ON Thursday, June 28, 2012, ENCOMIUM Weekly paid a visit to fuji music icon, Alhaji Rasak Kolawole Ilori, popularly known as Kollington, in his Alagbado, Lagos residence where he opened up on certain issues concerning his life and career. He also narrated his ordeal in the hands of armed robbers.
Tell us the latest about your career.
We constantly work on one new thing or the other, but until it is out, we can’t say we have done anything. The situation of things in the country is appalling; it’s not encouraging at all. Before you start singing or planning to release an album, you have to weigh it very well because those you want to sing for or praise are already fed up with the poor economic situation of the country. For you to invite a musician, you must have enough money. But now, we are only singing because we just have to, we don’t have any other thing to do. Also, those that are dancing to our music are also doing so reluctantly, not that they are happy with the situation of things generally. Things are not good enough for jollification, but we thank God that we are alive and still relevant in the industry.
What’s your comment on your last album, Adieu My 5 and 6, specifically released to immortalize your late fried, Alhaji Sikiru Ayine Barrister?
It was well accepted by the public. People commended the effort and I thank God for the success.
In fuji circuit, what’s going on at the moment, it seems you…
(Cuts in) I won’t deceive you, I don’t really know what’s going on at the moment. All I can tell you much about is my personal home. Also, I know I am a fuji musician and a father to all fuji musicians. Whatever they want me to know is what they tell me. Anything they didn’t tell me, if I hear it, I just heard it for the sake of it.
How often do you get engagements and shows now?
Just once in a while. It’s not like before. Just like I said, the economic situation in Nigeria at the moment doesn’t help matters but we thank God we still have our heads above water.
We learnt you’re attacked by armed robbers recently along Lagos/Abeokuta Road, very close to Gateway Hotel, and that you’re beaten blue and black and you’re also dispossess of all the money on you and some valuables including your expensive phones…
(Cuts in) I don’t need to tell you lies, armed robbers attacked us but they didn’t beat me at all. They only threatened us with the guns in their hands and they ordered us to come down from the car. We were commanded to lie down on the floor. There was nothing we could do other than co-operate with them. How would you hear gun shots and you will be arguing? It was when I was about to lie down on the road that I sustained injury on my knees. I think you can see the marks (shows reporter). In the process, they collected all the phones in my personal assistant’s hands, opened the boot of our car and took all the money we made from the show.
Didn’t they recognize you?
I don’t think so because immediately they stopped us, they started shooting in the air. They started shouting, ‘Come down, lie down.’ We just had to obey them for our safety. But if they knew me and still treated me that way, I hand them over to God.
How would you describe the experience?
It’s a traumatic experience. I don’t pray for a repeat. It’s very terrible. But I still have to thank them for not killing us despite all that they collected from us. I am very grateful to God and the armed robbers for sparing us. It would have been a different story now. Let me tell you, if all armed robbers are like that, I think it would have been better. They only dispossessed us of our belongings but our life was spared. There is still hope that one can be better off. That’s why I am thanking them. Those robbers also know it’s not a good thing but because of the fact that there is no employment in the country and they can’t be patient enough, they had to look for an alternative. They thought the best thing is to go into robbery which is not the best option. It’s quite understandable that the country is bad, we only churn out graduates without giving them any job. A lot of graduates are roaming the streets, some turn okada riders, some turn to bus conductors. So, what are we saying? Those in government are very wicked, they don’t give the masses the desired dividends of democracy. There is no evidence of good governance at all. They are not doing well at all. We just have to tell them the truth. Whether we voice out or not, we are all going to die one day. So, what are we hiding the truth for? Instead of them spending the oil money on the masses, they are sharing it among themselves. Every day you must hear of one person or the other stealing billions of naira from the government coffers and such people will still be moving freely in public, they are even celebrated with impunity. But if it were a common man that committed little crime, he may be sentenced to death. Even some of these corrupt politicians can re-contest and before you know it, they are back in position of authority. It’s only divine intervention that can save us in this country. Everybody is fed up with the country’s situation. Some of our leaders are not mature politically. Although, President Goodluck Jonathan may be good with his poor governance, if you continue to talk or think about Nigeria’s situation, you get confused. So, the best thing is just for you to be prayerful.
We think what is happening in the country shouldn’t be strange to you because you said long ago in one your albums, why not come up with another album probably to warn the nation again?
What else can I do again? What kind of advice can I give them again? It’s obvious, they won’t heed the advice. Then, what is the essence of the advice? The most important thing is for them to make use of the advice. All I know is that history will judge them. Why can’t they leave a good legacy so that they can be remembered for good?
What’s your advice for the government on the security situation in the country?
The only thing I can tell President Jonathan is that he should learn to use his initiative. He shouldn’t allow some people to mislead him, not only on the security situation but all other areas. The masses are really suffering while the politicians are enjoying. They should always remember the poor masses in their scheme of things.
There was this rumour that you were paid by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to participate in the January 2012 fuel subsidy protests, how true is it?
That’s not true. I, Kollington Ayinla didn’t collect a kobo for taking part in the protests. Fuel subsidy removal was against the will of the masses and I am one of them. So, I must also go against it because I knew it will also affect me. All I did was in the interest of the whole country. I was not paid by ACN to take part in the protests and I don’t even think ACN can do such a thing. If I collect anything from ACN or anybody before coming out for the protests, may the spirit of the country itself punish me. I went to Ojota on my own to join the protests against fuel subsidy removal and there is no regret doing that because it’s all in the interest of the suffering masses.
As a father to all the fuji musicians, what advice do you have for them?
They should just remember the children of whom they are. They should also respect elders and have it at the back of their mind that one day, they will also grow old.
The last time we came here, you told us you’re married to a new wife…
(Cuts in) It’s true if I said so. Do you expect wives all the time? (laughs).
What we actually want to know is whether the marriage has been blessed, what is in…
(Cuts in) Whether or not it has been blessed, I have children already.
Are you stopping at that or you still want to marry more wives?
I am a Muslim, I can marry more than one wife. So, if I see another woman that I like, I will marry her.
That means you’re still agile in bed?
(Laughs) Very, very strong. I am still firing. How old am I that I can’t play the game again with my wife? Life begins at 40.
But you’re far older than that age you mentioned?
Let me tell you the truth, it’s only when you are faced with a lot of problems that you won’t be happy, especially when you don’t have money. And where you’re not happy, you won’t have the strength to perform your conjugal role as a husband whether you’re old or young. When you’re hungry, you won’t be happy and our government too is not helping matters. That’s why most men don’t even think of sex any longer.
But you’re not as young as before, what are those things you can’t do again as an elderly person?
You don’t need to be told that there are certain things you can’t do again. Surely, there will be a time when old age will begin to take its toll on you. So, nobody will tell you before you know them yourselves. But I am yet to get to that stage. I’m still very able and strong.
You have done a lot concerning your career, what more do you still have for your fans?
No matter how good or talented you are, you can only do your best and leave the rest. All others that came before us, including Haruna Ishola, Yusuf Olatunji, S. Aka and many more also tried their best before they died. So, there is no generation that will be an exception. If I can’t add anything to what I have done so far, the most important is to sustain it and also sustain my good name so that I can be on the good side of history.
- TADE ASIFAT
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 3, 2012