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Roots musician, Beautiful Nubia recently unveiled three books to mark his 50th birthday.
HIS brothers, Rotimi and Seyi, wanted a birthday bash but he didn’t. They reasoned that you don’t clock 50 years twice; that it was a milestone that shouldn’t be left unmarked. The only issue is that he doesn’t dig birthdays, he doesn’t fancy personal celebrations. He is a man of ideas; an intellectual who believes in deploying both the spoken and written words for attitudinal and social changes. He would instead use the occasion to unveil his latest creative works.
In the end, there was a compromise. A small get-together for family and close friends that also doubled as the unveiling of three new books was what happened. On November 11, Olusegun Akinsete Akinlolu, popularly known as Beautiful Nubia, attained the Golden Age and was celebrated by siblings and friends whose lives he has positively impacted.
Though he had requested speakers to highlight his flaws and not just say nice things about him, none had any negative comments about him.
He had started on an appreciative note, acknowledging guests randomly and disclosing how they had touched his life. He relived his relationship with the murdered Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, whom he described as Orisha. “His humility was what got me; he was humble and accommodating,” he added of the late Cicero of Esa-Oke whose son, Muyiwa, was present.
Beautiful Nubia also touched on why he doesn’t celebrate birthdays, explaining that, it’s not about the celebrator but his/her mother. “Birthdays are about mothers; she’s the one who has the memory of what she experienced when she gave birth. Mama moki yin ekuorire (congratulations Mama),” he said in Yoruba to his mother, Mrs Helen Olumuyiwa Akinlolu, who sat in the hall.
Audio engineer, Abioye Johnson Ademilokun, who is also his uncle and who recorded his hit album, Jangbalajugbu was among those the poet and musician thanked. He didn’t forget the only employer for whom he worked and calls Boss, Dr Olatunde Agbato, the president of Animal Care Services Consult; his high school teacher, Mrs Stella Odusote and his long-term collaborator, Femi Ogunwumi.
After that, it was time to unveil the three books; Sounds of Joy, his autobiography; Book of Songs containing lyrics and short anecdotes about the 188 songs he has released from 1997 to date and A Word Merchant’s Log Book, a poetry collection with Dr Agbato doing the honours.
The veterinary doctor and entrepreneur was the first person to refuse Beautiful Nubia’s request not to praise him. Dr Agbato disclosed that he had formed an opinion about the artist, when he came to interview him as a vet student at the University of Ibadan and had no issues employing him after he graduated. “He has literary skills, and I needed that for our business. He joined us and lived up to expectations. He introduced our company to the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control; he was the face of the company. A legacy he left was the publication of Customer Link now the number one publication in the veterinary medicine industry; it’s an extension journal within the industry,” said Agbato.
“Akinlolu is a humanist,” continued the entrepreneur who further disclosed that Customer Link has since transformed to Livestock & Aqua Watch and presented a copy to the artist who hails from Ile-Ife.
But he still had more to say in the course of the evening of merriment and fun. “When I turned 50, 18 years ago, Segun and my wife put together a show I never knew about. He brought his friends, including Segun Oluwayomi and Akeem Lasisi for an arty show I thoroughly enjoyed because usually I’m not given to celebrating my birthdays; I mark it. When I turned 60 eight years ago, they repeated it on a higher scale. One of the reasons I came here is to thank him,” he said.
Filmmaker and broadcast journalist, Ademola Aremu, better known as Papa Demmy, toed Agbato’s path. He recalled how he met Beautiful Nubia in 2002 and how the artist made the theme music of his movie, Bojuboju, played a supporting role in the flick and flew himself to Nigeria from Canada without collecting a dime from him. “He’s a partner in progress; a brother and friend,” Aremu affirmed.
Actress Kabirat Kafidipe continued the rain of praises on the self-effacing artist, saying she has had no cause to regret knowing him since they met 15 years ago. It was the same with FolasadeOshun who acknowledged the power of Beautiful Nubia’s poetry and the prophecy of his music.
“I’m so honoured to have you in my corner,” declared Mrs Stella Odusote, the musician’s high school teacher who further described him as “a remarkable student but highly introverted.”
Humouring the artist who had earlier declared that birthdays are for mothers and not the celebrators, MuyiwaIge began: “Mama, e kuewuomo o (Mama, congrats on the birth of your child). It’s a wonderful day to celebrate a young man who’s my father’s friend. Aburo mi (my younger brother), the friend of my father; father had a lot of respect for you; what you stand for. Welcome to the 50s club.”
In line with his belief that birthdays are for mothers, Beautiful Nubia declined to cut the birthday cake, saying his mum should do so. She happily obliged, knowing that no force on earth would make him compromise his principle.
In the end, it was a remarkable afternoon where the outlier and author of Citadel Blues (fiction) and poetry collections, Waiting for the Bones, Thinking Big and The King’s Messenger increased his literary output with three works.
The autobiography, a 347-page book published by the artist’s EniObanke Books, chronicles his life from birth until when he released the hugely successful Jangbalajugbu album. It’s an easy read where the multi-talented act shares about his birth, parents, upbringing, education, influences and struggles among others. In typical non-conformist style, there’s no chapter outline. You keep flipping the pages and come across the author’s unique way of chapter breakdown with headings such as ‘Spirit child on a journey’; ‘Baba Sound’, Masegun’, ‘Oke Bola Brat-Ring Road Raider’, St. James’ and several others. Fans of Beautiful Nubia and others interested in knowing more about the person behind his stirring music will find ‘Sounds of Joy’ a delight.
It’s the same for the collection of poems, A Word Merchant’s Log Book where the author arrests with inspirational poetry some of which he wrote as far back as 1992.
In Book of Songs, lovers of Beautiful Nubia’s songs and other interested parties have a gold mine that will enable them to learn all the lyrics and sing along if they so wish. The volume signposts the artist’s innovative thinking and the need to make his songs accessible and adequately documented. Others may well wish to borrow a leaf from him.