FAMOUS Fuji act, Aderemi Aluko, otherwise addressed as Igwe of Fuji, has opened up on his blindness tale which spread like wild harmattan fire months back. He told ENCOMIUM Weekly in an exclusive interview on Friday, June 26, 2015, when we cornered him at an event in Ikeja, Lagos, that he only had glaucoma which he has overcome after an eye surgery in a hospital in India. Ajela, as Aluko is also known, spoke on other issues, including why he is highly misunderstood by the public and more…
It’s widely believed that Fuji is an offshoot of Were, and for you to practice it effectively you must be a Muslim. But you’re not a Muslim, how come you ventured into Fuji and you’re doing very well?
Yes, Muslims own Fuji but I am not a Muslim. My parents are Christians but I am neither a Christian nor Muslim. I practice every religion because I am a king. So, I don’t have to identify with a particular religion. According to what we’re told, Fuji was created by Muslims, it’s Were that metamorphosed into Fuji. And Were is a music by Muslims during Ramadan. But my dad was once a musician, a Christian Fuji musician. He was known as S. Ayinde.
He was based in Lagos also.
That means you inherited the trade from your dad?
Yes, of course. I thank God for that. So, whether or not you are a Muslim, if that’s your talent, you don’t have a choice. You don’t have to be a Muslim before you can practice Fuji. Talent has nothing to do with religion. You can even be better off.
How and when did you start out?
I would say I started singing at six. That was in primary school. Myself and my classmates would just put tables and chairs together in the classroom, beating them while I will be singing to the beat. We used to disturb the class. Not knowing that’s going to be what will make me great in future. God has actually shown me the talent since then, and I am grateful to Him for that.
When exactly did you start singing professionally?
That’s when I was about 15.
How old are you now?
I am an adult. I am well above 30 now.
That means you’re close to 40?
Something like that.
Which of your albums shot you to limelight?
That’s Celebration, promoted and marketed by Oregun Records, owned by late Adebisi Oregun. He was also promoting Karube, a colleague of mine, at the same time I was with him. The company was in Amukoko, Lagos. My first album came out around 1995/96.
That means as a recording artiste your career has spanned 20 years?
Yes, it’s not a small thing.
Can you still recall a bitter experience that perhaps almost sent you out of the system?
I won’t say I had experienced anything like that. Nothing has scared me so far. The only thing I would say could have led to that is maybe when I see something that surprises, something that’s beyond my knowledge. For instance, when you attained a height you never envisaged or you’re blessed beyond bounds, definitely, you will be more than surprised. You will even be scared because you never expected it.
So, no bitter moment at all?
I don’t pray for such and if such a moment comes, just hand over everything to God. You don’t need to panic at all. We believe God is responsible for anything that happens, so just look up to Him if the situation is otherwise. The Bible says thou shall not fear because you’re a child of God. So, I don’t need to fear.
What are the challenges you faced before coming this far?
I don’t talk about challenges because it’s understandable that success is not achieved on a platter of gold. A child that will walk must surely crawl and learn how to walk. And in the process, he may fall and still rise up until he’s able to walk very well without being aided by anybody. To me, what’s more important is that you overcome and make success of every situation you find yourself. I thank God for where I am today.
How many albums do you have to your credit?
I have released more than 10 albums. The last one is My Eyes.
That reminds us, what informed the title, My Eyes? Does it have to do with the tale two years ago that you have gone blind?
Yes, it’s reported by some newspapers and magazines that Remi Aluko had gone blind.
Can you shed light on that?
I am happy you asked me this question. You’re among those practicing good journalism. We have a lot of your colleagues that I don’t think are journalists at all. I believe if you call yourself a journalist, your primary duty is to conduct an investigation about anything you want to write about your fellow human being or anything at all. Not long ago, some still published that I have gone blind. I was just laughing when I read the report. I think some people don’t know the difference between being blind and having an eye problem. I was never blind and I am not presently. I think you can see me well and I also see you well. If I have been blind as they said, will I be able to see you or see anything at all? So, it was a fake story. I only had an optical disease and I have overcome it.
What kind of disease?
I had glaucoma. If you get a copy of the album, you will find details in it.
Glaucoma is a very serious eye disease, has it in any way affected your career?
Not at all by the special grace of God. My eyes are different from my voice. I wasn’t down even when it’s very tough. It has not for once stopped me from performing, it’s my enemies that have problem.
What’s the cause of the ailment?
According to what the doctors said, it can be hereditary or you get it from infancy. And if your parents don’t notice it in time, it worsens the situation. As for mine, it started when I was a child but my parents didn’t notice it. It’s when it happened to me that I got to know details about it. But in all, I give glory to God.
We learnt you went through surgery to rectify the situation?
Yes, but I thank God it’s very successful.
How much did it cost you?
It’s a lot of money. I can’t say this is exactly how much I spent. I still go for medical checks.
