Dr Yinka Joel Ayefele is a juju musician, but he said his brand of music is gospel. An accomplished artiste and internationally acclaimed musician, the legendary Tungba exponent recently welcomed a set of triplets and he speaks about the children; his music and many more in this interview by BODE ADEWUMI. Excerpts:
We learnt your wife gave birth to a set of triplets; can you shed more light on the arrival of the babies?
We give glory to the Almighty God. They are a bundle of joy. I had triplets on January 18th this year in the United States. What I have been expecting, what I have been waiting for so many years of not having any child. But I give glory to God that at the end of the day, it is a great surprise. I was hoping for one, but God surprised me with three. So, I have two boys and a girl.
We thought you had a boy?
My siblings stay with me and I have been using them as a point of contact that one day, God will answer my prayers. So, I have been their father. I handle everything about them and they are still my children.
For some people, after having triplets, they would want to stop. Are we expecting more from you?
Of course. I don’t mind having another triplet. Even if I can go as far as twenty, I don’t mind. It is what I have been praying for. The pain of going up and down looking for it, and at the end, winning; it goes a long way.
You said ‘going up and down’. Can you explain?
I mean going to mountains for prayers, going to so many hospitals for series of tests in Nigeria, in the U.K. and in the U.S. A lot of people thought I cannot do it because of my situation; you know I have a spinal cord injury. I was told everything was okay. Eventually, it happened. So, I give glory to God.
What gave you the courage to continue to search?
One thing with me is that I am stubborn when it comes to things like that. I never take defeat. I will always want to win. That is why I am still saying and believe that one day I will still walk. I still believe I will still walk. I don’t think anything is impossible with God. Everything is possible with God. Just believe in Him, and He will do it. That is my own perception, my own way of life, the way I see things.
How did you handle family pressure? Did they pressurise you to take another wife?
Not at all. I was never pressurised. I enjoyed the support of my family members, encouraging my wife and me to keep on praying and they prayed along with us. So, I have never been forced or advised to take another wife.
How did you meet your wife and how did your relationship start?
I met my wife before I had that accident. I was working with the FRCN, Ibadan, and I have friends and colleagues at BCOS also. I used to produce jingles. Most of my colleagues then brought their jingles to me to produce. I have this friend in BCOS, Laitan Adeniyi, my wife is his cousin. I met with her and she happens to be my wife today. That is how I met her. Few weeks after I met her, I had that accident. She stood by me all along. Since I had that accident, we have been together.
Which year was that?
That was 1997. I met in her 1996. I had the accident in 1997.
Were you singing by then?
I had been singing before my accident. Even, I had a band before the present one called Message of the Time Band, but it was attached to the Assemblies of God Church. I was leading the band. I even did one cassette then: Nigeria is for Jesus. I have been playing music before I had the accident and before I joined broadcasting.
You claim to sing gospel sings mixed with juju. How would you describe that?
Not that I claim, I am a gospeller. I am a gospel artiste. I am a gospel singer. It is not mixed with juju. I call my own type of music Tungba. The usual way of playing gospel music in the olden days is quite different form the way it is now. It is my own way of preaching the gospel. I designed my own way. There is no way you will not be forced to listen to my music. Whether you want to dance or you want to listen to the lyrics or the sermon or the praises. That is my own way of preaching the gospel. I have Muslim fans, Christian fans, and even pagan fans. Everybody is my fan. That is my own way of winning souls to the kingdom of God. My pattern of music is heavily percussive. That is why I call it Tungba. That is the way it sounds.
Are you saying in essence that you are very religious?
I am sorry; I don’t have to prove to you that I am religious. It is between me and my God. I know the relationship between me and my God. I know the extent of my belief, the extent of how I accept Him as my personal saviour. Even if i tell you, it is between me and my God. You only hear what I tell you. What of deep down in me? So, it is between me and my God. I know I am a Christian, a born again child of God.
You always release an album a year. What is the idea behind that?
When you are scarce, you remain more relevant, more valuable. If I release two, three albums in a year, it becomes monotonous. Then I will have more time to do more research on my kind of music. There are a lot of people that play my pattern or kind of music. I don’t want to relent or sound the same way. That is why I have to give it time so that I will be able to work on it and bring out something different from what I have been doing before.
It took some time for people to know you had triplets. Why was that?
I even once denied it. I don’t know if you heard about it. When it happened the news broke and a lot of people were talking about it, I denied it. Why? Because those babies were so tiny; they were born premature. So, I was afraid. I don’t want to lose these babies after the long wait. I don’t want to lose them. And Yoruba believes: If you make noise on them, anything can happen. I don’t want anybody to know anything about them until they are fully grown up. So, that is why I denied it in the first instance. My pastor told me that God did this for me, and He will definitely keep them. He said I don’t have to deny them, that I should not hide what God had done for me. That was when I came out to talk about it. I was initially afraid of how they looked, very tiny. But, thank God today, they are big.
What did you do when this news came up?
