.
You are now a Professor Emeritus at Olabisi Onabanjo University—Ogun State and anytime I look at it, I feel that some of  us should have been privileged to be in school again under your class so as to benefit from what you teach those young minds?
Professor Emeritus Obey to Asabeafrika...'A lot of people want to know how i compose my songs and that is what i teach at OOU'
(Cuts in) You would have loved it because I teach them what I do, they want to know what others want to know about Obey’s music. How do I put the words together and the secret of how to do it. And that is what I teach them. We tell them how to discover the inspiration for music and how to be a better song composer, arranger and make creative music full of folklore, philosophy and ethical re-orientation. Music is all about re-orientation and self-reformation. However, we teach them the secret of Obey’s music.
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'I teach my students the real secrets of Obey's music'
Your music is quite scientific, there is one where you sang ‘My Juju my Guitar o, t’omode t’agba lon jijo Obey o...Then, in the chorus, some said ‘Obey o’ in their reaction stanzas while others said ‘Miliki’. How were you able to blend those words in a return chorus?
Yes, music is a source of communication. Communicating messages through your music. When I sing about ‘Ko s’ogbon to le da, ko s’iwa to le wu, ko s’ona to le gba t’ole fi taiye lorun o’.So that work, Ko s’ogbon t’oleda, ko s’iwa to le wu ko s’ona to le gba to le fi taiye lorun’ is a guiding philosophy. It is a straight and clear message. Highly philosophical and that is the album Kete-Kete. I have so much of such songs and you can even use songs as a means of appreciation.
The Album 'Oluwa Ni Oluso Aguntan Mi' where Professor Obey praise late Chief Ohu Babatunde Akin-Olugbade
Yes, there was one great man you sang his praise in your ‘Oluwa Ni’ Oluso Agu Tan mi’ record where you sang ‘Tani Ma Ba lo o, Bo dodun, tani ba la o l’awujo, Sokoto Omolomo o ti ho, ewu t’omolomo wo faya, Akin-Olugbade ti won mo mi mo, koni yan ku o ee?. That album was very rare, can I ask who was late Chief Ohu Babatunde Akin-Olugbade to you?
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'Late Akin-Olugbade was an elder statesman'
He was an elder statesman and someone who had a good name. He was Balogun Owu, Ekerin Egba, and Iwa rere (Good character) which is a form of appreciation for his goodwill in the society was the hallmark of that record. And I said that from the story and the history I heard about Chief Akin-Olugbade, I was told he was very hard working when he was a youth.  He was a great man. He was an icon in his own time. But above all, he was an elder statesman.
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'Late Chief Akin-Olugbade's pedigree as a youth inspired me'
I have listened to the special albums you did on late Alhaji Alao Arisekola, Late Chief Sola Lumos, Chief Lai Amoje and lot more. Who would you say was your biggest celebrity album?
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'I have so many fans i waxed album for that i have lost count of the best one'
I have quite a lot of friends and I have quite a lot of fans. I have friends and I have fans. It is difficult to say which one is the most successful of my albums. We waxed album for quite a lot of fans and admirers. I think we just did our best and left the rest for the society.
The Prof's pretty daughter and his Chief Strategist, Pa Tunji Odumnbaku pose with his effigy
I once asked one of your die hard fans why he didn’t get you to wax an album for him and he said ‘he was not that rich at the time’. So, what does it takes to get you wax an album for a fan?
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'It takes good thinking and determination to wax an album for a fan'
Well, what it takes is determination, good thinking and that is all it takes. It was our own way of appreciating people who contributed  to the development of society in those days and that is why I told you that music is a form of communication and it could also be a form of exaltation to God and to man.
At 75, what are those things you have stopped doing?
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'At 75, i still tour and sing'
Well, by the grace of God I want to thank God for the grace to be healthy enough to do my job. As for traveling, I still travel. And God has been so good to me that the difference is when you grow older, when you are old, you cannot compare yourself with when you were young. There is a remarkable difference and that is the only thing. But I still do all the things I do in terms of my profession. But I know a time may come that one may not be able to do those things again. When we get to that stage, we shall know how to cross the bridge.
