THROWBACK: Why Oyo govt banned Foyanmu for 6 months, plus Soun connection

THROWBACK: Why Oyo govt banned Foyanmu for 6 months, plus Soun connection


Arguably, Chief Ogundare Foyanmu is the biggest export in the music sector from Ogbomoso so far, no other has made the kind of impact he made. Though not a traditional hunter he was at home with the Ijala genre of music with over 30 records to his name and known nationally especially in the Southwest region of Nigeria. It could indeed be concluded that no Ijala exponent was greater than him anywhere even after his death. With his music he tackled social vices, corrected government and exhorted people lost in various demeanour.


Chief Foyanmu was fearless, he had a knack for saying it as he perceived it when in the flow of his special music genre. It was this fearlessness and atimes recklessness that made him run into troubled water with the powers that be in the late eighties. The consequence was his being banned by the then Oyo state military administration of Col. Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya, from all music- related performances for six months!

Foyanmu crossed the REDLINE
The occasion was the commissioning of the electricity project in Gambari near Ogbomoso in 1989. The ceremony was performed by Col Oresanya and attended by the then Soun of Ogbomosoland, His Imperial Majesty Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III JP CON CFR.


Oresanya was on seat, the Soun was on seat, sat shoulder-to-shoulder to each other. Baba Foyanmu was on the band stand entertaining the guests. He praisesang the Soun reciting his Oriki so dexterously that no one wanted him to stop. But then came the bombshell from the world renowned musician. He sang in passing that Baba Soun despite his good side had one “weakness” – an uncompromising adherence to his standards – an unyielding posture. Foyanmu perhaps was exasperated and frustrated by the lack of unity among the traditional rulers in the zone and believed Soun needed to do more, concede more in resolving the impasse.

That is outrageous, he had crossed the redline. The Soun was on edge, however the revered Oba concealed his feeling. The atmosphere became charged, but the 57-year old Ewi exponent was flowing, buoyed by great inspiration that many thought it was an effect of being inebriated. The governor was alarmed and ordered Foyanmu to stop forthwith but already in his elements, he dished out more.

Alhaji Bello, who was an eyewitness however gave a slightly different account, when speaking with, “It was a great performance by Baba Foyanmu that day. He eulogized Baba unendingly but the moment he mentioned about Baba’s uncompromising trait, the temperature changed. He watched Baba Soun cast a somber look at the governor, which he knew was not an auspicious one. He knew he had touched a raw nerve and knew anything could happen after the event; he could be whisked away.


“Baba Foyanmu knew the game. He said later in a private conversation that the moment he sensed the subtle message to the governor by the Soun, he knew there was trouble and so was at alert. ‘Immediately the event ended, l quickly sneaked out, mingling with the crowd,’ Baba recalled years later. That way he escaped the immediate comeuppance. Though people insinuated he disappeared from the stage using African magic. But he denied with the above insight into how he left.”

Mr. Sayo Alagbe, a journalist and author also mentioned that episode in his book – “Ijala Ogundare Foyanmu – Ijinle Ede Ohun Enu Yoruba,” published in 2006. And in a chat Tuesday morning he said Chief Foyanmu was desirous of unity among the Obas, recalling this motivated him to use the occasion to drive home the message. “It was intentional he was not drunk,” he posited.

Foyanmu sneaked out of the venue. But that’s not the end. The governor later prohibited him from doing what he knew how to do best for a whopping six months, and this was given wide publicity through radio and television announcements and newspaper publications.

It was a huge setback especially in terms of income. But he survived it and came back stronger.

“Many, in and outside Ogbomoso, cancelled their bookings. He had to refund their money. But after about three months some eminent personalities waded in, went to beg Soun and the prohibition order was rescinded,” Alagbe further said, adding, “Baba Foyanmu released a record thereafter singing, ‘Ija titan,’ – battle is over. He attributed it to slip of tongue and the matter was laid to rest.”

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