There are stages. Are you asking me when I first heard the result of the first pregnancy test? Or when the pregnancy was one month? Or when the pregnancy was three months? Or six months? Or nine months? Or the day she gave birth? Which one do you want me to talk about? I cannot explain them all. Each moment, right from the eighth day we did the pregnancy test and it was positive. I nearly ran mad. I could not believe it can happen after how many years, after series of attempts. I don’t know how to explain it. But that night she gave birth to them, it was like I had been seeing them before, because I followed her to many scans, it was just like welcoming them fully that night. I can’t explain it.
Has anything changed since these children came?
People around me can testify or attest to my answer to that question. Things have changed. A lot of things have changed positively. I have been celebrating their birthday since first month, second month, third month, fourth month, even when they clocked nine months few weeks ago. I have been celebrating God. Things have changed positively in my life. I have increased in many ways. Immediately these babies were conceived, my stations became three. The month my wife became pregnant was when we began test transmission at Abeokuta. Fresh FM is three and I have three kids also. So, I have been increasing every day, and the blessings keep coming.
You are a notable person. How did you manage to conceal that information about your wife and the good news because you have a lot of people around you?
A lot of people got the news. But if I notice you are getting to know, I will call you and get closer to you and rap you not to talk about it. That was what I did. A lot of colleagues in the media knew about it, but I told them to hold on a bit, that we will talk about it when it is time. I even made sure I did not release any of their pictures until recently, which is not even out.
You talked about the pressure, but you have not put it succinctly how you managed for years without having a baby?
People talked about it. But, it is either you believe their own story or you believe mine. A lot of people found it difficult to confront me about it, coupled with the fact that I have a spinal cord injury and I am on a wheel chair. Everybody knows that anybody with spinal cord injury may not be able to have erection or to do this or do that or even to have a baby. So, it is complicated. Some people respect me; they might not want to confront me or come to me to ask if it is true or not. When I did naming ceremony for the first child of my younger brother, a lot of people thought I was the one doing the naming ceremony.
What about your wife, how did she endure the pressure and the situation?
I call her my mum. I don’t know how I will describe her, somebody that has been with you for years, tried several options—IVF, series of tests, several failures. She is one in a million. I really thanked God for her courage. She tried.
Aside the grace or blessings of God, do you think being wealthy has assisted you in achieving this?
Being wealthy? Am I wealthy? Yes, I thank God. But I will tell you that I spent millions. I have the grace to spend it. I spent money in London, I did in the US and I tried several hospitals in Nigeria. Anybody who knows what IVF or IUU means and what they cost will understand, especially when you are doing it outside of Nigeria. Their cost in the U.K. and the U.S. are heavy, not to mention the accommodation and the hospital bills and the flights, and other expenses attached to it. But, eventually, God did it here in Nigeria.
What does that say about Nigeria not having a good health sector or institution?
The treatment in Nigeria is far better than what is obtainable in most foreign countries. They will just take your money. Once they notice the failure, you cannot collect the money back. That is all. But in Nigeria, they will encourage you—we have some of them that don’t care as well. I knwo two or three hospitals here in Nigeria that are very much concerned about their success stories. They will want to see the success of that family. As a matter of fact, we have a fertility community here.
This my case brought about the fertility community. We created a group; we assist those that need children, those that want to go for IVF we assist them with some money or discount or we sponsor their IVF or IUU or whatever they want to do. We have been doing this for the past four years here. In fact, before I had my own children, we supported a family and they had quadruplets in that same hospital I used. The name of the hospital is Delight Hospital in Ibadan.
Are we expecting an album on this?
I have done the album already. I gave birth to my children on January 18. I knew they were coming. I did the album last year, because I know my joy is here.
There was a report that a prophetess gave you a prophecy about these children.
Yes. Prophetess Esther Abimbola Ajayi in London. I went to her church to minister and she said God told her that there are fifty, sixty years old women who gave birth to children, that God will do it for me very soon, if I believe. I told her that I believe. That was about two years ago. And it happened.
What gave you the inspiration to open Fresh FM?
I have been in broadcasting for years. What I used to do then, when I was in Radio Nigeria, inspired me. With what I saw then and the love I have for broadcast, I wished I wanted to add value to the broadcasting industry in this country. That was when I started pushing. I started with internet radio to test my ability, if I will be able to maintain transmission broadcast. I think I have the highest listeners outside of Nigeria when it comes to internet radio then. Maintaining those listeners gave me the courage that I can actually do it. That was when I put in for the license. Fortunately, I got it.
When you had that issue with Oyo State government, especial when they demolished Music House, the Fresh FM building, what were those things running through your mind then?
One thing with me is that I believe that anything that comes my way God allows it for a purpose. What Oyo State government did boosted and proclaimed Fresh FM more; and about me. So, anything that comes my way, God allows it for a reason. If anything happens to me today, definitely God wants to write another story about me.
What is your relationship with the former governor of Oyo State now?
I spoke to Governor Ajimobi some days ago. We are close now. Governor Ajimobi will be at the dedication of my children on Sunday. He promised to come. We talk.