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|Stylistic origins||Were music|
|Cultural origins||1960s Nigeria|
|Typical instruments||Drums - harmonica - vocals|
|Derivative forms||Apala Music|
Fuji is a popular Nigerian musical genre. It arose from the improvisation Ajisari/were music tradition, which is a kind of music performed to wake Muslims before dawn during the Ramadan fasting season. Were music/Ajisari itself was made popular by Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister.
Were music/Ajisari, traditionally, was an Islamic type music played by the Muslim kids in Yorubaland to wake the faithful for fasting during Ramadan festival. This musical genre was made popular by Alhaji Dauda Epo-Akara, the deceased Ibadan-based "awurebe" founder and Ganiyu Kuti, a.k.a. "Gani Irefin".
The Muslim community in Lagos metropolis (Lagos Mainland and Lagos Island) had a sizeable number of “ajiwere” acts. These early performers drew great inspiration from Yoruba Sakara music style (using the sakara drum but without the violin-like goje instrument—which is normally played with an accompanying fiddle). The long list of notable Isale Eko (lower lagos city) “ajiwere” performers during the early Independence years included Sikiru 'omo' Abiba, Ajadi Ganiyu, Ayinde Muniru Mayegun a.k.a. "General Captain," Ajadi Bashiru, Sikiru Onishemo, Kawu Aminu, Jibowu Barrister (under whom Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister performed), Ayinde Fatayi, Kasali Alani, Saka Olayigbade, Ayinla Yekinni, Bashiru Abinuwaye, etc.
Varying styles were beginning to evolve by this time, and it was not unusual for a few to play mouth organs (harmonica) between “ajiwere” interludes within their compositions. Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister was the lead singer/composer of the popular ajisari group, Jibowu Barrister, under the leadership of Alhaji Jibowu Barrister (mentioned above). Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and other young “ajiwere” "rocked" Lagos and its environs.
The name, "Fuji," chosen for the new musical genre was conceived in a rather funny and unusual way. According to its founder and creator, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister: "I came up with it when I saw a poster at an airport, advertising the Mount Fuji, which is the highest peak in Japan." Fuji, in this context, should not be mistaken for the Yoruba word "fuja," or "faaji," which means leisure or enjoyment. "Onifuja" or "Onifaaji" is Yoruba for a socialite, or one who relishes leisure or enjoyment.
Fuji music is an offshoot of were/ajisari musical genre. In one of his early LPs, which he used to chide the unreasonable critics who dubbed his creation "a local music," Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister explained that "Fuji music is a combination of music consisting of sakara, apala, juju, aaro, Afro and gudugudu, possibly highlife." Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister did a tremendous job of popularizing his craft by taking it all over the world; he started touring the European continent, especially Britain, since the early 1970s. Also, he first brought his trade to the North America, particularly the United States of America in 1984. All these tours happened before any subsequent Fuji players ever left the shores of Africa.
Between 1970 and throughout the 1980s, other fuji musicians included Fatai Adio, Saura Alhaji, Student Fuji, Rahimi Ayinde (Bokote), Ramoni Akanni, Love Azeez, Waidi Akangbe, Sikiru Olawoyin, Agbada Owo (who prematurely experimented with the guitar), Iyanda Sawaba, Ejire Shadua, Wahabi Ilori, Wasiu Ayinde Barrister (he later changed his name to Wasiu Ayinde Marshall) and also the Ibadan quatro of Suleiman Adigun, Sakaniyau Ejire, Rasheed Ayinde, and Wasiu Ayinla emerged, all introducing their versions of Fuji music.
Since the early 1980s, Alhaji Kolynton Ayinla (Baba Alatika) is a name to be reckoned with as far as fuji music is concerned. Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Barrister (before he changed his name to Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Marshall), has gradually emerged (with hits such as "Talazo", 1984) after tutelage under Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. Marshall had served under Barrister in different roles such as his instrument packer and notably as his road manager. He served under Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister for 15 years. Marshall's style evolved through the early 1990s as he added youthful vigour to it. By the end of the 1990s, his brand of Fuji had become one of the most popular dance genres in the country. Another act, Adewale Ayuba, dabbled in Fuji music and took the nation by storm in the early 1990s. He managed to give off a vibe of class, though Fuji music was more popular among Yoruba Muslims, as opposed to Juju music. His brand of Fuji, termed "Bonsue Fuji", was clean, lively, ppealed to young and old alike and was hard not to accept. Ayuba clearly did an excellent job of staying away from any feud with any other musician. He still performs today and has many followers. Another act that emerged in the early 1990s was Abass Akande Obesere, who brought lewd street slang called "Asakasa" into the Fuji scene. He became popular with the street type and even the educated buy and hide in their cars and rooms to listen to his music. Generally, the lyrics are in Yoruba. Due to its popularity with young Nigerians, Fuji is now the main hook lines of Nigerian hip-hop music.
Popular modern Fuji musicians in Nigeria include (Sir) Shina Akanni, Alhaji Rasheed Ayinde, Adewale Ayuba, Abass Akande Obesere (PK 1); Alayeluwa Sulaimon Alao Adekunle Malaika, King Dr Saheed Osupa (His Majesty), Otunba Wasiu Alabi,(Ijaya 1, Pasuma Wonder); Shefiu Alao (Omo Oko), Sule Adio Atawéwé, Wasiu Ajani, Mr. Pure Water, kanayo, Taiye Currency, Alhaji Komi Jackson, Tajudeen Alabi Istijabah, Igwe Remi Aluko, Muri Alabi Thunder, Karube Aloma, Karubey Shimiu, Adeolu Akanni (Paso Egba), Shamu Nokia, Bola Abimbola.
Today, fuji music has continued to attract younger generations; there are now over 10 fuji singing kids (such as Shanko Rasheed, Wasiu Container, Konkolo Wally G, Global T, Muri Ikoko etc.,) that are doing well in the industry. In this generation of singers, Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, known as KWAM1 or K1 De Ultimate, has been the most recognizable name in the genre since the mid - to late 1990s and in the late 1990s the trio of Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, Alayeluwa (King) Sule Alao Malaika and King Saheed Osupa are dominating the scene till present.
- W. Akpan, "And the beat goes on?", in M. Drewett and M. Cloonan, eds, Popular Music Censorship in Africa (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006), ISBN 0-7546-5291-2, p. 101.