Where was the surgery done?
It was done in India, and when I travelled to the US, I also went for checks. It’s not a small money, but I thank God I am okay now.
And you said it didn’t affect your career?
Yes, I get shows and engagements often. That’s where I get money to treat myself. It’s not a kind of disease that ties me down. I can’t beg to live, I don’t go to people for any financial assistance. I thank God for that.
How many wives do you have?
I know I am a husband of women. So, let’s leave it at that. To be honest, a lot of women love me. I have some that have children for me and those that still want to.
But you must have at least one of them as your wife, who lives with you. We’re not talking about those that are outside?
I can’t talk about that. All I know is that I like women and women also like me.
But as Igwe of Fuji, don’t you have an Olori?
I don’t have Olori.
How many children do you have?
All I can say is that I have been blessed with both male and female children. I am blessed in that aspect unless God still wants to give me Obama, Osama, Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed.
How did you come about your title, Igwe of Fuji?
When I just started out, career wise, I had a girlfriend from the eastern part of the country. She so much loved me. It’s her dad that used to call me Igwe. And her dad loves her, and anytime he saw me with her, he would call me Igwe. The girl now told me I will be Igwe of Fuji, since that time, I have become Igwe of Fuji.
Did you eventually marry each other?
No, we later went our separate ways. But I still have it in mind to marry an Igbo girl. I want to be traditional ruler in Igboland if possible. I like them a lot.
Why didn’t you marry that girl?
That’s known to God.
Let’s come back to the issue of marital status. Are you not with a woman to call your wife?
I have a wife. I live with a woman. And anytime I go out, I meet women. And everywhere I sleep, I sleep with a woman. Women are our mothers, I love them a lot.
Are you properly married to the one at home?
It’s not compulsory to be properly married. So far you live with a woman, you’re married already. Not until you celebrate your marriage or exchange marital vows publicly that you’re married. What’s important is that I am with a woman at home and God has blessed us with lovely children.
A lot of people see you as a bad boy of fuji genre, how do you feel about that?
I don’t feel bad about that. That’s their thinking. If you look at a person from afar, you can’t know much about the person until you’re close to him. It’s just an impression. But left to me, I don’t want people to just be assessing me from afar, you just have to come close for you to know the kind of person I am. But one thing about me is that I don’t like being cheated and can’t cheat others too. Whatever is due to me, give it to me while I also give to you what’s due to you. Maybe that’s why some are labeling me bad boy.
Some are even saying you’re controversial?
That’s not true. Remi Aluko is not a controversial musician. I am not a stubborn person but I hate cheating. People are only misunderstanding me because they’re not close to me. What I can’t do to myself, I can’t do it to others. If you listen to my music, it’s always full of messages. You learn a lot by listening to my music.
But a lot of people see Remi Aluko as Area Boy…
(Cuts in) That’s what I am saying exactly. When they are not close to you, they can call you anything. But when such people listen to my music, they will deduce whether their impression about me is wrong or not. So, it’s just an impression people have about you when they are far from you.
What’s your position in the controversy that always rocks Fuji genre that has to do with kingship?
I am always in a position of honour in the house of Fuji. I am on the side that Fuji music wax stronger and stronger and so shall it be forever. We don’t have any other trade apart from Fuji. Even there’s nothing like controversy in our genre. Left to me, I don’t ever think there’s anything like controversy in Fuji circuit. It’s all about a means of livelihood and entertainment to the core. We’re only trying to make the system more likely and more competitive. No serious rancor at all among Fuji musicians. Anyway, that’s my personal view. But I think our fans should understand that all is nothing but a business strategy. If really we mean all what the public sees as crisis, we should have been attacking one another in our various homes. But to me, it’s purely for business. Fuji will outlive us. It won’t become a thing of the past. It’s going to live forever. No shaking about that.
What level do you intend taking Fuji to in the next five or ten years?
Higher level, of course. For instance, Pasuma has taken Fuji to hip-hop and Islamic gospel music level. I also want to take it to Christian gospel level if they will allow me. We musicians are just like prophets. I even want to sing alongside white men, if possible Arabs. May God grant me my prayer.
Would you say you’re fulfilled as an entertainer?
I can’t say I am that fulfilled that I won’t ask for more from God. No matter how rich you’re, you will still want more money.
What have you achieved with Fuji apart from fame?
A lot, that’s why I constantly pray God to keep the genre alive for us. I am proud to be a Fuji musician.
We learnt you have completed a house in Ikorodu, how true is it?
Yes, I even have two houses. I have another one in another place apart from the one in Ikorodu but I have not moved in. I thank God for everything.
Are you an Ajegunle product?
No, I was born in Ebute Metta. I see myself as a Lagosian because I was born and bred in Lagos but my father is from Ilesha, Osun State, that I was told by my father, while my mom is from Abeokuta, Ogun State. But as for me, Remi Aluko, I am a Lagosian.