Obey, Solanke, Orlando, Beautiful Nubia, others mourn Chris Ajilo’s death

Music legend, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey; popular folk singer, Jimi Solanke, and others have reacted to the death of the highlife music legend and octogenarian saxophonist, Pa Christopher Ajilo, who died, at his country-home, Ijebu-Ijesha, Osun State, on Saturday.

Another top musician, Orlando Julius Ekemode; popular folklore musician Segun Akinlolu, popularly known as Beautiful Nubia and Fuji act, Ramon Akani (aka RK1), have also eulogised the ‘Eko O Gba Gbere’ crooner, aged 91.

Evangelist Obey-Fabiyi described Pa Ajilo’s death as a great loss to the music industry and Nigeria at large.He added that the record, ‘Eko O Gba Gbere’ was a good hit, and his personality as a perfect gentleman stood him out and also earned him much respect in the industry to the extent of serving in various capacities of industry, including, the General Manager of Performing and Mechanical Rights Society of Nigeria for many years.

Obey commiserated with his children and family, just as he prayed that God will grant them the fortitude to bear the great loss.

Another veteran musician, Solanke told NIgerian Tribune that he was mourning the loss of a great leader, who taught him what it takes to become a professional classical musician.“He is a great leader. He called me less than a month ago and we had some conversation. He even commented on my book; he said, ‘Jimi, I am reading that your book, and I am enjoying the deep thoughts in it’. I didn’t know that was the last time he would talk. He was my band leader at the Lafia Hotel, Ibadan, Oyo State a long time ago in the 60s with Chris Ajilo and the Cubanos; we love each other. I was his vocalist and he was a nice person to be with. He is very experienced and talented as well as written great songs. He was also instrumental in the music department of his church. I will miss him so much,” he added.

In his reaction, Beautiful Nubia said, “Baba Chris Ajilo’s life was a blessing to all and that he gave every bit of himself as a pioneering Nigerian musician, a producer, and manager of great talents, and as a copyright administrator.

“His music, including such timeless classics as “Eko O Gba Gbere”, “Oju Rere ati Emi Mimo”, continues to be played everywhere by many young musicians all over the world.

“He was an easy-going and principled man who gave Nigerian music more than anyone has ever acknowledged. He lived well and played his beloved music right to the very end of his 91 full years. He had a good life. May we all be blessed with long, fruitful lives. His beautiful music and colourful memory will live on,” he added.

Ekemode and his wife, Latoya Aduke based at Ijebu- Ijesha as well and close associate to Pa Ajilo, confirmed that he was briefly ill for few weeks when they visited Ajilo on Thursday.

“It is a painful loss to us. I took Orlando to see him on Thursday at his house. Pa was so happy. He has been down for few weeks but fought for his life every inch of the way, very inspiring, his zeal and hard work he put in to recover. He was a fighter and a great man. May he rest in power and peace eternal,” Latoya said.

Speaking about his last days, Latoya added that he was so happy to see Orlando last Thursday, but that he was struggling then. “He would not eat, but when he saw Orlando he tried to eat. The day before that I went to check him, we sang and danced; he was happy,” she added.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that Ajilo died at Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha, Osun State on Saturday morning.RK1 also described Ajilo’s death as a huge loss to the industry, but had left an indelible footprint in the history of Nigerian music just as prayed that God will grant him eternal rest.

Ajilo is the last of a generation of veterans like Victor Olaiya, Bobby Benson, and others that formed the Nigerian Union of Musicians, the first guild for musicians.

The veteran musician is one of the pioneers of highlife musician in Nigeria, ruled the airwaves in the 50s to 80s, and was also involved in music production and arrangement with Polygram Records for many years.

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