But in recent times I have watched you at shows in Ilesa, Orin-Ekiti, Abeokuta, and even Ajah. Whenever you hold the microphone, it is like music just drops from heaven. Where do you get that rare energy to deliver your lines verbatim?
Well, when one is a musician and you have been doing this for over 50 years like I have been doing it, it has become part of you. I cannot stop singing. When I become old and I cannot go out, I will be singing to my God.
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'Singing is in my gene'
You will sing to your God inside your inner recess?
That is for you to know that I cannot do without singing. As long as I can…even if I grow old and I cannot walk, I cannot do anything, as long as I can open my mouth, I will sing to my God. I will talk to my God, praise my God (Laughter).
You are now sounding like a Psalmist?
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'Even if i cannot move again, i will use my mouth to praise God'
(Laughter) I will talk to my God, praise my God and sing to Him.
What about your food regime? What is good to eat at this age?
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'At this age everything is in moderation'
Well, I think protein and vegetables are good for adults at this age. They are good for the body. Sugar is not good at all for the body. Anything sugary is out of it. More water, of course in moderation is good for the body.
Before we end the encounter with you, let us talk about your late wife. She died couple of years ago and you refused to re-marry. Can you share fond memories of her with us?
One of the famous albums of Professor Ebenezer Obey 'What God has joined  together'
Well, my wife was the right person that God knew should be my wife and He gave her to me and we were together for 48 years before the Lord called her. She was a wonderful woman, very humble and someone who cooperated with me; she supported me and never allowed me regret doing my job. I am a peaceful man, I love peace and she maintained that.
Professor Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika....'I gave instruction that my kids must all be on bed by 9pm and my late wife sealed it'
I learnt that when you were a young musician you gave a standing order that by 9pm, all your kids must be at home and she helped you achieve that?
Yes, a man must be able to have a laid down principle to run his home. I know I go out every night but the policy at home was that all my children, everybody must be on bed by 9pm. And that worked with my wife. She made it work and that was why I refused to marry again after her demise in 2011 because she made my job easy for me as a wife. She was a complete mother and wife and that is the reason I donated a Police Station to my town Idogo, in honor of her good memory last Thursday March 23 which is her birthday. I am grateful to God for giving her to me.
Professor Emeritus Ebenezer Obey to Asabeafrika...'I have handed over the baton to my son, Tolu'
What about your son, Tolu Obey, have you blessed him to carry on after you. A lot of people said you are angry with him for singing Juju and not becoming a Pastor like some of his siblings?
No, but I have…
(Cuts in) Peope said you are afraid for him?
Afraid of what?
Afraid of the challenges of being a musician?
The GDA with the Prof and the sculptured effigy of himself  inside his Lagos home
No, no, no, no. I have supported him. On my 70th birthday, in the presence of everybody, I prayed for him. I laid my hands upon him and gave him the microphone, I said ‘Over to you’ and he is being doing fine. As we are talking now, he is in the United States of America on tour. I support him and I am happy that he is doing well. But I know in music, you must find your path. You don’t say because my father is a veteran, or because my father is in it, I am in it. No, you must prove yourself that you are in for the creativity. Like people know that FELA was good. They know that FEMI is good, they know that SEUN is good. That is music and that is the real strength of music. So TOLU is doing well.
Professor Emeritus Ebenezer Obey (MFR) with his  sculptured effigy of himself from children

Give a word of appreciation to your fans all over the world. People who are presently reading you on Asabeafrika in the USA, Canada, London, Australia and elsewhere in Africa?
One of Professor Ebenezer Obey's famous albums 'Aimasiko'
Well, I want to thank all my fans all over the world, thank you for being there for me. Thank you for your patronage. Thanks for your support. I really appreciate you and I love you. I know you have been my fans, my friends, my admirers; I don’t joke with your love for my music. I really appreciate you and I pray that God continue to bless you, be with you and keep you safe in Jesus mighty name.
Another of the Prof Emeritus'  famous albums 'Igba Owuro Lawa'

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