Perhaps one of the most profound statements ever made about music is one by Martin Luther when he posited that: “Next to the Word of GOD, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”
Seeing the effect that music can have on human beings, it is no wonder that those who are gifted with the skill of affecting lives with music are often made idolized as celebrities and become household names, attracting fortune alongside their fame. If you observe keenly, you will see that even average musicians or “one hit wonders” tend to stick in or memories easier and longer than the average sportsmen will.
Over the years, the world through Nigeria has been blessed with men and women who were significantly gifted musically and who have gone on to become as it were, cultural exports and ambassadors for their nation. From among that privileged coterie of Nigerians, a few have attained iconic status and some others are on their way there. As the Nigerian-born genre of “Afrobeats” continues its upward surge and gains more acceptance globally, Plato’s saying that “Music is a moral law that gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and everything” is not far from the truth.
Different names and things mean different things to people. In Japan for instance, when the word “Fuji” is mentioned, that great mountain, the tallest in the country, comes to mind. In the great African nation of Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world however, the word “Fuji” immediately brings to mind that unique genre of music, danceable with its peculiar rhythms and almost spiritual with its tug at the hearts of the Yoruba peoples yet loved across Africa, North America, the Caribbean, Europe and even Asia. When Fuji music is mentioned today, perhaps not many may remember that it was pioneered by Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister in the period just around Nigeria’s independence from Britain. He does credit the inspiration for him naming the new genre of music he had created to seeing a poster of Mount Fuji in an airport and it would be an understatement to say that Fuji music has taken off from there far beyond his imagination at the time. Today though, his protégé who rose from packing up instruments after his performances to becoming a member of his “Supreme Fuji Commanders” band, to even becoming his manager for his road shows, has become acclaimed as the King of Fuji music. When his parents, typical of the Yoruba culture named him “several” names in March 1957, they most likely had no inkling that their son Wasiu Ayinde Adewale Omogbolahan Olasukanmi Anifowoshe, more popularly known today as King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, KWAM 1 or K1 De Ultimate would become the musical icon that he has become. It is even more ironic when as the story goes, we learn that his parents initially opposed his career choice and musical pursuits.
Today, with an astounding discography of nearly 50 studio albums to his credit spanning from the early 1980s and a pervasive influence that traverses music, politics and business, K1 De Ultimate is a legend no doubt. To many young people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and to whom Jay Z’s success is far-fetched, he is the closest, most relatable of a rags-to-riches success story. Now in his 60s and with several awards and accolades under his belt including notably the City Peoples Lifetime Achievement Award and being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Hip TV’s Headies Awards, it is inspiring to see him influence business, politics and government.
Far from just being an act prancing stages at political campaign rallies which many musicians these days have sadly become, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall is highly respected as a political leader and has access to the highest levels of government in Nigeria and some other African nations. His uncanny ability to back the right horse in election cycles as he did in backing the current Osun State governor and especially Governor Babajide Sanwoolu of Lagos (donating 15 vehicles to his campaign in the run-up to the last election) has amplified his strength and will see to it that beyond music and entertainment, he is respected as a leader. He may not seek to become king in politics by vying for elections and there is nothing stopping him from doing so but he is definitely a kingmaker. Not one musician before him in the most populous black nation in the world has quite gotten where K1 De Ultimate has and it is likely that soon his life and legacy will be the subject of academic research and intellectual study in public and private institutions. He may have begun with a job similar to the Pied Piper but now instead of being paid to play the tunes, he may very well be playing his own tunes on his terms. May his strength not wane, may his wisdom flow from the heart of The Almighty and may history be kind to him