It is a great pleasure and honour for me to be asked to speak a few words about an elder brother, a personal hero, a foremost inspiration and an outstanding image of originality and culture, King Sunny Ade.
This quintessential man we celebrate here today is one of the most widely beloved entertainers and highly influential artist of all time.
King Sunny Ade, everyone knows the name. Some people know him for his musical genius, some for his humanitarian works and efforts to promote the culture and heritage of our country, Nigeria, Africa, our continent and the world at large. Some know him for the large amount of media attention he received as well as those tabloid reviews that intruded his life. Whatever the reason, everyone knows that KSA is a great man.
He caught me into his world in the early seventies with his unending heart bursting albums and tracks. And since then I have been caught in his maze of stunning art and music which he has been dishing out for the pleasure and uplifting of our souls and nation over these long years.
But King Sunny Ade didn’t start on the sunny side of life. He fought poverty and many social limitations whose main goals were to suppress dreams, destroy vision and incapacitate talents. In the end he triumphed because he had the guts, the will and the endurance. Most importantly, he had the backing of God, our creator.
For those of us who grew up in the innocence of both the heartland of the villages and the emerging city centres of the 50s – 70s, KSA’s music was a touch of civilisation, a window of class and a curtain to the power of our imagination and the endless ability of the mind.
KSA’s music created fun, profound entertainment and sizzling glamour for us. But most importantly, it touched the truth which in turn touched us in a more remarkable way that points us in the direction of the missing links in our humanity. This is art in its highest form.
King Sunny Ade’s music inspired us to think of ourselves as gods with incredible capacity of extraordinary self expression.
Those moments of soul definition, social enlightenment and absolute connection with our inner being are what King Sunny Ade and his music will forever live for.
I remember vividly his highly philosophical and prayerful songs which taught us MODERATION, Contentment, Integrity and Faith. Songs like Ibi Lekeleke GBE n koja.., Kirakita- Kirakita, Iriri Aye, Jealousy and Mo wa sope fun eledumare (1970s- 80s, did more to create a clear image of measure and rectitude in our minds as young men and even now as grand parents.
His pastoral tracks which were warnings against life adversaries as well as coaching sessions on self confidence also created a great deal of push in us.
Such push teach us that we can achieve all we want to achieve, if we work hard and nurture a mind against impossibilities. And isn’t it what we learnt from hit tracks like Ogidan o ni se Barber, Sheinde, Maa jo, Penkele, Mo ti mo mo wa sope, E dide (1970s to 90s).
At a personal level, I have wondered what makes this man extraordinary. Now I know the answer. It is belief and character clothed in talent.
KSA showed vocal range, instrumental harmony and arrangement profundity that nobody knew he had before. He used alto on one of his tracks and an arresting tenor in another.
In his tracks Mi o mo, and later Mo to mo, he rendered one of the most soul stirring, lucid, philosophical and expressive lines ever seen in his genre of music. Such is the extent of an incredible talent and discipline we celebrate here today!
I had personally tried my feet on mimicking some of our KSA’s signature dance moves, those flawless legworks and seamless body twists, but realising that it not law and legal practise, I had to retrace my steps for the sakes of myself and our new first lady in Ondo state.
At least if only a few understand the picture of incredulity I am trying to paint, I believe no one must forget in a hurry that memorable night when this man in this box of class here provided a stunning performance at our country’s Presidential banquet in honour of the visiting, then President of United States, Mr Bill Clinton. This was in 2001.
It was amazing to see the Americans danced to the rocking rhythm of extraordinary harmony and high performance of our brother, King Sunny Ade.
I remember vividly as the performance drew to a close and President Clinton waltzed to a stop, he looked staightward at this incredible performer while that incredible performer, our own King Sunny Ade also looked heavenward with hands clasped in front of his face and bowed his head in total humility. Such is the stuff that talent and honour nurtured by humility and confidence are made of.
For us as proud citizens of Ondo state, the Sunshine state, King Sunny Ade is our father, our brother and inestimable icon. He loves his state of birth and we love him with all our hearts. He is now back at home with us and we are happy with that.
Over the years and till this seventy, he is a great gift that we, Ondo state people have given to Nigeria and Africa as well as the entire world at large. And we deserve to be praised for that.
Ondo state is proud of you sir. We love you intimately and endlessly. I am proud to have you as my very first major outing as Governor elect of our beautiful state.
King Sunny Ade, listen to us. We will eat the Sweet banana of our victory, we will float on the strength of our Conscience, we will Let them say, we will work diligently with Authority and we will not let Jealousy bring us down. We will Get up and work the Way forward for our people and show Appreciation to God and men as the source of Confidence and success of our tenure.
May God bless this master artist now at 70, even at 80 and at 90 and beyond.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen and God bless.