Today marks the Birthday of one of the music legends, a leading figure in the Entertainment business in Nigeria. Alhaji Razaq Kolawole Ilori Ayinla popularly known as General Kollington Ayinla Kebe nKwara.
There is no gainsaying that he is indeed a legend who has paid his dues towards the development and global recognition of Fuji music as a force to reckon in the music industry.
Born Baba Alagbado in the early ’50s at Ilota, a village via Ilorin in Kwara State to the Ilori Family. He was raised and bred in Lagos State. He was brought to the capital city at a very tender age. Small in size but very stubborn, being the only son of his mother. Like every other Muslim young boy during Ramadan, he joined in ‘Were’ renditions, Islamic medleys to wake the Islam adherents up in the wee hours to engage in obligatory activities. Were is said to originate from Ilorin some say Lagos and Ibadan whatever place it might have originated from, it’s still the same. Later in the evening, these boys turned it into the competition to know the most talented in singing and who had the best voice.
Little Kolawole who’s from Ebute Meta of Lagos joined his peers to participate in Were competition within and beyond the locality became one of the best vocalists by the age of ten. Simultaneously this time his bosom friend late Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister was holding sway in the Mushin although they were yet to meet each other then. Later on, as fate would have it, they eventually met through a friend who linked both up.
Razaq, a rascal boy by nature got enlisted in Nigerian Army during the civil war in the late 1960s and was drafted to Abeokuta where his friend Sikiru used to pay him a visit, he later convinced him to leave music for a while and join him in the army which he obliged. Sikiru was drafted to the waterfront while Kola was in the music department of the force. This is where he honed his skills in a wide range of musical instruments which he later infused into his musical ensemble. After the war, he remained in Abeokuta where he later became a protégé of late Apala legend Anigilaje Ayinla Omowura. He hit the spotlight when he joined in the rivalry feud between Ayinla Omowura and Fatai Olowoyo and replied to Ayinla Omowura’s arch-rival Fatai Olowoyo in an album. One of the reasons he and Sikiru first drew the battle line.
Alhaji Kollington is a fearless musician whose music especially in his live performances could be regarded as verbal missiles. He’s notable for vulgar and street languages in music which earned him a reputation among commercial drivers in the southern West of the country. Baba Alaska
He dated and sired children with Alhaja Salawa Abeni a Waka musician, the love between these love birds turned sour later and Kollington leave no stone unturned to “diss” his once heartthrob in an album:-
(awa lakoko je’su awe o o dudu peri o dun mi pe kogboyinbo o ayamu sorry o, we are the first to sow our royal oats in her, xxxxxxxx Its painful she’s not educated I am sorry )
He had altercations with his junior in music rank, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde K1 when the latter joined his benefactor and boss Sikiru to attack him. Fuji rivalry in the late 1970s till early 1990s was so bad that it became confrontational and diabolical, the Fuji industry became a jungle where only the fittest could survive. This served as an advantage nonetheless because people tended to listen to what A wanted to say to B, what C says in his album about D and lots more.
It indeed improved and shot their sales, propelled them to more recognition which took the genre from mere traditional, local to global appeal. The competition made every fuji artiste test their foot in different waters, they became label owners who were in charge of their works, they became innovators of different styles in fuji and earned more money. Kollington played Bata Fuji, he introduced piano, jazz drums into Fuji.
But the most fierce battle is between him and the late Barrister and one of the most talked-about that lasted for decades. He never believed Sikiru was his superior in the game, it led to many issues where each other had their adherents even in other genres. They tried to bring in other giants into their rancour, like hanging out with the best. Like Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey becoming an ally of Sikiru and King Sunny Ade to Kollington though these Legends tried to mellow this issue and stood aloof as much as they could, they did not evidently show who they rooted for. They too were having their subtle rivalry going on at the same time.
Music in Nigeria between the 1970s and 1990s remains the best unlike what we have today. Competition made each of these artists buckle down, create a niche for themselves thereby giving their audiences nothing but the very best and most of their works have now become evergreen.
From the 1970s till now Baba L’Alagbado has released numerous award-winning and successful albums and is still much in the game unlike the insinuations that he would retire after the demise of his friend. He has received many accolades both at home and abroad. Among his works are Alakara O Fe Kenikeji O din, Kolawole O Ku, Knock Out Special, Blessings, American Yankee, Omo, Obafemi Awolowo, Message, Asiko Loto, Omo Araiye, Sweet Sixteen, Oro Idibo, Emi Ni O Jo, Ija Pari, Fuji Megastar, Fuji Ropopo, Ijo Yoyo, Lakukulala, Kasabubu, Esin Funfun, No Shaking, Back To Sender, Ijo Swagger – Tribute to his late friend Sikiru Ayinde and many more.
Apart from slang induced songs, he’s adept at disseminating current affairs and he became “the masses’ mouthpiece”. He has awareness songs about Census, Elections, Teachers welfare, Floodings and other anti-social activities by the government. He had his fair share of military persecution during military rule especially when the Abacha government sent its dog after him too like other artists who sung and spoke against the dictatorial government.
His house got burnt but like Yoruba would say “ile oba to jona ewa lo bukun” meaning literally when King’s Palace gets burnt the rebuilt Palace will be more beautiful. His house was razed down by fire but his current mansion situated in Alagbado is more beautiful than the former because people rose to the occasion for him.
Ayinla Kollington is a lover of the good life and has good taste for high-end designer clothes and bespoke accessories, his song Ijo Yoyo a source of encouragement for ladies and men to tone their skins was the order of the day then. His son is also a musician but a rapper BIG SHEFF one of the children Alhaja Salawa Abeni has for him, Big Sheff, Sherifdeen Ilori, is a lookalike of American Hip Hop artist Rick Ross.
As he turns a year older today, Ariya Kingdom wishes Baba Kebe nKwara, graceful age, good health and a much more blissful life ahead.