Widely accepted traditional music, fuji has remained predominantly a male genre from inception. Little wonder few women Fuji artistes have emerged since the genre was created by late Sikiru Ayinde Balogun, famously addressed as Barrister, several decades ago.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s findings revealed that Fuji as a brand of music has only paraded few female practitioners, including late Alhaja Hassanat Omo Aje, late Iyabo Osanle, Tope Makanaki, Fatima Sindarella, Tawa Alagbada, Musiliu Arike, Lady Mandela and few others, while countless men earn their living from the genre till date.
One of the reasons, we gathered, is not unconnected with the fact that another genre, Waka, shares a close boundary with Fuji, especially in terms of lyrics which appeals to the women folk more. Until later in the early 90’s when it was modernized by Waka Queen, Alhaja Salawa Abeni as against what the widely believed creator of the genre, Alhaja Batuli Alake was known for.
Also, ENCOMIUM Weekly further research revealed that from the origin of Fuji which is Were (music for waking up Muslims during Ramadan) which comprises sakara, bandiri, sekere and few other traditional talking drums, no woman ever played Were which was championed by prominent singers from Isale Eko, including Saka Laigbade, Abinuwaye Basiru, Taye Lailero, Kau Aminu, Jolly Lawal, Jibowu Barrister, Kasali Alani, Ajadi Lawal and a host of others. Then, followed by Akande Monsuru, Ayinde Barrister, Ayinde Commissioner, Adio Fatai, Ayinla Kollington, Love Azeez, Ejire Agbadaowo, Fancy Aye Alamu, Adio Rasidi, Akanni Ramoni, Ayinde Wasiu, Iyanda Sawaba and others (in no particular order).
However, in the late 90’s, few women started developing interest in practising the genre. But even at that, only very few got to the limelight, including late Iyabo Osanle, late Alhaja Hassanat Omo Aje, Lady Mandela, Alhaja Agba, Modinat Kisi in Ibadan (Oyo state), Alhaja Arike, Tope Makanaki, Tawa Alagbada, Okada in Badagry whoseca . Only few of these surviving female Fuji singers, including Fatima Sindarella, Tawa Alagbada, Lady Mandella, Musili Arike can now stand shoulder to shoulder with some of their male counterparts.
Practically, Fuji can’t be said to be a female profession as there is nothing like choir in the mosque which sharply differentiates it from its main rival, Juju which has its modern roots from church; and most juju artistes nowadays started from gospel music. This informed the main reason there are more female juju artistes than in Fuji.
Fuji has a very large fan base that cuts across all segments. And that’s why it appeals to both men and women irrespective of the fact that very inconsequential number of women practise it.
ENCOMIUM Weekly contacted the First Vice president of Fuji Musicians Association of Nigeria (FUMAN), Alhaji Kabir Kehinde Akanni ( Baby Barrister) on the issue, and he reacted, “I don’t agree with you on that. First, what happens to our genre happens to every other profession, including yours. Also, in Juju, there are more men than women. Even, I can tell you we have more female Fuji artistes than female juju artistes. It’s only that very few are in the limelight. That’s why it appears they are very few. A lot of women are now practising Fuji and some of them can even compete with their male counterparts very well. It’s just an impression which is wrong.
“Although, initially, there were no women in the genre because most practitioners then were Were performers and women don’t sing Were unlike in Juju where most women cross from gospel background because they were choir members in their various churches. Even at that, men still dominate Juju just like Fuji.”
- TADE ASIFAT